Fellowship

FELLOWSHIP

by Edgar Guest

The earth is warmed by the kindly sun,
but lives are warmed by the deeds of men
and their words of praise when our best we’ve done
and the parting wish that we’ll meet again.

The clouds may blanket the sky with gray
and the earth grow chill as the rain descends,
but he shall keep smiling along his way
whose heart is warmed by the love of friends.

It’s the glad “hello” and the handclasp true,
the smile of joy on a friendly face,
that means contentment for me and you
and makes of the earth a happy place.

It isn’t the gold that we strive to earn,
nor the fame we struggle so long to win,
for these are glories we’d quickly spurn
if never a kind heart took us in.

The poorest man on this earth is he
who has bartered his friendships for selfish gain,
who has sought advantage by trickery
and seeks for a welcoming smile in vain.

For the earth is warmed by a higher plan,
and he shall be glad when his work is done
who has kept the faith with his fellow man,
and the peace of his own conscience won.

Sister’s Last Good-Bye

Yesterday we as a family gathered to say our last good-bye to our sister Rose. Our son-in-law and daughter drove us down for the Celebration of Life, which was held at Moose Jaw. This was directed by a Celebrant who read the write-up of her life the family had written out. Then her oldest daughter came to the mike and read her memories of Mom, at times with a smile and at times pausing while the tear flowed.

I learned some interesting things I hadn’t known about my sister, including the fact that she and her husband met on a blind date set up by friends. She was only fifteen-and-a-half but it must have been love at first sight. Only six weeks later he popped the question in a unique way, simply telling her, “There’s something on the kitchen table for you.” She went to look, saw the small box and said, “YES!”

After the service there were hugs and tears and a lunch at the reception hall, where a video was shown. This was a collage of photos of her life and some of those photos brought me to tears. I remember those years, the little girl in some of those pictures.

Watching the years of her life pass in flickers on the screen was hard in a way, because she’s so alive in those scenes. You want to pull her back! There were a few snaps of her childhood and teen years, some from her wedding day. I saw a few showing some of us siblings together, a couple showing our parents, us as a family together at her house after our dad’s funeral. These were interspersed with many pictures of them as a young couple, growing older, travelling. We saw her two daughters at birth, as teens, their weddings, then them as parents; with many shots of the extended family and/or Rose holding and playing with her grandchildren. A lifetime well lived and enjoyed.

As I’ve already said, Rose was the only sibling I’ve had steady contact with through the years; the others I met more often in passing at functions. I will definitely miss her and that continuing family contact.

Perhaps because of those pictures, last night life as a whole took on a dream-like feeling. This present life seems like a flowing stream of incidents, scenes viewed from a train window as we speed through time. The world waiting on the other side seems like the true solid ground.

I’ve a cousin who says there’s no life beyond this one. You die; that’s it. Lights out. As a Christian I accept the Bible teaching on Heaven, but most people of various faiths do believe in, or at least hope for, a land of peace and light on the other side. People who have been revived after clinical death claim to have experienced some life after their last breath. All hallucinations?

At the service we were told that Rose definitely believed in a life after this one. The names of other family members were mentioned, people Rose would be meeting and joining over there. As the poet, Fanny Crosby, wrote, “Oh, the dear ones in glory how they beckon me to come, and their parting at the river I recall.”

After the lunch, siblings and spouses of Rose and her husband, their daughters and families, had a little service at the crematorium. Another round of tears and hugs, then her ashes were left there and we joined the extended family members at a lunch at her oldest daughter’s home. So now the day is over, except for the quiet grieving we’ll all go through.

Loving Little Arms

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is HUG.
In response I’ll offer this poem from Saskatchewan poet Roy Lobb, who was born in Ontario about 1892 and lived in the Melfort, SK, district.

TO MY SON

Two little arms and two little legs
each night would kick and toss;
ten little scratchy finger nails;
all these belonged to Ross.

Ringlets and curls on a high-set brow,
with blue eyes peeking through;
little stub nose and flushy cheeks
as fair as heaven’s dew.

A loving heart in a wee broad chest,
reserved a place for me;
stood near the gate and waved good-bye
as far as I could see.

Two little feet ran down the lane
to meet me coming home;
those happy thoughts I’ll treasure dear
wherever I may roam.

A little brown pup close by his side
would wag his tail in glee;
each night when I came home from work,
they’d want to play with me.

Two little arms around my neck
would start to scratch and tickle,
saying, “Dad, I’ll give you one big hug
if you give me a nickel.”

At close of day he’d climb my knee
and cuddle in a heap,
saying “Daddy, tell me a story now
before I go to sleep.”

Brunch for Mother

The Haiku Foundation Poet’s Dialogue is doing a series on Food and the Senses. I’ve been inspired with that idea, but tend to miss the submission deadlines, so here’s the family brunch I’ve put together.

cutlery clatter
Matthew sets the table
wanted to crack the eggs

thunk thunk the wooden spoon
Jenna stirs the grape juice
pop goes the toaster

Brittany sneezes
Father performs the frying
sprinkling more pepper

Cole opens windows
tries to hush the smoke alarm
mother’s to be surprised

brunch is ready
Mother expresses delight
smoke alarm hiccups

He Had It All Planned

Last week’s Crimson Creative Challenge was the picture of an old bridge with a tunnel underneath. See it Here. I wrote this story in my head, but only now have I got it in a proper file.

It’s a modern romantic tale — a bit silly perhaps. Sadly, it violates Crimson’s 150-word limit by almost 600 words, so I’m going to use a different picture and post it as my response to today’s Word of the Day prompt: CAREFUL. Nevin’s plans were carefully made, but he didn’t factor in one little unknown that made all the difference.

 

Tunnel.Nuremberg

THE TUNNEL OF LOVE

“Here we are.” Nevin and Wendy got out of the car. “Let’s get us one of those paddle boats and sail away.”

Wendy’s eye sparkled. “I love paddle boats.”

Ten more minutes, he thought, smiling. Everything’s set up and the operation will be in full swing before she catches on.

But Wendy had stopped and was staring toward the dark opening. “Umm… Is that the tunnel you want to go through? It’s so…dark.”

“That’s the idea, sweetheart. Couples do a little smooching in the shadows before they come out the other side.” He kissed her cheek. “And I’ll be right beside you.” He took her hand and tugged her toward the paddle boat rentals.

She turned to him, her face pale. “Uh… I don’t think I can do this.”

Nevin raised his brows in surprise. “Why? You’re not scared of the dark, are you?”

“No. It’s just that when we were children my brother and I explored a cave one day. We didn’t know bats were roosting in it and our light scared them.” She shuddered. “We were so terrified. All those bats flying around us…and that awful squeaking. I’ll never forget it.”

“But there’s nothing to be scared of here. You can believe the River Council won’t allow any bats to roost in their tunnel. Come on. You’ll like it inside.”

They walked closer to the tunnel’s mouth and Wendy peered in, just as several high-pitched squeals drifted out of the tunnel. “Ack,” she shrieked and jumped back.

Nevin groaned. What’s he doing in there anyway? Tuning the thing? I’m gonna have some sharp words for him about his rotten timing.

Wendy was clinging to him now. “I’m sorry, Nev. I just can’t go in there.” The desperate note in her voice tugged at his heart.

Nevin pictured his careful plans sailing south. “Okay, I don’t want to force you to do something that terrifies you. You go back to the car, Wendy. I have to make a phone call.”

He pulled out his cellular as Wendy walked back to the parking lot alone, probably still thinking about bats. He kicked at a protruding cobblestone. Bats. Rats! Once he knew she’d be out of hearing, he dialed and waited for Cole to answer.

“Plans blew up,” he said. “Who knew she’d be scared of dark tunnels. And bats.” Nevin gritted his teeth. “It didn’t help that she heard some squeaks from the tunnel at the worst possible moment.”

“Hey, man, so sorry about that. I had no idea. Just doing a bit of…never mind. I’ll still get paid, won’t I? It’s my time. I need the cash.”

Nevin blew out a sigh. “Yes, you’ll still get paid. We’ll work something else out.” He ended the call, shoved his phone back in his pocket and headed for the car.

“Who knew,” Cole grumbled, replacing his violin back in its case. He brushed the strings lovingly before closing the lid.

“Women!” He yanked at the balloon strings he’d wrapped around a loose stone. And what was he supposed to do with these? The neighbour kids would probably like some balloons. They wouldn’t care about the writing… But they couldn’t be left floating around; he’d best just pop them.

He frowned when several strings pulled loose. Before he could grab them again, a capricious breeze swept the two bobbing balloons out of the tunnel. Cole shrugged and took a better hold on the others. Picking up his violin, he headed out the other exit.

“Look, Nev!” Wendy, standing beside the car, pointed. “Those balloons just blew out of the tunnel! Hey, there’s even some writing on them.”

Nevin slapped his forehead. He was so going to have words with Cole. Maybe I’ll only pay him half what he asked for.

If the breeze would at least move the things away, but no. The balloons dipped down and bobbed toward them; now Wendy was racing to catch one. Talk about the best laid plans going awry.

She succeeded in grabbing the end of a dangling string. “It says… Oooooh,” she squealed. “It says, ‘I love you Wendy. Please marry me’.” She turned to him with a huge grin. “Oh, Nevin, you’re so romantic!”

“At least I was trying to be,” he replied. “Things didn’t work out as planned.”

“Oh. You had these in the tunnel…and I spoiled it. But these balloons popped out at just the right time. And my answer is yes!” She flung herself into his arms. “I would be delighted to marry you.”

He grinned and wrapped her in a tight hug. “Then we have a perfect ending.”

Visiting the Home in Haiku

Visiting Grandma at the Nursing Home

I don’t remember, either
I told her
companionably

We play Yahtzee
even though she can’t read the dice
she can shake

holding Grandma’s hands
I should let go — but
her fingers are so cold

“Flower Garden” quilt
walking the winding trails
of her memory

I never told her
it rained last night
Grandma’s somewhere else

She tells me
Prince Charles visited today
bladder infection*

in the twilight
she folds her tired hands
one last time

* She really did. Bladder infection tends to cause nursing home residents to “lose it” temporarily. 😦