Rich with Experience

8 Nov

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

There’s no doubt the writers in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections program at Hope Lutheran have great stories to tell. This group of writers is as diverse as they are lively, having lived all over the world, from Tokyo to Texas. In their writing, you can feel their rich experiences culminate in the beauty of a simple line about the smell of autumn. The power of their struggle with memory loss is always present, just below the surface, as these writers bravely delve into their pasts to bring forth these poems. There is never a dull moment in this poetry, as it expresses the Hope Lutheran group’s bright attitude toward life and adventurous spirit, something that is truly inspiring to encounter. Their writing is lively, comical, tender, and honest. It is starkly sad and bubbling over with joy all at once. It rhymes, meanders, repeats itself. It goes into the RV to watch the Aggies game. It talks to nature, and to God. These poems are a pure expression of both the simplicity of life and its magnificent vastness, of which we are forever in awe.

Claire Bowman
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Fall Is Wonderful

Brown, brown, brown…
Showing up on our trees!
Yellow, yellow, yellow bushes,
those bright flowers on very green,
very tall bushes, waving in the wind’s arms.

Again, I go to the color yellow
found on the ears of corn sitting
on the kitchen counter.
Their taste, their crunchiness,
their bright and beautiful color
all make me happy.

I know corn comes in other
colors: white, red, or brown.
But don’t we all love yellow the most?

Pat Keen

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From April, May to June

The sun, everything is blooming.
Flowers are blooming,
The weather is beautiful.
Not too hot, not too cold,
Nice and cool and fresh.
You can enjoy walking in the evening,
Sitting in sidewalk cafés,
Enjoying the people-watching
And the fresh air of the evening.

I’m sitting in the sidewalk café
Where they make grilled shish-kabobs.
I’m drinking red wine with my vegetable salad —
Not too much, just enough
To enjoy everything there.
It makes me feel at home.

Sarita Mais

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Catching Trout in My Hometown Waters

I see a babbling stream of water
In my state of Wisconsin.
I hear the sound of the water rushing over
The rocks in the stream. Frogs croaking
And birds singing.
I feel a cool breeze.
I think to myself — how to plan
Catching a big trout under the water
Near the pine trees?
I wonder how many trout are available
Today. Should I cast closer to the shore?
I wait for a response from my cast.
Did I see one near my bait?
Try again and again until I get my catch.
Reel him in.

John Zimmerman

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Snow-Capped Mountains

I see wonderful shadows in the water
And blended colors that magnify
The beauty of colored images in the water.
I feel magnificent colored images defining
The images in the water.
I think to myself, “I want
To take in all of the images,
Including those in the water,”
And I wonder if the quiet beauty
Can be maintained with time.

Bill Hoisington

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Summer!

The sun is shining! Every day is an adventure. Should we go swimming? The joy of jumping into the cold water, knowing we shall go back out into the warmth and beauty of the sun. What a sensation and awakening to the joy of nature. The flowers bloom everywhere, sheltered in part by the glorious trees surrounding them. Life is good! Going home to dinner or eating a picnic on the beach, swimming and making sandcastles. Having an ice cream cone on the way home, licking it succulently, enjoying its cool flavour. Tired and satisfied, we go to bed thinking of the days to come!

We go out the next day to play with our friends, telling them about our journey, about visiting the fish-and-chip shop for lunch, a treat for all, including Mom, who didn’t have to cook. We meet friends on the beach and promise to see them tomorrow. Into bed, mother telling us a bedtime story or a poem she wrote several herself, which ushered us to sweet dreams of tomorrow, swimsuits and towels hung up on the clothesline to dry. Happiness and contentment abound. Everyone got up early the next day in anticipation of going again to the beach, a beach ball in one arm and towels in the other.

Audrey Krier

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Autumn

The crisp, cool air
The reds, the yellows
When walking on the leaves
The crunch, the burning
Of leaves, the fun of rolling
Through dry leaves, playing in the streets
The crisp, cool air, the leaves
Falling off the trees, the kiss
Of Autumn cool
The taste of waning
The laughter of adults
Do not attempt to change
The feel of Autumn.

Lyle Erickson

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Texas Longhorns

I see Bevo.
I hear thousands of people yelling at the UT Stadium.
I feel the UT band playing, my daughter Mary,
Who played in the Longhorn band for four years.
I think to myself of those wonderful days
Of football at UT, and I wonder
what it will be like in the years to come.

Lee Roy S.

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My Deer Love

A startled deer,
Fat and tender.
My little deer will soon surrender.
I hear only silence and stillness,
Quiet and peace—
Yes, a great big piece of juicy, tender meat!
In awe of the beauty, elegance,
And size of this creature—
I hope this bullet will go far enough to reach her.
I think to myself… I’m hungry.
I can’t miss.
This buck is toast!
And I’m sure this dinner
Is going to be a winner!
I wonder how long it will take
To dress her, and cook a little venison for dinner!

Rick Guilbeau

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The Winter’s Elk 

I see a HUGE elk standing so very still
In the white snow.
He is observing me, hopefully,
With great interest.
I smile widely, but don’t move.

I hear him give a snort.
Vapor comes form his nose.
I see him pawing with one great hoof,
As if sending a message to me.

I feel he’s as curious about my existence
As I am about his.
And I think to myself, “What if
I smile broadly, tilt my head,
And wink…”

I wonder what he will tell his family when
He gets home.
I know what I’m telling mine!

Jeanne Roden

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Winter Creation

I see a beautiful snapshot of Nature,
The cold water near the cushions
Of winter snow, and the tall stone-ledge
Mountains, now holding tiers of ice
And snow.

I hear in the still, quiet beauty — no
Sound, only beauty seen above and
Upon the surface, a Revelation
Of the cold, quiet lake.

I feel a still nothingness that holds me
As I gaze upon reflections of
The beauty and majesty that surrounds me.

I think to myself… This is a precious moment.
I must stop and be in this picture of Earth,
Of Creation.

I wonder if I will ever lose the wonder of this moment.
I think not.
It is a moment in eternity.

Elizabeth E. Flynn

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Autumn Mornings 

Crisp, cool sunrises
Coming over the mountain.

Orange, yellow, green, brown
Colors being blown around
In the fresh breeze.

Children high on the rocks
As the sun starts to lower in the evening.

We go into our RV to watch
The Texas Aggies game.

We enjoy the outdoors,
The coyotes howling in the mountains.
Now, let’s go to bed.

Bobby Pruitt

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Autumn (By Far!) 

Hot, humid summer is gone.
With less sweating, we can run!

Even in Texas, we have colors,
And it costs so few dollars!

Now that temperatures are lower,
We use much less of the mower!

Autumn has so much more food,
And everything tastes so good!

That we really enjoy life,
And again, again, I love my wife!

Manny Chavez

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