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Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

Make a Memory

A few days ago I posted a poem titled Make a Memory and promised I would tell the story behind it. My sister-in-law, Tiz, asked me not to be too long about getting it up, especially after I told her that she and my brother, Mike are part of the story and Mike was a prime player in “the memory.”

Mike and Tiz live in Australia and last September, they visited us in Wisconsin for the very first time. I hadn’t seen my brother in far too many years and had never even met Tiz so this was a big occasion. A wonderful time was had by all but one incident stands out to me above all the others. It was a simple thing really but rich and very complex in meaning to me on several different levels.

We had gathered on the porch in the late afternoon just talking about this and that, enjoying each other’s company and my Gr-son Gabe was sort of lurking around the edges of the adults, listening to our conversation (I think we were discussing politics or something) and he had come up and leaned against me. I could see that he was trying to get closer but there was nowhere for him to sit so I invited him to sit on my lap.

Now Gabe had formed somewhat of a huge boy crush on my brother Mike and I had noticed he was trying to impress him so I wasn’t surprised when he informed me rather scornfully “I don’t sit on peoples’ laps anymore, Gramma.” To which I replied that I guessed he WAS getting a little too grown up for that but I sure wished I had known the last time he sat on my lap that it was going to be the last time. He asked me why and I said because I would have made a memory about it since I loved it so much when he sat on my lap when he was little.

At that point Mike chimed in with a comment about how important living in the present and being mindful of what is precious to you when you are with your loved ones is because you never know when the last time is going to be. We had a short discussion about that. That was probably the best–most meaningful–conversation Mike and I had that whole weekend. There was a whole lot that was left unspoken but was said nonetheless, in my opinion.

The conversation moved on and awhile later Gabe came up and nonchalantly sat on my lap. I didn’t say anything, just gave him a little hug but I knew what he was doing. After a few moments, he leaned in close and whispered in my ear “This is the last time, Gramma. Make a memory.” 

When they got home, Tiz sent me some pictures of their visit. One of them is the picture of Gabe and Daryn playing with some kangaroo boxer toys and there is Gabe, sitting on my lap. Occasionally I would look at that picture and think about sweet Gabe saying “This is the last time; make a memory” and think about writing a poem. Eventually that poem pretty much just wrote itself early one morning. I changed very little after the first draft. Mostly just line breaks and punctuation and one word.

So, Thanks Mike and Tiz.  You both helped make a special memory.

Barbara Gavin-Lewellyn

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God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.  ~James M. Barrie

 

This is the last time, whispered sweetly,
leaning in, close to my ear
so that only I would hear.
This is the last time, make a memory.
And so I did: wrapped
up in September’s sunshine, kept
safe, a treasure, this simple act,

an expression of love so strong
my heart longs
to hold you back
even as you walk away from me
towards tomorrows I will not see.

 

 

There is a story behind this poem—aren’t there always? I considered telling it in this post but I think I will let this poem stand alone for a few days before I write about what prompted the poem in order to let it become what it will for whoever takes the time to read it. I like to make some of my poems a bit ambiguous as to their subject and just try to capture the emotions that surround the situation. Do you think I have managed that with this one? Who do you think whispered this in my ear? What was “the last time?”  Why are they walking away?

The picture I used to illustrate this poem is one I took of the sun shining on the leaves in the courtyard of my building in September of 2008 when we had stellar fall colors. I titled it September’s Sunshine and thought it would be a good companion for this poem.  It even illustrates this weeks photo challenge “Through” since the sun is shining through the leaves.

Thanks for reading…

Barbara Gavin-Lewellyn

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The first line of this poem was shamelessly stolen from a coffee cup cozy at a famous name brand coffee shop a couple of years ago.  Should I mention their name?  Oh hell, why not give them credit.  StarBucks.  StarBucks on State Street near the University of Wisconsin to be exact.  I used to go there with my fella.  <grin>

I hereby dedicate these poems to Larry and Starbucks.  Larry knows the value of a good cup of coffee.

COFFEE (Fall)

Sometimes the coffee stirs ya’
makes ya’ rise up in the morning
a song on your lips, shouting hallelujah!
When it’s a a bag of fresh roasted beans
and you grind it yourself while
the sun rises favorably over the city;
when the brewing takes over every room
while you’re snuggling in bed with your fella.
Some days the October sky is that blue that thrills ya
and the colors have peaked in falls gaudy bloom
so you fill the house with the bright yellow fullness
of Sunflowers. Everything seems so full of promise!
Those are the days you don’t want to miss..
Sometimes the coffee just stirs ya’
Know what I mean?

Sometimes ya’ just stir the coffee…
You know, those days when you’re feeling glum
and it’s partly to mostly cloudy, hardly any sun.
It don’t matter how fresh the beans
might be or how strong you make your coffee
ain’t nothing gonna stir ya’
because today you’ve just got the blues.
The in-pile on your desk just gets bigger and bigger;
the daily news seems to portend the end
of time and you ain’t got a dime till pay day
and Honey, don’t you know, that’s a week away!
Your guy’s out of town; your best friend forever
ain’t talking to ya’ and you ain’t got a clue
what the hell’s tripping her trigger!
You’re feeling almighty low and downright awful!
Some days it’s all you can do to pick up a spoon
and keep on stirring the coffee.
Know what I mean?

COFFEE (Spring)

Sometimes the coffee stirs ya’
makes ya’ rise up in the morning
a song on your lips, shouting hallelujah!
When it’s a a bag of fresh roasted beans
and you grind it yourself while
the sun rises favorably over the city;
when the brewing takes over the house
while you’re snuggling in bed with your fella.
Some days the dandelions are so yellow they thrill ya
and the lilacs are in full bloom
so you fill every room with the smelly fullness
of their blossoms and everything seems full of promise.
Those are the days you don’t want to miss..
Sometimes the coffee just stirs ya’
Know what I mean?

Sometimes ya’ just stir the coffee…
You know, those days when you’re feeling glum
and it’s partly to mostly cloudy, hardly any sun.
It don’t matter how fresh the beans
might be or how strong you make your coffee
ain’t nothing gonna stir ya’
because today you’ve just got the blues.
The in-pile on your desk just gets bigger and bigger;
the daily news seems to portend the end
of time and you ain’t got a dime till pay day
and Honey, don’t you know, that’s a week away!
Your guy’s out of town; your best friend forever
ain’t talking to ya’ and you ain’t got a clue
what the hell’s tripping her trigger!
You’re feeling almighty low and downright awful!
Some days it’s all you can do to pick up a spoon
and keep on stirring the coffee.
Know what I mean?

Barbara Gavin-Lewellyn

I’m going to try and write a different version of this poem for every season.  I think this is one of the best pieces I have ever done.  Just my opinion.

I should start putting more of my stuff online.

B

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Today would have been Ridchard LeRoy Vickrey (Skip) Lewellyn’s 57th birthday. He died in June of 1999 in a tragic accident at work. Too young, too young…

He used to call me up when he was drunk and this song would be playing in the background:

I Will Always Love You
Dolly Parton

If I should stay
Well, I would only be in your way
And so Ill go, and yet I know
That Ill think of you each step of my way
And I will always love you
I will always love you
Bitter-sweet memories
Thats all I have, and all Im taking with me
Good-bye, oh, please dont cry
cause we both know that Im not
What you need
I will always love you
I will always love you
And I hope life, will treat you kind
And I hope that you have all
That you ever dreamed of
Oh, I do wish you joy
And I wish you happiness
But above all this
I wish you love
I love you, I will always love

I, I will always, always love you

I will always love you
I will always love you
I will always love you

Once when he came to visit me or I went to visit him, it’s been so long ago I don’t recall exactly, he rented “ (more…)

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The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the night and the empty skies my love
To the night and the empty skies

Roberta Flack

I am waxing nostalgic today thinking back to the births of my children. My daughter’s birth especially since she has just brought a new life into my life. I’m to become a Grammy again if all goes well. My daughter is in the process of adopting an 8 month old baby girl.

Her mother still has time to change her mind although the state will pursue termination of parental rights if she does not volunteer to surrender the child for adoption. Her brother and sister have different fathers who want them.

I was almost 22 when my daughter was born in May of 1974. Her brother was three years old. She was overdue by one day, the day after Mother’s day on the 13th of May. We had a record high of 102* that day and as we were driving to Aurora, Nebraska where the hospital was her Dad and I saw two tornadoes touch down in distant fields. Luckily they small and they were moving away from us.

I was certainly ready to greet the little person who had been causing me so much discomfort for over a month. She had been in position to be born and I had been dilated 1 centimeter since April 7th. The doctor was going to induce labor on the 15th if she didn’t move out because he was afraid she had decided to take up permanent residence.

I wanted a little girl and Skip and I had a bet going on. Of course we didn’t know the genders of our babies back then. There were sonograms but they were very primitive and they were only done if absolutely necessary and telling the parent the gender of their child if you could tell from the blurry images was considered somewhat unethical. They might abort if it wasn’t the gender they wanted. :^\

We’d left for the hospital much earlier than we’d planned because of those darned tornados. It looked like it was going to be a repeat of our son’s birthing experience. He was born during a flash flood February 5th 1971 in Jackson, Michigan. Skip was not looking forward to a repeat of that and neither was I.

We’d arrived at the hospital at 8 pm at night the night before our son was born just to check if I was really in labor because we lived 35 miles out in the country and didn’t want to leave the city if I was, certain we would be iced in by the next morning. The car had stalled 5 times getting us to the hospital.

The nurses determined I was definitely in labor and further decided that because of the weather and the reports they were receiving from the state patrol, that I should not leave the hospital even though they would normally send me home because I was in the early stages of labor.

It was going to be a long night. My son was not born until 5 o’clock the next morning. I didn’t think-anything like that was going to happen with this baby but I was hoping that my water would at least break before we got to the hospital.

The first thing we did was go to a cafe so Skip could get something to eat. We’d rushed off so quickly he hadn’t had time to eat and neither had I. I knew I shouldn’t eat but I was so hungry I ordered a small bowl of chicken noodle soup easy on the noodles. We lingered at the cafe as long as we could stand it, smoking and talking, but we soon ran out of things to say and I felt the need to be up and moving.

We drove over to the city park and walked around timing my pains until they were at the 5 minute mark. It was now 7:30 and Skip was bored spitless. We got back in the truck and Skip started driving around aimlessly. Then he found it, only three blocks from the hospital. A used car lot.

We drove in and Skip started looking at cars, kicking tires. He’d pause in his perusal to time my pains but while he looked I could concentrate on pacing and riding out the waves of labor pain. We were both happy. Pretty soon a salesman joined us and Skip started dickering about the various merits of one car over another as “a present for my wife here, when she has this baby.” I snickered at that little bit of chatter.

An hour went by and somewhere along the line I had stopped pacing and had taken hold of Skip’s hand, standing there squeezing while a pain came and went and he timed them and calmly talked to the used car salesman about foreign cars versus domestic cars. He was looking at a Mazda.

Every once in awhile he would say something like “Wow! that was a doozy Honey! They ‘re 45 seconds long and a minute and a half apart! Good job! You let me know when you’re ready to go.” and I concentrated on the sound of his voice and the inner workings of my body.

Eventually they got to a minute and a half long and a minute and a half apart and I knew it was time to go. I think that poor salesman thought we were absolutely crazy and maybe we were a little bit. He was probably relieved to see our red pick-up truck driving down the highway towards the hospital.

My daughter was born ten minutes after I got to the hospital. The doctor was there delivering another woman’s baby and he came in to examine me and asked if he could break my water. I said yes and she practically fell out into his hands.

I got my car too! A little powder blue Volkswagen Beetle. But not from that poor salesman who went through the final stages of labor with us. I was totally surprised the day Skip came driving it home.

What I remember most of all about seeing her for the first time is her beautiful little hands. She still has beautiful hands. I love to look at them. They are so elegant. She has long elegant arms and legs too.

When she was a baby she was a skinny little thing and had a little potbelly, huge eyes, and no hair. My sisters-in-law all told me she was homely as hell. I thought she looked like a cute little spider monkey. She wasn’t going to win any pretty baby contests but she was a sweet little thing and you should see how gorgeous she turned out. I haven’t seen any of their daughters since they were pre-teens but I know damn good and well there isn’t one of them that can hold a candle to her in achievment and spirit. Besides she was my baby and it didn’t matter what she looked like, I loved her.

B

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They say that breaking up is hard to do
Now I know, I know that it’s true
Don’t say that this is the end
Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again

Neil Sedaka Breaking Up  by The Carpenters

It seems like the events of my life are punctuated by the songs that run through my head when I think about writing about what is happening in my life. Or maybe I just read too much Stephen King.

He’s my favorite pulp fiction author and that’s a favorite device of his.  It get’s the damn song stuck in my head for a chapter, too.  I’m evil because  I hope I get songs stuck in your head when you read my Blog.   May the gods forgive me, because no one who is an intellectual ever will, I think the man has a touch of mad genius.

He’s also very rich, Stephen King is. Sylvia Plath who was also touched by madness and genius is dead. Very dead.  The intellectuals love her.  I’m still alive.  I think I will just go right on emulating old Steve.

I haven’t written in awhile. I don’t write when I’m blue/depressed. I brood. I think a lot about what happened and why it happened and whether it turned out the way I wanted it to turn out and if I did what I really wanted to do and if maybe I had done this  would it have turned out differently/better. In other words, I obsess.

I have been involved off and on with a man, Larry, for nearly 3 1/2 years. He’s 15 years younger than I am and only 3 years older than my son so it’s been kind of a stretch for both of us in many respects. But it has worked on many levels and we do have a great deal in common that has made the relationship pleasurable for both of us at least part of the time. On and off.

I think it worked much better for Larry than it did for me. I’m not sure why. I mean, I was the one who had the big status coup going on. I was the 50 year old woman dating a 35 year old man who is incredibly good looking, intelligent, educated and really a very nice guy in many respects. He’s got his quirks but they aren’t unforgivable, really.

Unfortunately, there have been outside pressures and internal stresses that I really don’t want to go into here that have convinced me that I can’t deal with the intensity of a relationship with Larry anymore. We broke up because of them nearly two years ago. It may not even BE Larry and what was going on, I’m not sure I can deal with a relationship with anyone, anymore really. I don’t think I want to.

Then I ran into him about 9 months ago and foolishly thought we could be friends because in some ways I did miss him. I just didn’t miss the constancy of him. The every dayness of having someone/anyone in my life.  Does that make sense?

I thought maybe we could meet for coffee occasionally and talk about politics or current events. Maybe we could go to some local ballgames together and just hang out together once in awhile. I know Larry has a hard time socializing with other people and frankly, sometimes, so do I. It’s not easy being a mentally ill atheist intellect in this city.

He was eager to get together but he wanted the whole monty. A full blown relationship. Oh geeze. Well maybe. Maybe . Maybe we could sort all that messy crap out because he said he was making some significant changes that might make it all work out. OK, I’d agree to work towards that. Months pass and suddenly he wasn’t making those changes after all.

Then I knew, it would NEVER work between us. NEVER He had done this before and he would continue to do it. He’d promise to make changes to get what he wanted and then when he had what he wanted, he’d renege. I’d been down this road before with my husband.  The promise her anything to get it back on track and then switch tracks once the train was moving.  In other words, bait and switch.

So OK, I told him there was no way a relationship was going to work and I told him WHY but for some crazy ass reason, I thought I could remain friends with this guy. For the next six months to eight months it was one freaking game after another with him. I’d get peeved, tell him off and back off for awhile and then we’d meet for coffee and start the whole process over again.

In the meanwhile, I’ve got real shit going on in my life that is much more important, in my mind, to deal with than the baloney Larry is pulling on me so I’m not talking about what’s going on between Larry and I to our mutual shrink and I’ll bet anything that little skunk has painted a very unbecoming picture of me for David. The funny thing is that until the very end, the crap that Larry was pulling was really just a minor irritation. Sort of jesus christ on a pogo stick kid are you acting out again? Go stand in the corner. I have to deal with this fucking monster tarantula that’s crawling out of the bathroom sink drain pipe and the overflowing toilet full of shit. Get the fuck out of my way,  will ya?  And quit that damn whining.

But the “friends with benefits” bullshit was the last straw. Without going into detail (and I’m sure you can all fill in the blanks with that one little phrase) he once again tried to manipulate himself into a power position in my life. So I decided to show him that NO means NO or when you say you are going to make changes to make a relationship work you damn well better be willing to follow through with what you promise to do. He didn’t and I ended it. Completely.

No more friendship, no more anything. He wasn’t expecting that. He was honestly shocked. Economics of human relationships, baby. The costs outweigh the benefits of maintaining a relationship/friendship with you. In other words, you are just too damn much work. Asta la Vista.

Maybe I shouldn’t have told him that. Maybe it was cruel to have been so blunt and honest. Especially after I told him to go find somebody else.  He said that tht was really going to help his ego in THAT process. <urgh>

It’s his own damn fault though. He asked me why. Why are people/men in particular always so offended when you tell them the truth to a question they asked you in the first damn place?  If you don’t want the damn truth don’t ask the question. d’oh.  Especially if you already KNOW the answer.

B

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