Carry you in my heart

  1. I carry you in my heart

Memories, once bright and vivid, now dimmed,

Remote as you are from me.
Wisps of emotions delicate as dried flowers housed in a book.
Churning, swirling tumbling regrets, rushing over sedimentary stones of what cannot be changed.
Icy bridge overhangs crevasses of longing into which a careless footstep may plunge me.

Tiny child, clasped close, I marveling at the perfection of you.
Watching the young adult stride away, determined to carpe diem!
Uniform pride on graduation day with emotions as pointed as your 90 degree turns.
Static words exchanged, 
no bridge to span the crevasse between us,

You stride away. 

Today I think of you and you and you and wonder what your day may bring
Life of studies and childrens’ laughter and fairy tale costumes
Rush, shush, whirl, to meet the next challenge.
Do you ever think of what you left buried behind?

Or remember even for a moment, i carry you in my heart?

— Mary Lou Van Dyke (C) 2016 All Rights Reserved


Rich family Inheritance

A few days ago I was challenged to think of inheritances — and what mine will be.

Money? Not a concern. The few dollars left after settling the estate may pay for a lunch out for my siblings and I.

No, my inheritance will be the fragile photos currently stashed in boxes, and jealously guarded by mom. A few are originals, fragile, and one-of-a-kind. Others in black and white, or in color of most recent family members, events.

Dozens of folders, categorized by family names and filled with the results of her paper trail, stored away in a chest-of-drawers and in a dresser.

My mother is a hoarder and this penchant for having it all spilled into her genealogy. Years and hours spent at the local genealogy centers, mailing requests for the information she cannot sleuth for, census forms, family trees in triplicate and quadriplicate.

Overwhelming. Confusing. Intriguing.

So what is my inheritance? The more time I spend with my mom, the more I see what a rich inheritance I will gain from her — in appreciation of family and the past.   She has collected so much information, it bewilders even me, the historian.

So many familial branches, so many people, and things to keep figured out. But I love the challenge –even as she does. The searching for the small details that not only tell the birth and death dates such as the great great great grandfather who lost his wife and their youngest daughter to tuberculosis. The documents don’t tell of his broken heart, but a letter to his brother spells out his desperate decision to snatch what money he could from their family inheritance and bring some of his remaining children and a new wife to America. Where he hoped they would not die of tuberculosis.

The detailed family line that spells out our connection to the throne-seeking launcher of the Battle of Hastings and to a descendant who was born on the wrong side of the blanket. Illegitimate, in other words, and that fact got him kicked out of the royal family line up.

Pictures of a cheeky 14 year old, my great grandmother whisper of our Native American inheritance. Censuses that spell out where families lived and what their occupations such as “farmer” and ‘homemaker/at home” were in a given year.

Another record that shows a Quakeress ancestor jailed for her faith before being allowed to emigrate to the United States.

So many rich, telling details. Mom’s passion for possessing”it all” has created a rich inheritance indeed, Some day I will serve as its curator, and as a writer/historian wrestle the thousands of details into a book for future generations to keep.

(C) 2016 Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved.

Hurrah for “Me” days

 I am learning to soar. To dance.

In a life crammed with care-giving responsibilities,  it is easy to forget about  snatching moments for myself. So I recently invented what  I call “Me” days. Times when I drop those heavy responsibilities that feel like a carrying a backpack crammed with college textbooks — and soar free for a few hours.

 Admittedly, the learning curve is jagged. My primary occupation at the moment is care giving. This  involves paying close attention to the details of other people’s lives. In this setting, I work with people who live with steep challenges. Individuals who move about, courtesy of wheeled mobility devices such as wheelchairs. Who struggle with learning to use I-phones and use one hand to lace up sneakers.

This job calls for vast amounts of energy, humor, empathy and patience. Fortunately, the agency I work for trains us on how to best assisting clients. My role is to support each person, to engage with them. Help them find ways to accomplish life goals they have set for themselves.

Recently, I realized although I was supporting my clients — and rightfully so —  I was failing to support me.  I felt like the residue that remains at the bottom of the cup after I’ve finished drinking tea. So what roadblock stood in the way of me advocating for myself.

Even caregivers need time to pursue the lighter side of life.

Re-setting one’s focus is difficult. For many years my time away from home was spent working, either on free-lance writing projects and as a customer service representative for companies. I got together with a friend for occasional walks but that was about it. I questioned the value of doing that after my (now ex) husband suffered a serious stroke, and I added being the only driver in the family and trying to look after his needs as well to my weighty list of “must do’s.” When I got too tired, I made myself repeat over and over, “I am strong. It’s my job to take care of everything. Mine.”

Well,  my must-do’s list has shifted. But it still exists.  My mother needs assistance to sort through the many (never-ending?) boxes of her life’s possessions. I continue to worry about my youngest 20-something son as he works to establish himself in a demanding job.

Can i really say this is my time?  My time to find joy, to do more of what I want to do?

The answer is yes. One reason is depression. I am prone to chronic depression and will live with knowing it can crop up — if I don’t take care of myself.

Only I can make myself seek out times for fun and growth and chill-axing, such as a few weeks ago when attending an outdoor concert with a friend. Flowing Celtic style music buoyed my spirits, the pizza and salad she shared with me was crisp, tangy, sweet. At evening’s end, music soared and I bounced up and danced. Like a butterfly. Dip and spreading my arms. Laughing as my friend recorded the moment with her camera.

A time to be me.

(C) 2016 by Mary Louise Van Dyke.  All rights reserved.