As I walked into the room a stench of an indescribable odor struck me. Yet the horrid smell did not prepare me for the first sight of Genevieve. She was sitting up in bed with her short black curly hair neatly combed. Her olive complexion and features made me think she was of Italian or perhaps Greek nationality. The floral print coverlet was drawn up to her waist.

I had come bringing the Eucharist and realizing my purpose in being there,  her face lit up. She immediately held out her hands making a throne on which to receive Jesus an acceptable alternative to receiving on the tongue. Perhaps she chose this option because on her left cheek there was a black growth composed of grapelike lumps about the size of a tangerine__ the source of the smell that overwhelmed me.

In the quiet moment while she consumed the Body Of Christ I saw several prayer cards strewn next to her on the coverlet. She remained quiet and I respected her silence. Leaving the room I noticed a framed photo of three teenagers on her dresser and  thought she was praying for them.

I visited Genevieve several times after that and each time she held out her hands to receive the ultimate food for her soul. On my last, visit lingering for a time, I said, “You are beautiful.” And indeed she was. She said flatly, “I am not beautiful.” We looked each other in the eye and I somehow knew she realized I meant what I said.

My short time substituting for the regular Eucharistic Minister at the nursing home ended. I never saw Genevieve again. Months later I visited a Catholic church in a nearby town and saw in the bulletin a Mass was being offered in her memory.  I still wonder about her story, her faith and the young people in the photo. I believe I had met a Saint.

Empty Nest: Full Heart

       Inspired writing is a gift that comes freely, one thought springing from another prose becoming poetry pouring out love and truth from the heart. In the summer of 1998 when our daughter was nearly ten years old, the following piece slipped easily onto the page.

On Little Birds and Children

The news at seven am is hard to take. Drugs, abortion, wars, and some woman in politcs saying,”I can’t tell someone what to do with her own body.”

Air, sun, help! I open the door leading to our deck and glance into a hanging basket of New Guinea Impatience. There is a small nest in there. On tip-toe I see two white eggs. I smile, almost chuckle to myself. They would be my peace for the next two weeks of DC-10 crashes and more politicians saying, “I’m pro-choice,” staying safely in the middle.

They finally hatch, two rather bare grey babies. With Mom and Dad coming back and forth never abandoning the twins. Feeding, the two sound like a dozen. Soon they grow and gain their feathers as we all watch hoping to see them fly.

One morning I open the door to find an empty nest. My own child looks up at me and says,”Mommy, birds grow up sooner than children.”

She is ten and grew five inches in a week I think. When she flies off will some politician say,”Your mommy had the right to choose. She chose to let you be and one day fly as little birdies do.”

The Storm

Sometimes when a poem or scripture is referred to very often, we are numb to its meaning and truth. For me Psalm 23 was like that; so often read at funerals, I failed to reverence and reflect upon the words. Recently in times of loss and illness I revisited Psalm 23 with an open heart and realized the profound truth in this poem of David.

There is another familiar poem and painting, Footprints, that in the past I have passed by as commonplace. Yet, again one day I looked and saw how it reflects our journey here in this precious life we live and the Presence of the One whose children we are, in times of joy but also adversity. This poem is a reflection of the latter.

The Storm

The storm rages about us, around us
Sometimes we succumb to its terror
Shrinking, turning away from the light
Yet in the midst of its fury
We cry out to Him the author of life
And question: Why is it so?
In the misery of sickness, of sorrow
Of abandonment: He speaks
My child do you not have faith?
Have you forgotten the times
I saved you from ruin
When you cried out to Me:
Where are you as the waves engulf me?
He answers: Be still, my child!
And the seas calm as the storm ceases.

Our Lady of Windflowers

A dear friend of mine, who travels a great deal, happened upon a print of a  painting by Margaret Tarrant. She lived in England  and was a talented artist and illustrator,  never married and was a devoted Christian.  Margaret loved animals and nature as well as Christian themes and also fairies. The framed print I received had the word Windflowers on the very bottom of the picture. Whimsical and lovely in many ways, the painting of the Madonna and child had an air of freedom about it and touched my heart. The following poem is my second attempt to convey the image and meaning of the work of art.  The subject of this poem may be easily found on the internet.





There on the lap of Mary sits the One who holds our every hope
He looks upon creation at wonders great and small
The Babe with bluebird lightly held, wings spread as if to fly

He the Son of heaven sees each tiny flower growing in the meadow
And she adores her own dear Child from her seat upon a rock
Her mantle sheer and flowing blowing in the breeze

They look upon the windflowers and it seems a sadness looms
For as they bloom awhile and wither so shall we
Yet they recede and bloom again as we shall live anew
Just like tiny windflowers scattered on the earth

He bends to watch each blossom as He does for you and me
Then tilts His head toward the Lady dressed in blue
Who guides us as a Mother and loves us as her own
And holds us close to Jesus as we were meant to be.





Contemplating the Sunrise

No matter what problems may have happened the previous day or if my night was filled with frustrating dreams and wakefulness, though unrested, the light of daybreak brings hope. When the skies are clear, I become like a child and feel the wonder of the rising sun and on rainy days though unseen, the world is lit as well. Although all seems still, our earth is revolving around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour  completing its orbit in one year while spinning at approximate 1000 miles per hour at the equator (slightly less as you move north or south) completing its rotation in 24 hours and also tilting on its axis. Even more amazing, the earth and our solar system move around the center of our galaxy at 490,000 miles per hour. Yet we have the impression that we are stationary. How amazing!

This brings to mind a verse in 1 Corinthians 2:9  Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and have not entered the heart of man that God has prepared for those who love Him. Wonders of eternity.

Contemplating the Sunrise

My fascination with the sunrise began some years ago when for some reason I began waking up at five or six am before the rising of the sun. Sitting on the small deck facing east with coffee and rye toast, I noticed the beginning of light appearing, the sound of a fountain in the garden below and then songs by unseen birds, treetops slowly lit with tiny drops of dew or rain drops glistening  like diamonds. Even before the blazing orb became visible light fell randomly on grasses and plants. Sometimes the sky turned red  pink and lavender. I remember a prayer card we received from our parish years ago beginning with The favors of the Lord are renewed each morning so great is His Faithfulness.

More on the sunrise to follow: enjoy this beautiful day…









A Poem for Jerry

You are missed, little brother:   The phone calls at suppertime, the hope  you spoke of with each new treatment,  stories of good nurses and doctors who cared, the tips and gifts you gave to those who poked and prodded, and talked with you during hour after hour of IV drip, the gratitude you shared with me in land line conversations, those years of chemo therapy to treat the BIG C.

I miss your smile and laugh when you told a funny story. About working with the Pasternak’s, and the one about that poor fellow who barked like a dog and actually did. uncontrollably; not laughing at them but with them. The way you rubbed the hump on Mom’s back and told her she needed to have it removed, every time you saw her. The trip from Florida you and your wife made up north to visit all of us, when I thought you had to eat bland food and then you brought (and ate) kielbasa to your dietitian sister.

That was just one year ago.  All those miles, stops in Virginia, here in NJ and in Pennsylvania. On the way back south in Gettysburg (where you had kielbasa). No trace of self pity, always on the move. You were just the same. You never changed from that dark eyed, slight and agile child of nine or ten to the suffering sixty some. You brought sunshine, hugs and kisses. As the cancer grew and spread, so did your heart.

Now as I smile through tears, I miss you…