I wrote this poem in honor of my dear Dad, Sal DeAngeles, shortly after he died in April of 1995. I thought this was a good time to pull it out and share it with you, my dear blog readers. I hope you have equally vivid and happy memories of your Father. You can get a pretty good picture of who my daddy was by seeing what he left us… and the things he left behind.
He Left Us
He left us his roses and hydrangeas,
and his garden with zucchini,
but he forgot to take the old wheelbarrow,
and he forgot to take the bocci ball court.
He left his mother’s crucifix on my wall,
his watch in the top dresser drawer,
the Balsamic vinegar in the cupboard,
and his love of ravioli and French bread,
but he forgot to take his Gallo Burgundy.
He left in each of us his love of family,
his teary-eyed sentimentality, and he left
the aches and pains of his earthly body,
but he forgot to take his spray paint, and
his love of convertibles with the top down.
He left the wife he loved so well,
the family and neighbors who miss him so,
and the unconditional love, but he
forgot his collection of nude calendars,
and he forgot to take his twinkle.
I know – I have it!
If your dad has left this earth, try writing a poem about what he left and what he forgot to take. Have fun with it!
Happy Father’s Day!
See you with my sermon notes after church.
God bless you!
Over the course of several years, the term Rainbow Bridge has become synonymous with animal lovers who have lost a pet.
You may hear a grief-stricken owner say their deceased pet has “crossed the Rainbow Bridge” or say “I’ll meet you at the Rainbow Bridge” in reference to the pet.
However, have you wondered what exactly the “Rainbow Bridge” is, where it came from, and how it became so widely used?
Although there is still some speculation as to how the term came about, pet lovers do have a number of answers which we’ll cover in this article.
What is the Rainbow Bridge?
The “Rainbow Bridge” refers to an other-worldly place consisting of a sunny, green meadow and multi-colored, prismatic bridge the pet eventually crosses that leads it to heaven.
The term is believed to have originated in several works of poetry from the 1980s and 1990s that were meant to help relieve deceased pet owners of the pain of their loss.
According to poems, upon death, the pet finds itself in a lush, green meadow filled with sunshine. The pet’s health is fully restored and it can run and play as it did in its prime with unlimited food and water.
There, the pet waits until its human companion dies and is reunited with them in the meadow. Together, they cross the Rainbow Bridge to heaven.
Where Did the Rainbow Bridge Idea Come From?
The concept for the pet Rainbow Bridge may have been based on the Bifröst bridge of Norse Mythology.
The Bifrost bridge was said to be a burning rainbow bridge that reaches between Midgard (Earth) and Asgard, the realm of the gods.
The first reference to a meadow in which pets await their owners can be found in the book Beautiful Joe’s Paradise by Margaret Marshall Saunders.
Beautiful Joe’s Paradise is a sequel to the book Beautiful Joe, which was one of the first that helped raise awareness toward animal cruelty and told the story Beautiful Joe, a dog from the town of Meaford, Ontario
In Beautiful Joe’s Paradise, pets await their owners in a grassland and help one another heal from cruelty they endured during their lives. However, the book makes no mention of a Rainbow Bridge and the pets eventually ascend into heaven by balloon.
Who Wrote the Original Rainbow Bridge Poem?
The first appearance of the Rainbow Bridge in relation to animals is believed to come from a poem by Paul C. Dahm, a grief counselor in Oregon. He wrote the first Rainbow Bridge poem in prose style as seen below:
“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….”
The popular rhyming version by Steve and Diane Bodofsky came later and was inspired by this original version.
How Did the Term “Rainbow Bridge” Become So Popular?
Steve Bodofsky believed the original poem by Paul C. Dahm was great, but needed “a bit of coaxing to bring out the meter and rhyme”.
Together with his wife they created their own rhyming version of the Rainbow Bridge poem which they shared with friends shown below:
Another popular Rainbow Bridge poem that helped popularize the concept worldwide came later from Steve and Diane Bodofsky, a couple that operated a ferret rescue.
“By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.
For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.
No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.
They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.
For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.
The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.
(I hope I have not violated copyright laws by posting this for you!)
Upon getting positive feedback, they collaborated with a graphic design artist to produce Rainbow Bridge Fine Art Print and Rainbow Bridge Sympathy Cards and thus began increasing popularity of the term.
It’s debated when exactly the term Rainbow Bridge was first mentioned online, but the term began circulating in articles and websites as early as 1993 and possibly before that.
The rise of pet forums and pet groups, especially public Facebook pet owner groups, helped Rainbow Bridge reach the mainstream term that it is today.
Rainbow Bridge and Memorials
The reason the term because so popular is because most pet owners view their pet as more than just “a cat” or “a dog”.
The thought of reuniting with that specific animal companion is a heartwarming feeling in a very painful, emotional time.
In addition to printed versions of the poem in sympathy cards, there are now several “Rainbow Bridge” memorials one can buy to honor their pet or to give to someone who is grief-stricken.
In fact, Humane Goods is proud to have made our own memorial, the Rainbow Bridge Memorial Chimes.
These chimes are multi-colored and made of high-quality material for a beautiful sound. Each chime has a special remembrance seal at the bottom which catches the wind for the chime.
I decided against,”Thrive by Telling Tales,”
when I thought of the Jim Croce song,
“Time in a Bottle.” Do you know it?
“If I could save time in a bottle, The first thing that I’d like to do, Is to save every day ’til eternity passes away To spend them with you.”
We may not be able to save time in a bottle, but we canTrap Time in a Tale!
The devotional I referred to in These Days is titled, Remembering Your Story. The author, Jan McGilliard wrote, “Stories can greatly expand our understanding of God, others, and ourselves… No matter your age or stage in life, remembering your own story is sacred work.”
Memoir or Autobiographical Tales
Each of us has a story to tell. It is sacred work! When we write our own stories, sometimes they are called autobiographies. They are focused on us, as the writer, the tale teller. Sometimes they are called Memoirs. What’s the difference?
LifeRich Publishing on the web says,
“The fine line between memoir and autobiography is a fuzzy one, especially in this modern literary era where writers are constantly blurring the boundaries between genres to create a new, exciting one. Like an autobiography, a memoir is a narrative that reveals experiences within the author’s lifetime. But there are obvious and practical differences between the two genres.
In essence, an autobiography is a chronological telling of one’s experience, which should include phases such as childhood and adolescence, adulthood, etc., while a memoir provides a much more specific timeline and a much more intimate relationship between the writer’s own memories, feelings, and emotions.”
Among other distinctions, LifeRich Publishing pointed out Memoirs are:
more concerned with emotional truth toward a particular section of one’s life and how it makes one feel now
less obsessed with actual events
while Autobiography is essentially:
written by the main character (or at least drafted with a collaborative writer)
made up of detailed chronology, events, places, movements, reactions, and any other relevant information that inhabited the life of the subject
focused on facts – fact, above all, is its foundation
Gore Vidal gave his own distiction when he wrote his memoir, Palimpsest.
He said, “…a memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is a history, requiring research, dates, facts, double-checking.”
I have written a memoir. It’s titled, “All My Marbles.” It is definitely less formal. It is concerned with emotional truth from my emotional perspective. It reflects how I feel now about my life’s people, events, and places – as well as how I feel about myself. It does capture Time in a Tale.
I don’t know if I will publish it in my lifetime or not. I finished it about three years ago. There are chapters about my grandparents and Bob’s. About my parents and his. About our marriage and children. And (to focus on its essential purpose) there is a chapter about and for each of my seven grandchildren. I want them to understand their Grammy better – – – know where I came from – – – and see how I responded/felt about each of them when they were born and as they grew into and through their teen years. They are now 23 to 28 years of age. Two have children of their own. One is about to have a second child, and one is about to get married.
Time in a bottle? No, time rushes on. But I trapped a period of it in my tale! It sings to me.
“All My Marbles” sits here in my computer.
I have it saved to the cloud
in case my computer crashes.
All My Marbles
Because I love my JanBeek readers, and I respect your opinions and enjoy reading your posts, I want to share the foreword, the introduction to “All My Marbles” with you. Tell me what you think.
I’ll be 80 this July. My prayer is that for another decade (at least) I can keep all my marbles in place, and working. But, if not… I have Trapped Time in this Tale.
Here is the Introduction to “All My Marbles”
I want you to know that I am a rather strong-willed, sometimes too outspoken, retired career woman who intends to live to be ninety-plus with all my marbles in place. Right up to the last, I want to smell good and wear dangling earrings that match my outfit for the day. I hope my children will get the message that there’s no need to get twitter-pated about getting older. As long as you keep your eyes on the NOW, your sense of humor tuned, and allow your style to be uniquely YOU, it’s likely that (unlike my cantankerous mother), you will wear your shirt right-side-out and still “give a shit” at 89!
My mother was a real spitfire! I knew she was not long for this world when she headed out one afternoon to a doctor’s appointment with her blouse inside out. When I brought it to her attention, she barked, “Oh, who gives a shit?” See, that’s where that quote originated, and sure enough, it was one of her last appointments before she departed our company.
Mom wasn’t always so contrary. Back in the early sixties, I got my first job in the states as a result of my hometown superintendent’s interview with my mom. I was in Germany teaching first graders on an army base. He liked what Mom said about me, so he agreed to hire me sight unseen. Before school started, I returned to California and popped in to visit the superintendent.
“Why do you want to work?” he asked. “Why don’t you just stay home and take care of your husband and start your family?”
Even though it was not illegal in 1962 to make that rash assumption and ask such questions, I realized his inquiry was sexist and inappropriate.
“Why should I choose when I am able to do both?” I answered his question with a question of my own.
More than five decades later, I still am averse to making either/or choices. My two children assure me they never felt neglected even though they had a working mother. I loved them, scolded them, laughed with them, played with them, read to them, and spanked them when they needed it. Spare the rod and spoil the child. I believe that! I did the SuperMom/MasterWife stuff while volunteering at Sunday School, teaching primary children, getting my master’s degree, earning an administrative credential, being a principal at a year-round school, and supervising student teachers at the college level. Why do only one thing when you can do six? I was part of the generation of women who knocked loudly at the glass ceiling.
Now, in my senior years, I know it’s important to keep my mind active. “No day is complete,” my mother-in-law always said, “unless you have learned something new.”
On this bumpy road of life, I am learning something new every day. Certainly it is not a smooth ride on a gravy train. You need to keep a sharp eye on the muck ahead, remember to glimpse lovingly at those around you, and listen for that still small Voice to guide you. Life is a constant learning adventure. All your marbles must be shined and put in place to survive and thrive. The bottom line is love. If it’s not unconditional, all hell breaks loose.
Let me introduce you to my family members and share some of my favorite life lessons with you.
So, my blogging friends, what do you think?
Does the introduction invite you to the memoir
in a way that would cause others to be interested?
Or should I just self-publish ten copies
(one for each of my children,
one for myself,
and one for each grandchild)
Let me take a break this Mother’s Day weekend from my A-Z series and talk instead about moms. Okay?
How would you describe your mom?
My mom was an Okie.
Hmmm… How dare I?!
How dare I use such a derogatory term! “Okie” was a term used by those who thought they were better than those Dust Bowl transplants who moved to the west coast from Oklahoma to find a way to make a living when years of drought forced them from their homes there.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is a classic book that told the story of Tom Joad, the father of a migrant family. Tom left the Oklahoma dust bowl for promised land in California, only to face new and daunting challenges. It was made into an award-winning movie starring Henry Fonda.
My father’s sisters erroneously decided Mom was a west-coast migrant from Oklahoma. Unlike those Dust Bowl transplants from Oklahoma, my mother, Elizabeth Totten, had ancestors who migrated in the late 1800s from Ireland and Scotland to Iowa and then to the state of Washington at the turn of the century. Mom’s family owned a farm in Fall City, Washington. Her dad died when she was in her early teens. My grandmother guided her six children to work hard to keep the farm operating without my grandpa to lead the way.
After Elizabeth graduated from high school in 1933, she worked in Fall City at a creamery to help the family survive and retain the farm. She moved to California after she met my dad, Sal DeAngeles, a handsome, suave, dark-haired young man, 4 years her senior.
Early Days in Mom’ & Dad’s Marriage
Elizabeth and Sal eloped to Reno, NV in 1937 and kept their marriage a secret for awhile. They were aware that his family might have trouble accepting her.
Many times Mom told me the story of how Dad’s Italian sisters (he had 5 of ’em) were resentful of her intrusion. She said they called her an Okie. (To her face? I hope not!) She was not Italian. And worse yet, she was not Catholic! And to add insult to injury, Dad’s mother (my Grandma DeAngeles) loved Mom as if she were one of her own daughters. There may have been some jealousy at work there.
Mom thought Dad’s sisters had a friend, a local Italian, Catholic girl picked out for their brother. Mom said she believed they were shocked and rather put-off by his decision to marry this outsider.
Whether her perception of their non-acceptance was true or not, it colored our family’s relationship with my dear aunts forever! It may have been one of the reasons I recall our family going on Sunday afternoons to visit Dad’s sisters at their homes, but rarely inviting them to come to ours. What a shame!
Who was Mom – – – really?
Elizabeth (later nick-named Betty) was the fourth in a family of five children born to Laura & Ralph Valentine (RV) Totten. She was a slightly built, blond, blue-eyed girl with three older sisters, one brother, and a younger sister. She adored her father, whose untimely death (he fell off a barn roof and died of a brain injury), left her devastated.
She was a good student, particularly talented as an “elocutionist” (public speaker), and would have loved to attend college. Financially it just was not an option. She was good at math as well, and eventually became Dad’s secretary/treasurer in his business. In her retirement years, she kept herself busy playing Bridge and participating in the women’s organizations of Eastern Star and Rebekahs.
What do I Remember Fondly About My Mom?
Mom always told me I could do and be whomever I decided I wanted to be. She believed in me. She gave me confidence, and encouraged all my various endeavors. She made sure I got accordion lessons when I showed an interest in that instrument. She helped me get a clarinet when I wanted to join the elementary school band, and she drove me to weekly accordion and clarinet lessons fifty miles away.
Mom helped me develop my writing skills and encouraged my ventures into art and school leadership. She convinced Dad that I should be able to go to college – and made sure they managed to finance my college expenses so that I could concentrate on my studies. “Your school work is your job,” she explained when I was contemplating a job to help with college costs. Unlike most college students today, I graduated with a BA of education in four years – and was debt free. What a gift!
Mom’s spit-fire personality sometimes caused us to be at odds with one another. I see her in me now and blame her for all the parts of my personality that annoy me. I look in the mirror and see her arms hanging from my shoulders (when did that happen?). I see her impatience in me when I am being less than kind. I look up and shake my finger at her when i am too outspoken.
Thank You, Mom
But at the same time, I thank my mom for all the ways she helped me become the “Child of God” I am today. She made sure my sister, Sally, and I got to church each Sunday. She was 100% honest and she taught Sally and me to be morally responsible, dependable, hard-working young ladies. I am grateful to my mom for her role modeling, her work ethic, and her unconditional love.
Family is So Precious!
The picture below is 53 years old!! That’s me on the left, pregnant with our first child. My husband, Bob, is standing next to me. Next is my sister, Sally, with her husband, Dave, holding their eldest daughter, Denise (both of whom are now deceased). I thank God every day for life – and for the life of my children – and count my blessings that they are alive and healthy, productive adults today. I never take that for granted.
My mom and dad (Sal & Betty) are in the foreground. The best gift they gave to me was their love for one another – and their love for our family.
Happy Mother’s Day
to all those wonderful moms out there
who have impacted their children
in such important ways –
and continue to do so everyday…
some up close and personal,
and others as they lean over the
Heavenly railings and watch over us from above.
What do you remember most about your Mom?
And what do you want to thank her for?
But, not really…
Even painful memories serve a purpose.
As we reflect on them years later, we uncover truths –
Truths about ourselves we may not have realized at the time.
That’s what makes them meaningful!
As a writer who loves to write poetry, and someone who is exploring the significance of memories for adding meaning to our lives, I was fascinated by this
Question #3 was, “Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?”
Poet Kjmunro responded, “Sometimes I wish that I could be more comfortable in a crowd – but that may have more to do with being an introvert than being a poet. Writing poetry helps me to make sense of my life & my experiences, & because of it I have pushed my boundaries, accepted challenges, & pursued opportunities that have enriched my life… I can’t imagine my life without it.”
(You can click on the interview title above and see more of this meaningful post.)
Likewise, I cannot imagine my life without the gift of writing – both poetry and prose. I enjoy writing poetry. I love reading it. I treasure the opportunity to share it. Writing is a way to keep memories alive. It is a way to make sense of my life and my experiences. It is a way to express gratitude, to plan ahead, and to reflect. It is a way to push boundaries and accept challenges.
Yesterday in our Writers’ Group, the writing prompt was, “Tell Us About Someone You Used to Love.” The prompt brought to mind some very vivid, meaningful memories. Let me share my story with you:
Someone I Used to Love
I need to get up and face the student body on this October Spring Rally Day. But, I don’t want to.
I have made it as far as the front steps of the historic, brick Turlock Union High School before sitting down and letting the tears fall.
The sun is bright. Because it’s school spirit day, I have on one blue and one gold sock. My black and white saddle shoes are tucked beneath my poodle skirt with layers of crinoline fluffing around me. The blue and gold pom-poms lie motionless beside me. I look for the usual friends. No one approaches. They must all be inside already. Loneliness rings as the bell sounds the warning: first period will begin in ten minutes
What is it that has created such reluctance and dread in my soul?
About a week ago, my tall, athletic ex-boyfriend approached me in the hallway. “You know you don’t have any friends. The only reason people say Hi to you is because you say Hi to them first. If you didn’t, no one would talk to you.”
Oh my! Could it be true? Why was Richard telling me this? I used to love him. We used to have great fun together. Mutt and Jeff, they called us. Just because I broke up with him and am now dating soeone my own size, does that mean this 6’4″ basketball star should suddenly start bullying me?
Back in the 50’s I don’t think I knew the term “bullying.” I didn’t realize that’s what Richard was doing. His words cut deeply.
I decided to test out his hypothesis. I stopped cheerfully greeting everyone I saw with a “Hi!” Instead, I looked at them, waiting to hear their greeting first.
Richard was right! Most kids just looked quizically in my direction and walked past – or worse yet – they didn’t look at me at all. I felt like I must have forgotten my deodorant that day!
Now I’m feeling alone and abandoned on the front steps. I have ten minutes to get to class. With a deep sigh, I get up, take a deep breath, pick up my pom-poms, and head inside. My buddy, Phil, voted “Best Dressed Guy” in the senior class, walked up to me when I entered the building. I glance in his direction.
“What’s wrong with you lately?” he asked. “You’re being so stuck up!”
I told him what Richard had said.
“Oh, for cryin’ out loud,” he reprimanded, taking me by the shoulders.
I looked up into his caring blue eyes with tears in mine. “But Richard…” I sobbed, “he said…” I couldn’t go on.
Phil wrapped me tightly in his arms right there in the middle of Turlock High’s crowded hallway. Backing up a bit, he put his hands on my shoulders again. He leaned down and whispered, “He’s just jealous – and hurt. A big basketball star can’t stand it that his girl left him for a 5’3″ Stumper. He’s just trying to hurt you back. You just be the girl you always were. Don’t let anyone take away your perkiness.”
I used to love Richard. Now I just feel sorry for him. I saw him coming toward me as I headed for class.
“Hi!” I perked in his direction and walked on – shoulders squared – head held high.
Reliving these vivid memories more than sixty years later, I realize how impactful Richard’s words and Phil’s encouragement were. It was an important growing up experience. I haven’t let anyone take away my perkiness since then.
Meaningful memories stay with us – and change us – forever.
Thank you, Phil, and Richard!
Do you have a meaningful memory?
One that helps you make sense of your life and experiences?