Posts Tagged ‘father’

I want to thank those of you who have continued to drop into my site during my absence. I have not been able to write much due to family matters & health concerns, but your notes and visits have meant a great deal to me.

During the past month, I have finally been able to work on the print version of my book. My father intended to help me with it, but his time on Earth was cut short, so I have added some chapters in his memory. In a short time, the book will be available on Amazon. I will let you know when it is ready. Please pray that God will be pleased with it and that it might help someone along their spiritual journey.

Please continue to pray for me and I will do the same for you.

Peace & Grace,

Sister Olive ~♥~

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The Last Dance

“No matter how close to yours another’s steps have grown, in the end there is one dance you’ll do alone.” -Jackson Browne

My birthday was yesterday, and it was my first one without my father. He would have sent me photographs or a music video, or called me from Spain for the occasion. I missed that, but I wore his scarf to remember the scent of him.

I often think of how he and my mother ushered me into this wild dance of life. He would tell me the story laughingly, of how he drove my mother to the hospital and they helped her onto a stretcher, and left him in the waiting room. She was so ready, that before they could wheel her down the hall into a room, I was suddenly born. The doctor turned the stretcher around, called for my father and showed him my fat little body squirming and crying. I was 11 pounds and 2 ounces they tell me! I have always tried not to hurt anyone and I suppose on that single occasion, I succeeded. Her labor was over just like that. I was so fat, my father said, that my forehead was folded and almost covering my eyes. I had arrived in my usual style, clumsy and overly dramatic.

When I think of my father, it saddens me that I was not there to take his hand and usher him out of this world as he had ushered me in. I didn’t know it was his time while I was dreaming about Christmas with him in Spain. He departed just after Easter on my son’s birthday.

My mother and I still talk of him. She says he was quite a dancer. I believe that he was and I like to imagine it. I can see them scooting across a wooden floor in our living room, she in a lilac dress with a thick corn silk braid flowing to her waist, and soft flat lavender shoes. He is wearing a light saffron shirt with rolled up sleeves and a hickory vest, black pants and tai chi shoes. Her swan-like arms lay across his amber elbows; one hand rests on his shoulder and strokes his espresso hair. She is soft as bread and he is spicy like cinnamon. Their eyes of blue and brown dance together like water and wood.

But the curtain begins to close, the music is fading and I can’t quite hear the song. I  barely hear soft shoes and gentle high and deep voices on the dance floor. They will always dance together within the red satin lining of my music box heart.

 

 

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Yesterday in Mallorca, a sweet lady presented this purple orchid in my name to my father. IMG_20170429_112105 On the card it says “For my Poppy with love from your delicate flower”… I am so touched by this kind gesture.

Here are a few photos of my father:

I will miss him forever and a day. Please pray for our family.

Peace and Grace,

~Olive~

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My father died two days ago in Valldemossa, Mallorca, Spain. I have written this poem as a tribute to him. Please pray for our family. Peace be with you.
~Sister Olive~

My Father’s Voice

His voice was as warm as pure maple syrup over pancakes.
It was as gravelly as a mountain road in West Virginia.
It arrived with a rumble like a train into the station.

His voice pranced onto the stage
As classy and sassy as a sexy dancer in red high heels.
It rung like a round glass of red wine tapped by fingernails.
It bleated like lambs under the almond trees.
It played rich like the viola, gentle as piano keys,
And heavenly as the harpsichord.
It sang like the nightingale under the moon in an ancient olive tree.
His voice could make thunder and rain and snow and a clear day
All at once.

When he spoke my name,
I stepped into glass slippers and onto a castle balcony,
Draped in white satin with golden lace rustling about my ankles
And a pearl ring upon my finger.
A noble white dove lighted upon my shoulder and whispered peace to me.
The wind stroked the bell towers
And I inhaled the scent of jasmine and orange blossom.
That was the power of his voice over me.

But in April the floods came
And the hands of the clock died
And the bells rang hollow upon
The twelve bubbles of midnight.
My head is under water
And the fish kiss my eyelids with their tiny lips.
All I can hear is the sound of his final sigh.

 

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My father has been very ill of late, and I have been thinking about some of the beautiful words he spoke to me in Spain when I visited him in 2013. I never had a chance to get close to him or know him as well I wished, but he showed me his sorrowful heart a few times in a meaningful way.

One night with tears in his eyes, he said “You and your mother and sister have all suffered so much, and you have passed through the fire with tremendous dignity and grace. I consider the three of you as beautiful angels and I admire all of you so much. I have had a very good life, but I haven’t been good. All I want now is to try to take care of my three angels. That is my only goal.”

As one who received little validation or affection from my parents, this was a very healing experience inside of me in ways I don’t even fully understand. Though he has never been the sort of father I could truly enjoy as a daughter, he is still my one and only dear father.

I often wish I lived in Spain, especially in difficult times like these. Please pray for our family…

Peace and Grace,
~Olive~

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I learned so much among the Spanish people, not only about civility which seems to be disappearing in my own nation, but about things that make life simpler and more pleasant.  I would never intentionally shed negative light on my own country, but we could learn so much if we would be more humble and listen to our friends from other places.  My father was a wonderful guide and explained many things to me as we wandered around different villages and cities.

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For example, I love the beautiful lace curtains that hang over the doorways in Spain, and it didn’t occur to me right away that I didn’t see any screened doors or windows.  My father explained that the lace is a more fashionable way of fulfilling the same purpose. When the doors are open, the lace keeps insects out of homes. Many of the people have beaded curtains, like the ones that were so popular in the hippie days in America. Flies and other insects can sense the motion of the beads in the breeze and it frightens them away.  And the homes are more aesthetically pleasing to look at without all of the screens.

One of the most pleasant features of Spain is the remarkable cleanliness of the place. The streets in even the larger cities like Barcelona were incredibly clean.  I never saw trash cans or litter drifting around while I was in there, because the business of trash disposal and collection occurs at night.  Metal hooks are set into the stone walls beside the doors, and the people place trash bags on the hooks at dusk for the trash collectors.

In the entire time that I was in Spain, I never sat at a table in a restaurant that had spills or crumbs on it.  Even in the airport McDonald’s, the tables were kept spotlessly clean and shiny. People seem to genuinely take pride in their villages and cities.

One taxi driver in Barcelona was beaming with pride as he explained to us about the best sites to see during our visit, and he pointed out his apartment as we drove by, remarking several times as he drove that he loved living in this beautiful city.  I don’t know that I have ever seen people take such pride in their places of habitation.  In America, we are proud of our own property, but Spaniards take pride in their whole community.

After a couple of weeks in Spain, it occurred to me that I had not seen any semi-trucks on the highways even in the cities.  My father explained that they transport merchandise at night, not in the daytime.

I saw a sign in the village square which showed a picture of a hand covered in chain mail, and I asked my father about it.  He told me that is was for the butcher shop. He explained that in Spain, a butcher is required by law to wear chain mail over the hand which is holding the meat when he cuts it.  It is not only a tradition but a matter of insurance liability. More importantly, it’s good sense.

My father asked me one night if we wanted to go to a tapas bar, and I glared at him and said “What?”  Then he repeated himself, and explained that tapas are appetizers or hors d’oeuvres.  In Spain you go out for tapas when you are not ready for a full meal but you need a little something to hold you over.  I love this concept because it saves the embarrassment of going in a restaurant when you only want soup or a salad and the waiter looks at you with annoyance as if to say “cheapskate” or “there goes my tip for this table.”

I noticed that many waiters wear arm bands above the elbow that resemble garter belts made of black satin.  So one day I inquired of a dashing young waiter, “Do your arm bands represent something, or do you wear them just to look nice?”  He answered, “We adjust the length of our sleeves with them, so that our cuffs don’t come in contact with the food we serve.” What a great idea! And they look much classier than rolled-up sleeves.

I saw mostly small cars in Spain, because they are economical and more suitable for the narrow roadways and easy parking.  I did not see the gigantic gas hogs driving around there like I am accustomed to seeing here.  The people are also smaller, and I rarely saw an obese person.  The competitive over-consumptive capitalistic spirit seems to be absent from the atmosphere.

Weapons don’t mean a thing to most Spaniards.  My father says that aggression takes place everywhere, but the Spanish people don’t like fighting.  In fact, he says they don’t like to place their hands on each other at all during an argument.  When they get angry with one another, they shout mostly, but seldom push or strike one another.

My father says that there is a strong sense of community in Spain, that
there is not an attitude of every man for himself, striving against the whole world.  Spaniards think in terms of every man for himself and his neighbor.  He said that Americans think this is communist, but it isn’t. Communism is every man for the government.  What could possibly be wrong with “love thy neighbor as thyself”?

There is no charge for medical care in Spain, and if you need antibiotics, you don’t need a prescription. You walk to the pharmacy and buy it complete with instructions on dosage, warnings, etc.  You are assigned a doctor based on where you live and from there to specialists if you need them.  Spain is fourth in quality of medical care in the world, and America is around thirty-two while the care is more costly than anywhere else. My father had a quadruple bypass surgery about two years ago, and paid nothing for his care. There goes that community spirit again.

People really enjoy being together is Spain. When you meet a friend at a restaurant, you don’t sit for an hour and get your ticket from a hurried waiter. You commune with your friends for hours over food and wine presented with style and kindness. No rude service there! My father says once you sit down at a table, it is yours as long as you like and no one will take it from you.

The cathedral bells there ring out the hours of the day, the church services, special holidays, and the deaths of villagers. I loved seeing the birds flying from the bell towers when they chimed. There are unique rings for each kind of event, and the bells toll differently to signify the passing of men or women or children.

I have been dreaming of Spain ever since our departure.  My son and I wandered around the beautiful Barcelona airport for an hour or so before our departure, shopping for last minute souvenirs and gifts.  The floors were so polished that I felt as if I was walking across a pond.

When we flew into the Atlanta airport, we looked out the windows and saw trash everywhere in and around dumpsters.  As we walked inside, we smelled the dismal smell of sweat and dirt.  We were so sad that this is what foreigners experience when they arrive in America.

When will we ever learn?

~♥~

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A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Today I spoke to my father on the phone and he said, “I am trying to keep myself alive long enough to come to the United States one more time in the spring.”  I couldn’t find any words to say in reply.  I later told my eldest son about this remark spoken so casually, and his face looked pained. “I wish he wouldn’t say things like that,” he said.

I nodded, “I feel the same way, but I think he is trying to prepare us for the inevitable. But we have hardly known him and now he is speaking of death. It hurts a lot.”

Last October, my father came from Spain and spent three days with each of his children.  After he had visited me in the South and my sister in California, she called me on the phone and said, “I almost fell over when he said he was staying for three days. That is the longest visit I’ve had with him.” It is sad but true. It was the longest in our lives.

Then winter blew in and Poppy began to ask me to come and see him in Spain, and he gave my eldest son and me a gift we will never forget.  We spent three weeks with him there in Paradise in the month of May.

Since then, I am trying not to fall apart from the longings inside, and Anger keeps whispering into my ear, saying “How could he hurt you like this after you have suffered so much already?”

But love covers a multitude of sins. I told my son, “Our battle now is to love purely and not feel bitter about the past or how late it is for him to come into our lives.  Your grandfather is reaching out to us now, and we might have never known him at all.  Many people never know their fathers or grandfathers. Think about that.” My son nodded.

So now we want to admonish Poppy that we expect him to live to be at least one hundred, and to come and stay for a longer time with us.  We have really enjoyed the tapas but now we are hungry for the plato principal.

~♥~

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