Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Grateful Good-bye

When John Kennedy was elected President, I was only ten years old – my most vivid memory is of his picture on the front page of the newspaper the day after the election, and at that point I didn’t really have an interest in anything more important than my own daily concerns. I do remember his commanding speech during the Cuban missile crisis, and I shed many tears in the days following his assassination; the drum rolls as the funeral cortege made its way through Washington are a particularly poignant memory. The tragic assassination of Robert Kennedy when I was seventeen troubled me deeply. I cried as I watched this brave family once again bury a beloved son, father and uncle. But I still did not comprehend the impact this family would have on the quality of life for those of us born with less opportunity in this country.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I truly realized and honored the Kennedy family tradition and belief that those who have been given much owe much in return. This is a family that has been blessed with intelligence, a strong work ethic, a deep faith and a resulting wealth. Obviously, they have struggled with staggering personal tragedies and the quirks and flaws of their own personalities. But, they have all attempted to uphold the family tradition of giving the best of themselves to their family and their country, and especially to those less fortunate.

Tonight, I would like to bid a loving farewell and offer my blessings to Senator Ted Kennedy. My tears flow as I write this. I feel we average citizens have lost our most loyal and dedicated champion. This man has worked unceasingly to make life better for those with the least power and voice in our society. I pray that the next generation of his family will continue the good works they have already begun in the Kennedy name, and take care of each other as he cared for them all. I pray that Congress will work together to craft legislation for a universal health care program that will honor his years of effort in this issue so important to the well-being of us all.

Most of all, I would like to say a loving thank you and good-bye to this youngest son who ended up carrying the torch for this remarkable family who sacrificed so much for the good of society.

Friday, August 14, 2009

August Ponderings

The quiet of this warm August evening fills my soul. Soon the heavy blanket of darkness that is August will fall abruptly, so unlike the long twilight of earlier summer nights.

This summer has been a difficult one for me and for my extended family. It seems that these precious few weeks of Northeast summer have been filled with stress, worries and sorrow. It will not be a summer we look back on with any degree of pleasure.

Tonight, though, I sit on my porch and ponder the moments of serenity I have enjoyed today. My mug of coffee on the porch in the early morning fog, with just a touch of chill in the air -- a delicious lunch of fried oysters at a quiet riverside restaurant with my husband, watching the boats float past soundlessly from our table on the shore -- a bit of time at the end of the work day to tend my flowers, feed the birds, and sip white wine as I read a few pages from a much-loved book, while a supper of cold chicken and potato salad awaited us in the fridge.

The weekend ahead of me will be busy and tiring, and a worrisome medical test is scheduled for Monday morning, but for now, I sit on my beloved porch, listening to the gentle cooing of the sparrows as they settle into the ivy for the night, and I wait for that moment when the August darkness envelops us with its soothing reminder that life does go on -- seasons change -- our troubles and worries are transient. The sparrows roosting contentedly in the ivy tonight are not worried about tomorrow -- they are safely tucked away for a night of rest, thankful for full stomachs and a peaceful place to sleep.

I will try to carry this thought in my heart as I face the responsibilities and worries of the next few days. I will try to worry less about what MAY happen and spend more time enjoying the multitude of pleasures that greet us each day. I will hold close to my heart the long-remembered phrase, "This too shall pass."

And, for tonight, I will soak in the peace of this gentle August evening.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Morning

Sunday morning. Can there possibly be a more lovely feeling than the peace and anticipation of an unscheduled Sunday? I am desperately in need of a day devoted solely to puttering and leisure.

My sister’s struggle with cancer these past months finally ended a couple of weeks ago. For this I am grateful – now she is free from her suffering, and those of us who loved her and cared for her in her final days felt a profound sense of relief as we passed her into the hands of God. Her funeral on a sunny Friday morning and the luncheon afterwards gave her family and friends much-needed hours to lovingly recall memories and say a final goodbye to a complicated woman who seems to have been many things to many different people. I will mourn my only sister and try to find comfort in the closeness we shared in the past few years.

The days since her death, when I longed for some quiet time, have instead been filled with health problems of my own, a totally unexpected household renovation, and a struggle to catch up on office work which was set aside as I cared for my sister.

Yesterday was a welcome break in the stress of the past few weeks. I attended a party to celebrate my grandson’s 15th and my granddaughter’s 2nd birthdays. There is no better panacea for stress and sorrow than to gather with family and friends on a summer afternoon, with sunshine, good food and good wine, and savor the laughter and joy of precious little children.

Throughout this past month, as I have been comforted by my children, grandchildren, cousins, friends, and the caring words of so many loved ones from afar, I have once again been reminded that our true wealth in this life is the people we hold dear. We must be sure to hold them close to our hearts, to take time from our busy schedules to be with them, or call, or write – to savor the bonds of family and friendship. Ultimately, these bonds are our lifeline in times of trouble and the greatest of our treasures.

I will ponder these thoughts as I savor the quiet day ahead. I will feed my birds before the impending rain arrives, bake a chocolate cake for my daughter’s friend, and maybe enjoy a nice lunch somewhere with my husband. There is a world of possibilities for a leisurely Sunday –