Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I recently spent two days celebrating with a wonderful friend as she turned 100. She was a schoolteacher, a farmer’s wife, a gardener and, when in her 30s, learned to pilot a small plane. She and her husband were married for 70 years. Lora still loves to fish, lives alone, reads and drives her car without the aid of glasses, will admit (reluctantly) to being a little hard of hearing, but is still sharp of mind and good of heart. Here’s a portrait of her for Totally Optional Prompt’s suggestion: write about a person.

Lora Remembers

100 years of mornings,
of sunrises that spilled liquid gold
down Vermont’s rugged hillsides;
dew that sparkled on a million
summer spider webs; a cow’s warm
breath on her hands and the warmer
milk; fishing the wily creeks and still
ponds at her father’s side;
running up the hill to school;
McGuffy’s First Reader and lunch in a blue
lard bucket; boarding as the teacher;
rain that turned dirt roads to mud;
riding a hay rake, a baler, a plow;
70 years of marriage, of cooking and
washing and mending, of quilting
and knitting and sewing;
driving a Model-T;
flying solo in a small plane;
barn raisings and song fests and gramophones
and new-fangled radios; television and jet planes
and a cruise to Alaska 85 years after
that first morning 100 years ago.

She remembers 100 years of evenings,
of listening to the nightjar whistle,
of scarlet sunsets and sparking fireflies;
dashing to the half-moon door in the
darkness; carrying a lantern up the cold
back stairs; woodstoves and hand pumps
and knee-deep snows; sugaring-off in spring;
summer nights so hot you slept on a blanket
on the lawn; darkness so pure you could
count the stars; nights of terror when fire
struck; nights of music and dancing, of kitchen junkets;
of family suppers; lonely nights, nights of weeping
and missing her man; nights of wondering, pondering
the future, the meaning of it all; nights of remembering
family and old friends gone on before—

100 years of living behind her. Now she looks ahead.


Ruth D~ said...

Look at the love in two pairs of eyes in that picture. And the poem . . . publishable. Maybe Christian Science Monitor's Home Forum? Try. It's a beautiful tribute.

shara said...

oh pauline. it's absolutely lovely, I read it out loud, it was so like singing.

I've worked on the fate of stars but unless I mess with it (and then it's not the fate of stars) or learn how to do some sort of madrigal or something, I hate to say I can't arrange it to sing the way I wanted to, it's too bad because I love the two moons, the two queens.

in any case I'm so pleased I came by to read, even though it's past 11 and I need to go to sleep. hope you're walking more comfortably lately.

Pauline said...

Thank you Ruth! I'll give it a try and let you know.

Hello Shara! I am impressed that you even thought you could sing the fate of stars poem - it was my first and clumsy attempt at that form. I am still not walking comfortably but have an appointment with the foot doctor next week to discuss further treatment.

shubd said...

What a wonderful read !!

Reminded me of my grandmother a feisty lady who passed on in 2006 at the ripe old age of 93.

The last line:
the future, the meaning of it all;nights of remembering
family and old friends gone on before-"

Something that she spent her last years doing ..
You really did capture the essence of the sunset period.

Pauline,I was wondering if I could interest you in a poem I wrote about a 39 year old who suffered from cancer. It isn't for any prompt .

tumblewords said...

Exquisite tribute! The second stanza is so full of the past and so wildly vivid and poetic - the nightjar whistle, scarlet sunsets, half-moon door. Beautiful! And the photo is wonderful!!

SweetTalkingGuy said...

Yeah, I'm glad I read this, what an amazing person you write about amazingly..

Linda said...

The images here are like fireworks flashing in my brain! Such a wonderful tribute!

paisley said...

i can absolutely not fathom so long a life.. i am not even half way there and some days it is more than i can bear.. i wonder sometimes what it is that people like your friend posses that i do not.. i cannot say i am envious.. but i wonder never the less...

this was so touchingly written... so detailed,, so personal.. i just loved it....

Lisa Chapman said...

A sweet tribute to your friend - I enjoyed reading it.

Mother of Invention said...

Beautiful account of a wonderful life. She is truly inspirational that she is looking forward still! The things she has seen in her lifetime!
I have trouble doing that (lokking ahead with hope for health etc.) sometimes but my dad, at 88, is getting a new fishing rod for the annual spring fishing trip in 3 weeks!!

Jo said...

First of all I've got to say I love how she is looking at you in the photo, such feeling communicated. This piece is lovely, the second half especially wonderful.

Crafty Green Poet said...

lovely poem, nice details in it

AnnieElf said...

Just lovely Pauline and somehow reassuring. At 100 we should have such fullness of life to look back on.

Barbara said...

This actually makes me feel young and encouraged about the last half of my life!

herhimnbryn said...

A truely touching gift to your friend P.

Bitterroot said...

This is evocative and beautiful.

Frankie said...

What a beautiful photograph of two beautiful women! What a treasure to have a 100 year old friend, and one so sharp and present and brimming over with life. Your poem is gorgeous and I felt the heavy weight and light joy of each of those 100 years. Thanks so very much for this. xoxo

riseoutofme said...

Beautiful tribute to a long, fulfilled life ... with the best yet to come.

Absolutely wonderful photo of 2 people connecting through pure love.

Java said...

What a nice pic and poem for your friend. Wow, I hope to live to 100 and also have such a active life!
My dream ...learn to fly !

Happy Birthday!