2002 ARCHIVES

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See Rae Turnbull's bio and most current essays

 

See 2003 archives

 

Note:  After 20 years, Rae Turnbull discontinued her

beautiful column in July 2003 to pursue other interests.

 

December 22, 2002

It's a house transformed.
The modest style
of its plain everyday
has given way
to a festive flair,
as every room
is dressed for Christmas.

Evergreen boughs
and garlands of ribbon
are in abundance.
Poinsettia plants,
in glorious bloom,
fill the shelves
beside the stairs.
Baskets of ornaments
clutter the table,
and twinkling lights
are everywhere.

It's how I want
my world at Christmas.
Full of the richness
of treasured traditions,
lovingly gathered
through the years.

Each room is graced
with a generous sense
of warmth and welcome.
And it's offered to all
who enter this house,
transformed by Christmas.



December 24, 2002

I'm like a child
about Christmas.
I still believe.

To me,
the sparkle
and the glitter are real.
And the gifts
that I receive
come from the heart.

The season is its own
excuse for giving,
and I love
the generosity I feel.

The tree,
the ornaments,
the lights,
are all for me.

It's magic,
and I feel it every year.
Maybe that's because
I still believe.


To my readers:
This particular essay
first appeared 20 years ago.
It's now a tradition,
offered as a thank you
for your friendship.
Merry Christmas!
Rae Turnbull



December 26, 2002

Rainy days
diffuse the edges
of my view
with soft gray wetness.
Far horizons disappear,
till nothing's left
beyond the closest trees.

The mountain shapes
I used to see
and know are there,
are only memories
on days like these.

My outside world
has pulled in close,
clinging to my windows,
as though it wants
to come inside,
where space is always
small and warm,
with limits
to its boundaries.

Rainy days
are my reminders
that things are seldom
just exactly
what they seem to be.
And we should venture,
now and then,
beyond our sheltered space,
and find the world
we know is there
but cannot see.
 

December 29, 2002

She has that rare ability
to live in the present.
Not in the careless way
of those who have
no future goals.
She knows how to plan
for tomorrow,
but she does it without
neglecting today.

She respects the past,
and remembers well
mistakes she's made.
But she doesn't dwell
on what can't be changed.
She lets the past die,
so she won't forget
to be fully aware
and alive right now.

Her sense of the present
lets her accept
the hard weight of sorrow
when it's met.
But it also lets her
truly enjoy
each happy moment
while she's in it.

Joyful or sad,
no day slips by her,
unattended,
haunting her later,
with regret.



December 31, 2002

It's New Year's Eve,
and there likely will be
much talk about time.

Those with less of it left
will sadly lament
how fast it travels.
Those with much time ahead
will complain that it moves
at the pace of pack mules.

Both points of view
can be proven true.
But one truth about time
on which all agree
is we judge our own worth
by how well we used it.

Did we offer it,
generously,
for friendships?
Or did we squander it,
shamelessly,
for self serving ends?
Did we fill it
with honest laughter?
Or did we drain it
with deceit?

Like all things of value,
time is in short supply.
I'm certain that's why
it's something we treasure.
And how time's been used
is our truest measure.



January 2, 2003

I think it's time
some due is given
to those of us
not wildly driven
by a love of cooking.

We who only venture
into our kitchens
because we have
a family to feed.
We deserve as much praise
and recognition
as those for whom cooking
satisfies soul
and creative ambition.

They chop and dice
and only use recipes
marked "make from scratch."
Theirs is a labor
of love, it's true.
But it's love of something
they want to do.

We, on the other hand,
only use recipes
printed on mixes
and labels of cans.
But ours is a labor
of love as well.
Love for our husbands
and hungry children
in need of nutrition.
Only that kind of love
makes us brave a kitchen!

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2003

 

December 8, 2002

Too busy.
From waking up
to stumbling late
into our beds,
our days are filled
with things we think
we have to do.

Even our play
is part of a very
programmed day.
And we give each thing
such important weight,
if we're forced to leave
something undone,
we find it hard
to choose which one.

This time of year
steps up the pace,
with treats to bake
and gifts to buy,
and homes and trees
to decorate.

Stop.
Let's leave ourselves
some listening space.
Or the Angels' song
that sends its message
of Good News
will fall on ears
of people far too busy
to hear it.



December 10, 2002

I like to be given credit
for the words I write.
Whether well written
or poorly composed,
their ownership
I will always claim.

Though there are times,
as it happened today,
when my words are quoted,
followed by this,
"I can't remember
who wrote those lines."
Before I could tell her
the words were mine,
the lady continued quietly,
"But they speak to me
in a personal way."

Suddenly it seemed enough
that the words were remembered
though the author was not.
For in the end,
it is the words
that matter the most.

And long after I
have gone to my rest,
it's not my name
that will stir the heart
and soothe the soul.
It's the words I write
and leave behind
in someone's tender memory.



December 12, 2002

She's waiting
for the right moment.
Something needs said,
to correct
a wrong impression.
The words she wants
are there,
ready to be spoken,
but she hesitates.

She tells herself
the moment must be right,
so the one who needs
to hear it,
won't be disappointed
by her past dishonesty.

But somehow the truth
doesn't slide
from her tongue as easily
as the story she told before,
so she would be seen
in a better light.

She's pretending again.
Trying to convince herself
she waits to speak
to spare someone else.
But she's the person
she wants to protect.
She's not waiting for
the right moment.
She's waiting for courage.
 

 

December 15, 2002

He's coming close
to the questioning time.
The time when fact
and fantasy
do a delicate balancing act.

In his questioning eyes,
I see the hint
of a dawning glimpse
of logic that simply
makes no sense.
Even to a small boy's mind,
willing and eager
to believe.

What will I say
when he solemnly asks,
"How can Santa go
all around the world
in just one night?"

How will I keep
his childhood dreams
from leaving too soon,
and still speak the truth.
For once they leave,
they never come back.

I will tell him
Santa manages it
by traveling straight
from heart to heart.
And I truly believe
that is less fantasy
than fact.



December 17, 2002

It's raining.
Scrawled across
the store front window
is a sign that says,
"Closing business."
The letters are ragged
and blurred at the edges,
from the rain.

This store was the heart
of an immigrant's dream.
The husband and wife
who opened this deli
years ago,
are always there.
But today I see only
one of the pair.

The voice that always
greets me with cheer
speaks now with a sadness
I can't bear.
"God took her suddenly,"
he says, his breaking voice
becoming a whisper.
"Me and this store,
our heart is gone.
So I close the doors."

I step back outside.
The rain has stopped.
I look again
at the store front sign.
Its letters are blurred,
but not from the rain.



December 19, 2002

"He always has a project."
She says it
with a warm affection,
thinly disguised
by a rolling of her eyes,
as though she disapproves.

Truth is,
she loves the way
he offers his time
and his work equipment
when a neighbor needs
to pull dead trees
or dig post holes
for a pasture fence.

Often it's someone
he's barely met,
perhaps folks new
to the neighborhood.
But he figures
by the time they're through
working together,
they'll likely know
each other as friends.

It's generous help,
by anyone else's definition.
But Albert prefers
to call them projects,
and claims they keep him
from wasting away
his retirement days.
I call them Albert's
"year round Christmas."
 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

November 24, 2002

She wanders slowly
through her garden,
apparently having
no purpose in mind.
But she's at work.

Much as a mother
looks with a clear
and practiced eye
at every child
in her loving care,
so she now observes
each plant in her garden.

Though it may seem
she wanders there
purely for pleasure,
quite the opposite is true.
She's at work,
readying her flower beds
for the winter weather.

No more would she
let them go unprotected
through the coming cold,
than she would send
a child of hers
into the wind
without warm clothes.

She is a mother,
tending her brood,
busy with this useful work,
as she wanders happily
through her garden.



November 26, 2002

"No presents please,"
her invitation
stated quite clearly.
"Just bring the gift
of your company."
But this small condition
was difficult
for some to honor.

Those who liked to impress
with expensive presents
were uncomfortable,
to say the least,
arriving with nothing
in their hands.

But she remembered
when store bought things
were seldom seen,
and folks felt at ease
just bringing themselves
to a gathering.

She longed for that time,
when people were measured
more by their worth
as genuine friends,
than by the cost
of something they bought.

And her gentle request
was meant to remind us
how priceless the value
of good company.



November 28, 2002

The Thanksgiving meal
I best remember
was in the leanest
year of our lives.

There was food,
enough to be grateful,
but it was spare
and simple fare.
No fancy feast
with extra trimmings.
No sense of abundance
at our table.
Yet there was thankfulness
in the air.

We were a young
and struggling family.
Our future uncertain
and prospects for work
sporadic and slim.
But we were together,
at that table.

And the blessing we said
is one I remember
in clearest detail.
For we say it still
at every Thanksgiving.

"Thank you, Lord,
for this food,
and for this day,
and especially for
this family."

 

December 1, 2002

Civility.
Could we have some, please,
by Christmas.
Could we retrieve
some sense of grace,
and manners too,
as we make our way
through the holidays.

Could we put aside
the language crude
and gestures rude,
as we try to find
a parking space.
Could we willingly risk
being called "uncool"
by holding ourselves
to the Golden Rule.

As we shop and search
for the perfect gift,
could we step back a bit
to a time when tempers
were something we kept,
and pushing ahead
in waiting lines
was something only
children did.

Could we practice restraint
and patience with other
points of view.
Could we give ourselves
the best present yet.
Civility.



December 3, 2002

They never sleep.
Those nagging little doubts
that follow me
right into bed,
when I try to put
myself and them to rest.

They're tireless.
The more they weary me,
the more energy they gain,
draining mine away.

They're clever, too.
Staying just out
of my rational reach,
in the light of day,
when they can be seen
in their true small size.
Then looming large
when the darkness
of night
makes them much bigger
than they are.

They never leave.
They have nowhere
else to go.
And the best I can do
is know they're mine,
and keep them
in their proper place.
For they're the doubts
my own mind creates.



December 5, 2002

My Aunt Rose never married.
But we were the children
she loved as her own.
And every Christmas,
her card would arrive
with a crisp new
twenty dollar bill inside.
To each of us, she wrote,
"Use this to buy
something very fine."

Rose helped Grandma
tend their Italian Deli,
and times were often lean.
But the crisp new bill
always came at Christmas.

As we grew up,
we each insisted
she trim her generosity.
For we were sure
it was a hardship,
as her resources grew thin.
But she persisted,
as a point of loving pride.

Now these last years,
her card comes empty.
The brand new bills
have gone the way
of the gentle lady's mind.
But the love is still inside.
And that memory
still gives me
"something very fine."
 

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

November 10, 2002

They served.
Quietly, for the most part,
with little fuss
and even less complaining,
about what they were
giving up.

Years taken out
of their young lives,
years away from families.
They saw it simply
as service to country.
An obligation,
a duty done,
to keep freedoms won
by those who valiantly
served before them.

They served.
And those who returned,
yearly honor the memory
of those who never
can come home.

Medals earned,
or thanks received,
in the form of promotions
and parades,
these were only
external proof
of the sacrifice they made.
But what our veterans
truly prize, deep inside,
is the personal pride
of knowing they served.



November 12, 2002

They came prepared
for a party.
Both grandsons arrived,
full of energy and noise,
and my house came alive.

Carrying presents
and birthday cards,
they eyed my cake
as they piled everything
on the kitchen table.

I'm at the age
where birthdays are best
if passed over lightly.
The years go too quickly
to be wildly pleased
when another one leaves.

But the boys make me see
my day differently.
They let me pretend
I'm a child again,
when birthdays became
an eagerly waited for
special event.

So I count my blessings
instead of my candles.
Especially the blessings
of two little boys
who came to my house
prepared for a party.



November 14, 2002

I can't find it.
High and low,
as the saying goes,
I've searched for something
I thought I had,
and really need.
But I've lost it somehow.

It's not a list
of names or dates,
and it's not an item
I can touch.
But it's as real
as the air I breathe,
and I need it now.

It's the courage
to face a reality.
To take that hard
and careful look
and see what I do not
want to see.
And having seen it,
still go on,
without losing faith
in hopes and dreams.

I'll find it now.
I've given it voice
and said it out loud,
and I suddenly know
just where to go.
I'll find it
deep within my soul.
 
November 17, 2002

"I'm a musician."
The young man said it
with quiet conviction,
the way someone does
when they've found
what they know
is their life's calling.

A calling can come
at any age.
Sometimes we hear it
when we're young.
But often it's heard
after the years
have provided us with
the wisdom to listen.

For a calling is more
than a job we take
for a steady paycheck.
It's a life we choose
and we welcome
its hardships
as well as its joys.

It becomes our core
of identity,
defining us better
than color or gender
or other superficial things.

So follow its call,
whenever it comes,
and become the who
you were meant to be.



November 19, 2002

He read of a man
who reached the summit
of the highest peak
in some far off land.

"I never climbed
a mountain."
He said it softly,
with an air
of reverence.

"Yes you have,"
I said, and saw
his eyebrows raise
in question.
So I explained.

"You came to a country
strange to you.
You struggled hard
to learn its language,
and labored long
at whatever work
there was to do.
And you did it all
to better the lives
of your family.

You climbed that mountain
one day at a time.
And the summit you reached
is the highest kind."



November 21, 2002

When they first
fell in love,
each saw the other
as a brand new coin,
with a splendid shine.

No scrape or scratch
marred its surface.
And if one appeared,
they buffed the coin,
till its shine returned,
lovely and bright.

But every new coin
will tarnish with time.
After a while,
they forgot to care.
Dullness set in,
from simple neglect
and plain hard wear.

But it's only the surface
that's grown dim.
Underneath the grime,
its original value
is still there.

And if they want it
to shine again,
words that are kind
and tender gestures
will burnish it back
to its first bright luster.
 

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

October 27, 2002

The last lines read,
I closed the book,
sat back in my chair
and stared ahead.

Then I noticed my hands
were clasped in my lap,
almost the way
I hold them in prayer.
And I was filled
with a sudden sense
of gratitude.
Out loud I said,
"What a gift it is
to be able to read."

For I fully felt
the wonder it is
to translate abstract
marks on a page
into whispers or shouts,
symbols that speak
of victories and histories,
thoughts of those
who inspire and teach.

As page after page,
I'm taken to places
of heart and soul
that otherwise,
I might never reach.
What a gift it is
to be able to read.



October 29, 2002

It's taking forever.
That's how I feel
as I struggle to change
habits ingrained,
habits that took
a long time to make,
and even longer to break.

Keeping at it
means keeping my focus
on what's been achieved,
instead of the work
that still needs done.

It's like pulling weeds
in an overgrown garden.
It's so easy to be
overwhelmed
by the tangled mass,
unless I celebrate,
one by one,
each flower I free
with every pull
on the clumps of weeds.

Their roots run deep,
these stubborn weeds
that smother
the better side of me.
The flowers are there.
It may take forever,
but I need to keep working
so they can breathe.



October 31, 2002

"Come in Costume,"
read the party invitation.
Halloween.
I felt for a moment
the eager excitement
I knew as a child.

I remembered the girl
I used to be,
convinced as so many are,
when they're young,
that life would improve
and be much more fun
if I became
anyone but me.

And on Halloween,
I could be pretty,
like a queen,
or spooky and strange,
in a powerful way.
So I'd ready my costume
and paint my face.
For that night at least,
I could be in
someone else's place.

Then I grew up,
and finally learned,
it really isn't Halloween
that makes us who
we'd like to be.
It's the costume we find
in our inner space.
 
November 3, 2002

She arranges the cards
on her worn kitchen table.
Solitaire
is her game of choice
these last lonely years.

After the evening meal
she made herself prepare,
she settles into
the hard backed chair
and begins to play.

It keeps her mind occupied.
And using her wits
might hold at bay
the disease she dreads
that takes such a toll
on the minds of the old.

She's seen it rob
so many she knew
of their memory.
And she fears that loss.
For her memories
are her company,
as her hands
move the cards
in rows on the table.

She never keeps track
of the games won.
It matters none.
Deep inside she knows
the point of it all
is just to keep playing.



November 5, 2002

Will you make the effort?
Will you drive or walk
to the local Grange,
or the room set aside
at the neighborhood school,
and sign your name
on the line that means
you're allowed to vote?

Will you proudly
and wisely use
the freedom you have
to pick and choose
those who will speak
and act for you?

Will you help those
who govern
this vast country,
by letting them know
what you want to keep
or want to change?

And when the will
of all is known,
will you honor the rule
of majority?

Or will you disdain
your chance to vote
and loudly complain
and call it useless?
I ask again.
Will you make the effort,
or make excuses?



November 7, 2002

He was told as a child
that he had no value.
And he grew up,
convinced it was true.

It wasn't as much
by words that were said,
as much as by words
never spoken.
No words of praise
for an effort made.

And it wasn't as much
any hurtful acts
done to his person,
as much as by actions
never taken.
No care or concern
for what he did,
or who his friends were.

It's hard to know,
when you raise yourself,
what value you have
to anyone else.
So he drifted with those
who helped him prove
what so many believed
about him was true.

Now he sits in a cell,
and cries for the child
no one ever knew.
 

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

October 13, 2002

She called him Bandit.
I thought it a name
unsuited to such
a well behaved horse.
Except, of course,
for the way that stallion
could steal your heart.

He was her dream horse,
her valued business partner
and her cherished friend.
And he always
conducted himself
in a manner befitting
a true gentleman.

By all standards used
to judge the worth
of any living being,
he was an individual
of exceptional quality.
One who rightly deserved
to live to a fine old age.
But it could not be.

For reasons only
the good Lord knows,
an old injury flared
and paralysis came.
Bandit had to be
spared from his pain.
The sad decision
was hers alone.
But all those who knew him
share in her grief.



October 15, 2002

As long as I've known her,
we seldom see eye to eye
on an endless array
of little things.

Things like
hairstyles and hats,
or the relative merits
of wearing a jacket
instead of a sweater.
Things like
which dish to take
to the church potluck,
or which color's better
for the new bedroom.

But all these years,
in spite of so much
we've quibbled about,
on certain things
we've always agreed.
We stand side by side
on the importance
of loyalty and family.
And we both believe
that children are gifts
and marriages must be
built on trust.

She and I may not see
eye to eye all the time,
but on this life's
most important parts,
we've always seen
heart to heart.



October 17, 2002

Jack Winning
was the first editor
to make room for me.
And that made
all the difference.

Editors of other papers,
lacking his courage,
had turned my column down.
"It's too different,"
they insisted.

But that very difference,
Jack wisely knew,
would be warmly welcomed,
as readers soon learned
my slices of life
mirrored their own.

Then he wrote a letter
and told me to send it,
so editors elsewhere
would follow his lead.
His letter's first line
is one that I treasure:
"She has something to say,
and she says it with style."

Now I borrow that line
to honor his memory.
Conviction and courage
made him a leader.
To so many of us,
Jack made a difference.
And he did it with style.
October 20, 2002

"I'll call you," she said,
as she hurried
from the store.
Climbing into her car,
she added the words,
"We'll have lunch
and visit awhile."
I nodded and smiled,
then she was gone.

I'm certain her offer
was one she truly
intended to keep,
at least at the moment
she tossed it to me.
But somehow I knew
it was forgotten
as soon as her car
turned onto the highway.

I wanted to tell her
how much I'd prefer
an honest goodby,
instead of a promise
she couldn't honor.
She's busy, I know,
with no time to fit
old friends in her schedule.

One day she may have
much more time
on her hands,
but no friends
may be left
to answer her call.



October 22, 2002

It's a picture I make
my mind remember
when I've been too long
in a crowded city.
Driving back home,
across this country,
is when I saw it.

Five horses,
one white, one sorrel,
and three bays,
stood at the edge
of a thousand acres.

The high desert wind
seasoned the air
with the scent of sage,
and a lone hawk rested
on a worn fence post.

And almost too far
away to see,
mounded mesas rose above
the flatiron plains,
like giant graves
of pioneers.

Pioneers who dreamed
there would always be
uncrowded spaces
and room to breathe.

The picture comes
and the city leaves.



October 24, 2002

I'm getting there.
Slowly but surely,
I'm getting to
that place in my life
where I can let go
of things it's not
in my power to change.

It's been a mostly
uphill climb
for me to accept

that every dispute
between my friends
or my family
is simply not meant
for me to fix.

I can't control,
from some lofty view,
what others think
or want to do.
For when I try
to force harmony,
resentment results,
and I find I've done
more harm than good.

I'm ready now
to relinquish
my self appointed role
as arbiter and judge.
On this uphill climb,
I slide back at times,
but slowly and surely,
I'm getting there.

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

September 15, 2002

No matter how happy
a childhood they had,
there are those who find
some cause for complaint
and discontent,
when they play the game
of remembering when.

Some fortunate ones,
raised by a family,
loving and strong,
sometimes feel guilty
to be so blessed.
So they magnify,
in their memories,
every minor annoyance
and petty wrong.

How sad to deny
such a lovely thing
as a decent childhood,
for fear you'll be seen
as a privileged soul.
How strange the fashion
to glibly pretend
that life was harder
than it really was.

It's a small-minded
and selfish act.
For it does such dishonor
to all of the children,
unloved and forgotten,
who've never had
a childhood at all.



September 17, 2002

This is news
she's waited to hear
for a long, long time.
It's good news
of the very best kind.
For it brings happiness
to one of her children.
And that in turn
brings joy to her.

From the very first moment
a woman is blessed
with the gift of children,
their sorrows and joys
become her own.

After they're grown,
making their journey
through the world,
the choices they make
are theirs alone.
But a mother's heart
will still hear the echoes,
strong and clear,
of their struggles
and their triumphs.

Now she hears such joy
in her daughter's voice,
she's reminded of prayers
she made long ago,
when this child was born.
And she thanks the Lord
for answering.



September 19, 2002

I'm not getting through.
My words are plain
and my meaning clear.
But I know
by the stubborn
set of your lips,
your ears are sealed,
and none of my words
are being heard.

You asked my opinion,
but as soon as I gave it,
your guard went up
and your mind closed down,
and I quickly knew
I was not getting through.

How much easier
it would be
for me to give in
and offer approval,
the thing you believe
you need from me.
But somehow I know,
deep down inside,
the thing you want
is honesty.

So I give it to you.
Knowing full well,
your icy resistance
will soon melt.
Only then,
will my words get through
and find their welcome.
 
September 22, 2002

She sits by the window,
the one with the view
of the field
across the road,
and the blue gray shape
of the mountains beyond.

She likes what she sees.
Her house is small,
but it has three levels,
three short sets of stairs.
With each one she climbs
closer to the sky,
where she can see more
of the fields outside.
And the wide windows,
uncluttered by curtains,
move the light easily
right through the walls.

She's always believed
that a house doesn't need
to take up much space,
if the outside comes
into every room.

And whenever she wants
to clear her mind
of worrisome things,
she sits for a spell,
by one of her windows,
and after a while,
things just seem
to right themselves.



September 24, 2002

He wants to help.
To be a part
of the happy bustle
that fills the room.

He's only six,
but at this gathering
of friends and family,
he wants a grown up role.

In our need
to prepare for the party,
we shoo him away,
"Go outside and play."
But he stands perplexed
off to the side.
He just wants to help.

I notice my mother
go over to him.
Soon I see
his small arms,
full of paper party plates,
that he carries carefully
to the big table.
He's proud and pleased
to be a real part
of such important activity.

My mother is wise.
To encourage a child
to learn the joy
of usefulness
you should always honor
their need to help.



September 26, 2002

Annoyed at first,
her irritation
is soon replaced
by a nagging thought.
"He's never late."

She stands by the store,
in the very same spot
where he left her,
nearly two hours before.
His errands were few,
and so were hers,
so he planned to return
in an hour.

Now she sees shoppers leave
who entered the store
when she first
began her wait.
They smile sympathetically,
while she struggles
with the certain fear
that something serious
caused his delay.

Then his car appears,
and he pulls alongside.
His smile is meek,
"I misplaced my keys."
But she hardly hears
his apology.
It can't compete
with her worried heart's
loud sigh of relief.
 

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

September 1, 2002

How soon it comes.
The season's last
long holiday weekend.

It's summer's last reason
for picnics and potlucks,
and "pick up" games
of slow pitch softball
in the neighborhood park.

In the leftover hours
of summertime daylight,
Frisbees will fly
far into the evening,
and bare feet
will cool themselves
in the soft grass.

Slow moving swimmers
will float leisurely
on beckoning rivers,
and poolsides and beaches
will pleasantly ease
August's lingering heat.

Labor Day weekend
is summer's last call
to stretch itself lazily,
savoring freedom,
before the days shorten
and slip into Fall.



September 3, 2002

Joanne is a truly
thoughtful lady.

She's someone who sees
that the other child
also has a present,
at his brother's
birthday party.

She's someone who sends
lovely thank you cards
and really means
every word she writes.

Joanne is someone
who volunteers time,
to family
and community,
whenever she finds
a need she can fill.

Her good works are done
behind the scenes,
easing the days
of those of us
whose lives she touches.

Joanne is someone
whose thoughtfulness comes
so naturally,
it's easy to miss
how gracious a gift
her thoughtfulness is.



September 5, 2002

This is the season
when the Crepe Myrtle trees
are in full bloom.

They line many streets
in our little town,
and their color splashes
range from a bold,
rich, ripe red
to a lavender purple,
lush and deep.
But I've never seen
their beautiful blossoms
bloom so brilliantly
as this year.

It seems the searing heat
that's held the rest of us
hostage this summer
set the Myrtle trees free.

While we stay indoors,
avoiding the sun
as much as we can,
they brazenly bask in it,
giving a glorious
visual treat.

For me, such loveliness
lining our streets
is a true saving grace
of this long, hot summer.
 
September 8, 2002

Another baby
is on the way!

With brimming smiles
on both their faces,
two little boys
loudly announced it.
And their great excitement
surprised and delighted
the whole family.

They stood side by side,
shifting impatiently,
waiting for us
to gather together
in one room,
before they were signaled
to break the good news.

They they gave full rein
to their sense of joy,
their uncontained energy
bouncing merrily
off every wall.

How blessed this baby
still growing inside
it's mother's safe haven.
It's yet to arrive,
but two little boys
are already eager
to welcome and love
this fortunate child.



September 10, 2002

September 11th, 2002.
So many this day
will speak of courage
and bravery.

They will speak of resolve
and our country's need
to right the wrong
committed against us
last year on this day.
And these will be
worthy things to say.

But for thousands
of heartbroken families,
this day will remind
and sharpen the sadness
of a purely personal loss.

Let those of us
who've somehow been spared
this personal pain,
remember they grieve
for the loss of a father,
the loss of a mother,
or son or daughter.
For the loss of a wife,
the loss of a husband,
the loss of a friend.

And on this day,
let us humbly offer
a heartfelt prayer
for a merciful ease
to their profound sorrow.



September 12, 2002

Willow stretches herself
on the outside mat
by the front door.

This little gray cat
owns the front porch.
She claimed it years ago,
and the other cats
are only allowed
short visits there,
before she sends them
on their way.

They're fed in the barn,
but Willow expects
to be fed on her porch.
It's a minor
concession we make
to honor her years
of loyalty.

For she's there to greet us
when we open the door
to meet every morning.
And whenever we leave,
she waits to welcome us
when we come home.

The years will take her
one of these days.
But even after
her time there ends,
in my heart's memory,
Willow will always
own the front porch.

 

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

August 18, 2002

She can hardly wait.
For five long years,
she's dreamed of this day.
At least, that's how
it seems to her.

In reality, it's closer to
three years than five.
For she was only
a child of two
when she first wanted
to be in school.

Every Fall since,
she watched with envy
when her older brothers
boarded the beautiful
yellow school bus.
While they were away,
she studied, too,
at her small play desk.

Now today the dream
is about to come true.
Her uniform's new,
and her hair
freshly brushed,
as she and her brothers
board the beautiful bus.

And her mother prays
as she smiles and waves,
God grant this day
is all that this child
dreamed it would be.



August 20, 2002

It was fitting
that she served us
peach ice cream.

"Homemade," she smiled,
as she handed us
frosty glass dishes,
filled with the creamy
summertime treat.

On her pleasant patio,
we laughed and talked,
as a late evening breeze
made us forget
the heat of that day.

Reluctant to leave,
we lingered long
in the summer night,
savoring the coolness
and the comforting presence
of good company.

She watched us quietly,
and she was smiling
with a pleasure
as genuine as a child's,
to see her friends
so at ease.

For hers is a kind
and generous heart,
as refreshingly welcome
as a summertime serving
of peach ice cream.



August 22, 2002

Time is an
independent friend.
It can't be controlled
and made to go slow.
Nor can it be hurried
when a day comes along
that I want to erase.

Time's also
a fair minded friend.
For each thing it takes,
it offers a benefit
in its place.

When it took the speed
with which I once moved,
it gave me the gift
of seeing things
I used to miss,
when I moved
through my life
at a faster pace.

When it took my youth,
it offered the wisdom
that comes with age.
Wisdom to know
that nothing ever
stays the same.
And wisdom to see
that very fact
as life's saving grace.
 
August 25, 2002

Whenever he mentions
his oldest brother,
his memory moves
with graceful speed,
back to the days
when both were young.

Lika a small, flat pebble
skipped with ease
across a stream,
his mind barely touches
the time between.
It settles instead
on their young adult years,
when all life's promise
was in the hopes
and the dreams they shared.

Before the wars came
and called them away.
And when they returned,
dreams and dreamers
were never the same.
And heartbreak changed
his oldest brother.

But he never forgot,
when he was young
and needed to know
that someone he loved
believed in him,
his oldest brother
told him so.
And that's the brother
his heart remembers.



August 27, 2002

The harsh words hit
like a slap across the face.
He hadn't meant to say them.
But he wouldn't let on.

As though she'd actually
felt a blow,
her head snapped aside.
It was how she hid
the hurt in her eyes,
so she wouldn't let on.

He wanted to tie
his thoughtless tongue.
He knew there were tears,
both his and hers,
held back by pride.

Over the years,
they played this scene,
with roles exchanged,
back and forth,
thousands of times.

Each was ashamed
of how they had drained
the love they began with,
when the words they used
encouraged and soothed.

Now each one hoped
the other would say them.
But the habit was gone.
And they cried inside,
but couldn't let on.



August 29, 2002

She answers the phone
and I hear a weariness
in her voice.
She tries to brighten
her tone a bit,
when she learns it's me.
But my mother and I
seldom fool each other
for very long.

"What's wrong?" I ask,
fully expecting
an evasive reply,
to keep me from worry.
But she talks openly.

She misses my father
more it seems,
as the years slip by.
She's not seeking sympathy,
just searching somehow
to understand why
time hasn't eased
her sense of loss.

This is something
I can't fix for her,
so I no longer try.
For I finally learned
when this weariness comes
to someone we love,
the best help we can give
is a loving heart,
that's willing to listen
and understand.
 

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

August 4, 2002

You're gone, my friend.
Slipped away,
as they said you would
so short a time ago,
when we first knew,
and prayed each night
for you to stay.

You were thankful
for those prayers.
Yet, excellent teacher
that you were,
you began to prepare.
Knowing somehow
that this might be,
by example alone,
the finest lesson
you would teach.

So you kept your humor
and your perspective
and kept those you loved
your very first priority.

You chose to honor
each precious minute
you were given,
so you sent self pity
from your door.
You faced your fear
by facing each day
and making the best of it.

You're gone, my friend,
but oh what a priceless
lesson you left us.



August 6, 2002

I'm letting you down.
A promise made
I've politely put aside,
pretending it's been
forgotten.

You're too much the lady
to remind me.
Your good manners
will prevail
over your need for help,
and you'll pretend
you've forgotten, too.

I realize now
my promise was mainly
meant to impress,
with little thought given
to whether or not
it could be kept.
But that was something
you couldn't know.

So your struggle
is harder now.
But you don't complain.
Your disappointment
is hidden well
to avoid causing me
any pain.

But pain comes to me
anyway,
from a deep disappointment
in myself.



August 8, 2002

"I'm an American Indian."
He said it with pride,
and he emphasized
"American."

When I noted that,
he smiled thoughtfully.
"I could say
Native American,
but that's not how
I feel inside."

His smile grew wide.
"I respect my ancestry.
But what makes this country
a good place to be
is not whether we
were the first ones here,
or whether we came
from somewhere else,
but that we all
belong to one land."

Perhaps we'd all
be wiser to change
the order of our identities,
and call ourselves
American Italian
or American Swede.
Or perhaps the wisest
thing to do
is simply to say
"American."
 
August 11, 2002

Being away for awhile
makes you look
at your life
as though you're not you.

The home you return to
hasn't changed,
but you look at it now
and see it through
a stranger's eyes.
And you finally fix
that pasture fence.

The familiar routine
you once followed
without thinking
now needs adjustments
in the order
of how you do things.
And you make more time
for what really matters,
like friends and family.

The mirror may show
the face you left with,
but the eyes look inside
and see a you
that's trying to be
just a little bit better.

Being away
seems to sharpen your view.
And it makes you mend
much more than fences.



August 13, 2002

The road climbed away
from the paved highway.
Where it would lead
we weren't certain,
but sensed somehow
it would take us somewhere
we'd want to be.

It was washboard rough,
but worth the climb.
For it took us up
to the top of a mesa,
so close to the sky,
the clouds could lay
blue shadows down
on the sage covered ground.

And my eyes
filled themselves
with the spectacle
that swept the horizon,
mountain rimmed
and aspen lined.
And I saw again,
for the thousandth time,
one more reason
I'm grateful for
the gift of life.

And so sad
for the shortness
of its time.



August 15, 2002

Time to sort through
the school wardrobe.
Time to check closets
and shop for shoes
for feet that grew
two sizes this summer.

Bargains beckon
in the stores,
but budgets strain,
as youngsters everywhere
state their preferences.
And mothers must manage
to find that fine line
between the outlandish
and the acceptable.

Teens plead and pressure
for their favorite fads.
Parents protest
and draw a line,
as both sides come
to a compromise.

It's a painful process,
but worth the effort.
For one thing is certian.
Years from now,
in the yearbook pictures,
these trendy hairstyles
and fashionable outfits
will make us all laugh!
 
 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

July 21, 2002

Drive across this country.
See the spectacle
of this vast,
ever changing land.

Stare in awe
at its red rock deserts
and storied canyons.
Gaze at its fields,
fertile blankets
of row crops and wheat.
Pause by its streams,
silver ribbons
rippling through valleys,
lush and green.

Drive across this country.
See its cities,
their soaring buildings,
long steel fingers,
scraping the sky.
Stop in its towns
that dapple the plains,
or cling in close
to its mountain sides.

Drive across this country.
Meet its people.
Count its colors and creeds,
each confident in
their right to be free.

Drive across this country.
Learn first hand
why it's worth defending
this magnificent land.



July 23, 2002

Desert roads.
Stretched out flat,
two dusty tracks
that twist and turn
through scrub forests
of mesquite
and chaparral.

Desert roads.
Where do they go?
Who felt the need
to put them there.
What was the hope
they once held out?

Desert roads.
Long since abandoned.
Sandy shadows
of someone's dreams,
laid down with promises
that played out.

Desert roads.
Whispered traces
of loneliness,
of hopes unhinged
and driven into
the desert dust.
Drained of life,
what dreams disappeared
down these desert roads?



July 25, 2002

Towns should have edges,
with orchards or fields
between each one.
Towns shouldn't collide,
rolling into each other,
making one
homogenized mass
with no real center.
There can't be centers
if there are no edges.

It's harder to have
real civic pride,
with no clear knowledge
of where the town
begins and ends.

We should keep this in mind
when we're tempted to let
town centers crumble,
while we sprawl and spread
houses and malls
in every direction.

A town needs to have
its own sense of self.
Maintain its middle
and let it be
your town's true heart.
Then leave room around it,
so it can breathe,
and be a town
you want to enter,
when you come to its edges.

 

July 28, 2002

It was one of many
modest small towns
we drove through.
Somewhere in Ohio,
with the usual cluster
of welcome signs
from local chapters
of Lions or Kiwanis clubs.

But one certain sign,
formally lettered,
stated with pride,
"The birthplace of..."
It wasn't a name
of historical fame,
yet this local son
was given a prominent
place in the town.

As I read farther down,
I understood why.
"Awarded the Medal of Honor,
Battle of Iwo Jima."
And next to the year
of the young man's birth
was listed the date
when he valiantly died.

And I knew,
as we drove on through,
that I would forever
remember this place
when I think of the words,
"Land of the free,
and home of the brave."



July 30, 2002

Worn old books,
ragged edges
on some of their pages,
and bindings cracked.
Their authors long ago
left this world,
yet their thoughts
still breathe,
given new life
by the living eyes
that read each line.

Time's markers disappear
and generations blur.
Centuries are spanned
in seconds,
as I read words
written by someone
I never knew,
and someone who had
no knowledge of me.

Yet we exist
in this same space
in a moment in time,
that has no beginning
and no end.

And as long as I read them,
their written words
and the ideas they express
stay forever new and fresh.
These old books and I
keep each other alive.



August 1, 2002

One has only
to see them gathered
around the table
to clearly know
they're brothers.
And it's more
than the sameness
in features and gestures
that mark them so.
For their deep regard
for one another
shows in their faces
and needs no words.

Of six sons,
these four remain.
Two have traveled
thousands of miles
to be in this place
at this time.
And the two for whom
this city is home
welcomed them here
with heartfelt hospitality.

And as they gather
around this table,
the two not there
are kept alive
in the memories shared.
Over the years,
their numbers may dwindle,
but in their hearts,
they're always six
and always brothers.
 

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

July 7, 2002

Whenever we step outside,
to enjoy the evening cool,
the barn cats
come to greet us.

Some are friendlier
than others,
rubbing against our legs.
And some are
downright affectionate,
jumping into our laps,
as we settle
onto our chairs.

But Carmine
never comes near.
Keeping her distance,
she talks to us,
and plainly wishes
to venture closer.
But some long ago
deeply implanted fear
insists that she stay
a safe space away.

No harm has ever
come to her here,
but somewhere,
she was taught
not to trust.
And the lesson left her
a lonely existence,
empty of any gentle touch.
How many Carmines
there are among us.



July 9, 2002

My mother dearly
misses her sisters.
Both older than she,
and in failing health,
they live too far
for my mother to travel.

It's perhaps just as well.
For the care they need
she knows they receive.
And as much as she longs
to see them both,
one last time,
my mother fears
what she would find.

How changed they must be
from how my mother
remembers them,
when each was still healthy
and clear of mind.

Seeing them in
this sadder state
might be more sorrow
than she may now
be able to bear.
So she keeps them safe,
unchanged and well,
in her fond memories
of another time.
And those are the sisters
my mother misses.



July 11, 2002

It's a tenacious
little bush.
Watered only by the rain,
which ended in May,
it clings stubbornly
to the edge of the road.

There the ground is hard
and roadside dust
coats its leaves,
but the bush hangs on,
and defiantly grows.

It reminds me of a man
my grandmother knew.
The Great Depression
laid him low,
but he never complained
and worked at whatever
he could find.
Although her own business
was hard hit,
my grandmother hired him
whenever she could.
Asked why, she replied,
"That much fight
deserves to win."

I'm carrying water
to that little bush.
And as it grows,
I'll keep it trimmed.
That much fight
deserves to win.
 

July 14, 2002

Home.
We're still miles away
on the interstate,
but I feel its pull
as we move
through the night.

When traveling,
we stop before dark.
But a few hours drive
is all that's left
before we park
in our own driveway.
And that destination
is where we now
both long to be.

So we drive on,
passing the landmarks
in the night,
only knowing they're there
from memory.

This trip took us far,
to places we had never seen
as well as places
we simply wanted
to visit again.
But none had the power
to pull us on,
like this humble place
we hurry to now.
Home.
Where hearts never leave.



July 16, 2002

He was finally willing
to ask for directions.
Several times before,
in his still young life,
he started down roads
that he soon sensed
were not the wisest
way to go.

Then youthful pride
and a stubborn streak
prevented him
from admitting,
even to himself,
that he needed help
to find the right road.

So he'd stumble on,
farther and farther,
along a path
he knew must be wrong.

Since then he discovered
that even the wisest
have found themselves lost
from time to time.
But they learned to ask,
and pay close attention
to what they heard.

Willing now
to finally listen,
he bowed his head
and asked for directions.



July 18, 2002

Two little boys
have birthdays soon.
Born three years apart,
but there's only two weeks
between their birthdays.

Just enough space
for each boy to have
his own celebration.
And that's more important
than it might seem.

For each child is
his own special self,
with his very own dreams
of what he wants
his life to be.
And birthdays,
especially when we're young,
should be the time
when our own individual
song is sung.

Sharing is a noble thing,
but each person
also has a need
to have a day
meant for him alone.

Then the wish he makes
when he blows out
the candles on his cake
is really his own.

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

June 23, 2002

She was the one
who stayed with the store.
Her brother and sisters
married and left,
but Rose remained,
and she and her mama
ran the family delicatessen.

Together they served
the whole neighborhood.
Those were happy years,
full of useful activity,
and friendships made
with the customers
who came every day.

Her mama's been gone
a long, long time,
and one of the nieces
now owns the store.
Rose lives alone
in the rooms upstairs.
But she's not lonely
anymore.

"Mama and me
stocked shelves today,"
she'll softly say.
As her gentle mind wanders
back and forth,
it lingers longest
in those happy years
when she and her mama
were a fine team
in the family delicatessen.



June 25, 2002

Sometimes I sense
we're in a contest,
a battle of some sort,
where neither wants
to let the other know
how needed she has been.

If we deny
our strong dependence
on each other,
each one's convinced
that she's the one
who wins.

Personalities like ours,
strong willed
and independent,
struggle always for control.
Some think we want
control of others,
but my mother knows,
as I know too,
that isn't true.
It is ourselves
we seek to master.
It is ourselves we teach
to stand alone.

For our fear
of separation,
the one we know
one day will come,
fills us both
with such a sadness,
we pretend
it will not matter.



June 27, 2002

Good fortune or bad,
she keeps a smile
in ready reserve,
willing to offer
its radiant light
to all she meets
in the course of her day.

It's never given grudgingly,
as though it couldn't
be spared.
Her smile is generous
and warm.
Nor does she need
her gift to be
acknowledged with thanks
or praise.

Like the true
benefactor she is,
she gives her smile
and goes on her way.

Hers hasn't been
an easy life.
Perhaps that's why
she knows how a smile
can ease a burden's
heavy weight.
Not only for those
who receive the smile,
but also for those
who give it with grace.

 
June 30, 2002

Children should have
true summer vacations.
With few exceptions,
schedules should vanish,
so summer can be
deliciously free
of timeline constraints.

Too many sessions
of all kinds of lessons
leave too little time
for imagining.
Eager young minds
need some freedom
to wonder,
to lazily drift
through the summers
of childhood.

Without being programmed,
children with time
to play and pretend
learn to discover,
all on their own.

Many sweet hours
I spent as a child,
stretched out on the grass,
staring up at the clouds,
and finding faces
in each one.
And when I look back,
summer vacations,
unscheduled and free,
made the best memories.



July 2, 2002

Where did it come from?
This nagging little fear
that lately walks with me.

Hoping to leave it behind,
I hurry through my day,
filling my mind
with what I need to do.
But when I pause,
it catches up
and matches my step,
with no intention
of going away.

I begin to see
it will stay with me
until I acknowledge
why it's here.
And this night,
at my desk,
I finally do.

In the form of the people
who grace my life,
so much good
has been given to me.
And is it enough
that all I can offer
is gratitude,
and ask God to keep them
in his care?

The answer is clear.
My fear turns to leave,
as I finish my prayer.



July 4, 2002

This is our day
to celebrate.
To be grateful for
the simple fact
that our parades
and fireworks displays
are purely voluntary acts.

No ruler has ordered
thousands of us
to march and shout
with some forced
solidarity show.
No large banners
spewing hate
have been handed out
for us to wave.

Any political statements
we make
will include praise
of our freedom
to make them.
Any promises we pledge
will only be
what we the people
agreed to keep.

Flawed she may be,
but this is the country
where millions came
and found their dream
of personal liberty.
And we celebrate
that reality!
 

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

June 9, 2002

Standing in front
of her shelves of books,
she was filled
with indecision.

Her long life was ending,
and she'd promised herself
to spare those she loved
from the hard choices
of what's to be kept
and what's thrown away.
What would become
of her lifetime's possessions
would be decided
before she left.

She would sort and give,
handing things over
personally,
while she still lived,
to those who valued
what she treasured.
It seemed such
a simple task and yet,
when it came to her books,
she found it so difficult
to begin.

She turned from the shelves
and made a new promise
to herself.
Her books would be with her
till the last breath.
How can you part
with dear old friends?



June 11, 2002

There's something so lovely
about Bette's face.
And it goes well beyond
her outer beauty.
This loveliness lives within.
It's the gentle light
of genuine kindness.

I have little knowledge
of the details
of her life.
But I'm learning all
I need to know,
as I watch the way
she interacts
with those around her table.

Her thoughtfulness
is second nature.
Commitment to family
and friends
is also something
she honors with ease.
Somehow I suspect
hers is a heart
always eager to offer
love and help.

How fortunate are those
who's lives are brightened
by the inner glow
that graces Bette's face.



June 13, 2002

Whatever the cost,
she wanted to win.
She set her sights
on the highest prize
and looked upon
anything less than first
as having no
consequence at all.

Other priorities
slipped away,
as one by one,
she pushed them aside,
thinking they'd wait
until her run
for the prize was done.

Those who loved her
watched her rise
with a mixture
of pride and pain,
as each in their turn
found themselves left
so far behind,
she barely heard
their sad goodbyes.

When she finally reached
the mountain's top,
she found it
a lonely place to be.
Only then did she learn
how much is lost
when you want to win,
whatever the cost.
 
June 16, 2002

As he drove
through the twilight,
his mind
was full of questions.
How long had it been?
How long since he felt
his father's bear hug,
a hug of such strength
it always surprised him?

Why had he waited?
What had been
so pressing in his life
all those years,
that he made no time
for this trip home,
telling himself
that occasional phone calls
were enough?
His father would understand.
Long ago, he had forgiven
his son's thoughtlessness.

It was dark when he arrived.
The old familiar house
was empty and silent.
But his headlights caught
the white "For Sale" sign
in the front yard.
Why had he waited?

His mind
was full of questions.
His heart was heavy
with the answers.



June 18, 2002

When we planted it
almost twenty years ago,
the young tree struggled
just to survive.
But it had a will
as stubborn as
the hard pan ground,
and its roots dug down.

Now its thick main trunk
splits into three,
each one as stout
as the trunk it leaves.
And a horse halter hangs
on one of those branches,
to help this tree
safely teach a lesson.

For the tree's so strong
it won't snap and injure
brash young colts
that pull and tug
when they're newly learning
to just stand quiet
when they're tied.

They soon realize
not to challenge this tree.
Like people I've known
who've had a hard struggle,
this tree has a soul
that holds its ground,
as a matter of pride.
And out of respect,
colts soon stand quiet.



June 20, 2002

I'm seated at a table
by the window,
in one of my
favorite restaurants.

It's a favorite place,
not only because
the food is good,
and the atmosphere
so pleasant,
but mostly because
I'm treated as though
my presence is truly
welcomed here.

Whenever I arrive,
I'm ushered in
with a smile
of recognition.
I'm made to feel
less like a customer,
and more like a friend
who just dropped in.

Such personal attention
may seem to be
a trivial thing,
hardly worth the energy,
yet it's the real reason
I return to this place
again and again.

Food always tastes better
when it's enjoyed
in the company of friends.
 

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

May 27, 2002

At the far edge of green
out by the trees
that ring our park,
there's a late day game
of soccer in play.

And under the cool
umbrella of leaves,
broad planked tables
with checkered cloths
are covered completely
with bowls and plates
of picnic fare.

Those venerable trees
make perfect places
for children to climb
and hide behind
while family and friends
visit and eat.

With a touch as soft
as a light summer sheet,
the sounds of the park
hush the din
of the harsher world
for a brief
and blessed hour.

And twilight sings
with the sweet summer sound
of children at play
in the cool of the park
at the end of a day.



May 28, 2002

We were like sisters then.
Those two years,
when changes in your life
brought you back
to the ranch,
the line between
mother and daughter
almost disappeared.

We were two women,
living in the same house,
finding our common ground
in a love of writing.

We worked together
on my book.
Your critical sense
of what I really
wanted to say
kept me centered.
My need for your
steadying hand
helped you find
your focus again.

Then you moved on,
as we both knew all along,
you should and would.
There was no longer
a need for sisters.
With a wistful mixture
of joy and sadness,
mother and daughter
let them leave.



May 30, 2002

With a promise as potent
as any past genie's
magical lamp,
the wizards of summer
guarantee glibly
that if we just use
their lotions and potions,
we'll be safe and carefree.

So we stock up on sunscreen
and tans in a bottle.
Insect repellants
are sprayed on or rubbed on
skin that's so slathered,
it barely can breathe.

Each morning we manage
to cover completely
every square inch
of our bare epidermis.
Then for good measure,
we pull on a hat
before any ventures
to poolside or beach.

Gone are the days
when summer was seen
as a season for freedom.
Now science is worshipped
instead of the sun.
And for the right reasons,
we take all this care.
But it sure puts a crimp
in the "free" part
of "carefree!"
 
June 2, 2002

Her arms hung helplessly
by her side,
frozen in that awful state
of wanting to reach out,
yet feeling as though
they were locked down tight
under an
unforgiving weight.

She was the one
who felt compelled
to lead the way,
but her mind held sway,
even as her heart cried out,
"Move! Hug this child
before it's too late."
But fear would not let
her arms obey.

Fear of the pride
that stiffened the child
as well as her,
both fighting the tears
they struggled so hard
to deny and contain.

Then as though
they were lifted
by some higher power,
four arms reached out,
in one single movement,
strong and swift,
and forgiveness found
its rightful place.



June 4, 2002

A small red pedal car,
made for children to ride,
sits unused,
off to the side
of my back patio.

Both grandsons loved it.
Bought when the first one
was barely able
to reach its pedals,
it nicely survived
hundreds of drives
all around the yard.

Little legs pumped hard,
as small eager hands
gripped the steering wheel,
and each little boy
made his own motor noise,
in a world of pretend.

Now both boys have grown
well beyond its size.
And it sits there alone,
while they ride by,
on scooters and bikes.

How fast flies time.
Soon the eight year old
will become eighteen,
and the five year old
will follow him.
Childhood will be a memory,
in a little red car
left in my backyard.



June 6, 2002

The brand new bench
by the flower beds
is being approved
by the outside cats.

They study it first,
sniffing and staring
at every part,
then they saunter away,
with a singular air
of indifference.
When they saunter back,
the bench will receive
another thorough analysis.
For the bench to pass
their careful test,
minimum standards
must be met.

And before it's approved,
the bench will be tried
by each separate cat.
No mindless followers these.
Each individual
must be pleased.

Cats have a way
of dealing with change
that we might be wise
to emulate.
They don't rush judgment
one little bit.
They prefer to observe
and evaluate,
before they commit.
 

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

May 12, 2002

Every Mother's Day,
he called her.
No matter how busy
his life was then,
no matter how far
away he was,
he managed to make
that telephone call.
But that was before
this last September.

He was the son
who longed to fly,
ever since anyone
could remember.
Arms outstretched,
he'd run 'cross the yard,
making the noises
little boys make,
to sound like the roar
of a great jet plane.

How happy had been
the sound of his voice
when he called to tell her
he'd earned his wings.

How many others
are there, she wondered,
whose hearts cry to hear
that one certain voice
on the phone this day.
But the only sound
is an aching silence.



May 14, 2002

Since this morning began,
every single thing
I have attempted
has led me backward
instead of ahead.

For every step forward,
I've made at least two
in the other direction.
Separate mistakes
that I might make
every now and then
have gathered together
in one large group,
and packed themselves
into this one day.

If I had my way,
all twenty four hours
I'd erase.
But life doesn't let
that choice be made.

The days are given
for me to do
what I can with each,
then begin again
with the morning sun.
And well used or not,
remind myself
to be grateful for
every single one.



May 16, 2002

Success was something
he always feared.
Happiness
in his personal life,
or earned accolades
in his career,
these were things
he was suspicious of,
as though they were somehow
undeserved.

Yet hard working ways
and honesty
were so much a part
of who and what he was,
that he often came
uncomfortably close
to those successes.
Then he'd put out his foot
and trip himself,
sensing he might
be heading too fast
in their direction.

People were always
saddened to see
how close he came,
before bad luck
snatched success away.
But sadder still,
to those of us
who knew him well,
was the fact that his luck
was something he alone
had made.
 
May 19, 2002

When I was a child,
I was far too young
to truly appreciate
Grandmother's genius
in the kitchen.

Before she arrived
in this great country,
she worked in the fields,
and learned to make much
from what little she had.
No matter how meager
supplies might be,
each meal she made
was a masterpiece.

She kept a few chickens,
and harvested eggs.
And her own backyard garden
provided the produce
that rivaled for taste
anything found
on wealthier tables.

With only a trio
of old cast iron pots,
she cooked simple fare
with an artist's touch.

She wore no white hat
and had no large staff.
But in her spare
and simple kitchen,
she was far grander
than any Grand Chef.



May 21, 2002

When an idea fills my mind
with possibilities,
how foolish I can be
is something I sometimes
fail to see.

Wanting to make
my dream come true,
I work with a frenzy,
as though energy alone
will bring success.

I jump to conclusions
that have little to do
with hard reality,
ignoring the calls,
loud and clear,
that caution me.

Hindsight is the only view
that offers any clarity.
But it comes too late
to keep disappointment away.
Disappointment doubly keen,
not because success
eluded me,
but because of my own
starry eyed naivete.



May 23, 2002

He's heading for town.
She knows by the way
he shifts his feet,
not wanting to leave.

He needs some things,
parts only stocked
in the big hardware store.
But places with more
than one main street
and a traffic light
are places he just
doesn't like to be.

So he asks her if
there's something she needs.
If she says yes,
then he'll suggest
she make the trip,
so he can get on
with the work at hand.
Though he knows she's aware
no work will get done
till the parts he needs
come back from town.

So she fibs a bit.
"I've been wanting to buy
some shoes I saw.
And I'll pass right by
the hardware store."
His relief is as sweet
as the love she's shown
by saving him from
that trip to town.
 

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

April 28, 2002

The winter wool blankets
were pulled off the beds,
then folded and stored
in cedar lined drawers
to keep moths at bay.

In our neighborhood,
this was a ritual
all mothers shared.
Though there might
still be days
with a wintry chill,
when our mothers decided
the time had come
for heavy blankets
to disappear,
we children knew
there was no discussion.
Winter was done
and summer was near.

Up and down our street,
this changing of bedding
heralded Spring
better than all
scientific predictions
or weather forecasts.

And to this day,
the sweet smell of cedar
nicely reminds me
of all-knowing mothers
who grandly assured us
winter had passed.



April 30, 2002

Things left undone.
Words left unsaid.
Vows left unspoken,
or sadder still,
mentioned once
and then forgotten.

Somehow the shadows
I most fear
are the ones that hold,
not the wrongs
I've committed,
but the rightful actions
I've neglected.

And today I see them
bright and clear.
Stepped out from the dark,
and into the light
are the parts of myself
I don't like.

My shortcomings shout
at me today.
They march before me,
as though on parade,
staring full in my face,
laughing out loud
at my good intentions.

I won't turn away
or close my ears.
I'll look hard and listen.
And pray my heart
will learn from this lesson.



May 2, 2002

In the moon washed night,
we walk the pasture's edge,
opening irrigation valves.
It's a usual ranching chore,
this bringing the water
to the fields,
to keep the pastures
thick and green.

It's also one
we complain about,
as our flashlight beams
move ahead of us,
and our boots feel for wet,
to see how far
the water's run.

Some sections seem always
to irrigate slow,
and it's often a walk
through the entire field
before we know
if the water's gone
where it needs to go.

But our grumbling's just
a transparent pose
Especially
on nights like these,
when the smell
of good earth
rises up like steam,
and the moonlight makes
these fields at night
a good place to be.
 
May 5, 2002

I notice front porches
seem to be
in style again.
I'm happy to see
the porches return,
but I hope
they bring with them
the proper
front porch attitude.

The porch is a place
for friendliness.
A place for relaxing
with family,
or neighbors who pause
and stop to talk
on their way back
from an evening walk.

It's a place for waving
to friends driving by,
or a place to curl up
in a wicker chair
with a favorite book
and a tall iced tea.

The porch is no place
for stiff pretentions.
Like the smile we wear
as a sign of welcome,
a porch is a place
for natural ease
and comfortable grace.
And the world could use
many more of these.



May 7, 2002

In our long marriage,
we've lived in many
different places.
And in that time,
our living locations
covered a range
of infinite change.

Our address might be
a steep hillside street
in a city's heart,
or a small bungalow
at the forested end
of a long dirt road.

Over the years,
our windows have offered
a wide variety of views.
Some of them lovely,
some of them plain,
but in one certain way,
always the same.

For wherever we lived,
what mattered the most
was not the walls,
but the family within them,
sharing together
the same window scene.

Tiny apartment
or two story house,
while we lived there,
we did our best
to make it a home.



May 9, 2002

It's time for the roses
to leave the window sill
in the kitchen.

All through the winter,
to brighten the drab
gray outside,
I keep a vase
of fresh roses there.

But the sun that warms
the window in winter
is cool when compared
to the heat of the rays
that light the ledge
in the late spring
and summer.

My roses will wilt
in the heat on that sill
and lose their bloom
in the space of a day.
So I find a shadier
spot for them,
to lengthen their visit
and brighten the corners
of other rooms.

Like friends who know
when and where their cheer
is needed the most,
when the winter
calls them back again,
they'll return to the sill
in the kitchen.
 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

 

April 14, 2002

It's the kind of mild,
inviting Spring day
when he would suggest
they take a drive.

With no particular
place in mind,
and no need
to be somewhere
at some given time,
the two of them
would travel the roads
where traffic was light,
lingering leisurely
whenever a lovely view
came in sight.

But he is gone
and she doesn't drive.
And the sight of his car
seemed to add somehow
to the sense of loss,
so she sold it
not long after he died.

She's learned to live
fairly well on her own.
Still missing him,
but for the most part,
not minding too much
being alone.
Except now and then,
on a mild Spring day
meant for a drive.



April 16, 2002

Some days even I
don't recognize me.
Days when I see
a surprisingly different
side of myself,
almost as though
I'm someone else.

I mentioned it
to a friend of mine,
and she pointed to
the hat she wore
to shield the sun.
"There's more than one way
to wear the same hat,"
she said with a laugh.

"I can flip the brim
up in the back,
or pull it down
all the way around."
Then she tilted it till
it touched her eyebrows.
"But however I change it,
it's still the same hat!"

Now when I'm surprised
by a view of myself
I haven't yet seen,
I just remember
it's the same old hat
with a different slant.



April 18, 2002

I have no love of mystery.
Please don't keep
information from me.
The worry you wish
to spare my mind
is only made worse
when I'm not told.

To know the outcome,
good or bad,
is always the course
that I prefer.

I've never been one
who likes to rely
on some mystical
sense of direction
to take me where
I need to go.

A left or right
turn in the road
is not a decision
I want to make
until I know
where each one leads.

If you really
want to be kind,
then ease my mind.
Information is what I need.
Talk to me.
 
April 21, 2002

Raisin toast and coffee
and the early morning paper
is how I like
my day to begin.
Not a breakfast to stir
the imagination
of those who prefer
heartier fare,
but it brings me happily
to the table,
and keeps me there.

Lingering over a second cup,
I wander through
the latest news,
letting the familiar routine
ease me into morning.

Rituals like these
are refined over time
until they become
so personalized
that if they're changed,
we meet the morning
more like a stranger
than a friend.

The world has enough
of the unexpected.
It's good to know
some things stay the same.
And sometimes
all that needs to be
is raisin toast
for breakfast.



April 23, 2002

"Does it really
make a difference
if I go?"
my mother wonders.

There's soon to be
a family reunion.
It's a drive
of some long distance,
and though my son
will take us there,
it's a tiring trip.

She worries that her need
to stop and rest
will be a burden.
And she honestly believes
if she's not there,
she won't be missed.
Hoping she will go,
yet not wanting
to pressure her,
I tell her we'll abide
by whatever she decides.

But her eight year old
great grandson's mind
is far wiser than mine.
"It won't be as much fun
if you don't come!"
he earnestly pleads.
It's the only convincing
her tender heart needs.
Once again,
a little child leads.



April 25, 2002

She's an every day
sort of friend.
She's like the sun
that rises each morning.
Even when clouds
cover its light
and it's hidden from sight,
I know it's there.

No matter how
my fortunes change,
her friendship remains
always the same,
uncompromised
and unaffected
by anything others
may say or think.

She's loyal to me,
but never blindly.
She knows the person
I strive to be,
and when I wander
in wrong directions,
she turns me around
and guides me home.

When a storm is near,
and my fair weather friends
hurry away,
she's the one who stays,
whatever the weather,
every day.
 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

March 31, 2002

Only her tenacious spirit
kept her clinging to life
that last, long week.

The family tenderly
looked to her needs,
bringing her water,
remembering how,
years before, it was she
who carried water daily
to the newly planted
grove of evergreens
in their pasture.

Those towering trees
now sheltered their cattle,
as a late blizzard raged,
while she lay dying.

In that same way,
the strength of her spirit
had sheltered her family,
helping their character
deepen and grow
with roots as strong
as the trees in the grove.

So they slipped a sprig
from those evergreens
into her casket.
And they buried a cup
of the earth from her grave
deep in the grove.
And the whispering trees
gently shelter her memory.



April 2, 2002

Not so patiently,
he waited for her.
Through the window
of the store,
he watched her
visiting pleasantly
with someone inside.

His mind wandered back
to the first few years
of their marriage.
He remembered how
her beaming smile
and genuine interest
in others
captivated everyone,
including him.

She truly enjoyed
people of all ages.
And once she engaged them
in conversation,
they were reluctant
to see it end.
She made them feel
they found a friend.

The warm memories
made his impatience
evaporate.
After all these years,
she hadn't changed.
And by now he knew
she was worth the wait.



April 4, 2002

Fame is never a guarantee
that you will be
well remembered
after your days
in this world are done.

Even recorded history
is often altered
by changing perspectives,
and yesterday's celebrity
may find his shine
tarnished by time.

To be well regarded
after you've gone,
give careful thought
to the mark you leave
on the minds and hearts
of those you love.

Kindnesses shown,
and helpfulness,
and guidance given
with true compassion,
let these be the stories
told in your honor,
over and over,
to new generations.

Compared to these,
fame is a barren legacy.
April 7, 2002

I help her clear away
the dishes from our lunch.
My last time here,
almost a year ago,
feels like yesterday,
as we visit while we work.

And as I move
in my friend's kitchen,
finding on my own
where cups and saucers go,
I notice how
her choices of things
and how they are arranged
is not new or strange to me.
And I am not surprised.

For this is the woman
with whom I feel
the kinship of a sister.
Born of the same
life long values,
our preferences
are clear reflections
in a mirror
we have smiled into
for more than thirty years.

In this mirror,
others look and only see
what makes us different.
But we look and only see
the similarity in our souls.
And in each other,
see a sister.



April 9, 2002

Save your gossip.
She has no ears for it.

Tell your tales,
some parts false,
some parts true,
caring not
what your words might do.
She won't listen.

When she speaks,
it's face to face,
honest and open,
with straightforward words,
thoughtfully spoken,
never in whispers
behind someone's back.

She knows the pain
careless comments cause.
Even when
they're proven false,
their damage is difficult
to erase.
And the scars they leave
are wounded pride
and broken trust.
That kind of hurt
she will not give
to anyone else.

Other ears may be eager
for gossip's hiss.
But save your breath,
hers won't hear it.



April 11, 2002

Needs change.
Things we preferred
when we were young
lose their importance
as we age.

The need for activity
every minute
becomes a desire
for a long space of time
with no schedule in it.

The need to please peers
is nicely replaced
by the acceptance
that pleasing oneself
is the wiser way.

The need to sleep in
while the morning fades
becomes a compulsion
to rise with the sun
and not miss one hour
of dwindling days.

And the need to receive
recognition and praise

becomes less important
than living a life
of honor and grace.
 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002

 

March 17, 2002

It's a bitter cold wind,
the last of the season
for our valley.

I stuff chilled hands
deep in my pockets
as I walk back
from the mailbox,
glad for the warmth
that waits in my house.

And a thought comes to me,
as hard and fast
as the wind
that cuts through my coat.

Our military men and women,
in a forbidding,
far off place,
struggle in cold
much worse than this.
There, no warm house
offers welcome.
No familiar door
promises relief.

And my whispered prayer
may be lost in the wind
that hurls itself
across our valley.
But I say it still.
For where it's heard
is beyond the cold
and above the wind.



March 19, 2002

"The hardest part
about it all
is learning to go
from we to me."
As she spoke,
her friend agreed,
with a knowing smile
that softened their sadness.

Good friends of mine,
both women pride themselves
on their individuality.
Both are widows,
but only fairly recently.
They are coping gracefully,
at least as much
as that can be done
when you lose your true
life long companion.

I listen carefully,
as they speak of situations
that I'm grateful
do not yet apply to me.

And I begin to be aware
that no matter how strong
our sense of self,
when we've traveled so long
as part of a team,
how lonely and strange
it must seem
to travel again as one.



March 21, 2002

They can't wait.
Lined up outside her door,
they jostle each other
goodnaturedly,
eager to enter.

The kindergarten room
is ordered and cheerful,
its inviting atmosphere
reflects Mrs. Murphy's
own attitude,
as she opens the door
with a welcoming smile.

As the children
find their places,
she moves among them,
giving a pleasant greeting
to every single one.

In this room,
one quickly senses
all those who are in it
are exactly where
they want to be.

How fortunate
these children are,
to have this first year
of classroom experience
filled with such
a positive presence.
How fortunate, too,
is Mrs. Murphy,
to discover so young
the calling she
was meant to follow.
 
 March 24, 2002

Soaked clear through,
they sloshed knee deep
in what was left
of the Spring run off.

The mud and grit
their clothes collected
made the adventure
all the better
for both little boys.
With no restraints
about staying clean
to hobble their fun,
they were running free,
and loving it.

From her place
on the side of the stream
that slips through
her open pastures,
she smiled at the sight.
It's right for children,
she always believed,
to have some space
in the crowded world
where they can run free.

Soon enough,
restrictions come.
Soon enough,
childhood's done.
And grownups can use
some good memories
of warm Spring days
and stream soaked jeans.



March 26, 2002

I've been on the phone
for hours it seems.
Forwarded constantly
from one automated
voice to another,
with never a possibility
of speaking with
a live human being.
Then the doorbell rings.

My friend stops by
to return some things.
Not wanting her visit
to take me away
from my work,
she hurries to leave.
"Please stay," I plead,
with surprising urgency.

"I've been talking to
machines all day,"
I quickly explain,
"and it's so good to see
a real live person
and hear a voice
that isn't recorded."

And as we talk,
back and forth,
enjoying an actual
conversation,
we're sadly aware
that this pleasant form
of communication
is a disappearing art.



March 28, 2002

I did it again.
Gave an honest opinion
when it was asked for,
and saw disappointment
in your eyes.
Truth is not
what you want from me.
It's only approval
that you seek.

How hard this lesson is.
By now I should
have learned it well,
but your earnest plea
always surprises
with its seeming sincerity.
And I take you at your word.

I make this mistake
again and again
and I think I'm beginning
to understand why.

It was you long ago
who always insisted
on honesty.
From your lips I heard
how truth must be told,
no matter what pain
its telling might cause.
And perhaps when I answer
candidly,
I'm seeking approval, too,
from you.

 

Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2002
 

 

 

 
 

 

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