The Visit

Joan “Tall Rabbit” Katz

He and I

Come to knock

On your door

Our monthly visit

To you

To laugh to talk

To enjoy our special

Companionship

But your daughter Elly

Opens the door

Comes out in the hall

Tears on her face

Says the words

Heart attack

You suffered a heart attack

Are not expected to live

Much longer much longer





Her words slam through me

An electrical bolt jolts

My entire body

Renders me glued to the seat

Of my scooter

I cannot move cannot catch

My breath





Honestly I thought you’d live

Forever

Even tho you told me

Told everyone who’d listen

You are ready to go

Ready to go

It is not that I didn’t

Believe you

I know the authentic Joan

Speaks only her truth

But my truth is this

I don’t want to let you

Go let you go

But a soul’s choice

Is not for me to deny

And so I tell you again

I love you Joan

I love you





Goodbye

A Silent Encounter

 

The day is overcast

Sunless

Not unusual for Arcata

A town in Northern California

Blessed with Redwood Trees

Twenty miles south

Of the Oregon border

Where we walk the path

Around the lagoon

Of the Arcata Marsh

Looking for herons

Ducks     egrets

And other birds

That come and go

With seasons of the

Year

 

Tall reeds wave in the breeze

From the water

Bushes     small trees

Grow everywhere we walk

Framing the gravel path

That now leads us

Almost full circle to where

We began

And there     in the middle

Of the path

Stands a giant white egret

Like a spotlight

Its brilliant white

Shines in our eyes

Still as a statue

It signals

Come no closer

We wait

Still as the egret

But take our fill of observation

Never before so close to

Perfection

 

The egret turns around

The giant wings reach out

Fold in again

Then making an obvious decision

It walks regally into the waiting

Water

 

We remain motionless

In wonder

With gratitude

Then walk the rest of the way

To our car

Drive home in the gray light

With the memory of a brilliant

White blessing

“Arcata Marsh” by Brian McQueen www.McQueenArt.com

 

 

 

Spring

My dear

Spring is come

The sycamore    the Crepe Myrtle

Both birthing their new leaves

Roses in their garden

Bloom again

Recovered from their pruning

 

I miss mating of the

Mockingbirds

Scolding squawks claiming

Territories

Music of their calls

Resounding down the canyon walls

Around us

They have disappeared from my

Life

 

My dear

Do you remember spring

In Illinois

The ancient lilac bush

We transplanted

From the farm

Across from us on McCree

Road

Its house torn down

Making way

For a crop of new houses

Remember

We let the hose drip water

Two whole days     two whole nights

Around her roots

Praying she’d survive

She did     bloomed so faithfully

Sending the delicious scent

Of her blooms

Into our bedroom window

 

Oh     I welcome spring

In California

But mourn the ancient

Lilac bush

No flowered fragrance

Will ever fill her place

 

 

 

Fishing

He runs down the sand dune

Slipping sliding down

Flings his fishing line over his head

A school of dolphin near the shore

Dive in and out of the water

I can’t believe it

Father wants to catch

One

 

He runs down the beach

Races with the dolphins

They play with him

Tease him

Never losing pace

His feet

Pound the shoreline

Keeping up

Until

Far down the beach

He loses breath

Falls back

And they swim

Away

 

—1981

(under)Painting by Brian McQueen

All Love for My Hero

MomDadWalkDownAisle

Oh

I remember well

The beautiful young man

Standing in the front room

Of the Rodgers Park Jewish

Community Center

One June morning in

1954

I have come there

To be a counselor

In the Center’s summer day camp

A job I’m not overly excited

About taking

Only here because a college friend

Tells me there’s an opening for a

Girl counselor     and there isn’t any

Other summer jobs I know of

To apply for

Oh yes

I walk in and there he is

Standing right smack in front

Of me

I look up into a pair of very

Blue eyes

In a face smiling down at me

With beautiful     white     even teeth

He wears a white tee shirt

The sleeves rolled up once

His arms tanned     and not bulging

With muscles     just right

I don’t remember anything else of that

Day     our first meeting

Except that first day unbeknownst

To me     is the blessed first day of

Sixty-two wonderful years     sixty of them

In marriage

 

Thank you God     thank you Stephen

And you beloved family

Beloved friends

For blessing us     honoring us

By coming to be with us

As we celebrate our marriage

Of sixty blessed years

 

Thank you     Thank you     Thank you

MomDadVows

Daughter Mine

IMG_0263

Daughter mine

I would walk with you

Again

Hand in hand

Down a Carlsbad Village street

On our way for coffee

And buttermilk biscuits

Stopping to window shop

If there was time

I would walk with you

Again

Daughter mine

 

I would walk with you

Again

My daughter

Along the San Clemente shore

At low tide

Our foot prints following us

In wet sand

The smell of salty sea

Air

Filling our lungs

No words needed

There is beach music

To hear

The sound of the gulls’

High pitched cries

The ocean’s own voice

Its waves rolling in

Rolling out

Rhythms of its

Beating heart

I would walk with you

There

Daughter mine

Again

 

It has come with the years

As you know

Daughter mine

I no longer walk

Down a village street

No longer walk on wet sand

At low tide

For me

There is no pain

In the remembering

The scenes are images imprinted

In my soul

 

Come     daughter mine

Let us gather time

To sit together

Let us drink myriad

Cups of tea

There is so much

We have to share

You and I

The past is gone     gone

My daughter

This is now

Now is our today

 

I love you

 

Thanksgiving Dinner in the 60s

T-DayMemory

above: Ronny enjoying his delicious & fancy meal; below: Wendy’s family, a delightful bunch

We were still living in Waukegan, Illinois, Steve and I and our four young children. This particular Thanksgiving, we packed ourselves up and drove to Chicago, where we would enjoy the meal at our beloved “Nanny Wolbach’s” house. (This is the what my children called their great-grandmother.)

I was the proud preparer of Thanksgiving dinner this year, having taken over from Grandmother and two aunts. Mama and Grandma were with me in the kitchen as I was transferring Mrs. Turkey (we always bought hens) onto the platter, ready to march into the dining room to present her to my step-father who was an expert carver, much to the relief of husband Steve. Already waiting on the sideboard were creamed spinach, a sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top, green beans almandine, a tossed salad, Parker House rolls, and cranberry sauce (as I have to admit, my favorite Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce).

Our four children were seated at the table that was decorated with small unlit candles of pilgrims and turkeys. I began the procession of Mrs. Turkey on her platter, with Mother and Grandma walking behind me. Before I reached the closed, swinging kitchen door, Mrs. Turkey slid off her platter, smack onto the kitchen floor.

Mama, Grandma and I gasped. But quickly, as if by some hidden signal, they both said, “Pick it up, Dear, put it back on the platter, no one will know.”

So I did.

By some miracle, Mrs. Turkey remained mostly without injury from her fall onto the floor. I walked through the open swinging kitchen door into the dining room and set the platter down in front of my step-father, who (being a dear man, but almost obsessive over germs and cleanliness) would never know where Mrs. Turkey had been before coming to him.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! With love and gratitude … Wendy

“You are wonderful!”

Fortune Teller MomCropped

This is me, everyone, somewhere in the 1970’s. I have on an outfit that came from India. How or where I obtained it, I have no idea. But it felt just perfect for dressing up as a fortuneteller for a birthday party we were giving for one of our children!

Which one of the four I don’t remember, but am guessing it wasn’t our oldest, Danny. He was a sophisticated seventh or eighth grader. Maybe even a high school freshman. No, it would not have been Danny. Maybe Dina? She was only in third or fourth grade in the early 1970’s, and her girlfriends would have loved having their fortunes told, even by me, pretending to be a mysterious fortuneteller.

But now that I am truly remembering this event, I think it was Andy. His birthday is in October, close to Halloween. Wouldn’t it make sense to have the birthday boy’s mom dress up and pretend to tell the guests their fortunes? Never mind the fortunes would be made up.

I do vividly remember creating great fortunes for each child, boys or girls, maybe both if Andy’s friends or Dina’s friends were included in each others’ birthday celebrations. And here was Ronny, a fifth, sixth, or seventh grader. He loved dress ups. Perhaps it was his birthday in the middle of December. No, it HAD to be Andy’s in October.

Anyway, the fortunetelling place was set up in Steve’s and my bedroom, or was it? I had on a lovely shawl on my head made of the same material the pants and top were made of. Then there was something I am unable to identify on top of the shawl to hold it in place.

So there I was all dressed up ready for business! Well, I knew every child that walked into the bedroom, or rather, the fortuneteller’s room, where I was seated on the floor on a cushion. I knew their family situations. Knew if they were happy or troubled at the time of the party. I knew their personalities. I knew each of them. And so I created the most WONDERFUL fortunes:

“You will have a wonderful life filled with adventure and grand success.”

“You will achieve everything in your life you will want to achieve, and everything you work for will be a great success”

“You will have a most wonderful life. The world is waiting for you and you will have success in everything you set out to do.”

“Do not be fearful; know your future is going to be filled with happiness and success.”

And on and on. I had no idea if any of this would come to pass, but the huge smiles on their faces let me know they’d been happy with their fortunes. And certainly, I believed, giving them happy fortunes to put into their minds, might truly help them as they traveled into their futures.

One other thing: I told every child who came to hear my made up fortunes, You are  wonderful! And they were, so absolutely wonderful.

Big Blue, 1971

1971 No Cal Road Trip

“Big Blue,” summer 1971, somewhere in Northern California

Hello, everyone … I want to introduce to you our wonderful 1964 Buick station wagon, a gift from my mother and grandmother, costing $4,000, a huge sum back then that Steve and I could never have afforded! During the late 1960’s, we took several trips to Dallas, Texas in this Buick, to visit Steve’s mother, oldest brother, and his wife. So we were in practice by August of l970 when we piled into “Big Blue” and began a cross-country drive to our new home in Manhattan Beach, California—stopping in Dallas on the way. Our two dogs flew!

Now, back then there were no such things as seat belts. All four of our young children shared a big picnic basket, filled with cookies, string cheese, peanut butter crackers and other not too healthy items, which sustained them as they rode, untethered, in the back of “Big Blue” whose back two rows of seats had been lowered to accommodate them. There they were, rolling around with no restraints to keep them safe—laughing, squabbling, eating, playing games. I shudder to remember. And I cried most of the way, having left my mother and step-father back in Illinois without their four grandchildren; how could I have been so cruel!

Well, we settled happily in Manhattan Beach, in a house that was an easy walk to a wonderful beach. Then, in August of l971 we were invited to meet Steve’s oldest brother and his family in Yosemite, before moving on to a rented house on Lake Tahoe. We were so excited—Yosemite! Another big trip in “Big Blue” and off we went. Unfortunately, none of us were able to get accommodations on the valley floor; everything had been booked long before we’d decided to go there. Soooo … this meant we had to drive the winding road down to the valley floor from our motel, down and up again, down and up again, the three days we were there.

Yosemite1971

From left: Andy, Uncle Stanley, Dina, Ann, Aunt Margie, Danny, Ronny, Louis, Wendy

Now it happened that two of our little boys were extremely prone to getting carsick , and that is what happened on that winding road going down and then again up, to and from the valley floor. And they didn’t need to stop at the same time; each one got sick at different times so we were stopping and starting to let them out by the side of the winding road at least twice going and coming.

“Daddy, pull over, I have to throw up!”

I felt so sorry for them, having had the same problem when I was their ages, as had their father when he was a little boy. So we were very sympathetic and grateful the other two, their sister and older brother, had not inherited the malady! But we all had a wonderful time on the valley floor, and then at the motel above it.

1971 San Franciso Days

As I gaze at the images of “Big Blue” and my 70’s-clad family posing for a San Francisco moment, I have happy memories. It gives me great joy to recall that August when we drove from Lake Tahoe all the way to San Francisco, and back down the coast to our new home in Manhattan Beach.

Thank you for taking the ride with me down memory lane. I’m having such fun sharing with you here, so thanks for stopping by!

Love … Wendy