A Story I Didn’t Know

Two years ago, my friend passed away, a victor in the war against ovarian cancer. In her first battle, she fought to remission, winning more time with family and friends and her beloved horse. When remission was lost, she battled on, hoping to contribute to the body of knowledge that will benefit other warriors, while still treasuring moments with family and friends. She so wanted to make it to see the birth of her first grandson, but it was not to be. She was the only one her son and daughter-in-law shared the baby’s name with before his birth. Through it all, her faith never wavered. Her victory is in Jesus. This is the story of my friend that I already knew.

Saturday I was at her daughter’s wedding, thinking all the while how very much my friend would have loved it. She would have loved the out in the country setting and cherished how lovely her daughter looked in her gown and veil and the smiling groom who could not contain his happiness and love, grinning and dancing with excitement as he watched his bride coming up the aisle on her dad’s arm.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the bride and her father lit a red candle in her mother’s memory. And she shared a story we didn’t know. During her mother’s last stay in the hospital, when her parents were focused on treatments and pain, she had a bright moment of good news. She confided to her mom that she was pretty sure the new guy she was dating was the one, and someday they would marry.

Saturday they did. And her mom was watching from heaven. Though there were some tears, that little story was one of many bright moments in the wedding. More than sadness, there was love.

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Words I’ve Heard This Summer

Maddie’s on the move
(accompanied by a photo of my great-niece in her car seat, finally going home from the NICU after 3 months)

Everybody gets one!
(Oprah… I mean Kristina, at the Smekens Literacy Retreat… announcing a resource we were all going to receive… ranging from a book of infographics to a conferring stool to a T-shirt to wear when presenting booktalks… fun!)

We just landed
(as I sat in the cell phone lot at the airport waiting to pick up my son)

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Last week I shared an end of the year writing activity with sixth graders who will “graduate” from our school soon and move on to middle school. The mentor text was Ralph Fletcher’s poem “The Good Old Days.” We wrote about “Good Old School Days.” They created a collection of poems ranging from sentimental to funny to a little sad. On the day we wrote, our newcomer ELL, from El Salvador, was absent. I had the opportunity to work with one to one when she came back. She read the poem independently and circled words and phrases she wasn’t sure of. Going back and forth in English and Spanish, we talked about the poem until she understood it. Then I gave her a writing frame to help her write her own poem. She chose to write about her first at our school. English was mostly forgotten as she told her story. She said that first day she wanted to sneak away from her desk, open the window, and run away. All she could think was “What does that mean?” She said she felt “raro”- rare, odd, strange- so different from everyone. For me, that time shared with her was “raro”- extraordinary, exceptional, privileged- moments I will always remember and treasure.

Here is her poem…

The First Day of School

Sometimes I remember
My first day at Ernie Pyle Elementary School

I felt so confused
I wanted to open the window and escape

And never come back
But go home to El Salvador

I was always thinking
“What does that mean?”

I felt so different from my classmates but
Now I don’t want to escape from the window any more

Then I could not imagine
How the future would be

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Refreshing, Relaxing

Time with family
Playing with a child
Talking with the grown-ups

Smiling and laughing
Remembering those gone on
Cherishing those present

Soaking up sunshine
Feeling the breeze
Watching the sunset

Refreshing, Relaxing

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What kind of rhyme?

This morning as I drove to school, I passed a truck and noticed the company name… Otto’s Parking Marking. What do you think? A case of a rhyme gone wrong or a smart way to get customers remember the business? I couldn’t decide…

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Be Still

A soft breeze and
The crescent moon
Catch my attention and
Make me pause to be
Present in the moment

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Nursing Home Conversation

Momma(95): Can you look in that drawer and get me a tube of lipstick? I need a new one.

Daughter(60 something): Looks puzzled, then brightens- You mean chapstick?

Momma: nods, grunts

Daughter: Here it is…

Momma: That’s not what I need!

Daughter: But you just said…

Momma: Toothpaste… I meant tube of toothpaste… Starts laughing

Daughter: Belly laugh …At least we kept it all in the mouth…

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