Upon Hearing a Rilke Poem

gailwocanvas761x2

It is Sunday. This is the day when Frank gets us coffee and donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts and buys his Sunday Boston Globe and spends the greater part of the morning reading. I spend time on the computer, usually on Facebook sharing posts and responding to posts made in my post-polio support group. It is a very serious group with people experiencing debilitating disability and desperation about the progressive nature of our syndrome.

But today there is a lightness in my heart, and a freedom from my usual obsessive worrying about the future. In a rare state of tranquility, I am able to just experience the present and be thankful and grateful for the peace and beauty in my life.

I am not in pain. Not physically or psychically, and that is a blessing worth noting. I am comfortable in a way that eluded me in the past. My physical and emotional needs are being met. I am not struggling.

I was listening to Boston Public Radio this morning and they had a guest on who is a Buddhist ecological philosopher. She is eighty-one years old. She has been a translator and worked on Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetry for years. During the segment about her life, she read several of Rilke’s poems. I was moved enough to want to buy Rilke’s works. Being a poet myself, I am a little bit ashamed that I wasn’t familiar with his work, but I am well-written, but not well-read.

The poetry was gorgeous. The ones she chose to read focused on spirituality and death, but the beauty of the imagery elevated the subjects to a level of experience that was transcendent. Rilke believed, as I do, that life ends at death, but we must make peace with death and use our lives to fully experience all the possibility of our humanity. The natural world plays a large part in his expression, and it was in this that I found an inspiration so very real to me completely uplifting.

I used to get high when I entered an art museum or thumbed through one of my art books. I never experienced this by reading poetry. Until now. The high is a result of having the poetry read to me aloud, the way it is intended, by someone who is in love with those written words. I forget her name, but I’ll never forget her voice.

Today, for all of you, I wish the transcendence from your everyday to a high of delight and wonder. Whether it be art, poetry, or some other pursuit of your own, I hope you find meaning in your life and can rise above your problems, even if just for a moment.

To the everlasting light in our lives,

Love,

Gail

 

A New Life

IMG_0435On March 24, 2016, Otis Donald Anderson was born. This new life is precious to me. He is my only grandson. I never knew how moved I would be when holding my grandson in my arms for the first time. He is perfect, a blank slate as my son, his father, says.

The first day we went to Ethan and Andrea’s house to see Otis, my tremors were very bad. So bad that I worried I would drop him when they handed him to me while I was still in my wheelchair. The tremors continued throughout the day, and I struggled to be calm when holding him. I got to feed him his bottle twice, and marveled at the daintiness of his fingers and the whispers of his eye lashes. I stroked his black hair with my shaking hand, praying for relief from the tremors that prevented me from fully enjoying being with him.

My physical therapist had suggested I ask my primary care doctor for a prescription for Lyrica for nerve pain. Lyrica was developed as a sleep aid, but when given to patients with MS, it was discovered that it quelled their nerve pain. I took the Lyrica, and within one half hour, I was without the pain in my ankles and legs that I had lived with for at least four years. One side effect that surprised and delighted me was a lessening of my tremors. The shaking that rocked my body from my hands to my feet had almost been silenced.

Two weeks later, we visited Otis again. This time, instead of the ratchety movements of my arms and hands holding the baby, calm arms and hands caressed him in his coverlet. I was able to trace my finger along his cheek to feel his newness, and loved touching his little legs and felt his tiny feet inside his onesie.

My only job is to love him. Now I can be tender and calm. My body doesn’t betray my wishes to caress his face with a loving touch. I still have minor tremors, but the difference between the two visits is profound. This has been a gift to me, in the midst of a very happy phase in my life.

In one year, I am a grandmother four times over. My son Jesse and his wife Ines adopted three sisters, age 3, 4, and 5 this year. Marissa, Ally, and Clare know me only through Skyping and phone calls, but they are due to visit in July.

The blessings abound. Four precious little lives are enriching my life daily. My tremors are quieted to a degree I can deal with, and I can be the grandmother I want to be. Just when I thought I needed to accept the pain and tremors as a part of my post-polio syndrome progressing, I was pleasantly surprised by a pharmacological intervention.

There is hope. There is always hope. In the midst of a struggle, we might be blinded by the waves of difficulty washing over us. But sometimes, just sometimes, we get through it with a better understanding of ourselves and the gift of some sort of intervention.

We don’t have to do it all alone. Accepting help has been very hard for me, but I have learned it can mean the difference between suffering in silence and living fully in the moment.

To Otis, Marissa, Clare, and Ally, my lap is open to you now. My love is for you.

To my readers, take heart. If an intervention doesn’t present itself for you, look outwards for help in your struggle. Learn to ask for it. Learn to know you deserve to feel better.

Until then,

With Love,

Gail

It’s Been a Long Time Coming Home

Koi Necklace, by Gail
Koi Necklace, by Gail

Dear Friends,

This has been a long year, and I have missed writing. Some of you may forget that you subscribed to my blog at all. I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve been on a journey. Most of it has to do with physical health, but I’ve had spiritual growth, too. All in all, I’m in a better place than I was the last time I posted.

December arrived with a diagnosis of breast cancer, again. I had a mastectomy in February and am gladly on the other side of the surgery and cancer-free once again. The general malaise I had can be chocked up to my body fighting the invader. For those of you who have had cancer, you understand the assault on security it causes and the face of your own mortality.

This Summer I was battling another of my physical conditions, post-polio syndrome. I haven’t written about my disability because who wants to read about a disability? I like to write about the love and beauty in the world. Anyway, I had an overall general decline in my abilities and it prevented me from writing and doing the things I love: writing and making jewelry.

I sell my jewelry in a shop on Etsy, and I have met some other wonderful artists and jewelry makers. It has opened up new friendships and bonds that will last for years to come. There is a link to my shop on this blog, if you’re curious. I’m not trying to sell you anything, I just love to share my design and artwork.

The Summer passed with daily observations and joy in the hummingbirds at my feeder. I can’t even express my love for the beautiful creatures. I tended to them lovingly, making their nectar every week and replenishing it before it got stale. In turn, I was delighted with their antics and sheer beauty, the wonder of the small glimpse they gave to me of their lives.

I was gifted with three granddaughters at once, when my son Jesse and his wife Ines adopted sisters. They are three, four, and five, and gorgeous, adorable, precious little people. They have been through so much in their young lives, I am overwhelmed for them. I have not met them yet, as they live far away, but they’ll visit in the Spring when another son, Ethan, and his girlfriend Andrea have their baby boy. Eric is my third child, and is single at the moment.

This post is entirely unlike my other offerings. I usually rise above the everyday to meet you in the stratosphere of poetry or daily missives on the beauty and the love that surrounds me. Sometimes I write memoir and prose. But I wanted to catch you up on my life, and in a way, give you the reasons for my absence from my blog.

I need to connect on a deep level with you.

With that, I’ll say:

Love,

Gail

Prose – The Day for Not Writing Poetry

I don’t know what made today so glorious. Was it sitting in the sunshine on my patio, the sky like an old aggie with the clouds making swirls around the iridescent blue? Was it the lime green of the new growth on the evergreens in contrast with forest green of last winter’s needles? It may have been. It may have been the chipmunk I watched retrieving nuts and berries from a favorite hiding place in the stone wall.

I hand tilled the small strap of garden which I have never used before and planted Sweet Williams seeds there that I had bought; four packs for a dollar. I planted Bleeding Heart seeds in the Portuguese pot, glazed green on the outside that sits on an iron stand; one of two that I bought years ago. The other pot is cobalt blue, and waiting for Nasturtium seeds. The early light hit my retinas just right, feeding me brilliance. Planting the seeds made me feel like I was about to give birth, and hopefully, the evidence will show it, in six to ten days with small sprouts.

I brought my coffee and journal out to the small wrought iron table and chairs, and thought I would write a poem about the whale watch last Summer. But this morning in particular, I was full of the sense of living more than thinking, and it was my choice just to be human and feel, see, hear, smell, and love life. I didn’t want to write about it, in fact, in that state I couldn’t. It wasn’t a time for words.