Saturday, September 15, 2007


Why does this blog thing rearrange my spacing in the poems? Has it no respect? I was told that once something is placed on a blog it becomes a published article. So those poems I put on this blog can't legally be published now? Only as a reprint I was told. Where is that information found? I hope I didn't give away my daughter's poems, though they're so personal who else could claim them, unless they know the people they're written about.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Here is another poem written in November, 1997 by my younger daughter. It's about my Mom who died in February, 1998, on her 95th birthday.

With tired blue eyes faded by years
She looks at her loved ones without any tears.
Though some have passed on most are still near
With children in tow on visits appear.
Does she remember the time when younger in years
She could come and go freely without any fears?
An independent woman ahead of her time
Her dreams and desires not to be realized?
Born in a day when women were meek
Her humor and boldness must have been very unique.
A house full of children and a household to keep,
Were her dreams just dreams out of her reach?
Could she have been a poet, her thoughts would flow;
Or a healer of sickness, a hero in war?
Does she wonder what if, and then shake her head,
Too late for what if, she’ll take what she had?
Fine children, hard times, history before her eyes.
From buggy to rocket, pigtails to gray.
Those blue eyes missed nothing, I’m sure, along the way.
So much love she still gives us.
So much strength to draw from.

I know her eyes are faded, but before you pass
Look closely at my grandma and see what I see;
A woman of secrets and great mysteries,
knowledge and questions;
answers untold all hidden down deep;
that spark gives them away
inside those tired blue eyes
under that wavy hair of gray.
Julie 11/97

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Break-up

A retired colonel resided on an Alzheimer's unit where I worked. He was early stage and knew something was wrong. He was so kind and courteous to everyone. A real gentleman. One day he asked if he could talk to me. I said yes and we went out into the courtyard. He sat us down in the gazebo and then he took hold of my hand. He started telling me that he knew something was wrong with him and that he had something he needed to take care of before he became unable to do so. We walked around the courtyard holding hands, while he talked softly. I soon realized that he was trying to break up with me! He was so gentle and apologetic and didn't want me to be hurt. I didn't use "reality orientation" with him because it would have embarrassed him beyond belief. I told him that I really respected him and his decision and said it was okay, that we could still be friends. He thanked me and he seemed extremely relieved. We walked a little more but we talked of other things and he never said another word about it. So, was he doing something that he hadn't been able to take care of because of his illness? Or was he reliving something from his past? Regardless, it was one of the strangest and sweetest incidents I had ever experienced working with dementia patients. I later got to share the Gospel with him and he prayed for salvation. (Had to be sneaky because I was on duty at a government facility. Thank God for that gazebo and the Gideon New Testament). He died of heart failure about three weeks later. God spared that good and dignified man the humility of the downward spiral he would soon encounter.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Moon Sweeper

This was written by my younger daughter about Gaylen.

This short-story is dedicated to my Mom who has loved many an odd person in her life & is better for it.


Once upon a time there was a man who loved the moon.
He loved the big, full, orange moon of the fall, the pale white moon of winter, and the yellow moon that came in summer.
During new moon he would quietly mourn the absence
of his round-faced friend,
and when the full moon would reappear he would be
filled with joy, as if seeing it for the first time.
As this man who loved the moon grew older,
an amazing thing began to happen.
His body was aging, but his mind was not.
He could still look at things with true wonder in his eyes,
and be happy just to see them.
The people around him changed.
Some of them grew up and moved away,
some just got older, and others died.
But the man who loved the moon remained the same.
He greatly mourned the loss of his friends,
but the moon could always cheer him.
As time went on and his body aged he was moved
from what friends he still had to a
place that could care for him better.
But they did not know how he loved his moon
and not being with his loved ones and having a new moon
to look at was more than his heart could take.
Go outside on the next full moon.
Look at it. Really look.
See the texture and how the shadows fall to make a face.
Notice the color, the roundness and the size.
People don’t become angels and Heaven is the home to God’s saints,
but I think that once a month for a day or two God
lets one man take care of the moon,
the moon that was such a friend to him while he was on this earth.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


For many years, I’ve heard the expression "special" applied to developmentally disabled persons and I always felt it was rather patronizing. But then Gaylen came into my life. He was indeed "special". My heart still tweaks when I think of him and it’s been many years since he went to be with his Lord.
The beginning of our relationship is a little vague. He was residing in a nursing home near our church and he began attending, usually walking to and from and occasionally allowing us to transport him by car, van, and, later by bus. Somehow we thought this was a privilege! At some point it became his "job" to empty the trash cans in the church and adjoining Christian School. He was never asked to do this but took it upon himself, probably because that was his job at Developmental Training Services where he went daily. Upon arriving home he would walk the block or so to his "other job". One late evening he was found sitting outside the pastor’s study window, apparently waiting for the opportunity to empty the pastor’s trash can.
Gaylen had a wonderful relationship with the children at the school. They loved him and learned much about feeling comfortable about "different" people. Although Gaylen was in his early 40’s he was very much like a child in his feelings and thinking (he had Down’s Syndrome). One day he came to the school wearing the medal he had won in Special Olympics. While playing ping-pong, one of the boys began teasing Gaylen about getting a necklace from a girlfriend. Gaylen put up with it for a while and then he took action.Joe had hit the ball astray and, when it stopped rolling, Gaylen casually walked over as if he intended to pick it up for Joe. Instead he very carefully stepped on it and smashed it. Joe reported it to the teacher who came and questioned Gaylen about it. "Gaylen, did you step on the ping-pong ball?" "No." "Gaylen, let me see what you have in your hand." Gaylen opened his hand, saw the smashed ball and exclaimed, "Oh! THAT ping-pong ball!"
Gaylen was the only one besides the pastor’s wife who was allowed to address the pastor by his first name.
Gaylen was the perfect church member. He was so devoted, however, that he would come to church sick. One time he passed out and we had to have someone from the nursing home come and get him. He was in bed for a week with the flu. They had to use safety devices to keep him in bed long enough to recover. He also listened attentively. On many occasions, when I would go to the nursing home on Sunday afternoon, I would find Gaylen standing in front of his mirror preaching, using the same words, expressions, and inflections that the pastor used that morning. Gaylen had his own "sitting place" at church and woe unto the innocent who sat in his place. One occasion stands out in my mind. A couple (who probably knew better but were displaced when someone sat in their place) sat in Gaylen’s row, at his end of the front pew. When he saw this, he snapped his fingers loudly, pointed at the couple, and motioned them out of his place. Of course, who argues with such authority? They moved.
This wonderful fellow always wore his cowboy hat and carried his "banjo" (which was actually a cheap guitar). He would strum and sing songs for the children. It sounded terrible but he was so full of love for everybody that it didn’t seem to matter somehow.
Gaylen loved Jesus and knew he would go to Heaven. He loved the moon and talked about visiting it when he went to Heaven. On day at church he kept trying to tell me something. As he was somewhat difficult to understand at times, I didn’t think too much of it. He kept saying he was going to Salida, a neighboring town. Going on outings wasn’t unusual at this particular nursing home so I thought little of it. Later that week I learned that he was being placed in a group home in Salida where he could live a "more independent" life with other developmentally disabled persons. Before a week had passed, my dear Gaylen got to go to be with the Jesus he loved so much.
Later, I learned that the people caring for him wondered about the church and school he repeatedly asked to go to, and that they had no idea who "Carl" (the pastor) was that he kept asking for. My heart breaks when I think of that week. I wanted to go see him the very first weekend he was gone but convinced myself I should let him make an adjustment first. Before the next weekend came, he was gone. I know in my heart that he didn’t understand what "going to Salida" meant. I don’t believe he had the capability to understand what "moving to Salida" meant in terms of time. He didn’t know he was going to stay there. I TRULY BELIEVE THAT GAYLEN DIED OF A BROKEN HEART. In my head I know that Down’s Syndrome people reach a peak in their 40’s and then start a decline which ends in total dependency. We know now that it is the same as Alzheimer’s disease and it would have been terrible to see Gaylen go through that. I also know that heart abnormalities are common in people with Down’s Syndrome and that it was a massive heart attack that killed him. But I truly believe that he died of a broken heart because he couldn’t find the church and his beloved friends.
It was the sweetest funeral I had ever attended. All the children from the school and Gaylen’s friends from DTS were there. Gaylen is buried where there is no perpetual upkeep but his friends from DTS keep his grave clean and decorated. I was concerned that he would never have a headstone, but someone has made him one out of concrete, a simple one but one made out of love. The important thing is that Gaylen is in Heaven and probably is the moon-keeper or something. I think of him absolutely every time I see the moon, especially a full moon because that’s the one he especially loved.
Knowing this man was such a blessing to our church family. Thank you, dear Lord!