Cousin Molly spoke of how we honor the memories of our loved ones like Great-uncle Charlie by passing on their names though we call our cousin Chuck instead of Charles or Charlie, by the recounting our memories of his humor, his light-footed dancing, his love of the ladies ( though he never married) and in my poem Sleigh Bells. (I didn’t catch that my iPad had shortened the name!). I read in a lovely shaded yard and was happy to share, even happier to sit back down after.
I realized that as happy as I am to be a poet, I am still reconciling the new and the old me as I continue to grow into myself. Insecurity and anxiety are part of our family legacy as well as the characteristics we fondly recall. I fight the impulse to duck my head and hide, to stand my full height among our family tree branches. I hear my mother asking if I have done the best I could. This wasn’t always true but it is something I strive for every day. It is all any of us can do. So thank you, those who listen and connect with my words. Thank you for being friends and family who support and care. That is a true legacy. Here again is my poem about Uncle Charlie.
Sleigh bells. 12-20-18
Echoing distant yet hauntingly close,
the ringing of sleigh bells
tickled my ears.
It’s been years since Uncle Charlie passed
yet I saw him tall against the snowy hills,
bundled thickly in woolen winter plaid,
vigorously shaking those big brass bells
a smiling imp of mischief,
his grin from ear to ear,
those famous Nelson ears,
a family legacy just as his humor.
Always ready with a joke for his great nieces and nephews,
urging us on to a second cookie
or helping of ice cream
as if daring mothers to deny his hospitality
which though they may have wanted to,
they never did.
He’d grown up on a fruit farm
when horses were standard transportation,
those bells part of his holiday celebration,
waiting for us to ask questions
so he could tell stories
of how it used to be.
The bells rang again
as his sleigh flew from the barn to the lane!
Merry Christmas, Uncle Charlie!
He’d have a great ride, I was sure
as my heart lifted high as the moon in the sky.
Old memories rose pungent from cedar and snow
as clear as stars hung from holiday thoughts
It’s true what they say,
all hearts do come home