Posts Tagged ‘ashes’

The Scarecrow some of us have known

March 11, 2016

We put ashes of my nephew away yesterday, in the cold ground. It was a sad event, tragic that a young man could strive through the difficult decade of being between age 20 and 30, only to have it end abruptly.

Searching for love, with a false start or two, and fathering two young ones into this world along the way, Erik had just started to turn the corner between bittersweet street and true love way with his very own soulmate, Nora. Then he passed away. Absolutely no one was expecting it. It was a tragedy for our large extended family. On a perfect March day, we put what was left of his earthly remains away, but not the memories.

His sister Samantha, my niece, pierced the hearts of us all with her tender remembrance of Erik’s life–his unique presence in the history of our world, his wry humor, his fierce determination to provide for the young family despite all the pitfalls of finding and retaining work in this fiercely competitive world. More importantly though, his sister brought to our gathered attention his intense love for his children, his blooming love with his newfound bride of five months. And then his sister mentioned the bluebird.

In many ways, the young man who passed reflected the troubles of our times. At age 30, he was a tender shoot, untimely snipped by death’s sharp shearing. In sibling Samantha’s sensitive eulogy, she explained why Erik called his wife, his true love, “bluebird.”

It was a reference to a very timely, profound love song by a young singer I had never heard of. But at the memorial ceremony, a recording of the ballad was played for us to hear as we reflected up the life and childlike legacy of the deceased.

As an aging songwriter of sorts myself, I was struck dumb with admiration when this line–about the power that is unleashed in a lonely heart when absolute love is at last discovered– poured out of the sedate funeral home sound system:

“In my heart stands a scarecrow, and if he’s hurt he doesn’t say so; he chases everything he loves away.

But at night, when it’s colder, there’s a bluebird on his shoulder, and he whispers that he’ll hold her one bright day. . .”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WfwNwjbbpA

Such a love song I have never heard. And such a life as Erik’s will never again be lived again. John Fulbright’s tender love tune came to my attention through this memorial to Erik, his beloved widow Nora, and his sister’s remembrance of it all. The song, linked above, captures more than I could ever explain in words.

Thank you, Sam, for sharing this rich love of life lived by your brother, which has now been passed to us by his passing.

Glass half-Full

Advertisements

the Irish I knew

May 9, 2015

AshWall

Born into this world seventeen days

before the crash of ’29,

he was a contender,

a fight’n man,

not a troublemaker, mind you, but

you knew what I mean;

life’s no bowl of cherries, and for a while

it was like him against the world,

even later on, after the War,

to keep his family fed and well-heeled.

He never kiss’d no blarney stone, him,

nor anybody’s arse.

It was a hard world he came into

a Jersey boy

hard work’n man

with a woman who loved him his whole

dam life, and the Church to

back him up, as he needed so much

grace and mercy

to balance out his rude legacy upon the world.

Oh, he was a well-built man, stronger than Ulysses

and pretty dam smart too, an engineer.

A man who built bridges,

although he might have burned a few too

if you know what I mean.

Hell, it was men like him who built

America.

So here we stood today in southern shade

gentle breeze blow’n from somewhere far away

eighty-six years after the fact

of his life, which has passed into eternity.

The nine+ souls gather’d round,

grown up now and left behind

to contend as he did with every dam thing that’s wrong

with this world.

Now here’s the dear friar waiting patiently,

in gentle character so different from the fierce Catholic whose ashes now

we set aside, to await the great awakening,

the communion of the saints,

a big host of them, raised up

by the nail-scarred hands of Him upon that cross

hung there upon the nearby wall.

 

All these living offspring, celebrants of their father’s recent

life,

hard workers,  nine of ’em.

They don’t make ’em like that any more–

all of ’em stay’n ahead of the game

keep’n up with the Joneses,

aint no potato famine go’n tie them down.

And the Franciscan here, like Francis himself,

so  different from

the Irishman I loved– rough around the edges he was–

when in those last days he’d alienate

his attendants at the nursing home with his

racist nuances that could never really despoil

his helpless heart of love.

He so needed the grace and mercy

of the One who went to the cross for him,

and who went for me too.

Now we’re standing here with St. Francis

with knots in his waist-rope

and I wonder what the knots signify

but it doesn’t matter compared to eternity

of which I’m reminded, as this gentle breeze with bird sing’n,

and it makes me think of the day his daughter my wife and me,

we went

to Assisi, over there in the old world

and now I’m think’n of this new pope and

how long its been since I was a Catholic.

But that’s okay. It’s all good. I’m saved by the blood of the Lamb

and he is too.

Here these ashes inside a brass box

AshBox
ashes hidden from me, not like those

smeared upon the heads of Irish on how-many Ash Wednesdays

since the day of Calvary.

We’ll be there with him, and with  his bride

by ‘n by, you and I.

 

Smoke