OUR FRIEND VERNA THORNTON

Standard

hearts_sSometimes  we have to smile  at our memories, be thankful that we had our friends as long as we did, and look for the words that express how we feel about them. Verna Thornton was probably the first friend that I made after I moved to Florida and discovered the Creative Writers Club at Betmar Acres. One of the original founders, she was an enthusiastic member that almost always showed up on Monday morning. As our facilitator she guided us in our writing, suggesting many subjects that she felt we would be interested in. As a poet, she excelled, and she and I felt a kinship from the very first time that I went. I was so impressed by the way her words could always make me see a picture in my mind. She just had a way with descriptive words that could make you laugh or cry or remember something in your own life.

Verna has gone on beyond us this week. She hadn’t been well after a bad fall a month ago, and we had missed her at our group meetings. I talked to her a few days ago and she was very determined to get better so that she could attend again in November. She lived alone, after having taken care of an ailing husband for many years. When I got the phone call I was shocked because I hadn’t expected it.

I found this poem written by Verna in our annual book put out by our group this spring, and am printing it to show you how she felt about moving on from us.

FLYING FLOWERS

I was just a little child

And watched the pansies die.

Grandma tried to comfort me

As I began to cry.

Then she sat me on her lap.

She hugged me close and said,

“Pansies droop and petals fall,

But they’re not really dead.

Notice how the butterflies

Have colors bright and gay.

They are wilted pansies, dear,

The ones that got away.”

Now, my pansy bed is filled

With deep exotic hues,

Yellow, purple, rust and bronze,

Mahogany and blues.

Vibrant colors, trimmed with black,

Their scent is everywhere,

Sunshine yellow on them all,

Their fragrance fills the air.

Rippled by the summer breeze,

They’re nodding in the sun,

A dark and somber little face

Peers out from every one.

Wistfully, they try to speak,

And each one seems to say,

“How much longer will it be

Before I fly away?

I’m bound to earth by stem and roots

My days are passing by.

How much longer must I wait

To be a butterfly?”

Today our Verna is a beautiful, shining butterfly, so watch for her wherever you go.

Advertisements

5:56 AM

Standard

IMG_0134

Early to bed and early to rise,

Makes a man or woman healthy, wealthy and wise!

Where in the world did that come from?

A childhood of memorizing old sayings, dredged up from a distant past.  Memories of our local school where we repeated all of the familiar passages from our books until we knew them by heart.  No TV, no internet, no phones for us.  We relied on our reading and studying for everything we learned.

Now altho I have a big digital  clock shining its message in the early morning light I have a built in alarm clock in my head. No matter where I am, north or south, in my own bed or traveling somewhere, I wake up.  It’s Sunday morning here, the one day you would think I’d sleep in, but NO!  I’m awake and I’ve had enough sleep.  Seven hours this time because I stayed up, immersed in a great book, that I just had to finish.

Not only that but I am retired, I don’t have to get up. I could lie here as long as I’d like. No children calling out, no pets needing to be let outdoors, just me, knowing it is time for me to get out of bed. Looking out the window I see the orchard rows, and they are white! It’s May 15th, and we have snow on the ground. This is not good.  The orchards are in full blossom, and they definitely do not need the cold weather.

My mind leaps from one scattered idea to another. I must make the coffee, but I also must write down the words swirling in my head. I search for my notepad and pen, and ah, I am safe. Reassured, all is well.

I am up, it is early in the morning.  I feel the urge to write, and I know the snow will melt eventually. The deck is white now, but it will soon be brown again. I am ready for a new day.  It lies before me, I can do whatever I choose to do, and since I got up early I have plenty of time to do it.

Mornings are beautiful, especially in the country, and I don’t want to waste a single one of them. Come and join the early risers in your life, and you’ll be glad you did.

A SAFE HAVEN FOR WRITERS

Standard

IMG_0167

Retirement.

As we move forward in our lives retirement is not always as easy as we had hoped this new stage of life would be.  At the very least we can agree that things have a way of changing. What sounded so great when we were in our 50’s sometimes takes on a very different hue than we had planned for. So we make adjustments and somehow it all seems to work out for the better.

One of the things that has become a really great blessing is the way we have of making new friends, and best of all, they are friends that we have a common interest with.  We may have a wide variety of backgrounds, and different ways of looking at the world around us, but this is all to our benefit as we come together and share all of our thoughts and experiences. Subjects that we never even thought of are brought forward in great detail.  Life growing up in a Maine community many years ago becomes fascinating when you are hearing it firsthand from the one who lived it.  European experiences bring a whole different culture to the forefront when it comes to you across the table in your group of writers.

And we are all writers.  We all have the urge to write, to express ourselves, to share a part of us that may have been hidden before.  We may have written all of our lives, but reading it out loud in front of other members is another kettle of fish, as my father used to say.  Hearing the quiver in someone’s voice, knowing the fear that lurks beneath the surface as they reveal an inner part of themselves to us, we all are sympathetic to our creative friends. It takes real courage to bare your soul, to allow others to know the inner you. And we do it, week after week, and somehow it seems to get easier each time, as we realize we are safe among our creative friends. We can relax, knowing that we reside safely in this circle.

Our class means a great deal to me. What others say about my writing is important to my development as a writer.  When I write it is like I am talking to them, my friends. As I am reading, I can hear the rhythm of my voice, and it is very comforting to me to be able to express my thoughts.

It is also a very good feeling to listen to others and know that we all have a very special place in each others lives. We are showing that creativity expands in our life no matter what the age, and we have an important function to fulfill.

The main thing that I have been taught in our class is that we are all survivors.  We have all been thru the mill, done what had to be done, and we have survived. And we all still have a smile on our faces for our friends. I see the victorious human spirit in everyone in our class and it gives me great pride to say that I am a member of our Creative Writers class in Betmar Acres in Zephyrhills, Florida.

GRATITUDE THAT

Standard

2012 panasonic florida 082
I woke up this morning.
It is daylight. I survived.
The furnace never came on.
My inner alarm woke me.
I feel rested.
My husband is beside me.
I can still write.
I can still hear.
I can still see.
I can still make choices.
A whole new day stretches before me.
I can still think.
I can still question.
I can still watch.
I can still accept what is.
I can still remember.
I can still love.
I can still be thankful.
NO MATTER WHAT.

HOW HAVE MY GOALS IN LIFE CHANGED?

Standard

panasonic camera misc 022
Looking back at my somewhat helter skelter life, I am really having a rough time putting the thoughts about my past goals down on paper. Somehow I can never remember having any special goals other than the ones that are universal to all of us. When I was in my teens I wanted to grow up, get a “good” job, get married, have children, basically do all of the things that my parents had done, and have enough money to keep the bills paid.
My father had always drummed it into my head that I could do whatever I really wanted to do, and I believed that implicitly. The problem with that was that no one, including me, really believed that I would ever do much more than get married, raise children, go to church on Sunday, and in general live my life in the same way that I had been brought up.
But then along came the draft. I had married, and my husband was called up for duty, and so off we went, he joining the Army and I trailing along behind him. We lived in the West and in the South, and I began to realize that there was a whole different world out there than I had ever experienced. There were so many different ways of looking at things, and so many new people to meet.
After the service we went back home to Michigan and raised a family. Traveling had opened up my new world. At the same time women’s liberation had begun. It became more acceptable for girls to go to college or find work that fulfilled them in different ways than before. But at the same time we women still had to take care of our homes and our children. My main goal at that time was just to survive it all. I look back and remember how tired I was and how pushed I felt for a long long time.
Eventually the children grew up, the jobs got better, and traveling became one of the main goals in my life. Moving to Colorado and living in mountainous country fulfilled me for a long time. Cruises to Alaska later on in life bring fantastic memories to me even today.
Eventually I began to write, and to feel the urge to share my thoughts and feelings with others. This led to the goal of writing and publishing a book of poetry. I became obsessed with the thought that I could accomplish this and I wrote and worked and edited until my goal became fulfilled.
Now my goals seem to have quieted back down. I am back to thinking about the everyday facets of life again as I did when in my 20’a. Keeping house, connections with our children, writing, traveling, all has come full circle. The days when I had to keep pushing myself to get everything just so have faded into the past. I can take the time to do whatever I want to do, go for a ride with my husband, crochet, knit, read, read, read, and I don’t have to worry about whether my goals are getting met or not. I can study all of the things that I never had a chance to do when I was a young mother, and I can enjoy all that the world has to offer.
In a way it seems very odd to me that I have landed right back where I started. I venture that this is true for many women of my age. We are so fortunate that we have seen the best of both worlds, and now we can relax. We still remember when we cooked everything from scratch, had a wringer washer, and ironed the washing every Tuesday. We lived in a world where all of the normal people did pretty much the same things in the same way.
Now we can choose what we wish to do, and where we wish to go. That is enough of a goal for me. I have arrived at a great place and I am enjoying every step of the way.

I AM FEELING THE URGE TO CREATE.

Standard

495486-R1-21-16A_022

I am feeling the urge to create.
I am thinking of the life all around me.
I rise and I rush for a pen, fearful that I might lose the words bubbling in my brain. Writing them down is such an important task for me. It seems like I haven’t had this urgency for a long long time. Heaven knows I have tried but it always seemed to escape me.
Yet here they are.
And I am watching. It used to be that I was “doing” and now I am “watching.” Watching as the children that I bore repeat all of the experiences that I once did. Remembering what it was like when life seemed so full of all of the adventures that I yearned for – remembering what it was like to go to a new place to live, set up house in a different state, look for a new job doing whatever I loved to do.
Listening to people that had been brought up differently than me, that had a way of looking at life that I had never heard of before. Looking for a new library, getting signed up for my new card, and seeing a whole new room of books unknown to me before. Making new friends, finding a friendly neighbor, finding the best bank, best grocery store.
This has been the pattern of my life. Always the urge to see down the road, over the next hill, wondering what life had to offer if I went looking.
And so I did go looking. Lived in so many different places that I have to stretch a long ways back to remember them all.
Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana…the farther I went west the more I loved it. Freedom from the restrictions that bind us all in our state of birth, of growing up around relatives who expected us to live as our families had always lived.
Maybe the restrictions were only in my mind. I don’t know. But the air was bigger and broader and more open wherever I went, and so I traveled and moved, and saw the world in a new and vital way. Each new move was to a new culture and a new life style, and I thrived on it.
And now I am returned to the land of my birth, and I still travel and I still think of all of the places I have been, but somehow I have come full circle. My children have scattered to their own destinies. They have traveled and made their own homes in many different places also. Did I instill this wanderlust in them”? Or is it just the way that Americans are, always looking over the next hill, wanting to be their own person, looking for the end of the rainbow? We seem to be a restless people, not content to rest on our laurels, no matter what our ages.
Looking back, this is where I am right now,and also looking forward to where I’ll be tomorrow. I must never lose the sense of adventure or life will become complacent and dull. There is always another place over the next hill that awaits us all, another group of people to meet who have a new way of looking at things.
We cannot afford to relinquish the past or the future for that is where our understanding lies. We must keep our zest for living to use as a warm and comforting blanket, allowing us to enjoy our days.

REMEMBERING

Standard

Remembering all the times you listened to us when we were troubled.

Remembering that you thought we were survivors, no matter what.

Remembering that we could always call you just for reassurance.

Remembering the times you were so exasperated with us you wanted

to shake us.

Remembering your courage as you struggled to get out of the car

with your cane.

Remembering you waiting on your loved ones when they were too

blind to see.

Remembering the tons of flowers and hundreds of cards when you

left this world one summer morning.

Remembering your smiles, your hugs, and your generous spirit that

encouraged us all.

Remembering you every time we see a white-haired older lady walking,

intent upon getting somewhere by herself, cane in hand.

Remembering every time we realize there is no house to go to, no

telephone call to make, no one waiting for our arrival.

Remembering, always remembering that you showed us all how to

love one another, no matter what!sept 011 neng fall 020