Today, I’m giving you a two-for-one special. Not only will I sing a song with a powerful message for graduates but I’ll also read a poem I wrote several years ago that I share with those in my life who are graduating. This year, my niece Ana in Florida and my cousin Darby in Colorado are graduating from high school and college respectively.
In The Sound of Music, the Reverend Mother sings this song to Maria, encouraging her to follow her heart. At the end, the song serves as a background for the family’s escape from Nazi-occupied Austria. When I was in fifth grade at the Arizona State School for the Deaf & Blind, I sang in the school choir, and we performed this song for the commencement ceremony at the end of the year. Ana, Darby, and anyone else graduating this year, this poem and song are for you.
Go out into the world–never look back.
Reach for the top–always look forward.
Aim as high as you can.
Dream as big as possible.
Use your mind, heart, hands,
and know you can do anything.
Trust your instincts.
Energize your life.
What do you remember about graduation? Did you receive gifts from family and friends? Were you in the school choir that performed during the commencement ceremony? What song did the choir sing?
In Kent Haruf’s last novel, published posthumously, Addie, a widow, is lonely after the death of her husband. In desperation, she asks her long-time neighbor, Louis, a widower, to spend nights in her bed, keeping her company. Their relationship blossoms from friendship to romance amid gossip from people in the small town where they live and despite their families’ objections.
From the beginning, this author takes us directly into the story with little description of the setting. As the story progresses, we learn about our main characters’ lives through dialog instead of paragraphs of narrative back story. All this make Our Souls at Night a sweet story about two people finding happiness in their older years. The ending, though, leaves a lot to be desired.
Place two slices of whole-wheat bread on a plate, facing each other. Open a jar of Jiff chunky peanut butter, wrinkling your nose. Holding your breath, with a knife, spread generous amounts of peanut butter on both slices of bread, ⠺⠊⠩⠬ your spouse preferred creamy peanut butter, which is easier to spread. Don’t worry about the jelly. Your spouse doesn’t like it on a peanut butter sandwich.
If you haven’t passed out by now, fold both slices of peanut-buttered bread in half, smoothing the creases so the bread stays folded and wincing if your fingers come in contact with the peanut butter. This will make the sandwich easier to eat, since your spouse can only use one hand. Breathe.
Then serve your spouse the sandwich with a kiss. Note- If you two French-kiss after your spouse has eaten the sandwich, you might get the taste of peanut butter in your mouth. Gag!
In My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, I neglect to mention the fact that my late husband Bill loved peanut butter and I could never stand it. However, I talk about other foods he enjoyed eating and my cooking successes and disasters. For more information about the book and ordering links, click here.
How about you? Does your spouse like any foods that you can’t stand? How do you work around this? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment field.
In 2013, Julie Yip-Williams, wife and mother of two, was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. In her memoir, published posthumously, she details events during the five agonizing years leading to her death. She flashes back to her earlier life: being blinded by cataracts as an infant in Vietnam after the war, escaping with her family to the United States and settling in southern California, having most of her sight restored through surgery, growing up to become a lawyer, traveling all over the world, meeting and marrying her husband, and the birth of her children. In her last chapter, she encourages us to take advantage of the time we have. Her husband Josh wrote the epilog, and in the recorded version I downloaded, he reads it.
I admire this author’s courage in the face of adversity, and I’m not just talking about the cancer. She was born into a society that considers disability a weakness. Although she regained most of her vision, it was a struggle for her to learn to use what she had. When she was a kid, she was excluded from movies and other social events with her siblings and cousins because she wouldn’t be able to see anything and someone would have to take care of her. Despite all this, she went on to do remarkable things. I respect her decision to stop treatment and let the disease run its course, despite having a husband and two young children who loved and depended on her. Knowing the outcome, this is a hard book to read, but the story is well worth it.
On this, the last day of National Poetry Month, here’s a poem that appears in the spring/summer issue of Magnets and Ladders, which is produced by Behind Our Eyes, (BOE) an organization of writers with disabilities.
There are no trees, just an expanse of dirt
with steps leading down from the yard.
At the age of twelve, while Mother and Dad work,
I sit on the steps,
study seed packets of peas, corn, tomatoes.
With limited vision,
I read labels, gaze at pictures.
Five-year-old brother Andy is out riding his bike.
Sirens wail in the distance, come closer, are silenced.
“It sounds like fire engines,” says Dad.
After a while, the phone rings.
I hurry in the house to answer it.
A male voice asks for my mother.
I rush outside, call her to the phone.
“Hello,” she says.
“Oh my god! We’ll be right there.”
She slams down the receiver,
returns to the yard, me in tow.
“Ed, we need to pick up Andy at the police station.
He was playing with matches near that shack
at the bottom of the hill when it caught fire.”
I’m abandoned in the garden.
Since this is Favorite Poets Week, I’m sharing my favorite poem by my favorite poet. “The Lanyard” reminds me of all the useless gifts I was compelled to make for my mother during summer camps and art classes.
A perfect example is the ash tray I made for her during a pottery class at the YMCA she encouraged me to take when I was in seventh grade. I can’t describe it except to say it looked like something the cat dragged in. She may never have used it, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
How about you? Did you ever make anything for your mother? How did it turn out? Did she ever use it?