Tag Archives: Memory Connections

The Breadth of Life

26 Nov

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

26 Nov

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

26 Nov

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

26 Nov

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

26 Nov

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

 

Honoring Life’s Sweetest Moments

6 Jun

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…

24 Jan

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.