In Memory of Love on the Road * Stephen’s 86th Birthday

August 6, 2021

Stephen’s 86th Birthday Donut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For me

Our drive from home

In California

To our home in

Santa Fe New Mexico

Was magical

I had you     my beloved

All to myself

No telephone ringing

With calls for you

From anyone

No TV voices

To turn off

Only us     just us

In the quiet of our

Car

Driving at times

Many miles

In intimate silence

 

Do you remember

My very dear

The Italian restaurant

In Holbrook Arizona

Where for years

We spent the night

This restaurant

On the outskirts of town

Served astonishingly delicious

Food

 

Motels crowded the area

A gas station

Close to the entrance

Of the Interstate

Where you would

Fill our tank

Before dinner

So we could leave

Again

While still dark

To drive east

Toward Albuquerque

The sky growing lighter

Lighter

Eating peanut butter

Sandwiches

As the sun rose

Over the Interstate

Day had begun

 

Of course

Fall always arrived

Aspen leaves

Turned the mountains

To gold

Time for us

To drive home again

To California

 

My favorite place

To stop

As we drove west

Into the setting sun

Was Casa Grande

Arizona again

A friendly man

How we met     a mystery

I do not remember

 

He told us

He and his family

Owned a restaurant

We should come for

Dinner

And we did

It had a cozy

Atmosphere

And delicious food

A huge old tree

That has stood

For at least a

Hundred years

Was the guardian

Of the front yard

And the family’s

Pride

We went back and

Back

At least four years

On the way home

And then

The tree fell down

The restaurant lost its

Spirit

Closed

And us

We grieved the loss

Knew it wouldn’t be

Replaced

Drove up and down

The road that led into

Casa Grande

Among the motels

Gas stations

McDonald’s and other

Fast food places

Until we found “Millie’s”

It didn’t have a

Huge old tree

It wasn’t very cozy

The food was OK

But as the saying goes

We made do

 

My dear Love

For twenty-five years

You drove 900 miles

Each way

From California

To New Mexico

From New Mexico

Back

To California

It was a magical time

For me

Being together with

You

I thank you     thank you

For the ride

 

I love you forever and ever

Happy Birthday

Santa Fe, 1986

 

Only Love

Only Love

Enfolds this memory

Nothing else needed

Just the fields

With the rows of ripened

Wheat

Fields of gold

 

It is early afternoon

We are on a drive

Into what we call

The county

My little boy

Sits next to me

In his car seat

Looking out the

Window

I see fields

With rows of ripened

Wheat

Fields of gold

I look at my little boy’s

Head

His hair

The same color gold

As the gold of ripened

Wheat

I take the sight

Into my heart

To keep

As the years will

Surely pass

 

Yes

Only Love     only Love

Enfolds this memory

Nothing else

Nothing

Museum Hill

Do you remember

The night

We drove up Museum

Hill

To gaze into the night

Sky

Crowded with stars

An overwhelmed feeling

Of absolute awe

In our hearts

Starlight still so much

Brighter

Than light from the city

Below

City lights that would

Multiply

In years still to come

Dimming starry brilliance

From the night sky

 

Museum Hill

The Museum of Indian Arts

And Culture

The Lab of Anthropology

The Folk Art Museum

As tho asleep

Their doors locked

The silence of night

Wrapped around them

We know them well

Each with its own

Unique reason for

Existing

 

How many hours

Over twenty-seven years

Did we spend in one

Or the other

 

I don’t remember     now

How long we stayed

Looking up into that

Infinite world of stars

Maybe until our necks

Began to ache

I only remember

It was hard to leave

Ignorant astronomers

Were we

Excited to spot

Numerous shooting stars

The Big and Little Dippers

Then red Mars

And a satellite

Streaming across the sky

Amazed with the stars

Slow move of their

Positions

As the night

Moved

On

 

We left as we came

Driving down and around

The winding road

That led us around

And up

Museum Hill

Do you remember

Do you remember

I do

*starry night photo credit: Cliford Mervil

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