The Breadth of Life

On four warm fall Fridays, this group of writers created and laughed together at Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church for Memory Connections. During the first session, they wrote poems about places, and I started to glimpse the breadth of life experience in the room. There were poems about San Francisco, Brooklyn, Lafayette, and towns and cities in between. I felt so lucky that we had all ended up in a church in Westlake Hills, reading, writing and sharing together. Each week, the writers shaped words into startling images, interesting observations, and even witty punchlines. There was a lot of laughter, interspersed with profound insights. This group didn’t take themselves too seriously, and they embraced the present moment without fear. These are the conditions where creativity and joy flow.

Jenny Fleming
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

 

The Best Surprise

A few years ago, I visited my son when he lived in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was my birthday and my son had a concert to conduct in the evening. He loves to embarrass me or surprise me. Just before the intermission, he went to the microphone and announced to all that it was my birthday. Coming down the aisle were three of my son’s orchestra members, giving me flowers and playing “Happy Birthday” on their instruments. They whole audience looked at me, clapped, and joined in on the song. I was both embarrassed and shy. But now, as I think back, I occasionally thank him for that special moment.

Betty

 

All is Good

My dog comes over as I watch TV.
She looks at me and wags her tail.
All is good with the world.

Ted

 

Bluebonnets

Growing up in Waco, Texas, my parents would always drive out to the country during bluebonnet season. One of my favorite pictures was on my father took of my mother, my sister and I by the side of a road surrounded by bluebonnets. I guess I was around five and my sister around eight.
Fast forward sixty-plus years. On retirement, I was pushing for Austin, but my wife was skeptical. She did not know of the beauty of the Hill Country. It was an “easy sell.” We always encourage our Illinois friends to visit during the bluebonnet season, and we give guided tours. Without exception, everyone has been impressed.

Boyd Spencer

 

Lake Jackson

Lake Jackson is a small town
Created in the late forties and early fifties,
close to the Gulf Coast,
surrounded by chemical plants,
full of giant trees, green grass, humidity and hope.

I lived there until I was fifteen years old.
I would love to see it now.
It was a new town with lots of people moving in
to run the chemical plants and supporting businesses.

Everybody knew everybody
and all their kids
and a lot of their business.

One of the saddest times of my life
was when my dad was transferred to Houston.
It was devastating and
turned out to be another happy adventure.
There’s a moral to this story.

Carol L. Adams

 

Orchid

I see its arms.
I see it standing there in a proud place
with a special shine.

Robert S. Monroe

 

Flowers from Mike

He came home with flowers
in his hands every Friday.
White, yellow, red, pink with
sprinkles of green leaves and baby’s breath.
Why? Because it was important
to have beautiful flowers to
show his love.

He would plant flowers outside
in the front of our house and
in the back so they could be viewed
from all the back windows.
All three of our children
continue the practice with
their families. Flowers,
beautiful, love.

Patsy

Everything is Connected

What a strong community with a welcoming vibe at Hope Lutheran Church’s Memory Connections! Most importantly, this group had a great sense of humor. This group of gifted writers and poets live big lives but can also think deeply. Even when asked to write about something as simple as a flower, they knew that everything is connected in this world, and they weren’t afraid to show it. Their graciousness was delightful, and not only was everyone always eager to share their writing, they were delicate listeners too—you can tell by their haikus.

Mendy Holliday
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

 

I Didn’t See

I didn’t see the tadpoles in the bucket
But I did see the tiny frogs clutching the metal edge.
Two of them, and when startled, they dived
Like lightening to the bottom to hide.

Rebecca Lowe

 

Those Old Dance Halls

Going to those old dance halls around my hometown Texas was the highlight of my week. I would go every Friday and Saturday night with family, later with boyfriends, then my husband.  I could see all my friends, hear the latest gossip, the good old country music. These old dance halls didn’t have air- conditioning just a lot of windows. So sweaty after dancing awhile. How did we ever do it? These are the best memories of my life. We go to this reunion dance once a year to hear 3 bands from the 70’s. It’s the nearest I come to recreating those old memories, dancing cheek to cheek. Now most of the old dance halls I went to are shuttered, which makes me sad.

Joyce Beversdorff

 

Happy/Sad

Flowers can be part of life in its happy moments or events,
but flowers can be part of sad moments.
I learned early that a bride carries a bouquet,
and flowers are set upon a grave.
My dad died when I was six years old.
I use the phrase happy/sad with my family who understands
that flowers are associated with the happy and the sad moments in one’s life.

Elizabeth Caldwell

 

Summer Heat & the Birds

Summer heat and the birds
feeding off the sunflower seeds.
Hot weather and warm breezes
linked to the changing seasons.
A container of sunshine
with the birds feeding and flying
to and from the station
where sunflower seeds are a valuable.
The changing seasons
as heat moves away
from the warm breezes
and the awareness of the air’s movement
and the possibilities of cooler days.
Pleasant days and anticipation
that all is ok.

Larry Graham

 

The Air of the City

San Francisco was a gorgeous town when I lived there. The many hills of the city went up and down. The air of this city was so wonderful and crisp, always washed clean by the Pacific Ocean. People who lived there knew they could always find good food to eat, no matter which part of the city. The best trip was to get on the bus to go out to sit on the sand at the ocean.

Pat Keen

 

First Glimpse of Ithaca

The first glimpse of Ithaca burst into view. The Little Apple that I had heard so much about rose above the sparkling water of Cayuga Lake glimmering in the sunshine. I could see why the bumper sticker on the car ahead of me said: Ithaca is gorges!

B.W.

 

Red, Pink, or Yellow Roses

Flowers connect beauty and sorrow in my life.
Joy for weddings, graduations, promotions, accomplishments.
Sorrow for funeral, deaths—
Sorrowful blue lavender, black and purple,
Joyful red orange coral, roses, daisies, sunflowers.
I connect flowers with the death of my grandmother who was such a
dear sweet joyful helping person. She always saw the best in people.
Flowers that remind me of her are red, pink, or yellow roses.

Anonymous

 

The Bond Between Us

My wife is the curator
of flowers at our house.
I love seeing the tiny white flowers
on our kumquat bush
and the kumquatinis (kumquat martinis)
they engender.
We also have lilies and daffodils
behind the swimming pool.
I love the tiny flowers
that come on the Dwarf Barbados Cherry
and the Meyer Lemon.
They symbolize the bond between us.

Jim Hadden

Bearing Witness: The Gift of Sharing

It was a joy to spend a month with the writers of Memory Connections at Bethany Lutheran Church. These writers always had thoughtful and insightful feedback to give about the poems that inspired our writing exercises on any given week. We engaged with the simple act of paying attention, and the pieces they created speak to the beauty and emotionality inherent in the simple act of bearing witness: to your surroundings, to to your peers, and to yourself. I loved getting to know this group, and learning the many ways that we can define and explain who we are and where we are from beyond a simple label or a geographic region. From stunning lyrical images to delightful uses of humor, this group proved that connecting with one’s memory reaches beyond introspection, and into the gift of sharing our experiences with one another.

Sarah Matthes
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

 

Texas Flowers

Seeing the springtime Texas flowers
such as bluebonnets, Mexican hats,
Indian paintbrush, and daisies
refreshes my feelings and emotions
toward what beauty is,
refreshes my soul, and strengthens
my resolve with nature.

BJ

 

Roses

I have mixed emotions regarding roses.
They have various colors and smells.
My first reaction is to grab them.

However, every time I try to grab them,
the thorns remind me just how unattractive they can be.

I love their appearance,
but I hate their feelings.

Joseph T. Colarusso

 

Tulips

I remember working with my dad, planting tulips
while the first snow of the year was coming down.

It was a cold and miserable time,
but in the spring, we were weeding the beds
and the tulips were in full bloom.
It was beautiful, and such a difference
from when we planted them.

R.W.S.

 

Ashland

Picture a small town with beautiful parks, and they were busy all year round performing the myriad plays which Shakespeare wrote. I owned an 1880’s Bed and Breakfast just a few minutes’ walk from town and was an “innkeeper.” I had visitors from all over the country come to visit and I prepared the food. Ashland had at its center a lovely park with hiking trails and magnificent flowers.

W. Elaine Martens

 

Spring, Texas

Spring was quiet and full of beautiful flowers, shrubs, trees, birds, animals, happy children, well-kept homes, good schools, evergreen lawns and trees, children playing in yards or sometimes streets, buses into the city of Houston, trips to the Opera and plays and music groups, taking our children to the park to see their friends, teacher friends getting together, talking about students.

Carol

 

Bareilly, India

I could walk from my house to my dad’s office. The clerks in the front of the office would give me balloons. It took about fifteen minutes to walk to his office from our house. In the winter it would get cold enough to have a fire in the fireplace. The garden has a lawn surrounded by flowers. I learned to ride my bike. There were about ten officers and I played with their kids.

M.B.

 

Flowers

Any living flower is an amazing thing.
Actually, they’re all alike (shape and size vary)
but the basic components—sticks,
twigs, leaves, dirt, fresh stuff too, all added—
piles of old brown things making crinkling
noises as you step across the yard.

The best of music is no better—
they’re the bookends of joy and sorrow.

Laura

 

Pleasure in Plants & Place

The lively group of Memory Connections writers at Christ Lutheran Church in Georgetown took pleasure in rhyme and surprise in poems, shared their weekly joys and struggles with candor and humor, and discussed the need for more writing from and about people living with early memory loss. They wrote vividly about the natural world, the seasons, and how certain flowers serve as portals to remember their loved ones and childhoods: Crocuses heralding spring and chilly lilies offering hope that fall in central Texas is coming! We bonded over a shared love of routines as moorings in our days, and discussed the beauty of writing done in private, to reflect, to document, and to process feelings and thoughts. I’m grateful to have spent these weeks with this talented and generous group of writers; I hope you enjoy their witty, vulnerable, and vivid work as much as I have.

Mary Terrier
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

 

Those Weeks

Those weeks would be like a different world for us, the cousins from Phoenix, and me from El Paso where it was so hot you could fry eggs on the sidewalk. My aunt and uncle lived on a piece of land with cacti all up and down the mountains, and down in the valley an orchard of apple, pear, peach, and cherry trees.

Pat Joyce

 

 

Auntie’s Garden

My father’s eldest sister could coax any species of flower to bloom and show—a green thumb was a mere description of her talent—whether she was planting, nurturing, or snipping—the arrangements were amazing—small as in Cecil Brunner’s—blazing yellow daffodils—or even willow branches from the creek—all were unique works of art.
My Auntie was a treasured person. Love, joy, tender hugs—She always shared her garden with me!

Helen Haynes

 

How Do You Make the Flowers?

The house was tucked away on a large farm. The girl was about five or six years-old. She ran alone, running uphill, and down again. The girl ran into the pasture. She loved being alone and free.
In the early fall her mother started working the planting, and the girl watched and asked, “How do you make the flowers?” The mother gave the child a packet of seeds and told her what to do. The girl put the seeds and watered each. The pansies were beautiful…and the girl was very happy.

L.D.S.

 

Llano River

A very good place to take a vacation. If you like outdoor camping, you would enjoy the Llano River. I guess you could call this a cowboy city. Junction, Texas.

Clemencia G. Castillo

 

Harvest Time

Harvest your roses while you may
Your time is always flying
For your flowers that smile today
Tomorrow will be dying

Randall

 

Natchitoches, Louisiana

Natchitoches, Louisiana is a small town located on Cane River, streets are made of brick, and the city overlooks Cane River. Part of the Civil War was in Nachitoches. Old beautiful homes overlook the river on one side and the other side is lined with houses.

Marie

 

Austin, Texas

Boom Town
The University of Texas school
Many good restaurants
Lots of museums
Lots of art

Charlie

 

Somerset, KY

The downtown area has many older brick buildings. The traffic enters the area from four different directions and progresses right around in a circle until you come to the street where you want to exit. Then you progress onto the interstate where all the new boat shops, hospital, Walmart, and the lumberyard are located. This new section of town is where most people go daily for their shopping. Now, the old downtown area holds the banks, real estate, and office buildings. This is not really so different from many towns in the middle of America that have continued to exist. Many smaller places surrounding the larger cities have lost their grocery stories, post offices, etc. Only a few service stations remain.

Patricia Kellett

 

 

Embracing & Enjoying Life

The Cedar Park writers are an amazing group of upbeat, optimistic people who made me feel welcome and special each time I visited their group. Laughter filled the room as they shared stories of bluebonnet fields, childhood homes, first dates, and family gatherings. These writers inspired me to fully embrace the moment and enjoy life.

Gayleen Rabakukk
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

 

Flowers

Flowers are like life, you start with seeds that must be planted, watered, fertilized and trained.

As a child you are born a baby requiring feeding, washing, nurturing and changing.

Then you grow and start to talk, walk, and feed yourself, and learn to develop in the world around you.

The beautiful difference being a human versus a flower is that once you grow to maturity, you have the opportunity to develop into what color and beauty you want to be.

Gary

 

People I Most Admire

  • My wife, Bea (53 years, next month)
  • My mother (passed away in 2011)
  • My mother-in-law (passed away in 2016)
  • My dad (passed away in 1976
  • My daughter, Liza
  • My son-in-law
  • Presidents of the U.S.A.
    • George Washington
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt
    • Ronald Reagan
    • Donald Trump

Manny Chavez

 

Sunday

A good Sunday for me would be to wake up
to a morning rain,

followed by a clearing sky,
and then a bright, sunny day.

To have my two sons and three grandkids
over to run around with my dog.

Firing up the grill to cook burgers and to sit
around with the whole family in the
backyard and drink a cold beer.

Billy G.

 

Bluebonnets

I have always loved Texas.
The bluebonnets are the flowers.
The bluebonnets have a cat claw hidden in the flower.
The flowers are a lot of beautiful.
The state of Texas plants flowers close to the highways.
The bluebonnet is the state flower.
Most flowers have a great smell.

Dale L. Martin

 

Happiest Childhood Moment

My happiest moment was coming home from the hospital when I had my tonsils removed. I would speak more clearly and had no more pain.
Even at the young age of six years old, I could think clearly about my life goals:

  1. To express my fears and joys, hopes and dreams for the future
  2. To be more happy in my grandfather Watson’s and grandmother’s (Unger – maiden name) home
  3. To see that home both as a blessing and a curse, — a release from pain, way to face the future

Going to church was a healing place for me at that young age. This is a parable of life – both releasing my pains and opening up my future. I know God loved me and affirmed by parents and grandparents.

Mel Swoyer

 

Dear Mom,

I missed having you around when I was a child, but I was truly grateful that you were around for holidays and after Mary Ann got married. You had me come to live with you in New York, even though you were mostly away working.
I learned a lot about being there for my children, so that I saw to it that I was home when they got out of school and made sure that they went to college.
Like you, I experienced two marriages. The first was to help my friend not have to go into the military and be sent to Korea. I already had five brothers that were serving as well as a brother-in-law. I was blessed with a beautiful, caring, loving daughter from that experience and though that marriage didn’t last, my next one did until my husband passed. Before that occurred, we had a daughter and three sons.

Susan S.

 

Dear Past Self,

Hello—this is a wakeup call.
There are things you love to do and can do well—
time is running faster and faster—stop wasting it!
Write—you know how much you love it—it need not
be brilliant—just honest—and based in reality or—
as much reality as can be discerned at this point—
all of which, and I repeat time is racing—
my brain is in the race
hooked the way of looking at the now and future possibilities—
good or not.
Think of all those books with blank pages.
Think of all the pastels, pencils pointing, clay not being used, the minutes not filled with artwork—the wonderful handling of each.
Wake up, Ms. Fool!

S. Betts

 

My Hometown

Liberty Hill is a small town, north of Cedar Park. It’s growing though. A highway runs through it. One restaurant is there called Delilah’s. Good place to eat. Great pies and vegetables. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. One highway, Highway 29, runs east and west through the town. Service stations and a few churches line the way in. Of course, there are numerous gas stations there.

Chris Turk

 

Cool Summer Stories: Writing with Strangers at the Bullock Museum

What happens when you set out paper, pens, and a few inspirational quotes in the corner of a museum and ask people, “Hey, you want to write something?”

Badgerdog recently partnered with Cool Summer Nights at the Bullock Museum to encourage some fun creative writing on a summer eve. Cool Summer Nights invites folks out of the heat and into the AC of the downtown Bullock Museum to explore new exhibits, enjoy craft cocktails and coffee, and make beautiful stuff/learn things with Austin organizations like Austin Book Arts and Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. The theme of this particular event was Identity, so Badgerdog posed some thought-provoking questions alongside literary quotes. What we received in return was a gathering of storytellers of all stripes: parents writing alongside their children, travelers befriending native Texans, old friends discovering the secret novelist in the group, and teen writers penning fantastical adventure pieces on the spot.

What happens when you invite folks to make cool stuff with you? You get to watch new writerly friendships unfold, you see mother/daughter duos writing back-and-forth, and you get to read amazing stories and make new friends. Here is a sampling of the stories writers came up with at the Badgerdog table in the Bullock Museum.

Inspired by this Sylvia Beach quote: “I am a citizen of the world,” writers respond to the prompt—If you had to pick a place that represents you most, what would it be?

london night lights bridge
Photo by Uncoated on Pexels.com

Waterloo Bridge

If there’s one place that represents me the most, I would say Waterloo Bridge in London. London to me represents a true melting pot of the world. Contemporary yet steeped in tradition. It represents the path I created for myself. British citizenship—not the ‘easy’ or planned route, rather a path sparked by connection and saying YES to opportunity. learning from others and learning a spot where it’s fun to be because of what you can see. Even though the bridge itself isn’t the most ornate. You can see St. Paul’s and London Bridge…. yet you can also see Westminster. It’s a direct route between the Strand, Holborn, the city—over to Waterloo and Southwark. It feels expansive.

Rachel Martino

Earthworm

I am an earthworm.

Growing up in a remote village in China, I had very strong aversion toward little creatures such as bugs and worms. Any time I saw one, I would try to kill it with rocks or little knives. Until one day, when I cut an earthworm in half.

To my shock, the earthworm came back alive and started crawling toward me. Being only 4 or 5 years old, I got scared and screamed for help. My father rushed over, “Yeah, a little earthworm can survive anything, including hurt as severe as being cut in half. It might not seem much, but it does a lot of good to our earth, marking it futile for us to grow crops”.

I am now an earthworm. I might seem petite, but I can survive any hardship life thrusts upon me. I might not show up in spotlight often, but I quietly do good for the community I live in, whether in China decades ago or here in Texas now.

C.J. Zhao

Inspired by this quote from Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club: “You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet…” writers respond to the prompt: Okay, but if you HAD to pick a material object to represent you, what would it be? Why? 

yellow flower field across brown mountain
Photo by Rudolf Kirchner on Pexels.com

In the Land of the Dead

I would choose the trail I’d leave if I had an errand in the Japanese Land of the Dead. You are required to abandon your belongings and beliefs along the rock cave path. On my path would be my Apache tan ropers, and my belief that Winnie the Pooh is the best book ever written, and my socks with the little black whales on ‘em, and my memory of clear, cold snowmelt sliding over granite boulders in the Basin, in Franconia Notch; and my jeans and my plain purple grannie panties, and the sound of the meteor falling out of the sky over Lake Travis at dawn, with an electric, tearing whisper. Then there would be my coral cotton summer sweater, and memory of how to hold a horse’s hoof while picking a rock from the frog, and a white camisole, and my memory of how my neck got a crick in it while I was watching for that darn meteor. Then, my glasses. So then I can’t see.

Melodie McLellan

Uplifting Others

When I pass on from this adventure we call life on Earth, I will be content if I can look back and see an undeniable pattern of making the lives of others better.

Even as a child I’ve felt a sense of joyous fulfillment when helping others. Late grade school found me fascinated and drawn into computers and the pure rush of making complex electronics do my bidding. As I’ve matured into a young and now middle-aged person, I’ve learned that beyond the self-satisfaction I can profoundly uplift others with my work.

Really, no gesture is too small though. Even simple acts of every day kindness silently tell others that they matter and have worth. May I finish my years always enriching the shared journey of others.

Nolan Egly

Inspired by this quote from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will,” writers respond to the prompt: When have you exerted your independence? Was there a time where you felt free? Describe that moment. How did you feel?

Free…

No gain without loss? Isn’t that the rule? Some kind of Natural Law: No action without an equal and opposite response. We choose to change our circumstances without thinking how we’ll be changed by the choosing.

I walked away from family.
What relief. I am safe now. I am free.

brown wooden floor
Photo by Chris F on Pexels.com

It’s funny though. It took so much courage to leave I never expected it to take such strength to learn to be the person without them.

I am not the same man in a new future. I am a new man in a new present. I escaped into the chrysalis. I am free.

Jayse Cardinal Tahkiné

Honoring Life’s Sweetest Moments

What a warm greeting I received every time I walked into the Memory Connections program at Hope Lutheran Church to write with a collection of wonderful individuals—Bobby, Dolores, Elizabeth, Helen, Jim, Joyce, Larry, Marge, Nick, Pat, Rebecca, Ron, and Suzette.

Such laughter and camaraderie filled the room, which was always decorated for the season—Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, or Valentine’s Day.

We connected with each other through the history of our names, favorite seasons, and the sharing of special keepsakes. My famous chocolate chip cookies prompted stories about the writers’ favorite foods. I was touched to see these writers supported one other and embrace me. What an honor to spend time with these Memory Connections writers!

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Things That Make Me Smile

Laughing with friends, old and new.
Window shopping on Anderson Lane,
looking at beautiful furniture in Louis Shanks,
at Karavel for shoes on sale,
looking in Terra Toys at the Steiff animals
behind the locked cabinets.

Finding something I like and going back
a few days later to buy it (if it’s still there!).
I could spend all day just looking at things
and not having to buy anything.
Talking to the clerks at familiar stores,
looking at James Avery jewelry, especially the new items.

Running into friends from the past at Terra Toys or James Avery.
Most of the clerks know me from many years past.

Helen Altobello

Candy Kisses

My favorite treat was always chocolate. To be specific, candy kisses. Fast forward to when I was married, and my husband and I would leave a candy kiss for the other to say, “I love you.”

Years later, when Jenna was finally home from the hospital, she had a feeding tube for the longest time. We wanted to wean her off it, so, we first tried ice cream.

“Cold, scary,” she would say. We then tried a candy kiss to melt in her mouth. Remember, she didn’t understand chewing, since she always had the feeding tube.

The candy kisses were a hit! She would confiscate them from the big jar where we hid them. She would look around to see if she would get caught, and then stuff the chocolates into her Oshkosh overalls. Jenna would also hide them throughout the house for snacks later. Many years later, we would find the candy kisses stuck in the bookcase or in a jar. (Okay, I wasn’t the best housekeeper!)

Joyce Beversdorff

Daddy’s Tractor

This scene reminds me of my Daddy’s tractor. There are even pictures of me in diapers with my hands on the steering wheel as if I were driving it. I had eye surgery and was wearing an eye patch. I remember thinking I was sneaking this patch off and sticking it on my dad’s arm (like he wouldn’t know I had taken it off!)

I remember how hard the winters were on our crops. Summertime was our busy time on the farm. We farmed watermelons and all kinds of crops. My dad would work all day from early in the morning until almost night tilling the land. Such good memories of my dad before he got sicker and had to do just odd jobs. He was barrel-chested and had big muscled arms. I just always felt safe.

I remember once I got into a bunch of my mom’s sewing pins and had them in my mouth. My mom freaked out and ran into the field where my dad was on the tractor. He patiently picked them all out. Crisis averted!

I wish we had lived in such an area as pictured here.

Joyce Beversdorff

Life Preserver

I notice the life preserver that says, “Welcome Aboard” over the cross and under the netting, which encompasses a starfish. Jesus is my life preserver and He welcomed me back here after some time away from the Memory Connections program. A small thing, but it was nice to be welcomed aboard. May many people notice those words when they come into this room.

Suzette Dziuk

My Favorite Things

I like a fireplace with a fire roaring in it.
I like a baby to hold and cuddle and talk to.
I like books that make me feel involved.
I like God, who shares His presence with me
and makes me feel loved.

I like my children who are my family.
I like a piano that I can play and enjoy.
I like food when I am hungry—hot, nourishing food.
I like hot coffee when I get up in the morning.
I like friends to sit and talk with.

Suzette Dziuk

Bluebonnets

When I see bluebonnets growing in a field among rocks and other blooming plants, I see early Texas. I wonder what it was like years ago when the Indians lived upon the ground and my forbearers had not yet arrived.

I have studied history and know people think history is learned from books, but sometimes I can see Texas and feel an empathy with the Indians—whatever men, women, and children lived here decades or centurie, ago.

In this picture, bluebonnets are seen thriving among rocks and soil, and presumably creatures and earlier human beings. I see Texas before my family on my father’s side came to Texas after losing the Civil War, and, on my mother’s side, being taken on the ship and brought to the Texas shores.

Elizabeth C. Flynn

Miss Bessie

I spent a lot of time with my grandmother—Miss Bessie, they called her. My family was distressed when I was very young because of suicide, a heart attack, so I loved going up the street by myself to Miss Bessie’s fine house. I realize now that she had a place for everything. It was easy for a child to know what to get into and whatnotto touch.

There was a small flowered china bowl with a lid on it where I could always find gum, or sometimes hard candy. My grandmother and I would go outside and watch the sky, the sunset, the stars, which meant it was time to go. Now, I recall: “Star Light, Star Bright. I wish, I wish, I wish I might have the wish I wish tonight.”

Elizabeth C. Flynn

My Name

I was given the name Lawrence Sherman Graham in memory of my grandfather, Lawrence Yates Sherman. But I adapted it to Larry Graham to simplify and distinguish it from my grandfather’s, and from my father, Marion Webster Graham, and my mother, Mary Virginia Sherman. Throughout my life, I have preferred making it simply Larry Graham.

Larry Graham

Cornmeal Pancakes

My mother-in-law from Georgia made delicious homemade cornmeal pancakes. I liked them because they were more substantive, with a texture true to old Southern cooking. You could also add blueberries and other fruits to the pancakes. Served for breakfast in our small down of Daytona, Florida, and then in Texas where we now live. The pancakes made me happy!

But life changed when Caroline, my twelve-year-old granddaughter, passed away. Her family did everything possible, but her cancer was out of control. Caroline was a very creative child, dreaming up things all the time. Her parents eventually divorced after her death, and my daughter Lauren is now doing well. Our family stuck together—we have a lot of “get up and go.” Throughout the years, pancakes provided good ‘ol home-cooking stability.

Larry Graham

Fifteen-Minute Haiku

Red-orange tulips on
the bookmark remind me of
flowers seen in youth.

James Hadden

Favorite Foods

I have a constellation of favorite foods. Some of them come from early childhood, like the devil’s food cake, which is my father’s prescription with fourlayers! Christmas means donuts mixed and made the night before, deep-fried and covered with confectioner’s sugar or a cinnamon-and-sugar mixture.

I recall that I didn’t like fried oysters at first, despite my family’s move to a place on a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay when I was nine. I distinctly remember my youngest brother, at age three or so, saying, “Aunt Ada, I was oyster ‘weg.’” (Weg means leg, and they wereas big and fried as a chicken leg!)

James Hadden

Traveling Alone

I’m taking a wonderful trip in the snow,
and I am celebrating the incredible view I have.
Who would’ve thought I would travel
this far away on my own!
I’ve got enough food on my back
to let me travel for a week.
I can take big pictures of the park
or I can get real close up to a flower or a leaf.

But what I want the most—
to be brave or not scared,
to travel alone with just my company.

Pat Keen

Old Blue Jeans with Holes and Well-Worn Pockets

Old blue jeans with holes and well-worn pockets.
My jeans are done for, but
I will not give them up.
They are mine and I love their softness.

Why can’t I be happy
that I have all this wonderful stuff?
All the clothes, books, CDs—
why can’t I be happy?

So, I feel real sad about
being very old and alone?
I feel real sad and have lost
the ability to be old and productive.

I want to leave.
Why can’t I be happy and productive?

Pat Keen

Along the Coastlands

On the way to the coast, we drive through the lowlands with deep green and vibrant grasses growing straight and thick in the bluest of blue waters. Maybe this is a marshland, flat and stretching to small woods in the background. The sky is as blue as the water, but lighter near the horizon, bordered by the deep green trees in the distance.

As is common in the coastlands, there are heavy clouds in the sky, some white and puffy, and others puffy and gray. It looks like it could rain soon, as some of the clouds are dark at the flat bottoms. I imagine a shower could start at any moment and send us to shelter. We park under the Spanish Oaks. Then we run and laugh as the rain begins to fall in heavy drops and soaks our clothes.

Rebecca Lowe

My Favorite Foods

Her cakes were legendary. I guess I took all those morsels of sweet for granted as my mother’s sweet tooth led her to bake delicious desserts very often. Maybe it was because I could have regular exposure to those goodies that I became a big fan of savory foods—a pot roast and its lovely carrots, potatoes and onions baked to perfection, soft with crispy edges. I craved tuna sandwiches made with kosher dills. I was a lucky and well-fed child.

Now, my favorite savory food is much easier to come by without having to spend the day in a hot kitchen. My food of choice is a Banh Mi sandwich. It probably became known in the U.S. by soldiers returning home from the Viet Nam War. It is a product of the French presence in that country—

French bread, pickled carrots and onions, sliced jalapenos, and a special mayonnaise. That, plus sliced meat or tofu, make a lovely explosion (think fireworks) of flavors.

I was in heaven when we discovered a French fusion place in Austin, Le Bleu, which serves a wonderful Banh Mi. For my birthday, we had sixteen people at the restaurant with us, all delighted by Banh Mi.

Rebecca Lowe

Life’s Path

I was a Catholic priest for a number of years—years as a parish priest, several as a student in graduate school. I eventually earned my doctorate in psychology, and worked as a priest psychologist. After some years, I decided to leave the active ministry and began to practice as a psychologist in the community. My decision to leave the priesthood was a major one—one that would affect my life in a major way.

After leaving the priesthood and practicing psychology in the community, I met a woman who I eventually married. We had one child. Later, I began to develop memory problems, and I attend this program, Memory Connections.

Ron McDermott

Pasta

It is a tradition. It makes you okay because it is always satisfying! I know when I have my pasta, whether it is five times a week or once a month, that it is the food of the family. It’s no different whether it is Sunday or Wednesday—it is tradition, a way of life. We are satisfied with our tradition no matter how or when pasta is served.

It may be a small amount because we have other items on the table, or pasta may be the main course. It is tradition, a family get-together, or a last-minute meal since you were out all day. Yes, I love roast beef, chicken, ice cream, leftovers, but I can always count on pasta to be my favorite food, another day for pasta. I can count on pasta! I might have potatoes, baked beans, or cake, but pasta delivers, no matter what other foods are on the table!

Nick Muto

Favorite Season

Early summer—brown, yellow, blue, pale green.
My favorite season is late summer, still hot,
but not scorching hot.
Its colors are brown and light brown.
I feel well, friendly, and looking forward to it.

Marge Philbrook

Spring

This picture reminds me of spring. The most beautiful part of this scene to me is the bird. It looks like it’s not too far off the ground and is closer to the ground, so it can eat something. I really enjoy watching birds, but, it can be hard sometimes because they fly away.

This bird looks like a mother, and I can imagine that her baby birds are somewhere nearby. This picture also reminds me of God’s power and how He made all the trees and birds on Earth.

Bobby Pruitt

My Dad

My dad, Robert Alan Pruitt, who recently passed, was a great Christian man, always laughing around with my mother, who is still alive. They had three kids—me and two daughters. If there was ever a person around who needed help, Christian or not, my dad was there for them. At his funeral, I sang “How Great God Is” with a friend.

Robert Alan Pruitt worked at a high school as an academic administrator for twenty-five years. From there, he traveled to China with my mom, who was also a teacher all those years. My dad had a great sense of humor. We loved to go fishing in the Gulf. The trees hung over our boat, and one time, a large eight-foot snake dropped into our boat and scared us! I shared many other stories about him at his service, such as when my dad helped me get my first job. Without him, I would have never achieved my electrical contractor’s career and the many successes that came with it, such as attending conferences across the country.

So many people showed up for Dad’s funeral services to show their respect. Remembering his grandkids around him is very special to me.

Bobby Pruitt

A Nature Scene

Straight trees
Lots of greenery
Big trees, fallen,
leaning against each other.
Big movement of water.
Cold—big time!

Water here and here,
warmer in the wooded area.
Wood and algae on the rocks.
I’ve lived in Austin, and,
there are lots of good trees.
The thing is—they are
also very beautiful.

The funky tree over here.
The water, the woods—
you don’t have to imagine.
It’s all here!

Dolores Rumpf

Favorite Food

When asked, “What is my favorite food?”
I reply, “My favorite food makes me feel good!”
“My favorite food makes me feel good!”

Dolores Rumpf

Looking Back…

Inspiration originates for any writer in myriad ways, from objects to artwork, as well as prose and poetry that provide motivational examples. Writing also comes with a number of challenges, and one of the greatest, I think, is surpassing the dreaded “writer’s block.” These writers were not defined by this nor their own particular challenges—those of memory loss. Instead, they rose above them.

From personal histories to imagined vistas, these writers from the Memory Connections group at Baylor, Scott & White in Georgetown allowed me to guide them through a series of exercises in six classes that resulted in a small body of work, the best of which appears below. Their pieces leave room to pause, ponder, and appreciate before moving on to the next word or image. They’ll stay with you, so be prepared!

Tracey Lander-Garrett
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Wheelbarrow

wheelbarrow

– inspired by William Carlos Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow”

Where have you
gone

I miss your
utility

for feeding
the hogs that

fed me
all year

Randy Russell

This Moment

shadows

I see a mother
with a little boy playing
in the blue and white pool.
There was a sound,
a yell of delight.
Later, they watched the sun
go down in darkness.

Mary Russell

Blue Skies

umbrellas

Just imagine
Blue and white clouds
Water splashing in the background
Clouds floating overhead
Umbrellas open and waving in the breeze
Salt in the air and sticky
Everything is beautiful!

Judy Rogers

Genealogy

crystalball

My expertise is genealogy

At this time
I am going through my family
from as long ago as the 1600s

I am writing—storytelling—
of these people

How to make a story
of a person?

Tell when
and where
she was born?

Describe where
she lived
how many
siblings she had
and who died

Show what
she did
and how she lived,
what she loved,
and who she loved

How she lived her life,
and how
and when
she died

Lynne Devin-Smith

Locket

locket.jpg

I have a little locket. It was worn by my grandmother and my mother. It has a dent in it, which was allegedly caused by my mother biting it. It was passed down to me by my mother. I never wore it much, as I was afraid I would lose it. It is now in my safe deposit box at our present bank location.

It’s just a simple little locket with very little monetary value. But it could never be replaced. It is a keepsake, a reminder of what and who was important to me in life… people and love.

It will be passed onto my daughter and then my only granddaughter. Perhaps it will be treasured by them… and passed onto many generations!

Beth Vogt

My Name

heather

My name is Heather. Heather is the small flowers you see on the hills of Scotland. They are usually purple. Isn’t that pretty?

My older brothers called me H-Bomb. I guess I was rather hyperactive. This name was mine until I was all grown up.

I think that they could have called me anything else and it would have been much better. Don’t you think?

My brothers had names like Charles and Fraser. How about that?

Heather de Loyo

What’s Possible

tennis

A sunny day calls for two or three
sets of tennis.

Without tennis balls, no sets
are possible.

The balls should be new to have
good bounces.

A tennis court and racket are necessary to hit
the ball and play the game.

Without a dry day, a good racket, and three balls,
no game is possible.

Jerry Miller

A Time Long Ago

Dance

I treasure the moments
of an evening long since gone

cherished because
of the memories it contains

laughter, merriment, sipping champagne,
dancing foxtrot, swing, waltz…

all the music of Glenn Miller,
Tommy Dorsey—Big Band sound—

embraced in the arms
of the young man I loved

these memories are sweet,
innocent, of a time long ago

that remains in my heart
for a lifetime.

Helen Haynes

Evolution

shell

As shells have evolved through time
immemorial, the complexity and
advancement of life can be seen
and appreciated.

Evolution of life is such an amazing
advancement in evidence and support
of complexity and beauty
of progression of life.

To think that life on our planet
is an example and proof that evolution
of life is very probable in other
planets, other solar systems, other galaxies.

Evolution of life is evidence that
life has existed before
and will exist
in the very far future.

Manny Chavez

The pieces above were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, an evidence-informed program for people experiencing early-stage memory loss. 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.

Where Life Shimmers

The Hope Lutheran writers embrace each other and each other’s work. As their collective poem states, there is true warmth in this group. They encouraged fellow storytellers to share their poetry and prose aloud, and were constantly praising one another’s work. The poem “This Moment” by Eavan Boland moved writers to pen musical prose about their own evening routines. Reflecting on their names revealed childhood rivalries and nods to royalty. Close inspection of small objects inspired new characters and vivid settings. The Hope Lutheran writers are naturals when it comes to sensory description. Their writing transported me. I felt the warmth of their stories, and their support of one another, and it made me feel part of something bigger than myself.

Claire Campbell
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Spring

wildflowers

The small corner out back near the house  is covered with beautiful, small flowers (whose name I cannot find)so beautiful, so tiny, and yet glorious in their homes.

The three of us take turns putting sweet things around to keep the beauty there. We don’t tell Mother because she might make us clean it all up!

We seek out every chance we get and take turns watering them—I often wonder if the water wasn’t necessary outside.

Jeanne Roden

Night

angel

Relaxing and sleeping with random dreams and thoughts.
The stillness in this moment with shafts of light coming in the windows through the shades.
The stillness—the time for relaxation and movement with random thoughts.
Sometimes with deep sleep and other times with awareness of the stillness and the sense of security and peace.
Dreams come and go—some disappear in a single moment or they reemerge as a reflection.
Music is present.
Moments like this are brief and fragile, and can give consolation.
Music in my ears can float in the movement, and the images reflect the peace and surrounding tranquility with the joys of deep sleep.

Larry Graham

Wild Basin Preserve/There is a Place 

Waterfall.jpg

There is a place I love to go
It’s here in Austin just down the road
I see beautiful trees, and flowers that grow
I want to stay there forever you see
I watch the waterfall there flow
I walk around alone, not feeling pain
I listen to the birds there sing
The only safe place I really feel sane
But I know this place is there for me.

Joyce B.

My Name

blackboard.jpg

I would like to keep my name and how I feel about it.
I will stay with my name.
“Magda…!”
This is my name…
Magda Salazar.

Magda Salazar

My Name

Ron

I like and am comfortable with my name, “Ron.” “Ronald,” to me, sounds pretentious, and I always use “Ron.” I am named after an old actor, Ronald Coleman. My mother did not want me to be associated with an Irish Catholic culture, so she picked a very English-British name: Ronald.

For years, I was into sailing, and four of us were named Ron. But people refused to call us by our last names, only by our first names, which caused all kinds of problems.

Ron

Summer

icecream

The long days and nights
Coolness of the morning, but the sunshine
Afternoon wonderful for swimming
And getting a tan for some period of time
Sitting in the shade of trees
Looking at a beautiful garden of flowers
Perhaps sipping on some orange juice
Or having an ice cream.
I always liked to sit in the sun for a while
Something that was harder to do as a child living in Ireland
Oh yes, we learned to suntan in moderation
In between splashing in the pool
Fills the heart and soul
With joy!

Audrey Krier

The Fall 

autumnleaf.jpg

I love the fall.
When the leaves turn different colors—
Red, brown, black, white, orange, cream, beige, purple, or gold.
Some stay on the tree,
Some twist off the tree
As they dry up and
Fall to the ground.
The leaves gather around
The bottom of the tree.

Pat Keen

Us: Our Present Journey 

childhoodhappiness

In the winter of our lives
We feel warmth in this group
We have something in common:
Laughter
Humor
Experience
Pain.
For a short while our fear is gone
Understanding we’re not alone
Because we are together
Sharing, in sync, giving
Each of us has a history
We all have our own stories
As we wade to shore.

The Hope Lutheran Writers

The pieces above were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, an evidence-informed program for people experiencing early-stage memory loss. 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.

The Moments That Last

It’s their honesty and humor that are most memorable. With each visit to the YMCA North, these adult writers—who face the unfathomable challenge of memory loss—showed me how to approach each day with grace. Their shared experiences pulled them closer together, as they laughed and kidded each other, discussed their lives, and, then wrote from the heart. They remembered precious childhood moments with their parents and grandparents. They held onto the images of valuable things, like mental snapshots of a daughter lost, soaring through the clouds as a pilot, or a father’s priceless handmade ship. I imagine today—each day—is the most precious for them. Living “this moment,” a poem which inspired beautiful works, gives them a chance to pass on their amazing stories and know they are not alone in this journey.

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Peace

wooddrake.jpg

Berry’s wood drake calls me to the memory of a time when I took my grandson down the hill to look at the wood ducks. I’d never seen their beauty before. San Marcos was not wood duck territory. But children and mothers fed bread to the ducks, and the birds decided it was a good place to live. Have you ever seen a wood drake? Beautiful! I did, as a grandmother sharing time with her small grandchild.

It also reminds me of a time when I was a child at my grandmother’s house. There were hollyhocks, which made flowers turn into dancing children. Rose petals decorating a mud pie. And my grandmother hugging me.

Ruth Crowson

This Moment

stars.jpg

– inspired by Eavan Boland’s “This Moment”

Sounds surround me
Sounds of friends
Some of many months
Some new today

Things from above
Children laughing
Trees outside the windows
Barely moving
A few moments ago, the trees were shaded
Now they’re in the sun

When that sun goes down
My favorite time arrives
And stars will surround us
All the way to the edge of the sky

Ruth Crowson

Peaceful Place

mushrooms.jpg

A peaceful place for me
will always be in the woods.
Besides being quiet and peaceful,
there is always the expectation
that you will see something new.

Billy Garry

Little Box

box.jpg

Little box so neat and square,
What is it you have hiding there?
I won’t know unless I look
And see it like an open book.

Billy Garry

Memories of Virginia

I like symmetry. The near mirroring in the calendar photo reminds me of the still days on the creek where I grew up—less than a mile by water from the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. We didn’t have the mountains, but there were a succession of points and caves, usually poles that marked the edges of oyster beds, all mirrored in the still water.

There is a large tree near the mouth of the creek where white egrets roost at night—it is impressive to see them arrive, twos or threes together. On a still evening, the tree blossoms as if dotted with white blobs on the actual tree.

Jim Hadden

Knuckleball

baseball.jpg

A clean baseball is a reminder of what once was. A skiffle ball can be exploited by some pitchers, but is anathema to a knuckleball pitcher. I have a friend and teammate from the Austin Men’s Baseball League. When he played first base, I would always make my first knuckleball throw to him in our routine between innings.

Once when I was purchasing a new car, I went through the test drive and got to the paperwork. He saw my signature and commented, “I know you—you’re the knuckleballer!” A good knuckleball brings the small and slow pitcher (me!) up to the level of bigger players.

Jim Hadden

This Moment

thread.jpg

– inspired by Eavan Boland’s “This Moment”

We are all sitting here with many different thoughts. Some may be thinking of things they will be doing soon after they get home. I plan to get some fabric out, put it on the ironing board in preparation, and sew it with another piece of fabric of a different color.

First, it must be pressed so there are no wrinkles. Then, they will be measured and placed together so the two pieces will be made into a baby blanket. One piece needs to be slightly longer than the other so that the hem goes beyond the cotton batting. Next, the two pieces of fabric will be sewn together on three sides. The batting will be cut to fit in between the sewn pieces after they are turned inside out. I will fit the batting snugly and evenly, while extending to all four sides of the fabric. The final side is now tucked in on the fourth side and stitched.

It is now time to smile and admire the finished baby blanket. The baby will be pleased to feel so good within the new blanket.

Eleanor Hall

Where Potatoes Grow

potatoes.jpg

When I was growing up in Montana, I had no idea how important the rain was for our family to survive. Once, I learned that we did not have enough rain for the crops or even the grass to grow for our cattle. However, my parents did not talk about this in front of me—they probably decided I didn’t need to be concerned about something I could do nothing about. However, God did have a plan for us. He did care for us.

We had a coulee, land that is lower than its surrounding land, a short distance from our house. There was tall grass growing there, and when my father investigated it, he found that it was being subirrigated. The grass became moist from the soil below. He took a shovel and dug just to be sure. Then, he brought the horse and plow to make the area good for raising potatoes. We cut the potatoes so that every piece had at least one eye from which other potatoes would grow. We girls dropped them into the rows dug in the rich soil. My father plowed and covered the potatoes in each row, and then made a trench in which to plant the next row. He did this with a single horse and plow.

After about ten days, the potato plants started coming up, and then, after another couple of weeks, it was time to hoe the plants to rid them of weeds. My sisters and I got a nickel for every two rows we weeded. Almost all the potatoes grew large because of the moisture they received from the ground below. At harvest time, my father cleaned the dirt from the new crop with his plow and horse, and the girls pulled up the potatoes. We had a good crop and a large cave in which to store them. My father made this by building a cement walkway down the center of the cave and wooden board areas to hold the potatoes off the ground. The crop was so good the first year that we had enough to sell to the stores. When both of my sisters had appendicitis, my parents could pay the full hospital bill with potatoes.

I recently learned that potatoes are a very good food—they furnish carbohydrates for energy, plus vitamins B and C.

Eleanor Hall

A Bird

bluebird

It’s colorful, cheerful, and cute.
And he’s certainly not mute!
So, stand away, friend, and listen,
And show him how you glisten.

It’s a song he sings,
And it seems to ring
Just for you and me.
Just for you and me!

Betty Hamilton

Valuable Objects

piano

My grandmother’s stack of classical piano music and cabinet (a somewhat midsized one in which they are kept) are valuable to me. None of my own piano music was ever that voluminous as her complete stack. She told me I could have all her books—heavy ones, rectangular ones, etc. I would take a few home with me when she offered them, and although I wanted them all, it was difficult to take them all home with me at the same time. For, I was in college, but without a car to carry them home easily.

After looking through all her heavy books of classical piano music, I decided it would be too difficult to learn to play too many of them. I could never read them easily, so I left those with her. What a great classical pianist she was! She had taken lessons since she was sixteen years old and had played in double piano concerts with eight other symphony pianists onstage in Montgomery, Alabama. She was so advanced in her piano playing that I avoided the instrument and eventually discovered the organ. It was a simpler instrument. Even though the pedal board added a challenge, it was much more fun for me to learn the organ.

Betty Hamilton

My Place to Go

gardentools

My peaceful place to go is outside. Everything about me is outside. There, I am free. I enjoy weeding because it frees the ground of nuisance. I enjoy planting because the view changes—once empty, it turns beautiful. In the morning, I walk with my neighbor. We each own a Fitbit and try to beat the record we set the day before. It is nice being with someone you like, who can talk about the ins and outs of our past and present days.

Another peaceful is the home of my elderly friend Nelda—mostly, because she is ninety-two years old. I want to make sure she is safe. Of course, I don’t say that to her! She would resent someone wanting to take care of her, as she is very independent.

Donna Hebner

This Day

trafficlights.jpg

On the way here, I arrived via Uber. This is always fun because the driver and I talk about the music on the radio and what has happened, like the murders last night or whatever comes up. Sometimes, I feel like we are rehashing what we have heard on the news or experienced during the night or day before.

It is a good feeling to have someone to exchange ideas with in the morning, because it brings us into a new day, each of us having thoughts about what is next.

Donna Hebner

Colors of the Ocean

rope.jpg

Saltwater and fishing for lobster
Colorful coral swaying in the ocean currents
Spearing sea foods and more.

Larry Runyon

Important Object

modelship

When my dad was young, he had a hobby of making model ships that he built from scratch. He is gone now, but I have three of his sailing ships. I value them greatly and display them in my office. I hope to pass them on to my younger brother or my two sons when I die.

It’s important to me to keep them in the family as a memory of Dad’s skill, and so they can be passed down to my brother’s sons as a reminder to them. A reminder of their grandfather, with whom, unlike my brother and I, they didn’t get to spend as much time. I hope they will eventually pass along the ship models to their own children.

Alan Sagen

Walking Along Brushy Creek

turtles.jpg

My wife and I make it a practice to walk together most days along Brushy Creek for exercise. We enjoy walking through the park that begins after we cross the low waters. In the park, people picnic and kids play. After going through the park, we cross over the creek’s bridge to get us back to the other side. From there, we head further upstream. Eventually, we come to a road we must cross to continue upstream. There is a part of the creek, called Turtle Creek, where we usually see the creatures. Sometimes there are a lot of turtles, sometimes not.

After we have counted the number of turtles, we take the way back home. We cross the creek again, use the low water crossing again, and walk uphill to our home at the top of the hill.

Alan Sagen

Peaceful Time

mountain.jpg

A peaceful time for me was spent in Cloudcroft, New Mexico. We once went there for a vacation. My son was an Eagle Scout, and he worked at the annual gathering of the Boy Scouts. We had never seen the camp before. The sky was clear—there were only white puffy clouds up there. You could sit on the mountain and see forever.

The camp was filled with young Boy Scouts—approximately 5,000 of them. Sitting on the top of the mountain, with the Scouts camping below, was an amazing sight.

Ed Stephens

What Happens Next?

rose.jpg

This is my neighborhood
At the beginning of spring.
The roses are blooming.
I see the sun’s impression on the window.
The skies are blue with white clouds forming.
Wait a little while—
What will happen next?

Looking west, I see dark clouds.
Will it rain today?
I see people rolling up the car windows.
The wind is from the west.
The storm is passing over.
The sun sets.

Tomorrow is a new day.
I wonder what will happen next.

Ed Stephens

Fireflies on a Summer Night

fireflies.jpg

I am sitting here in a class and writing about this particular moment. The room is filled with friends, and it’s pretty good. I appreciate that many of them are going through the same things I am. I am not a poet, but I understand what the poets look at—the importance of smaller things. Good for them!

They have time to spend at that level, and understanding that point of observation is appreciated. But, this poem, “This Moment” by Eavan Boland, brings back a memory of my childhood with my brother and sisters one night when we were catching fireflies in jars. Sorry, fireflies!

Chris Turk

Valuable Item

pistol.jpg

Of all the objects I own, the most valuable is a Colt pistol dated around the 1850s. I don’t know anything about who owned it in my family or what they did with it. It’s a pistol and it’s old. No finish, and with a broken firing mechanism.

But, it’s from my family, and I have it in my safe. Not sure who I will give it to when I die—maybe my grandson.

Chris Turk

In the Moment

trees

In this moment, I am surrounded by people I have just met. They are having the same problem as me and dealing with it in their own way. We don’t know where life is going to lead us. Will our memories get worse? Will I end up like Dad? Only time will tell.

How did I end up like this? What cruel twist of fate put us here? Will science ever have an answer to memory loss?

Sandra M. Zandrusky

The pieces above were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, an evidence-informed program for people experiencing early-stage memory loss. 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.