Sunday, April 24, 2011


Dear friends,
My husband Fred passed away yesterday after a long struggle with Alzheimer's Disease. I have been competing in the Poem a Day challenge at Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides blog. Today's prompt was to write a prayer poem. This is what I wrote. Fred is still my muse.


Today I am a widow,
my husband gone from his body,
the hands that caressed me stilled,
the lips that kissed with such
tender strength left open
to let his soul escape.

Lord, as I kiss his sunken cheek
and embrace him through the sheet,
sprinkling tears across his neck,
help me to remember that this
was just a shell, and now,
like you, he is everywhere around me.

Forgive my absence

Dear friends,
Please forgive my recent silence. My husband passed away yesterday. I will be back here with new posts soon.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Toddler on the altar

At church yesterday, I shared the podium with a woman about my age and a tiny girl with pigtails. I was singing the psalm while the Grandma was doing the readings. We don’t usually bring companions to the altar, but the girl was too young to leave alone in the pew.

I found it hard to concentrate on the Bible passages while this adorable child was hiding behind the podium, so small she was invisible to most of the congregation. Grandma did the first reading, I sang my song, and then Grandma got up for the second reading. Just about then, the girl started whispering, “I have to go potty!” To emphasize the urgency, she literally crossed her legs. I thought, Oh Lord, don’t let her go to the bathroom on the altar. Read fast, Grandma. In fact, let me read it so you can take her out.

At that moment, I did not envy the woman’s predicament. Being the lector is kind of a high-pressure job. It’s hard to maintain the proper solemnity with a potty-driven toddler hanging off your legs. But she did finish the reading, and the child held her water.

A while later, when I was back at the piano, I saw the woman holding the child against her breast, rocking her. She wore an expression of such contentment. Once again, I thought, “Damn!” (yes, I know, cursing at church) I will never have that. No grandchildren to bring to church and hold in my arms.

I do have step-grandchildren, both young adults now. But we never got that close. We never lived nearby and there were real grandmothers at hand. I was uneasy around small children, not knowing what to do. But the biggest reason we didn’t get close was my husband’s reluctance to make the connection. He did not enjoy small children and felt he had done the fatherhood thing with his first wife. Not only did he not want to have kids with me, but he didn’t feel any drive to connect with his grandchildren. I think it would have been good for all of us, but it just didn’t happen.

It’s funny. I never used to be comfortable around children, but now I’m starting to yearn for their company. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. Perhaps I need to volunteer somewhere that will let me get close to children, closer than I get now singing for the kids in the religious education program. Close enough to hold a child in my arms. Do you know what I mean?

If you’re struggling with not being a mother, do you think about what it will be like to not be a grandmother?

Friday, April 1, 2011

No Way Baby!

Karen Foster, a Portland, Oregon counselor and speaker, has published a new book called No Way Baby! In it, she offers people like herself, whom she calls "childfrees" information to refute the dumb things people say to them. We're all heard these things: "So, you don't like kids?" "It's your duty to go forth and multiply." "But I want grandchildren." "Who will take care of you when you're old?" and "You'll regret it." Sound familiar?

Of course, those of us who are childless by marriage or otherwise not by choice might have different answers from what Foster offers. She does acknowledge the difficulty of being in a relationship where one person wants kids and the other doesn't. There is no way to compromise on this issue, she says. One person always loses.

Foster is not anti-child and applauds people who consciously choose to be parents, but you get a little taste of her attitude when she talks about being "child-burdened" vs. "childfree."

There's a lot of good information in this book, although it sometimes wanders off course. For example, we don't need the whole history of Social Security or a rehash of the feminist movement. We can, however, find lots of useful information and encouragement for enjoying life as non-parents in this book.

Foster blogs on childfree subjects and has information about this book and her new one at