A Birthday Wish For Dillon, by @jackaurquhart

©2014 by Jack Andrew Urquhart

“Birthday wishes have power for good or ill because one is closer to the spirit world on this day.” The Lore of Birthdays (New York, 1952)

“Birthday wishes have power for good or ill because one is closer to the spirit world on this day.” The Lore of Birthdays (New York, 1952)

682 words

Dear Dillon, Dear Son,

It’s March again—what would have been your thirty-fifth birthday arriving hard and heavy on the heels of Ash Wednesday this year.

I say hard and heavy because it feels that way.  It feels like a rock.  A boulder.  Like a millstone.  That is how extravagantly your absence weighs—an excess of grief that I’d gladly give up for Lent if only that were possible.

Instead, I keep thinking, You should be here!  Not cinders in a box.  Not just your ashes to mark the day.

And yes, even this die-hard agnostic knows that Lent has always been about self-denial and penance.  All about atonement.  And I have much to atone for.  After all, I lost You, didn’t I?  Surely there is transgression in that.

And now, as if by way of confirmation, it comes again—comes in your absence: March 8th, your birthday.

No gaudy, bespangled birthday cake this year.  No dazzling display of candles either.

It wasn’t always so.

What parties we threw when You and your sister were little!  Such grand fêtes: plenty of cake and ice cream and candles then—and party favors, too; and sleepovers with your pals from school.  Remember the year a Magician showed up to perform feats of prestidigitation with cards and balloons?  The year your sister insisted on a “My Pretty Pony” birthday cake?

Your mother and I loved planning those annual celebrations; we loved throwing a party for the whole neighborhood—your aunts, uncles, even your grandparents flying in from New Orleans.  Lord, how You and Devon gorged on the sweets, on the bonbons and pralines that Mo and Gerry brought from the Big Easy!  There were lots of presents, too—way too many presents; and You laughing, beaming as You ripped through yours in a whirlwind of paper and ribbons.

Such happy times when your birthday Marched around, Dillon—and how delighted You were to be the center of attention.

But the mood changed over time, didn’t it—your mood?  Growing darker and heavier as You moved into adolescence and beyond, the weight of the passing years increasingly oppressive.  Until the burden seemed to trigger an annual panic in You.

Perhaps it was the illness slowly saturating your brain, the chemical voices in your head bonding You in hopelessness, their chatter ever more persuasive—convincing You that there was no cause for celebration in yet another depressing birthday milestone.

We, your family, began to watch for them, your annual bouts of sadness.  Even to plan and prepare for them.

Or so we thought.

If only we’d understood!

If only I’d fathomed how ponderous and solitary the burden of your illness.  So much weightier than simply finding the right medication.  Maybe that extra bit of effort would’ve made a difference?  Maybe together we might have found a way to bring back the celebration?

Maybe I wouldn’t have lost You?

I don’t know.

I only know that it’s your birthday—and that I have reminiscence instead of a living son.

And your ashes, of course.

I have your ashes in a box to mark the day.

I’m not sure why I hold onto them so doggedly—your corporeal remains.  Something to do with mourning and contrition, I expect; or perhaps it’s just that I don’t want to let You go.  Not quite yet.  Not even for Lent.

And yes, I know that soon I must.

I tell myself that there might be happiness in releasing You to the winds, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, all your pain burned away to cinders.  Maybe even something akin to joy in seeing that elemental part of You borne aloft and one with creation?  Not solitary anymore?

Or afraid?

Not heavy?

Rather, light as air?

Which sounds pretty wonderful, doesn’t it?  Sort of like starting over, all new and fresh?  Surely there would be cause for celebration in that?  In being reborn?

Maybe that is what your Daddy will wish for, Dillon—what I’ll wish for this year when I light a candle for You:

A very Happy Re-Birthday, Dear, Beloved, Son.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When God Happens, by @jackaurquhart

“The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.” ― Rob Bell

“The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.”
― Rob Bell

© 2014 by Jack A. Urquhart     562 words

I have been thinking a lot about God and religion lately or, perhaps more aptly, about the place that notions of Deity figure in my life.  Which is not typically a very big space.  That is, until it is.

That egregious contradiction may not make sense, but then neither have the notions of Godliness embedded in the various religions I’ve studied over the last 5+ decades.  That “education” would include prolonged explorations of several protestant sects—most notably, the Southern Baptists—as well as forays into Catholicism, Anglicanism, and even brief matriculations in Judaism and the Latter Day Saints (Mormonism).

None were comfortable fits.  None saved my soul.

That is because, to my mind, each of those institutions, each “ism” and “ist,” presents such a desperate, primitive, even ridiculously humanized fiction of the Almighty—vengeful, jealous, outrageous, and vain; a God made in man’s image—as to beggar the notion of an infinitely majestic, all-encompassing and unknowable Creator.

I do not share these reactions in order to disrespect those who find respite in organized religion, but rather to express the struggles of my experience.  Try as I may—and I have, for decades!—I cannot found my faith in the credibility-defying sifting sands of any religious empire promulgating notions of the Divine that:

  • Are steeped in bloody human sacrifice as the price of God’s love and redemption (e.g., the Crucifixion);
  • Insist upon Supernal dogma in defiance of scientific possibility (e.g., the Virgin Birth);
  • Are rooted in convictions of ontological superiority (e.g., Jews as the One Chosen People); or that
  • Channel so-called divine doctrines via all too human—and thus, fallible—prophets (take your pick from among the many Abrahams, Matthews, Marks, Lukes, Johns, Peters, Josephs, et al!).

Indeed, it seems to me that too many of the “venerable institutions” of Godliness present a dogma besmirched on nearly every page by the anxious fingerprints of their human “creators.”

But all that aside (and yes, it’s quite a little rant), it would be a lie to say that I have eradicated God from my life.  Hardly that.  God still happens.

In truth, my notions of divinity offer a case study in cognitive dissonance: for me, there is no Deity—until there is.

Most times, the Almighty lies far from me, an unknowable seed, fallow in the deep, dark cosmos—all but fictitious.  Like life itself, I find it takes a perfect fertile moment to make God real, to bring He, She, It, Who Knows What into existence.  But sure enough, now and then, Divinity happens, born unbidden—and almost always in the rare moment of extreme joy or despair.

My God happens inside the small epiphany—the moment that comes while walking through a snow frosted forest, while gazing into the starry midnight heavens, or in the still, solemn, heart-breaking moment accompanying the death of a beloved child.  It is then, in the miraculous instant, that the Magisterium—not of any man-made church but rather, the universe itself—is revealed.  To little me!  Revealed in a split second of, yes, Divine wonder.  Beyond words.

And then I Know.

I know that there is Something more; Something more grand, more holy than any human imagination can divine.  Something unfathomable, whose infinitude is beyond dogma.  Beyond language.  And, for a little while, I am sustained.

For a little while, I am saved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Moving Home, by @jackaurquhart

©2014 by Jack A. Urquhart   939 words

My house

My house

I own a house.  I have owned it for several years.

It is the house I grew up in from early adolescence, although until recently, I had not lived in it for over forty years.

For much of that time, my widowed mother was the sole occupant.  So I thought of the place as her ‘home.’

My attachment to the structure was minimal, and ambivalent.  Because of all the memories in residence.

Emphasis on ambivalent.

That began to change on December 7, 2013.

Death has a way of doing that, a way of instigating alterations—perhaps never more than when mortality comes calling on a close family member: a spouse, a child.  A parent.

That is what happened last December.  Death came calling again.  Close.

Since then, my partner (the ever patient ‘R’) and I have been in residence in my mother’s former home, my house—our house now.  We have, he and I, in all that time, been busy cleaning up, packing up, giving away, making repairs.

Paint some walls, hang some art...

Paint some walls, hang some art…

We have been busy making changes, too: arranging our furniture the we like it, painting rooms in colors to suit our tastes, even re-purposing entire rooms to match our lifestyle.  We have talked about other changes we’d like to make as well.

But for all that work, all that talk—and speaking strictly for myself—there is one change that has not happened: this house does not quite feel like ‘home’.  Not yet.

In fact, when I reflect on the many abodes I’ve occupied over the years, the ones that I felt most at ease in were structures that I never really owned—not technically.  They were either mortgaged (and thus, legally bank owned) or they were rentals.  I made payments.  But I never ‘owned’ them.  And yet most of those temporary abodes seemed to generate comfort; they were houses, apartments, condos that felt like ‘home’.

Not like this house, the house that I—that we, my spouse and I—live in now.  This house that I own outright.

I have pondered why this might be—why so much comfort in those other abodes and so much ambivalence (there’s that word again) in this one?  And although it’s hardly a rocket-science conclusion, the best explanation I can summon is that I moved into those other ‘homes’—many of them smaller and with fewer conveniences than these current digs—with nothing more than my physical luggage in tow.  They were clean slates—no memories waiting to be tidied up, and no emotional detritus to be processed and/or swept away.

Not like here—in this house of my youth.

Here every room is a messy steerage trunk waiting to be sorted through.  And sorted out.

Just there, for example, is the room my father constructed (haphazardly, and without permits) to accommodate the pool table he brought home on a whim one afternoon; and over there, the closet where he stashed his not-so-secret pint bottles of Wild Turkey.

In the ‘family room,’ I hear echoes of the war of words my mother and I often waged: battles over religious dogma and faith vs. science and research based evidence; skirmishes over whether or no the Bible was the literal word of God.  And in the living room, I am reminded of my teenage best friend, now estranged, and how we smoked our first weed there while dancing wildly to LPs: The Fifth Dimension, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix.

On the south side of the house, just there in the dining room, my young children—both still living at the time—played Monopoly with their cousins on a long ago summer’s afternoon.  And here, here is the bedroom of my adolescence, where at age nineteen was confirmed the thrilling, frightening truth:  that I preferred the skin-to-skin, eye-to-eye intimacy of men.

Finally (in the most literal sense of the word), there is the master bedroom where my father, that modest, cancer-ridden man, gave up the ghost indifferent to his stark nakedness; and the kitchen where my mother, forever oblivious of time, prepared the last breakfast of her life—before driving away to keep her appointment with the encompassing quietus that awaits us all.

So many rooms.  So much clutter.

The disarray worries me.

I have trouble figuring where to start, what matters and what doesn’t—what to linger over and cherish.  And what I should dispose of and try—try very hard—to forget.

It doesn’t help that I am chronically, terminally impatient.

Throw out the ugly...

Throw out the ugly…

My ex-wife says I should burn sage: “Smudge every room to banish the negative energy!” she urges; while my spouse, ‘R,’ eschews the esoteric: “Get over it,” he mutters, ever practical and scientific.  “Get over yourself.  Practice forbearance.  Paint some walls, hang some art.  Throw out the ugly furniture.  ”

I suppose it’s not surprising that I can’t help wondering what my poor Mother might offer were she able to commune from the great beyond.  Perhaps trot out an obscure Bible verse: Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation… or ancient adage: Everything comes to him who waits?  Maybe some other well-worn, worn out maxim in the vein of, Rome wasn’t built in a day?

Speaking of which, I expect it would be just as accurate to say that neither is a ‘home’—built in a day, that is.

Or a month.

Or a year.

All this advice, actual and imagined, has merit.  But I wonder if it doesn’t boil down to a single thing: do whatever it takes to make a house—your house—a home.

Move in.  Really and truly.

Take possession for good, for goodness sakes!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mom’s Christmas Tree, by @jackaurquhart

©2013 by Jack A. Urquhart               631 words

Moms Tree PMThis is my Mom’s Christmas tree.  Her last Christmas tree.  A balsam fir, I think it is.

Ray and I bought it for her on December 5th.  A Thursday.  We brought it over to her house and set it up that afternoon.  Mom and I agreed that we’d decorate it together the next morning following our weekly breakfast date.

Of course, it didn’t play out that way.

When I arrived Friday morning, the tree was already strung with lights—fully baubled.  To the nines.

Mom was that way.  OCD as the day is long.  She gifted me with those unfortunate genes, a gift that keeps on giving—headaches, that is.  And frustration.  Mostly to the folks brave enough, loving enough, to live with me.  Mom and I are—were—almost like peas in a pod in that respect—neither of us able to stand a job left undone.  We’ll begin a task, thinking to do a little bit now, just to get things started—tell ourselves that we’ll leave the bulk of the work till later.  Next thing you know, hours have passed and the deed is done (and not always well).

Mike n AndyOr we’ll begin a project in one room, find we need something to complete the effort that’s located in a different room, run to fetch it, and presto!  Just that quick, we’re engaged in a totally unrelated task.

Like I said, frustrating.

So, to get on with the story, I arrived on Friday morning to find Mom’s fully decorated Christmas tree.

I recognized a few of the decorations from years gone by—baubles in which my brother’s, my own, elementary school mug shots were emblazoned.  Prancing near the treetop was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; floating nearby, a tulle and wire angel (circa 1963), a miniature egg-basket ornament woven decades earlier by my ex-wife.  However, most of the ornaments were unfamiliar, the product, my Mom informed me, of choices occasioned over the years by my nieces and nephews and their many Christmases at her house.

RudolphI remember thinking how my children, raised half a continent away in Colorado, had never experienced that—a Christmas at their Grandmother’s house in Florida.  A fact I deeply regret.  I know that now.  Now that it’s too late.  And isn’t that always the way of it—knowledge that comes when it’s way too late to do anything about it.

Anyway … my Mom’s excuse for forging ahead, for tackling the tree solo was classic: “Figured it’d be one less thing to do,” she said.  “What with so much to do before Christmas, and so little time…”

Truer words were never spoken.

AngelI can’t help it—I wonder if she sensed as much?  The sudden press of time?  At ninety years of age, I imagine that ‘feeling’ would have been recurrent?  Then again, Mom was in excellent health.  Good for another decade, at least.  So why the rush to finish the tree solo when we’d agreed to tackle the task together?

Had she some inkling?  Some harbinger of things to come tickling at the corners of her mind?  A vague notion that time—her time—was waning?  Which it was.  Less than thirty-six hours, as it turned out.  Before the accident.  December 7th, 1:33 p.m.

BasketSo I wonder if she might have done it halfway on purpose—decorated the tree by herself, as only she would?  Left it there for us in the living room, a final Christmas legacy?

That balsam fir still smells fresh and new.  Like an evergreen forest in winter.  The tiny needles still clinging to the boughs, not yet falling away. 

Unlike the minutes of our lives.

It could last for weeks, that tree.  Like a showy unwrapped holiday package, there in the living room; one that might as well be tagged: Merry Christmas, love always—Mom.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sleigh Bells Ring, a Christmas Memory, by @jackaurquhart

©2013 by Jack A. Urquhart        937 words

Sleigh BellsIt was 1960, I think.  I would’ve been almost twelve that year—too old to believe in Santa Claus.  My tendency to engage in pre-Christmas snooping had seen to that.  By then, it had already been several holiday seasons since I’d first begun sniffing out the gift-wrapped packages—always labeled “From Santa”—that my parents stashed in our tiny attic or beneath drifts of bed sheets in my mother’s linen closet.

My brother, Michael, on the other hand, would’ve been about eight that year—still young enough to buy into the charming myth of Santa.

I say ‘charming’ because I thought it was.  In any case, my budding adolescence that long ago Christmas had not yet negated the magic I’d been bred to associate with the season.  I’d like to think it was for that reason that I wanted to preserve the myth for Michael.

You see, way back then I actually believed that, along with the birth of the Baby Jesus (another part of the myth this still recovering Baptist boy cannot quite jettison) Santa Claus was at the core of Christmas’s allure.  Something about the simplicity of the Santa story—be a good person, make a wish once a year, have a jolly, pot-bellied, saint make it come true—was too wonderful to relinquish.  Not just yet.  And so I embarked upon a clumsy Christmas Eve subterfuge that year—a small deception I thought might just keep the magic alive a while longer for Michael.

If you’d known my brother back then, perhaps you’d understand why I went to the trouble.  It wasn’t because we were especially close, my brother and I.  Michael—Mike was and is a private person—not apt to share his feelings, much less his innermost longings.  At least not with me.  The trickery I attempted that long ago Christmas Eve can be traced, I believe, to a more simple truth: I am, and have always been, a beauty junkie.  The fact is, I thought my eight-year old little brother the very personification of innocence and otherworldly beauty.  Skinny and knock-kneed, with a buzz-cut snow field of white blond hair, enormous blue eyes, fair complexion, and funny buck teeth (chronic thumb-sucking will do that), Michael looked like he belonged in the company of the heavenly hosts—all those angels bending near the earth, to touch their harps of gold.

I thought my brother gorgeous.  Every bit as gorgeous as the Santa myth.

Which brings me back to the particulars of that long-ago Christmas Eve subterfuge.

It involved a strand of sleigh bells filched off of a worn out holiday door decoration.

The plan was to conceal the bells in the shrubbery outside my brother’s bedroom window and to attach them to a length of fishing line—the clear kind so as to make detection difficult.  Next, I’d run the line around the side of our house and through my bedroom window.  So far, so good.

I remember setting my wind-up alarm clock for 2:00 a.m. at which time I intended to rise and give the fishing line several good tugs, enough force to invoke a loud jangle—loud enough to rouse Michael and to suggest to his sleep addled brain the proximity of Santa’s sleigh.

As I mentioned, it was a very simple, even clumsy plan.

Clumsy because I hadn’t considered the possibility of error—hadn’t considered, for example, that an excess of enthusiasm might cause me to jerk the fishing line too hard; hard enough to pull the sleigh bells out of the shrubbery.  I hadn’t considered how the soft Florida sand outside my brother’s window would muffle any ring-a-ling to a Tinker Bell tinkle.  Which is, of course, exactly what happened.

I don’t remember if Mike heard the bells—I don’t recall him ever mentioning them; and I’m not sure if my efforts served to prolong his Christmas innocence, if indeed he retained any at the time.  What I am sure of now—all these many years later—is that my subterfuge was not entirely altruistic.  Not just about preserving a charming myth for Michael.

Saint NickRather, I can see now that I went to all that trouble as much for myself as for my beautiful little brother.  I think that is because I wanted to keep believing in a world where magic existed—where genuine Goodness walked on roof tops and flew through the skies in reindeer drawn sleighs; the kind of world where you could count on true altruism—if only once a year.

I wanted to believe that there was someone, some miraculous ‘being’ more accessible to me, to Michael, than an unseen God on a golden throne, more ‘real’ than a Plaster of Paris Baby Jesus in a manger. I wanted to believe in a Magical Goodness I didn’t have to die to experience.  I’ll admit it: I wanted that corpulent, red-suited, repository of generosity—that living, breathing Ambassador of Good Will (whose appointed ‘helper representatives’ could be seen in every department store in town)—to be real.  I wanted a Santa who knew exactly who I was, who Michael was—who knew each boy and girl personally.  So personally that it was worth the trouble of an annual visit and reward—just because we’d tried to be good.

That seemed a myth worth preserving.

So there you go—that was me, a little Southern Baptist blasphemer even then.  But I wanted that charming story to keep a while longer.  I wanted it to ring clear and true that long ago Christmas Eve.  As true and clear as sleigh bells ringing.

Maybe I still do?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Few Words for Mom, by @jackaurquhart

©2013 by Jack Andrew Urquhart       1124 words

Mom 2013, Ninety years young.

Mom 2013, Ninety years young.

On the afternoon of December 7, 2013, I received the telephone call that most of us think (and hope) will never come our way: the call that informs us that a loved one has suddenly been taken.  In my case, the one taken was my Mother, Thelma Ashley Urquhart, killed in an automobile accident in front of the church where she’d been a devoted attendee and member for over fifty years.

She’d just attended a Christmas luncheon for the ladies of her Sunday school class.

What follows is a slightly edited version of the remarks I offered at her memorial service, December 12, 2013.

A few words then, for you, Mom.  With my love. –Andy

Purple squiggle 14

Good morning. On behalf of my brother and the family, I thank you for being here today to celebrate Thelma Urquhart’s life.  She would be so pleased—is pleased, I think, to see such a fine turnout.  That is because—as she’d be the first to admit—Mom liked being the center of attention, and she appreciated being on the receiving end of a little affection.  So it looks like she hit the jackpot today.

Mom, circa 1946

Mom, circa 1946

This may come as old news to some of you, but Mom—Ms. Thelma, as many of you knew her—was a bit of a character and a big-time storyteller.  She liked to tell how she came to Central Florida in the late 1940s when she was in her early 20s—a self-described skinny little knock-kneed Alabama farm girl.  She always said that she came seeking employment.  Instead, she found the rest of her life.  That began when she met Dad, Jack Lee Urquhart, who had only recently returned from his World War II service in the Pacific.

Mom liked to tell the story of how Dad proposed to her on their second date.  She said she figured he was joking, but when he kept popping the question over the next few weeks, she decided to call his bluff.  She said, “Jack, I’ll marry you.  But only if you promise to get a good, steady job!”  And surprisingly, Dad went out and did just that.  So they were married in April of 1947.

Wedding Photo, April 1947

Wedding Photo, April 1947

Mom liked that story.  She liked bragging that for the next nearly 5 decades, she made sure Dad kept his promise—the one about keeping a steady job—along with all his other marriage vows.

When I was a kid, I thought Mom and Dad were an odd couple.  Dad was a quiet, private person—a man of few words.  Whereas Mom—she lived to talk, and talk, and talk.  She was friendly that way—would tell her life story to anybody.  And if you were out and about with her, she might tell your life story too—to the sales clerk at Penney’s, the pharmacist down at Rexall Drugs, the waiter at Morrison’s Cafeteria.  So, it seemed to me back then that Mom and Dad were an odd match.  But I was wrong.

Now I understand that they were a good balance for each other—my father’s introversion was tempered by Mom’s exuberant extroversion; Mom’s flightiness was modulated by Dad’s careful thoughtfulness.  They were married for 48 years, and as a result here we are—my brother and I.  And all these beautiful grandchildren you see here today.

Happy family, circa 1953

Happy family, circa 1953

Mom did her best to raise us all right—she taught us our “please and thank you’s,” made sure we wiped our feet and emptied our pant cuffs before we dared tread across her clean kitchen floor. She wanted us to have good manners.

But she also wanted us to look good.

I remember when we were boys how she used to dress my brother and me up in matching Sunday outfits—in clip on bow-ties, and plaid sports jackets that she’d made herself, in navy-blue pants and Buster Browns that she’d bought on sale—always on sale—at Sears or down at Blackwelders Department Store.  Speaking for myself, I didn’t much appreciate all the fuss and bother.  But Mom was steadfast.  She continued that tradition even when the grandchildren came along.

She took such pleasure in frilling up her granddaughters, in dude-ing up her grandsons for Sunday school—often in outfits she’d made herself.

Mom and little Dillon, circa 1981

Mom and little Dillon, circa 1981

I think that she did that because—as a child of the great depression, who’d grown up in hand-me-downs and flour-sack undergarments—it gave her pleasure to see her children and grandchildren all gussied up.  It was as if our Sunday finery was a symbol of her triumph over hardship.

Lord knows, she had definite ideas about how a person should dress for church—for any occasion, for that matter.

Mom had strong ideas about a lot of things.  About God and religion, for instance.

We had, she and I, many discussions about matters spiritual.  And though we didn’t always see eye-to-eye, what matters most to me now is how she evolved and grew in her God—how the God she talked to me about seemed more and more expansive over the years, a God with room for us all.  Saints and sinners.

Mom at Church luncheon, Valentine's, Day 2008

Mom at Church luncheon, Valentine’s Day 2008

Certainly, Mom knew she wasn’t a saint—she knew well her shortcomings.  Of course, it’s also true that she didn’t like admitting to them, much less having them pointed out to her.  But then, who does?  In self-defense, she’d sometimes say that except for Jesus, who she firmly believed to be the only begotten Son of God—there was no such thing as a perfect human being (“So there!”).  But then, she also believed that we humans were created in God’s image, and that that meant there was a spark of Godliness in all of us.  And it was our job, then, to fan that spark into a little flame as best we could.  So she tried.  Sometimes her attempts could be awkward and clumsy.  But other times her efforts—her efforts to be more godly—were simple and graceful, and amazing.

Finally, I’d like to say how important Mom’s friends and neighbors, this community, and especially this church were to her.  The Church was right at the center of Mom’s universe.  She loved the Bible Study, the music; she loved participating in the quilting bees, in the bunko gatherings; and she loved the senior citizen “Lamplighter” activities where she got to show off her bread pudding, her casseroles, and her macaroni and cheese.

Mom, circa 1931. Forever young.

Mom, circa 1931. Forever young.

So I think I can speak for the family in saying that it gives us comfort to know that Mom spent the last hours, and literally the last minutes of her life on this earth with her church brothers and sisters.  With people whom she loved.

Thank you all for that.  And thank you for coming out for Mom.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Three ‘Free Verses’ (as well they should be!) by @jackaurquhart

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 11.43.31 AM

CatLurking

Unforgivable

©2013 by Jack A. Urquhart

Three squirrels feed
On the meager seed
I scatter
Familial, skittish
They chatter and chide

Tattered tails
Unfurled like ship sails
Their backsides
From every angle
Guilelessly exposed

While just there—
Amidst the heather—
A black cat
Crouches stealthily
A pitch dark angel

In silence
From a safe distance
I observe
Knowing full and well
What will happen next

Purple squiggle 14

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 11.43.43 AM

WetDream

Wet Dream

©2013 by Jack A. Urquhart

I have a recurrent dream—
a dream of loving you
Together we swim
over sheets warm as beach sand
the ebb and flow of coverlets
thrashing, frothing, periwinkle blue
washes our salted bodies
We are slick with spray
anchored, drowning together
awash in gravity
Had I the weight of the moon
I would will this nightly ritual
steady as the tides

Purple squiggle 14

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 11.43.51 AM

SnowChildren

In a dream, I hear my children

©2013 by Jack A. Urquhart

Though they are long gone
in a dream I hear my children
at play again
Their icicle laughter
tinkles ‘round the dormers
of consciousness
chatters at the windowsill
of memory
The ruckus they raise
is winter-green
blizzard sharp
crisp as clean delight
Despairing, I awaken
no doors to slam
no windows to shut
Nothing to mute the cold clarity
the wintered beauty
of a moment lost

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments