Duncombe

“I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me, those who are to come. I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all our fathers, and in front, to see my son, and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond.

And their eyes were my eyes.

As I felt, so they had felt, and were to feel, as then, so now, as tomorrow and forever. Then I was not afraid, for I was in a long line that had no beginning, and no end, and the hand of his father grasped my father’s hand, and his hand was in mine, and my unborn son took my right hand, and all, up and down the line stretched from Time That Was, to Time That Is, and is not yet, raised their hands to show the link, and we found that we were one, born of Woman, Son of Man, had in the Image, fashioned in the Womb by the Will of God, the eternal Father.

I was one of them, they were of me, and in me, and I in all of them.” 

Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley

The watercolor, “The Duncombe Homestead,” is now in Texas.

This picture was commissioned by one of “the aunts” back in the 80’s. I’m not sure where it was before it was given to my sister, Sue. If I was totally honest, I’d have to say I really don’t remember seeing it before she brought it to me in Colorado. It must have been in Omaha at Aunt Marie’s. After Marie died the “Homestead” began its journey. First to Sue’s in Waterloo, then to our house in Colorado, back to Iowa after we sold our house, and now with me again, this time, in Texas.

It fills my heart having this little bit of history back in my home–providing a connection to my family and my past.

It is the simple things and I am thankful.

“Roots are, I’m learning, as important as wings.” 

Michele Huey

I am…

B…simply being…

Sending you all love.

~Peace~

 

 

Compassion

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” 

Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

When my sister was diagnosed with lung cancer in January of 2007, my life went into a tailspin. I was a thousand miles away and my workplace was busy. This was going to be difficult.

I  remember telling my office manager I was leaving and heading to Iowa. As I sobbed, I told her I didn’t know when I’d be back but I’d call when I had more information.

For four months (much longer, really) my work family protected me–giving me the space I needed to do whatever it was I needed to do.  No one questioned me. No one grew impatient with me as I took phone calls from family and chased down physicians as my sister’s condition deteriorated. At home my husband made sure we had whatever we needed in order to travel at a moment’s notice–not an easy feat when you are traveling to Iowa in February and March and the wind chill is somewhere around -20. Our friends did what they could to make all things easier–one rapid trip home was made possible because I was given a buddy pass for a direct flight to Des Moines. Our family and friends in Iowa were always close by supporting and visiting Beth when we could not be there while helping us all as we struggled along, attempting to understand.

Cancer is a brutal and aggressive in its battles. We understood the cards were stacked against us. Beth fought hard. Mid-May she told me she was ready to be done–she was tired–we headed to Iowa to be with her.

I am grateful for all who helped us all during that time. I never could have done what I did without so much support from every single person who stood beside me and my family. As I look back over those days I don’t think I’ve ever taken an inventory of all those amazing gifts of love and time. I am thankful. I love you all.

“From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other – above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow-men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” 

Albert Einstein

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you.

~Peace~

 

 

My Little Sister

This is my story from a year ago–edited so I can share today.

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” 

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

I lost my little sister eleven years ago today.

Beth Ann Burton was the best person I ever knew. She loved me and most people she met unconditionally.

I love you, Beth Anna, with all my heart. One of the clearest memories I have is hearing her tell me she loved me bunches and bunches.

I miss her every day–Sundays are, by far, the worst–even after all these years. I still find myself looking at the clock around five thinking it’s time to call her. Those Sunday calls began when she moved to Des Moines from Waterloo–I’d call to see how she was doing with her new job in a new city. The calls continued after I moved to Denver. Both our lives were busy–she worked two jobs and my job demanded a lot of my time. Regardless of what was going on in our lives, I don’t think we missed a Sunday call.

“Childhood memories were like airplane luggage; no matter how far you were traveling or how long you needed them to last, you were only ever allowed two bags. And while those bags might hold a few hazy recollections—a diner with a jukebox at the table, being pushed on a swing set, the way it felt to be picked up and spun around—it didn’t seem enough to last a whole lifetime.” 

Jennifer E. Smith, This Is What Happy Looks Like

I am…

B…simply being…

I love and miss you, Bethie.

~Peace~

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magicians

“Kindness is a magical spell—performed by enlightened beings—meant to enchant hearts and lift weary souls that they might fly.” 

Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes

My week in Iowa was filled with so many special moments created by those who have been part of my life for so many years.

Tom and Karen Sink are two very important people to me. I’ve  mentioned them before in my stories so I was absolutely thrilled my sister and I were able to spend some time with them.

We spent an afternoon talking about the years we lived next door to each other–they were one of my first babysitting jobs and I loved going to their house. Karen would make her wonderful brownies and have other little treats stashed away for me while I was there. It really didn’t seem right they paid me to be there–their son Kevin was so easy–he requested one book before going to bed and Andy was so young she slept the majority of the time. I’m sure I was a pretty expensive babysitter once you factored in all the food and drinks I literally inhaled each time I was there!

During our visit we talked a lot about the other times “we girls” would come over to their house to play cards, UNO, Yahtzee, or the game that’s probably only played in Iowa, PIG-OUT. We were invited over–it was more like a rescue mission–so we could get away from a very abusive stepmother.

During our afternoon together we talked, we laughed, and we all cried a little bit here and there. It was an afternoon filled with love–some excellent wine–and a lot of validation.

My only regret is I did not take enough pictures–and the pictures I did take were taken after that excellent wine.

Yes, timing is important.

I am so thankful to and for these two–they sheltered as well as shielded my sisters and I during some very hard times. Because of them I knew I always had a safe place to go–a place I knew someone not only believed me but believed IN me. What I did not know until our visit that day was they had discussed bringing the three of us into their home–getting us out permanently–

That was pretty amazing information to hear.

I have yet to find words to describe how incredible I find that act of love to be. Knowing that comforts that frightened little kid who still resides deep down inside of me. That little girl and this aging woman is much more at peace knowing how very much she was and is loved.

“Oh, the comfort — the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person — having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” 

Dinah Maria Mulock Craik, A Life for a Life

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you all and stay kind.

~Peace~

 

Be Kind

I’ve rewritten this post from a year ago so I could share it with you today.

When Great Trees Fall

When great trees fall,

rocks on distant hills shudder,

lions hunker down

in tall grasses,

and even elephants

lumber after safety.

When great trees fall

in forests,

small things recoil into silence,

their senses

eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,

the air around us becomes

light, rare, sterile.

We breathe, briefly.

Our eyes, briefly,

see with

a hurtful clarity.

Our memory, suddenly sharpened,

examines,

gnaws on kind words

unsaid,

promised walks

never taken.

Great souls die and

our reality, bound to

them, takes leave of us.

Our souls,

dependent upon their

nurture,

now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, formed

and informed by their

radiance,

fall away.

We are not so much maddened

as reduced to the unutterable ignorance

of dark, cold

caves.

And when great souls die,

after a period peace blooms,

slowly and always

irregularly. Spaces fill

with a kind of

soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restored, never

to be the same, whisper to us.

They existed. They existed.

We can be. Be and be

better. For they existed.” 

Maya Angelou

 

Memorial Day, 2018, is in the history  books.

 

 

This holiday represents a time for us to remember all of those we have lost–not only those lost in service to our country.

Which means this could be a very hard time for some–observing a holiday that is set aside to honor loss.

For some, the losses are new and agonizingly raw, leaving those who mourn exhausted. It’s tiring–trying to understand what’s happened while searching for ways to move on with your life–a life that now seems so oddly empty–now feeling as confused and unsettled as it used to feel safe and secure.

Or, perhaps those losses are not new. Maybe yesterday was the first Memorial Day you gave yourself the space and time to fully grieve an old loss. I’m learning what was not fully grieved will follow you until you let your armor fall and address it. I’m learning it takes time to strip away all those different layers of disguises used over the years–decades of stuffing it down in order to keep “it” hidden from myself and all those around me. Some of that grief has been under wraps for over fifty years–I’m beginning to understand that it’s going to take time to reach the core of it all.

I’ve learned by telling and sharing my stories I am not alone on this journey to self. It’s days like yesterday–Memorial Day–that agitate and pick away at those fragile patches I’ve precariously constructed over the broken places in my heart. I imagine I am not the only one who stayed very busy yesterday.

As I’ve become more aware of myself, I’ve learned to be careful when I meet and talk with people–old friends or new. I am more open and observant of what is said and more importantly–what is not said. We are all carrying stuff around with us–and there are days when that baggage gets mighty heavy.

I’ve come to recognize kindness and I am so thankful to all those who have blessed me with their kindness.

Now–at this point in my life–my goal–my intention–is to be kind.

Why not join me–filling our world with little acts of kindness. A compliment here and there–a small act that costs nothing but could make all the difference in the world to someone.

I am…

B…simply being…

May God bless you.

~Peace~

 

 

 

 

 

 

More on Poppies

My memories of past Memorial Days sparked my curiosity about how the poppy had become such a strong symbol for our veterans. Who had started this tradition? How long has it been a part of our American lives?

I returned to The American Legion website and discovered that the soldiers returning from WWI had vivid memories of the battle fields covered with wild poppies. Poppies that were as “red as the blood that had soaked the soil.” These survivors felt that this little flower was Mother Nature’s message to them that their fallen comrades lived on–that they had not died in vain. Their feelings are expressed so poignantly in the poem,  In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That mark our place…

and in the sky The larks,

still bravely singing,

fly Scarce heard amid the guns below

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved,

and now we lie in Flanders Fields.

Take up or quarrel with the foe.

To you from failing hands we throw The torch;

be yours to hold it high

If we break faith with us who die

We shall ot sleep

though poppies grow in Flanders Fields.

Col. John McCrea

It was this poem that influenced Miss Moina Michael to write her response:

…the blood of heroes never dies

But lends a luster to the red

Of the flower that blooms above the dead

in Flanders Fields.

She was very moved by Col McCrea’s poem. On a November day in 1918, Miss Michael bought all the red poppies the New York City Department Store, Wanamaker’s, had in stock. She returned to the New York City YMCA where she worked, and gave them to a group of visiting business men. She asked that they wear them as a tribute to those who had given their lives in WWI. She told them that the war may be over but America’s sons would rest forever in Flanders Fields. Miss Michael went on to campaign for the poppy to become a national symbol of the sacrifice.

I believe that more knowledge is powerful. The symbolism embodies in this little red flower is strong. May it empower us and help us remember the sacrifices made for our freedom.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless. Peace.

Thinking about Memorial Day

Do you remember the paper mache’ poppies? You know the ones we used to see everywhere when we growing up. I was one of the kids passing them out at the local grocery store in exchange for whatever donation was given. I am sure I was not happy to spend my Saturday there!

I was young and really did not appreciate–if I even knew–what that poppy symbolized. Because my dad was a veteran of WWII, he was an active member of the local VFW. My mom, my sisters, and I were part of the American Legion. One of the things we did for Memorial Day was make sure everyone had a commemorative poppy.

Late Saturday, an older man came up to me and asked if I knew what the poppy represented. This type of interaction happened to me all the time. There could have been ten other kids standing around but I was the one who was asked the questions. I debated saying I did know, but thought he may quiz me about it. I was honest and said I really did not know the whole story.

He told me it was important to know and shared this with me:

First of all, he said, you are not wearing the poppy correctly. It is to be worn over your heart. As he looked me straight in the eyes, he stressed that I would understand why this was important after he finished his story.

My memory is not complete so I am borrowing from an American Legion post:

The red petals stand for the vast outpouring of blood; the yellow and black center, the mud and desolation of all battlefields.

The green of the stem is symbolic of the forests, meadows and fields where generations of Americans have perished to make this land free.

The stem represents the courage and determination of our fallen warriors.

The assembled product, a flower, is a symbol of resurrection, which is sure to follow.

His words were much more simple, filled with the type of emphasis that only comes from being there, really experiencing the battles of war personally. He watched my face as he spoke, pausing now and then to make sure I was getting his point. When his story was complete, he stepped back in silence and somber reflection. He leaned toward me, asking me if I thought I understood why it is important to wear that poppy correctly? Now I was able to honestly answer that question. Which I did, with a soft and respectful, yes.

That was decades ago–probably over fifty years have passed since that grocery store lesson. I can picture myself standing beside this little round man, dressed in his bib overhauls, giving me the gift of a very powerful lesson about the real cost of the freedom.

Oh the challenges our nation has faced since that long past day in May. One thing has not changed. As Memorial Day approaches, it is vitally important for us all to remember those who have fought to defend our freedoms and those who protect us today.

We are in such turmoil and unease. As I asked last night, I ask for your prayers, remembering our great country and for those who defend and protect us. God bless them, God bless us all, and please, God, bless America.

I am…

B…simply being…

Peace. I love you.

 

 

 

Gifts of Home

“Coming back is the thing that enables you to see how all the dots in your life are connected, how one decision leads you another, how one twist of fate, good or bad, brings you to a door that later takes you to another door, which aided by several detours–long hallways and unforeseen stairwells–eventually puts you in the place you are now.” 

Ann Patchett, What Now?

The past week has been such a combination of emotions plus it was a pretty fun time to be back in Northeast Iowa. Maddie Poppe certainly took the country and my heart by storm. Congratulations, Maddie. You represented all Iowans so well. May your future be as bright as your smile. We are proud of you.

Even though I was there for a very short time, I was able to see and visit with most of the people I’d hoped to see. Gotta tell ya, I was reminded pretty quickly of the fact I have NO sense of direction. Those U-turns were much easier to accept on the way than they were on the way back. I felt like a true country girl as I started my route through the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I’d been an I-25/T Rex road warrior for many years but the layers of roadways intersected with incredible constructions zones as I drove around Dallas blew my mind along with my confidence level. I hung in there–it wasn’t pretty nor was the language flying out of my mouth! Today, my hands are telling me I must have been gripping the steering wheel very tightly! Phew.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been reviewing my pictures, realizing I’d not taken many. Initially, I was really upset. I wanted to have photos to share. Then I remembered–when I began planning my journey home, it was my intention to be present–I did not want to be preoccupied by taking pictures. I wanted to be in the mix of making memories, not distracted by photographing them.

I realized I’d done just that–in my mind’s eye I see myself listening to all the shared stories while observing people who’d been a part of my life for decades. I could not have done that so well if I’d been focusing a photo.

I’ve been rewarded with so many precious moments, all captured in real-time and tenderly cached away where I can pull them up again. I was blessed by smiles and hugs from so many special people I love who love me right back–all unconditionally.

For a few days I recharged my soul, soaking up the peace and tranquility graciously bestowed upon me by that special place on earth named, Iowa.

I am thankful.

“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.” 

Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~ 

 

 

Good-byes

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” 

Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

Tonight I am feeling blessed and so very thankful for a walk back in time with those I love with all of my heart.

I am…

B…simply being…

Thank you.

I love you.

God bless us all as we continue our journey together.

~Peace~

A Time For Reflection

Mother’s Day.

A hard day for those of us who have lost our moms. It doesn’t matter how old we were when the loss happened–this is a life event we all carry with us from that day forward.

I send my love out to those of you who are facing your first “motherless” Mother’s Day. May your memories give you comfort. May you come to understand, as I have, that your mom will always be with you. Not just in the memories, but in little things you do, little things you say, little habits you may not have recognized until now. I was blessed with a mom who loved me. Unfortunately, my mom, my sisters, and I were not blessed with much time.

Time. It is such an illusive concept. We keep thinking we have more. Don’t be fooled. As we’ve all been told, life can change in just a matter of seconds. This Mother’s Day, put the electronics away. Open your mind and heart by spending some attentive quality time with your mom. As anyone who has lost their mom will tell you, we would give anything to spend one more day with them. We’d ask questions, really listen to what she told us, and share stories of our own. We would make sure she knew how important and special she was and is to us; how her life lessons are infused into our very being.

Use your time wisely, my dear friends, and cherish those you love. If your mom is here, please make sure she knows how important she is to you. Only you can do that.

Make your mom, and yourself, proud.

I am

B…simply being…

Peace and love to y’all.