Lake George. The day after the family meeting is always quiet. Maybe particularly so, after a weekend of activities, the gathering of generations to discuss age-old considerations for our shared property.
This year, as in recent years, the family has been pulling together. There is a noticeable absence of rancor, as if for this brief period in time each of us is aware on some level that the wheel of life is turning, that sooner than we think, we’ll be passing through the same gates our ancestors did.
One of my cousins aptly described the meeting as “the big tick” in the clock of our lives. We see it, we feel it, we know it – perhaps here more than anywhere else in our lives.
Even the surface of the lake was calm last night, as if to give me a better glimpse into its depths. For me, this place is always thick with emotion. I can’t take a step without being aware that I’m moving in the prints of all those who have gone before me.
The essence of my mother: her love of family, reverence for nature, love of books – these things surround me. The scent of pine, the mustiness of old houses, the clear lake, the rich damp earth anchor me both in the here and now and in the past.
For several years, after my mother passed away, her absence was a sharp pain. This was the place where I always envisioned her, the place where she should have been. I wanted to share my daughter with her, to fall into the comfort of her loving arms, to know there was a place where I belonged.
This year the ache of loss has eased. I still miss both of my parents, but I see myself in the still reflection of the lake, another branch of our family tree, my roots entwined with those of the other trees along the shore. One falls, and another takes its place.
*I don’t usually post twice in one day. But, it’s the Summer Solstice, so I had a little extra daylight! Hope you enjoy!
I popped out of bed early this morning, so I could get a walk with the dog before the day turned molten hot. I always enjoy my walks, but on the Summer Solstice, I feel an extra sweet anticipation. This day marks a change. The days are no longer slowly stretching toward summer; instead, we have reached the pinnacle, the 24-hour-period where we experience the most daylight during the year.
I grew up a sun worshipper. I couldn’t wait for summer, for long days on the beach, sea breezes and bare feet on damp sand. I lived on the North Carolina coast when I was in high school and returned there every summer after school to visit my parents. So, it’s not surprising, I suppose, that I would be drawn to the Summer Solstice.
But there’s more to it. I like order, and somehow the Summer Solstice is one of the four dates that divides the year into equal parts (Summer Solstice, Autumnal Equinox, Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox). I was born on the Autumnal Equinox, so I learned of it early and felt, as a nature lover, that it was a part of who I was.
It’s hard to explain what that means exactly, other than to say I feel the seasons deep within me. My spirit is attuned to the natural rhythms of the world we live in. That’s probably true for most poets and many writers. I feel as if nature speaks to me. I sense it as I move through my life, and I miss it if I’m inside too long.
That’s probably why I insisted we live in the wood in a house with lots of windows. And I wouldn’t let my husband cut down many trees. We had to cut a few to make room for our house, and I felt a searing in my body when the blade sawed through their trunks.
I feel as if the Summer Solstice has lessons to teach me each year. I can’t always wrap them up in a nice, neat package. But I like to clear a space in my day, so I can simply be outside and listen.
Truth be told, I always grieve a bit after the Summer Solstice. Even though we still have the bulk of summer to celebrate, knowing the daylight is slowly slipping away makes me sad. It signifies change. And change can be hard. I like my routines, and when life gradually shifts into something less recognizable, it’s not all that comfortable.
Today is #TheLongestDay, a day set aside to honor caregivers who have long days every day. My life is lighter now, but my mother had Alzheimer’s for 14 years, so my heart can’t help but be aligned with these caregivers. Also, my mother’s birthday is next week, so she is present in my thoughts, maybe even more than usual.
Maybe the Summer Solstice is about cupping our hands, so we can hold both the intense joy and the soul-shredding grief. A day to pause in the middle, where the sun is not stretching or shrinking, but simply being its bright self, burning to its fullest capacity.
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In honor of Mother’s Day, I am sharing a piece I wrote about my mom. Happy Mother’s Day to all!
Around Father’s Day last year, I went digging through some old photos, and I posted a picture of my father from my wedding. I didn’t give it a thought, until I found this similar photo of my mother from the same time and realized I had never posted it in honor of Mother’s Day. It got me thinking. Why?
After packing and saying our goodbyes to Jean and Vicki, Gilda and I drove south towards Alligator Alley. I was excited to be driving across Florida and to get a view of the everglades. My father, a civil engineer for the Army, had worked throughout South Florida on various projects before I was born. The names of towns were familiar to me because I had grown up listening to him talk about them.
While I felt as if I were home and had hopes of catching a glimpse of an alligator, Gilda’s husband Stu had warned her not to get out of the car because he’d been warned there were large snakes in the area. Gilda wasn’t sure what to do when I pulled over and asked her to take a photo of me by the water. Read the rest of this entry »
Happy November, everyone! I have a couple of special announcements today. First, November marks the release of The Beach Poems! If you took advantage of the pre-publication discount, you should be receiving your book soon.
November is National Caregivers’ Month. It’s so perfect that The Beach Poems was birthed during this particular month because these poems tell the story of what it was like being a caregiver for my mother who had Alzheimer’s for 14 years and what it was like after she passed away.
With all the media attention Brian has received, he realized, “I’ve been given a platform, and I don’t want to waste it.” He wanted to bring those with early-onset Alzheimer’s to withALZmyHeart, but he wondered who else he could help. He wondered and waited.