Dear Beloved

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November 16, 2018, Prescott-

Dear Beloved,

I know you are ecstatic, in the placeless realm. Our son is now a husband, a part of something far greater than himself.  My heart was there, earlier today, though my body was asleep as he and his own beloved, our daughter-in-law, took their vows in a simple ceremony, halfway around the world.

There will be an affirmation of those vows, in the not-too-distant future, and then I will be present, body and soul.  These two ceremonies complement and strengthen one another.  Their life together, in the meantime, will reflect all that two sets of loving parents, and two extended families, have imparted to their precious gifts from God.

I feel you continuing to do all in your power to keep him, me and now her, safe and well.  I remain a work in progress, otherwise I would not still be here.  You well know the joys, the sorrows, the achievements and the setbacks that I have met, and embraced, largely with your help.

My little “home base” reflects your presence.  We are everywhere, still, and it will remain thus.  You know of my friends, and you guide me to do right by them. You help me keep a wakeful eye, lest those who do not have my best interests at heart beguile me somehow.  You help me keep my own shortcomings in focus, and in check.

As my little family and I move forward, together and in our respective spaces, I know we can count on your loving, guiding soul.  You can also count on us.

Heartfully,

Gary

Carrying the Heart Home

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November 15, 2018, Prescott- 

As I sat in the midst of a Community Celebration of Thanks, this evening, there was plenty of time, even in the crowd that attended a full schedule of interfaith devotions, to let my heart reflect on what has continued to  make this year one of astonishment and the bestowal of divine grace.

In the past few days alone, I have received affirmations in the areas of finance, friendship and health that I sensed were coming, in the darkness of October, yet had no idea how quickly they would present themselves.

Now, to top it all off, comes the highlight of the year-as I feel, but do not physically witness, the marriage of my son, to a mature, grounded woman, three years his junior, but in every sense his partner, walking side-by-side.  I will be there, in the Spring, though, when they affirm their vows, in a spiritual setting.

I will have much more to recap 2018, upon my birthday, two weeks hence, and of course, at December’s end, when the face of Janus appears again.  The bottom line here, is the value of patience and certitude, even in the darkest of nights.

Our Best Friends, across the Universe, always seem to show up when we need them-though maybe not always upon demand.

 

Glimmering

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November 9, 2018, Prescott-

I woke in  darkness,

both physical and emotional,

wondering what to do,

with a feeling of isolation.

“Well, self”, I have to say,

“you made the choice to live

far from birth family

and remain far from

family- by- marriage.”

As the daylight glimmers,

and my prayers have been said,

I feel my heart is with

family in Florida,

in Korea,

and those clustered

in Massachusetts,

in Pennsylvania

and in Georgia.

We are scattered to the winds,

yet there is still not  a day,

without some sort of connection.

You are always in my heart.

Janus Speaks

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November 8, 2018, Prescott-

Transitions, both for better and for worse, often seem to take place, just before or after my birthday, which falls towards the end of this month.  They have been big changes, and small ones.

On my 25th birthday, in 1975, I made the drive from my parents’ house, back to Northampton, MA, only to have my then-boss gleefully tell me I had been fired, from a part-time job.  I later found this move was made because a co-worker’s son needed a job.  An acquaintance put things in perspective that night, telling me her divorce had been finalized, earlier that day.  I went on, without the chump change.

In November, 1980, I began to get a very strong message that it was time for me to get involved with a woman again.  A week after my 30th birthday, I met Penny, in Zuni, NM.

In November, 2000, personnel changes took place at the school where I was working, in the aftermath of the untimely deaths of the school’s founders. I had been hired by the wife, whose replacement was not exactly fond of how I was running the school.  My tenure at the school would end, under questionable circumstances, a few months later.

In November, 2010, Penny was released from the rehabilitative hospital, in which she had been treated for seven months, due to insurance policy requirements. She would live only three more months, mostly in hospice treatment.

Late last month, Penny’s mother, the last surviving of her own parents’ children, met the end of her physical suffering.  She will see the civil marriage of her only grandson, from the other side of the Veil.  My beloved son will be wed, on American soil, in Guam, next week.  I will be there in the fullest of spirit, with the promise of attending a spiritual wedding ceremony, next March.

So, once again, autumn brings transition into my life.  There will be other changes, I’m sure, and the net will be for the better.

 

The Light of Abiding Love

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November 4, 2018, Prescott-

Friday night, I headed down to Phoenix, and spent time with several old friends, at the Baha’i Center.  The occasion was a Launch Party Tour finale for  the latest album by a talented young artist, named Colby Jeffers, a rapper with a strong spiritual message.

One of the themes he raised was the importance, the abiding bond, with his wife, M.  They have been present for one another, for several years now, and the love is only getting deeper.

I saw several examples of the light of abiding love, that night, and over the weekend.  Another young couple showed both the firmness of their bond, by holding one another, at moments when Colby’s words hit just the right tone of everlasting love, then having the strength to go about their individual tasks of the evening, knowing that each would be there for the other, when needed.

Penny and I were like that, so my heart is always warmed by a man who takes good care of his beautiful wife-and vice versa.  I feel much the same towards couples who are not quite married, but who are committed to one another.  Having so many friends who are at one point on the commitment continuum, or another, their ties generate light in the world, and I feel reassured.

This was further cemented today, when I attended an honorarium, at a lovely equestrian ranch northwest of here, and saw a couple being honoured, for their service to the Prescott community.  They have suffered unimaginable losses, these past two years, and while I am not her favourite person, by any stretch, I feel very much appreciative of both all they have done and for the depth of their suffering.  Their light shines, intensely, through all the shadows.

Marriage is an affirmation of light, when it is real.

NanaBub

8

October 24, 2018, Prescott-

Penny’s mother passed away, last night, at the age of 92.  She was the last of her birth family and had fought bravely against cancer, among other diseases, actually beating it, whilst in her early seventies.  Other ailments took cancer’s place, and she spent her last year in a most uncharacteristically sedentary life.

I was fortunate to have seen Ruth Faust Fellman at her most active best, and to have offered her solace, twice, when she was in one of her most despondent states.  Through all of her suffering, her youngest daughter took the reins of caregiving and worked the ups and downs of dealing with a still adolescent senior care “industry”.  As with any person who steps into such a role, she deserves the finest of accolades.

My mother-in-law was the youngest of three children, and had to be far above her older siblings, just to get the recognition and respect she deserved from them.  Ruth became a registered nurse, and devoted her professional life to serve in the public schools of northern New Jersey, as a School Nurse.  She threw herself, full tilt, into everything she did.  This example led to Penny being the achiever she was, as well.

She could be challenging, mostly from a lifetime of having to stand up to powerful men.  The number of times she set me straight could fill a small volume, but she was right, more often than not.  Her voice was often the last one that my at times willful son heard, before he decided to follow directions.  When there was a cultural debate over whether she was to be addressed as “Bubba”, in the Ashkenazi Jewish tradition or as “Nana”, in the British style of her youngest daughter’s in-laws, she selected “NanaBub”.  That stuck for many years, until both of her grandchildren decided they liked just “Nana”.

I have had to project into a future without her voice, though there were several times, even recently, when I half-believed her saying that she would reach the century mark.  That, of course, was unlikely, but I learned early on, never to count either of my mother figures out of anything.

Ruth was, above all else, one to stay close to home.  She extended herself to visit east Asia, on the occasion of Aram’s birth, but after that journey to several countries, which she described as “excruciating”,  no one, including her husband, could get her to leave the contiguous United States.

Now she has passed into a realm that knows no bounds. There, she is with her husband, Norm, daughter Penny, her siblings and their parents.  I sense there will be peace among them, and that they will help us to recognize each other’s true worth.

 

What I Keep With Me

13

September 30, 2018, Prescott-

I stayed home, most of the day.  Only a breakfast with fellow American Legionnaires and a trip to the laundromat, took me outside these four walls.  It was a day of reflection, lots of reading of blog posts that were inspirational and a lot of thinking about what lies ahead.

I know that I will work for at least the rest of this academic year, though some have warned me that health is an issue.  I am taking proactive steps, in that regard, because not being a nuisance to my family and friends is a top priority. Also, I am useful in my current post- and will provide continuity in the next academic year, if certain other personnel changes occur.

There will be changes in my family, also.  Therefore, I need to maintain a flexibility, with regards to 2020, and beyond.  I can’t say anything specific, just that my heart is delighted with news that I have received from some family members and solemnified, with the status of one of my in-laws.

Today would have been Penny’s 64th birthday. I got past the maudlin renditions of the Paul McCartney song, and pondered all that she still gives me, on a daily basis, in terms of insights and guidance.   So, I keep her with me- the small cameo photo, that goes on road trips, the framed photos and small 3 x 5’s that are prominent in the living room and the wedding photo that remains in the bedroom.  I keep her thoughts and her feelings about things we discussed, sometimes argued but never let get between us, for more than an hour or so. I keep her smile and her gentle singing voice. I keep her undying love.

They Come For A Reason…! — Giggles & Tales

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I am sharing this post, from a friend who goes by Simple Dimple.  It expresses how I feel, very well.

 

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do with that person. When someone is in your life for a REASON it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.

via They Come For A Reason…! — Giggles & Tales

The 2018 Road, Part 2: Learnings and Observations

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September 3, 2018, Prescott-

In any stretch of time and effort, be it work or leisure, there are learnings.  Some come to us because they derive from novel experiences.  Others arise, because we become complacent, set in our ways.

I didn’t read the details closely enough, that morning in Elkhart, IN.  My eyes told me the dinner was that very night.  It would have been convenient-for me. The words actually read “tomorrow evening”.  That was convenient for the main party.  Read carefully, completely and in a wakeful state.

I crossed the bridge, from Warren, MI to Windsor, ON, without hesitation, this time.  I stayed in the proper lane, unlike on my previous run to Vancouver, three years ago.  The Canadian highways are no mystery-they’re essentially the same as on this side of the imaginary line.  Most of the problems we create in our minds are pointless.

For many years, since losing an electric cookpot to a raging maniac, who threatened to hurt my disabled wife (long story), I had been relieved of nothing.   My car’s interior had been left alone, for many years now.  On a Saturday evening, in Montreal, my lengthy walk to the Baha’i Centre gave someone, or two, a window of opportunity, which they smashed.  Gone were my seven-year-old laptop and my passport.  The computer has been replaced. The document waits for me to retake photos, which happens tomorrow. Use the money belt, even here in North America, and put the laptop in the trunk, if it is even necessary to leave it in the car at all.

When one is on the road, there are several options for accommodation.  Many people can’t abide the idea of not staying in an expensive hotel room or rented house/apartment.  Be aware of surroundings, but don’t rule out hostels, guest rooms, (clean) couches, campgrounds or even highway 24-hour, or 12-hour, rest areas.  The only things that matter are safety and hygiene.

Observations-

Even in a rundown, construction-heavy community, there are ways to mail a letter.  I don’t even remember the town, but somewhere in Missouri or Illinois, I mailed a letter back to Prescott.

People don’t seem to tailgate as much, or pass on the inside as often, the further east one drives.   At least, that’s been my experience.

Warm-hearted people may be found anywhere.  The same is true of the icy people. Most often, they work side by side.

Pay attention to body language, even when tired.  Some men of a certain age only communicate with head nods and grunts.  Then again, so do some teenagers.

Research different ways, ahead of time, to stay connected, when in the car.

Know that, in a pinch, it’s okay to cross back into the U.S., by car, from Canada, with a valid U.S. driver’s license and VA  photo id.  The reverse is not true.

Terra Shield, by do Terra, works very well, in keeping bugs away.

Lake Champlain,  Chesapeake Bay’s Western Shore and Richard Russell Lake are enchanting places, even when it is stormy.  Lake Oconee is the stuff of dreams, and crazy expensive. (No, I didn’t stay there.)

There is nothing better, when tired of the road, than just sitting for two days, in a family home, watching TCM and dipping in the pool.

Teen girls can cook, and cook well- the little breakfast place, off I-95, in Timmonsville, SC, offers proof.

Single African men also can cook well.  The little apartment which I visited, in Salisbury, NC, offers proof.

Eastern Tennessee has its share of “Heavens on Earth”.  I spent two days in just such a place.

Next time, whenever that is, I will set aside more time for  Denver, for Chicagoland, for Elkhart and for Amarillo.

 

 

 

The 2018 Road: Honours, Learnings and Observations- Part 1

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September 2, 2018, Prescott-

The forty-day journey, whose chronicle I have just completed, is now well-past the reflection stage.  The longest trip I have undertaken, since 2015, has passed without controversy, among those of my family and friends who have viewed my travels in the past, with some consternation.

There were mostly good things that happened, this summer that is nearly passed.  I want to first note those who have honoured me with their presence, in the deepest of ways.  Then, I shall note the learnings I picked up from the trek. Finally, some observations are in order.

Honours-

The first of these always goes to my family: Being in Christ Church, Philadelphia, for the wedding of my beloved youngest niece; having my son, Aram, and his girlfriend next to me during the service, throughout the reception and for much of Father’s Day.  I’m grateful to her, for having given him much happiness; being with all of my siblings, nieces and nephews and nearly all of my extended family.

My northern Nevada family has always been there for me, as well.  This year, over Memorial Day weekend, was no different.

My sister in spirit, Corina, drove an hour each way to visit with me a bit-once I got to Wilmette, but to no avail.  My arrival was way too late, so back she went, to spend Sunday afternoon with her beloved. I feel honoured, nevertheless.  Just being in the embrace of the Baha’i House of Worship is a singular honour, in itself.

Having dinner with friends in Mishawaka, IN, was a sublime blessing.  Thanks, Val and Sparky.

I cannot say enough, for the staff and fellow hostelers at Auberge Bishop, Montreal, for confirming my worth as a human being, in the aftermath of a serious loss.  I am also grateful to the agents at USAA, for mitigating that loss.  It was a joy to take lunch at one of  the restaurants of a friend’s establishment:  La Panthere Verte.  I would feel similarly honoured, again, at hostels in Baltimore and in Memphis.

One of the greatest honours is to connect with the spiritual energy of one’s ancestors. My maternal grandmother’s hometown, Plattsburgh, NY first welcomed me, and a few weeks later, my sister and a maternal cousin connected with some of Grama’s grandnieces and great grandnephews.

Penny’s family will always be my own, as well.  They helped me greatly, in the wake of Montreal.  A few days’ respite, in the family home, in Spring Hill, FL helped me rest before the home stretch, and reaffirmed our bond.  Paying my respects to her departed cousin, a few days before, in Maryland, was essential.

There are many, across the nation and world, who I regard as spiritual family. They are of all Faiths and of no Faith.  Connecting with a woman who is like a daughter to me, in Virginia Beach; an immigrant friend who is like a brother, in Salisbury, NC; and my Tennessee brother and sister of the heart, in Crossville, have made all the difference in healing a part of me that still grieves, somehow.

Being in Memphis, and feeling the pain that all of us who are of good heart experienced, the day Martin Luther King, Jr. died, was cathartic.  I had not cried in a good long while, and this overwhelming sadness brought out a lot.  Later in the day, walking along the banks of the Mississippi and along Beale Street, felt like a dirge was playing.  Dr. King honoured us all.

NEXT:  Learnings