17 October 2011

Soft Air and Cartoons

I sit on my balcony as the day turns to evening and the air is soft from a lovely slide back to summer temps. It reminds me of an Irish poem I read that admonished me, as I remember it, to "let him be, he is growing, the air is soft above his head." I love that image of soft air above a child's head. The air feels like that this evening and lets my mind wander. I no longer remember the poem's name but it sounds like it was written by a grandmother.

I remember an incident with my grandfather when I was about six and trying to mow the lawn with his push mower. The details are long gone but he said to me: "You're a disappointment." I felt the sting of that remark like a slap. I didn't know then what I had done to cause it or why he thought that. I couldn't ask him nor could I slough it off. I thought about it for years, turned it over and over in my mind wondering if it belonged to me or not.

One of the blogs I follow, "in search of white space" by erin, had a poem today about a young girl with cancer. Do yourself a favor and check out erin's elegant poetry. It stirred up these thoughts from long ago. Also made me remember the months I spent working as a nurse on a children's cancer ward in Boston back in the 60's and how I ended up appreciating my time there among these brave little ones. I heaped my inadequate aids on the side of healing as disease ravaged their small bodies and they lived as best they could. But what surprised me was the amount of laughter we shared. We watched cartoons and would dissolve in giggles at the slapstick absurdity of cartoons in those days. The kids would try some of the moves themselves and laugh all over again. They taught me how to stay in the moment those wise ones who's names I can still call.

Seems remarkable, this play of presences, past and present that stir up the rich stew of our lives and let us taste it, maybe savor it, once more.


  1. I see things, or hear things - or sometimes smell things that instantly throw me, mind and body, back to when I was young. I was, at first, a bit disturbed when that happened - but now I relish those times, and try to hang onto those feelings (fleeting though they are) for as long as I can.

  2. Lou, D'accordo. Especially the smells.

  3. Beautifully written! I, too, have flashbacks to my childhood. In fact, today, I wrote about my first grade teacher who asked me to massage her feet.

    I hope this comments goes through. I have tried to leave comments in the past with no success.

    BTW, I like your blog so much I have added it to my blogroll.

  4. gigi, I just went over and read it- oh my! Thanks for stopping by to visit and your comment had no problem.

  5. I've lately been experiencing a folding upon one another of past and present, as it relates to me being a child, raising children, having grandchildren. An odd, fleeting feeling similar to what you've beautifully expressed here. Wondrous how time unfolds, refolds, reminds.

  6. Yes!
    Re-tasting the moment!
    Being there all over again!
    I had these same visitations when I was writing my memoir, reliving the various parts of my life.

  7. It is tremendously fitting that I have come here directly from Midlife Jobhunter's most recent post. (http://midlifejobhunter.blogspot.com/2011/10/bookends.html)
    Time . . . and memory . . . and joy and loss . . . all stirred up together. Life.

  8. What a thing to say to a young child! I'm sure that stayed with you a long time. I was thinking just yesterday about how we sometimes hear and hold onto the negative messages even more than the positive ones.

  9. Lisa, I think I was too busy with my own daughter, but now with the grands it happens more frequently for me. Maybe as I age as well.

    Rosaria, I can understand how a memoir would really stir things up. Is your memoir published or just for your family?

    June, I checked out the bookends post and I very much enjoyed it. Yes, life. Sweet.

    Nancy, Our words, especially to children, are powerful, for the positive and the negative. When I was young it was rarer that positive things got said out loud whereas mentioning what we were doing wrong was frequent. Gratefully, that's changed.

  10. Such a touching post....I remember fleeting moments from my childhood and they all are special memories...I wish I had more.
    Your work in Boston must have been hard as well as rewarding.

    Yes, I live in Arkansas....but they will be 4 hours away as opposed to 5 1/2 hours in Texas. I'm thankful for the 1 1/2 hour difference/ha

  11. Nanny, Even a little closer is better. Alas, my daughter lives in Trinidad!

  12. Oh soft evenings, yes. September's and October's are the best.

    The sting of your grandfather's words stay with you. So sad. Funny, I was just responding to your comment at my quilt post, and was meditating on my grandpa. I have only a couple of memories of him, which were happy, except for after his stroke, when he was gravely altered.

    And how about that erin? She astonishes me daily with her poet-eyes and skill. Absolutely knocks me out. Sometimes raw. Sometimes soft. Always honest and beautiful.

  13. Ruth, I agree that Erin's a knock out poet with astounding skills. We're having a string of soft evenings and I'm reveling in it.

  14. The thoughtless words of an adult to a child can leave scars that last a lifetime. Your segue to children fighting cancer made me sad for all the parents and grandparents who have to live with the knowledge that they can never undo that damage because now it is too late.


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