Talking to the Animals

Walk with the animals, talk with the animals… I walked out of my client’s house today and saw two of my very favorite regularly seen animals across the street. I know. That sounds odd to say “favorite regularly seen animals.” The truth is, I DO regularly see many animals though. Here at my house, last year I got to know Freddie and Freda, my friendly squirrels. This year we’ve become friends with Eddie, their progeny. At each of my client’s homes, I have animal friends I see every time I go to visit them. In the Rockrimmon area, I have 2 rabbit friends who get under my car in cold weather and who hop up to the window and “talk” to me when the weather isn’t cold. Then there are my deer friends. These two bucks. One is the patriarch of the herd. One is a faun I met early in the spring. It has been neat to see the faun grow up. I haven’t seen the does lately. Maybe they’re staying in a warmer area. There is the possibility that they were killed. There was someone in the neighborhood who poisoned several of the herd in the fall. It was terrible and broke our hearts. I don’t know if they caught them or not.
So, today I walked out of my client’s home and there are my guys. They started to cross the street to see me. Yeah, I know, sounds unbelievable, but it happens! The papa buck was about to walk across the street but there was a car coming up the hill much too FAST. I did something any parent will recognize–I yelled, “Deer!! STOP!!” (Except as parents we yell the name of our child, of course.). Deer stopped! He looked at me and stopped immediately. I yelled, “Stay, deer! I don’t want you to get run over!” That dang deer stayed until the cars went by, just like a chastised kid! Hahaha! Then he ambled across the street towards me and made that weird little sound deer make, almost like he was saying “thanks!” Then baby buck came across the street. He’s the one you see on video. They have such great personalities. I never knew that before I moved to Colorado. Today, interacting with these beautiful animals was one of the very best moments of my day. Alan calls me Dr. Doolittle because I “talk with the animals.” Hahaha! I talk, they make weird sounds or just stare at me. To me, that’s just incredibly awesome and reminds me that we’re not the only live creatures on this planet.

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From This Moment On-A Beautiful Tapestry of Life

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From this moment on,
Life will never be the same.
Broken hearts still beat.
Beauty still exists.
God is still love.
All weave a tapestry of
a beautiful life.

D. Elaine Wood-Lane
12/8/16

30 years ago on December 24, 1986 I lost the second of two my two brothers. It had been a really rough year and became completely unbearable on Christmas morning around 7:30 AM when my father called to let me know we had lost Joe in a horrendous, freakish car accident the night before. From that moment on, my life was completely different. I was no longer a 25 year old young mother of two whose primary worry was when to wake my two tiny sons for Christmas morning. I had survived many difficult things in 1986, but the news of my brother’s death cracked everything wide open. It is amazing, truly, what a heart can survive and what can grow in the cracks of our hearts.

On May 27, 1986 my 69 year old mother had a massive heart attack. It took two ambulances, four emergency medical technicians and a full hour to stabilize her enough to transport her to the hospital. I called my brother, Joe, and my sister, Judy, who both lived in the area, to let them know that Mother’s life was hanging by a thread and then prayed, prayed, and held onto Daddy’s hands like the life lines they were. We held onto each other’s hands. Joe and Judy came up to the hospital as soon as they were able and we all spent the night moving back and forth between the CCU waiting room and the garish lights of the cafeteria. In 1986 you could still smoke inside certain areas of the hospital, primarily the cafeteria, so we made regular trips there. You see, everyone in my family, except me, smoked at that time. In the morning, we had to make a decision to have an arterial line put into Mother’s upper chest so the doctors would have direct, immediate access to her heart.

Two days went by and Joe, Judy and I decided it would be wise to ask our brother John, in California, and our sister, Betty, also in California, to come to Texas and join us in our vigil. Betty was unable to come at that time, but John was able to come. John himself had been fighting cancer, but was supposed to be in remission so we were delighted to learn he could make the journey to Texas. Two miracles occurred when John came to Texas. First, Mother’s condition improved greatly. Second, after a seeming lifetime of bitter sibling rivalry, my two brothers reconciled. John and Joe made their peace and our hearts were greatly encouraged that things were getting better. Over the course of John’s visit, however, I realized that John’s cancer was not in remission and that he was in very bad shape. He begged me not to tell anyone else in the family. He came to say his goodbyes to us and he wanted it to be a time of joy and pleasantness rather than doom and gloom. I kept his promise and told no one.

About a month later, Mother had to have quadruple coronary bypass surgery in order to not only keep her alive, but to give her a chance to thrive once more. She survived the surgery and once again we family members made frequent trips from the CCU waiting room to the cafeteria.

On August 24, 1986 we received word that John had lost his battle with cancer and was gone. Joe cried more than anyone. He had just regained his brother, only to lose him less than 70 days later. Daddy and Joe traveled to California to attend John’s funeral and to say their goodbyes. That trip was remarkable because it was the only time my daddy ever traveled by airplane anywhere and it was the last time Joe flew anywhere.

Several months went by with many changes occurring within those months. My husband, Craig, my sons and I moved to a small town in the Texas panhandle and started a new life when my husband started working for the United States Postal Service. It was the first time I had ever lived so far away from my parents. Also, our family slowly started to heal from Mother’s cardiac issues and John’s death.

Life was looking up! My husband and I bought a lovely old Victorian home in Memphis, Texas. I was able to stay at home with our sons, ages 2 and 1, and finally, we had enough money that we didn’t have to decide who we were going to pay each month for the essentials of life.

Christmas Eve rolled around and I was so excited because my mother-in-law and her sister and sister’s husband came to Memphis to celebrate Christmas with us. My baby sons were excited because it was the first time they were even aware there was such a thing as Christmas. I remember for Christmas Eve supper I made homemade cheese soup and rolls. I was feeling so grownup and domesticated and…happy, truly happy.

I started experiencing extreme right flank pain around 7:45 that evening, immediately after supper. I ran a fever, started passing blood, and felt like I was dying. My happiness had evaporated within 10 minutes. I desperately wanted it back, but could not seem to shake my pain and malaise. For the remainder of the evening and throughout the long Christmas Eve night, I was in agony. Nothing seemed to help. I finally drank a gallon of half apple cider vinegar and half water mixed together in complete desperation. My baby sons were going to have their first fun Christmas morning and by golly I wasn’t going to let anything spoil that!

Finally, around 6:30 on Christmas morning, I passed what seemed to be a large kidney stone and the pain was gone. I went to bed completely exhausted. Around 7:15 AM our phone rang. I answered the phone to hear Daddy say, “Is Craig there? I really need to speak to Craig.” As Daddy asked these questions, his voice cracked. I immediately was alerted that something was terribly wrong. After a few minutes of wrangling, Daddy finally spoke the fatal words that changed my life forever, “Elaine, well, Joe has been in a terrible car accident. Please let me speak to Craig.” “Is Joe ok? How badly was he hurt? Daddy, please just tell me!” “Elaine, sugar, I’m afraid Joe didn’t make it. He was killed instantly.” Suddenly my hands were no longer strong enough to hold the telephone. As I dropped it, Craig picked it up and I started keening and wailing in agony. How could my beloved Joe be gone? It just couldn’t be true!

You know how you always read in novels that the hero or heroine has gone numb from grief and shock? I always thought that was pure hyperbole until that morning. After my initial wailing and sobbing bout, I realized I had a job to do. It was still Christmas morning and my boys were expecting fun! By golly they were going to get it too!  So, I took some deep breaths, wiped the tears off my face and went upstairs to wake up my babies. We had a great Christmas, from what I understand. Apparently I did all the appropriate things, but  I remember none of them.

So, where does that leave things now, 30 years later and staring Christmas Eve down as it looms closer and closer? The pain is still there. I still miss my brothers. In addition, I miss my sister Betty and my parents, all of whom I’ve lost in the intervening 30 years. My life never has been the same since Christmas day 1986. However, it hasn’t been all horrific either. I’ve learned we have moments of great joy and moments of great sorrow in life. They don’t balance each other out. They never become equals. What they do accomplish is weave a tapestry of a life wherein we know to cherish the joyous moments, however brief they may be, to know with confidence God will assist us through the agonizing moments, and the rest of the moments are full of the dreams that become beautiful memories.

The most important things I’ve learned from that fateful moment on December 25, 1986 is to love and trust God, to love people and tell them so, and to love life. There is no other way to find peace in this wild and crazy tapestry we call life.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Somewhere, over the rainbow,

on the other side of the wall,

days are bright and sunny,

no matter winter, spring,

summer or fall.

If my clothes could talk

at the end of the day, 

they’d tell of the rainbows

I saw today.

Some rainbows I noticed,

Others I passed right by,

because I was too busy

feeling serious with a sigh.

There are rainbows nearby,

not on the other side of a wall,

but right in front of our eyes,

if we’ll simply slow down and

look up, whenever the bright colors call.

©D. Elaine Wood-Lane

11/3/16


Let’s not be so serious and worried about the news, the election, the environment and ourselves that we miss the bright, colorful moments hitting us right between the eyes. I’m not advocating irresponsibility or not caring about the world we live in, but let’s remember that it is important to take the beautiful moments seriously too. Here’s a scene I saw thousands of times while I lived the first 45 years of my life in the southern panhandle of Texas. I took these scenes for granted because they were so common. I live at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado now, which are also beautiful and easy to take for granted. When I saw this photo below, however, this is the scene that made my heart ache and my eyes mist because this beauty is part of my soul.

Joy

My eyes view beauty through tears.

Yet my heart is joyful.

Golden leaves peek through.

D. Elaine Wood-Lane 9/11/16

My past week has been full of everything you can imagine. In the midst of it, I attended the memorial service for a very young poet friend who was so talented it blew me away. At the service, the same words were repeated so often about this young man: “Blake was so calm, quiet, and wise.” The memorial service itself was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever attended. Family and friends spoke about him and most of them read one of his poems after they spoke. It was a gathering of love, sorrow and even joy for having known such a remarkable young man. As I walked out of Shove Chapel at Colorado College, my eyes full of tears and my heart aching with loss, I looked up at this view and it took my breath away. It’s a perfect visual representation of what lay in my heart. Yes, there is darkness, sometimes seemingly overwhelming in our lives, yet if we have God with us, we also have glimpses of golden joy. Underneath the photo below is a daily devotional from a daily meditation book I read. It so perfectly expresses my underlying joy that I had to share it. The book in question is called, “Be Still And Know,” and was compiled and edited by Michelle Winger.

 

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Do no grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

Joy is not necessarily happiness. Happiness is dependent on circumstances; joy is not. Happiness is fleeting; joy is constant. Happiness disappears when trials come; joy grows through troubles. Good times bring happiness and laughter; difficulties bring sorrow and grief, but joy resides beneath.

Joy is not an emotion that can be fabricated or faked. It is a deep-seated sense that all things are well because God is in charge. Joy is expressed in praise, song, laughter, a peaceful countenance, a light in the eyes, or a serenity that belies any adversity. It is the substance of the soul that holds us together as we trust in God, who does all things well. Jesus wants our joy to be full!

Thank you, Jesus, for the joy that gives me strength. I choose today to fill my mind with truth, to think about those things that are praiseworthy, and to trust you fully. With a thankful heart, I choose joy!

Hot Air

Sun shines down so hot,
Cotton field dirt burns bare feet,
The hot air shimmers.

Summer days of old,
Cousins playing on the farm,
Hot dirt, hot air…joy!

Huddled inside now,
Cool air, carpet, dimness here,
Where is hot air joy?

© D. Elaine Wood-Lane
7-31-16


I recall a time in my childhood, when Mother’s family would gather at Aunt Mary and Uncle Dolf’s farm. We cousins would go outside to play in the 106 degree heat and we loved it! We played outside, walking through fields in our bare feet, finding magical objects in the dirt like arrow heads and pretty rocks and we were in our glory. Those are some of my favorite childhood memories.

Double Life/NaPoWriMo Day 15

I’ve been married twice,
to two men.

I have two sons,
who were born within two years.

I have two great loves,
God and people.

I also love
color and yarn.

I love two ends of the age spectrum,
old people and babies.

I’ve had more than two troubles,
which always seem to come in threes.

I’ve lost family and friends,
and watched both suffer.

I’ve seen new babies born,
almost at the same time we lost someone.

I’ve seen too many bad things,
but I’ve seen more beauty by far.

Life is a paradox.
It is complicated and simple.

There are days when I want to give up,
but I’ll never give up because life is beautiful.

© Elaine Wood-Lane
4/15/16



And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Because today marks the halfway point in our 30-day sprint, today I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates the idea of doubles. You could incorporate doubling into the form, for example, by writing a poem in couplets. Or you could make doubles the theme of the poem, by writing, for example, about mirrors or twins, or simply things that come in pairs. Or you could double your doublings by incorporating things-that-come-in-twos into both your subject and form. Happy writing!