Tag Archives: love

For My Daughter

Carol A. Hand

I feel your concern as I walk slowly now
trudging up and down hills or on icy sidewalks
following behind as you lead the way
heading toward a future that is yours alone
I need to travel at my own pace – sure-footed
to avoid adding to the burdens I know you carry

*

Loving you means trusting life and letting you go onward
accepting the limitations of a frail aging frame with grace
watching you with love, compassion, joy, and heavy sadness
remembering conundral choices that I suspect hurt you
hoping one day you will understand that loving you deeply
gave me courage to face daunting challenges to keep you safe

*

My daughter, Turns Falls, Massachusetts, 1975

***

Yesterday, March 5th, was my granddaughter’s twelfth birthday. We had a lovely family celebration. But it’s a date that always makes me feel both deeply grateful, and deeply guilty.

I was traveling when I learned that my daughter was in the hospital giving birth to her daughter prematurely. In the midst of a powerful late winter snowstorm, the airports were closed in both of the cities where my daughter and I were. Renting a car to drive hundreds of miles through the storm wasn’t an option. There was no way I could be there. I could only fly home to a distant state the next day while the storm continued to batter the city where my daughter was.

When the airport reopened on the third day, I was faced with a conundrum. I was carrying heavy responsibilities for gifted, at-risk graduate students in a university that was unsupportive of those who were different in some way. If I left again to be with my daughter, it was likely their graduation would, at best, be delayed. I decided to send my partner, my daughter’s stepfather for most of her life, to be there instead. It was several months before I held my granddaughter for the first time.

All of the students I was advising graduated, many passing their final requirements with distinction, and they went on to careers helping vulnerable people. Yet, I know my daughter was deeply hurt. I will always wonder if I made the “right” choice, just as I will always remember that her birth was the greatest gift in my life.

Reflections about Aging

Carol A. Hand

Soon I will greet
my second septuagenarian birthday
I never envisioned living this long
*
As I look back I realize
there is one piece of advice
I wish to share with those who are younger –
Take care of your physical body
It may last far longer than you imagine
*
I look at my sagging skin suit, chuckling
It has had to stretch and shrink
more times than I can remember
and despite the claims of clothing manufacturers,
one size never really fits everyone (anyone?) well

*

Me early in my journey

*

Now my skin suit is a bit too big
Perhaps that’s a blessing
the bones that support me
are lighter, more porous and fragile
making flights of imagination and fantasy easier
*
Still, this body serves me well
reminding me to exercise mindful discipline
and move with a greater sense of purpose
humbly, gratefully, and compassionately

*

my daughter’s most recent birthday – October 18, 2018

*

Reflections about Loss

Reflections about Loss
Carol A. Hand

When you change
what remains
of the friends who used to be?
*
Slipping away like shifting sand
you’ll simply need to understand
learning graciously to set them free

***

July 20, 2012 – Cookie’s first summer in her new and last home (~2000 – 2013)

***

Things are not the same
but there’s no one to blame
so there’s no need for an apology
*
Although each loss brings sorrow
may you rise again tomorrow
open to new adventures yet to be

***

A Drizzly Dawn

Carol A. Hand

The day dawns drizzly
as     the     weeping     willow     waits
welcoming        the        end        of        struggle
living         too         long         alone      –      her         fate
the    tree    surgeons    soon    arriving
finally  she’ll  join  her  mate

***

Greeting a Drizzly Morning – May 8, 2018

***

Her passing will
leave a void
in the
neighborhood
she graced
standing strong
but supple
despite the many
storms she faced
Birds sing as her
budding branches sway
kissed by warm
gentle breezes
on her final day

***

May 8, 2018 – A Different View

***

Chi miigwetch for your presence, beloved willow

***

Simple Moments

Carol A. Hand

 

Sometimes, I can’t resist photographing the night sky.

***

May 2, 2018

***

The moon highlighting the church steeple

***

May 2, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

Perhaps I post too many photos of

the moon and everyday landscapes

exposing the limits of my old hand-held cameras

 

Still, I prefer to believe that

capturing the beauty of a simple life

is an act of gratitude –

and a special kind of art

***

May 3, 2018

***

Like the view from across the street

of the long-lived willow tree

***

May 3, 2018

***

a solitary sentinel gracing an urban neighborhood

greeting her final spring

***

May 3, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

The winds and weight of her branches

finally proved more than she could bear

Photos will help me preserve poignant memories

of her beauty and my enduring gratitude

for her comforting presence in my life

***

Seasons of Life

Carol A. Hand

The long-lived weeping willow
greets her final spring
Alone, she weathered many storms
but the violent winds of winter past
twisted her and split her to the core
leaving her fatally wounded

***

Leafless Willow – November 15, 2017

***

I grieve her passing
as I do the gentle faithful dog
who once sought her shade
in the heat of summer
and whose ashes have rested
beneath her sheltering canopy
for many years

***

Cookie – My beloved friend who passed on October 4, 2013

***

Yet the beloved dog’s passing
opened up a safe home for another
that was abandoned and abused
as the weeping willow’s passing
will open up a sunny space
for the mountain ash
that has struggled to survive
with little light in her shadow

***

Pinto – January 3, 2018

***

Wish though we may to turn back time
the cycle of life continues
opening up new possibilities to love

***

Reflections Inspired by Being Unplugged

Carol A. Hand

The past week has been strange. My computer power pack fried on class-prep day, Thursday, leaving me without access to the internet. Thankfully, the colleague I co-teach with was able to shoulder the work of reading student assignments and preparing our class power point. Getting my little laptop functional presented too many challenges to address in a day – antivirus protection, internet connection, and too little space to even download Windows 10 updates. Amazingly, each challenge has been overcome with my sense of humor intact.

I must admit it was a relief to be free from the continuing bombardment of distressing news. Yet each time I entered the living room my eyes automatically focused on the computer screen. It was dark, making me realize how much time I spend online. Without my computer, I had time to think, read, and do tasks that I could never find time to do when I was dealing with my blog. I liked having all of that time to reflect.

Having so much extra time also meant I could sort through the piles of papers everywhere and get rid of unnecessary things. It was a healing time in some crucial ways, though. I realized how weary I have become. The state of the world weighs heavy on my heart.

Countering the hopelessness and sorrow that sometimes makes it hard for me to create takes a tremendous amount of energy. And it takes much more now than in years past. I don’t feel as physically resilient as I once believed myself to be. My 70th year felt like a turning point signaling inevitable decline. Illnesses, back injuries, and the uncertainty of recurring debilitating back pain were constant reminders of my limitations and growing frailty. The combination of hopelessness and feelings of increasing physical frailty made it very tempting to simply withdraw and live in a reclusive fantasy world.

Then, my computer power pack fried. Suddenly life quieted and simplified. I had a chance to reflect and fall in love with life again. I had a chance to remember what matters most in my life.

October 5, 2015

I realized that the one true love of my life has been my daughter through good times and bad. I certainly haven’t been a perfect mother but she has always remained the most significant love in my life, now joined by my two grandchildren. Partners and friends have come and gone, yet giving birth created a special connection. The words that come to mind when I think of her, “In my life – I love you more,” come from a song by the Beatles.

Time for family comes first. Just as I finished typing these words, I was called in to live them, putting all plans aside to help provide support in a challenging situation. Although unsure how to help, I was grateful for the chance to be present, standing on tiptoes to hug my beloved grandson.

I also had time to begin spring cleaning by purging file cabinets that I try to avoid opening with the excuse that I just don’t have time. Sifting through them this week helped me remember how many places I’ve lived. I had forgotten the courage it took for an introvert to begin such a wide variety of new jobs in new places. I realized, too, how much I have enjoyed working in partnership with elders, tribes, and communities to develop innovative programs that addressed their needs and visions.

Old files reminded me how much I have loved teaching. Reading through teaching evaluations made me realize that many of my students appreciated what and how I taught in return. I say that with deep humility and gratitude because it’s something I worked very hard to do in often repressive unsupportive institutions. Challenging the status quo through love-inspired creativity makes one a target, but for some of us, it’s just what we have to do to be true to who we are.

UW Madison – 1989

Revisiting the past made me realize how grateful I am for the opportunities I still have to teach and contribute what I can to help open up possibilities for others to awaken to their beauty and talents. It brings me joy to encourage others to care about the earth and people by example in the true spirit of liberatory praxis – action guided by knowledge and inclusive compassion. Making time for teaching keeps me engaged with life doing something I love to do.

The one ache that became clear, though, when I looked at the looming blank computer screen this past week, was my failure to make time to finish editing and revising my manuscript about Ojibwe child welfare. It’s not something I can do until my computer is repaired.

Thankfully, my computer can be fixed although it will take time. Until then, I will remain grateful for the ability to connect with the internet even though it means squinting to read tiny type on a tiny laptop. It’s hard on my eyes so I can’t spend much time reading or writing. If you don’t hear from me often these days, that’s why.

I am not sure when I will be able to post again or how often I will be able to visit your blogs and comment. That depends on forces outside of my control. But I can still send my best wishes to all and I do so now with gratitude.

Eagerly Awaiting Spring

Carol A. Hand

 

March 30, 2018

***

The old nokomis eagerly anticipates spring
after another long bitterly cold winter
She plans to plant gardens again
even though harvesting is always uncertain

She will prepare the soil
and carefully plant each seed
despite hands, once supple,
now gnarled with age
rough and clumsy from so many years
of hard work, washing, and winter weather

She will wait for the new life
that springs from the soil miraculously
when she isn’t looking
and she will nurture the seedlings
through drought and deluge
until they mature and bear their fruit

***

March 30, 2018

***

As she reflects about gardens past,
she remembers the anxiety she always feels
from the plant beings at harvest
it’s as if she hears their cries in her heart
when she kneels on the earth before them
Please be gentle with us, nokomis

She will remember this year
when she touches their delicate leaves
as lovingly as clumsy hands will allow
giving thanks to them for their beauty
deeply aware that her survival
comes at the cost of other living beings

***

Weathered hands at rest – March 29, 2018

***

She knows someday she too
will once again be part of the earth
that feeds future generations
in this inextricably interconnected
ongoing cycle of universal life

Of course she knows
this may just be fanciful thinking
She doesn’t know where she was,
or even if she was,
before she arrived on earth
in a much smaller younger physical body
She doesn’t know where her spirit will go
when she is finally released
from a stiffening, sometimes painful
aging frame
but still, it’s comforting to believe
something of her will remain
nourishing new life
and maybe even traveling
to distant constellations
carrying the essence of the plant relations
that fed her while she was here

***

Seventy-One Winters

Carol A. Hand

Grateful for greeting
my seventy-first winter
on an almost silent snowed-in morning
amazed that I can still shovel snow
day after day after day
and remain grateful
for a simple life with so many blessings

*

Christmas 2017
for the daughter who takes time
from busy days to call just to talk
for the handsome hard-working grandson
who is kind and thoughtful
and remembers to send his love
for the granddaughter
whose presence lights up a room
for work to do that helps me stay engaged
and feel that what I have learned
can be of value to others
for friends who are here in times of need
and for the ancestors and wise beings
who have visited me in dreams and visions
helping me return and remain true
to the humble purpose for which I was born
seventy-one years ago

*