AVFM: Mama’s Music…for when life is full of her song

This post is part of a series I like to call “A Visit From Mom.”  These posts are written by, well…my mom. I think she kind of rocks! My mom and her mother were the primary inspirations for me to starting writing way back as a little girl.  Now, I share my blog with my mom cause I think she has some things to say that you might really love.

music note

May 11 was my mother’s birthday.  She passed way too young over 25 years ago, when my youngest was just an infant. She was a magnificent woman who grew a huge garden, harvesting and canning everything she could to feed her family.  She raised free range chickens, picked blackberries and made all sorts of breads and pastries from scratch.  She also played hopscotch, made mud pies and wrote poetry.  My mother was a pioneer woman in a modern age.  She didn’t drive, we rarely had a telephone, and often didn’t even have indoor plumbing.  She made or remade all of our clothing. Recycling wasn’t an option—it was a necessity.  She would have embraced the new “organic” way of life that has gained such recent popularity.  But my favorite thing about Mama was her “joie de vivre”.  She was always singing in this crystal clear voice and I loved hearing her.  When she passed, I wrote the following piece in her honor.

Mama’s Music

As a babe held in her arms,
Snuggled close against her warmth,
She’d rock her chair and sing to me
Those peaceful, simple melodies.

When I would wake in bed at night
And cry out for her in my fright
She’d come sit and sing to me
Those peaceful, simple melodies.

Through all the hurts, she was there
To show me how to love and care.
She would work and sing to me
Those peaceful, simple melodies.

Then I grew up, as children do,
And I found when I was blue,
I’d sing those songs she sang to me—
Those peaceful, simple melodies

And they would soothe my aching soul.
It was then I came to know
The healing power she gave to me:
Those peaceful, simple melodies.

Now, my children have their pains
When tempers roar and teardrops rain.
I think of Mom and sing to them
Those peaceful, simple melodies.

The wind chimes on my porch were hers,
And when my hold on hope has blurred,
I listen as she sings to me
Those peaceful, simple melodies.

Mama’s music does live on
In every red-gold bursting dawn.
So, go on Mama, sing to me
Those peaceful, simple melodies!

Blessings,

Carlene Welch is the General Manager at Home Instead Senior Care of Northwest Arkansas, and avid writer and poet, and my mom. She serves as a Stephen’s Minister at her church and is one of the wisest women I know. She writes custom poetry and prose for cards and gifts. For more information, contact us at stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.

AVFM: And Then the Bells Rang…for when you send someone home

This post is part of a series I like to call “A Visit From Mom.”  These posts are written by, well…my mom. I think she kind of rocks! My mom and her mother were the primary inspirations for me to starting writing way back as a little girl.  Now, I share my blog with my mom cause I think she has some things to say that you might really love.

woman-dying-from-cancer

Walking with a loved one in her final days is a sorrowful and daunting experience which brings up age-old questions of faith and fairness.  It tests our beliefs and wrings our spirits.  But in the end, there is always a signal of God’s presence and solace in our pain.  Today, the church bells were mine.

church-bell-224x300

And Then the Bells Rang

Home, surrounded by my refuge,

I prayed for comfort for my dear one,

Grateful for knowing her

And saddened at her suffering,

Pondering what new dilemmas

Would be faced in coming days.

I questioned what possible good

Could come from this horrendous pain

And why such gracious people

Should have to relinquish every

Remnant of dignity and joy

In this final stretch of the journey.

And then the bells rang

At the church down the street

And the answer was clear.

Heavenly Father says, “Welcome Home.”

© Carlene Welch, 2012

Carlene Welch is the General Manager at Home Instead Senior Care of Northwest Arkansas, and avid writer and poet, and my mom. She serves as a Stephen’s Minister at her church and is one of the wisest women I know. She writes custom poetry and prose for cards and gifts. For more information, contact us at stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.

AVFM: Our Veterans…for when sacrifice costs everything

This post is part of a series I like to call “A Visit From Mom.”  These posts are written by, well…my mom. I think she kind of rocks! My mom and her mother were the primary inspirations for me to starting writing way back as a little girl.  Now, I share my blog with my mom cause I think she has some things to say that you might really love.

waiting-room-sign

Every few months, I accompany my husband to the Veterans’ Administration Eye Clinic in Little Rock.  As a middle-aged couple, we certainly did not expect the catalog of health issues that have besieged my husband.  Sitting in a waiting room which is always overcrowded with mostly veterans of the Vietnam War, I see a generation of men with eyepatches, diabetic retinopathy, and varying degrees of blindness all compounded by walkers, wheelchairs or canes.  I am overcome by the similarities among these men.

These were our young men, fighting a war for which there is still no reason for people who showed no appreciation.  Our soldiers weren’t treated properly when they returned home and they are not treated properly now.
We wait for hours for assembly line care provided by overworked and overscheduled professionals.  And then, we drive home for 3 hours because the Veterans Administration 20 miles from us does not provide this particular service.

I often see social media comments on how much we appreciate our vets.  I must say it is relatively easy to tell a vet how grateful we are—even easier to offer a discount on food or a hotel room.  What is not easy is to look squarely at the residual damage of war.  These are not our handsome young males anymore.  They are scarred and battered on our behalf.  To say they served their country seems to fall short based on the size of the sacrifice.  The men in that waiting room yesterday are still sacrificing –they’ve already given much.

I think of an entire new generation of men and women in the Iraqi war  and the Afghanistan war who will come home with afflictions unique and unidentified and wonder when we will learn to find solutions to disagreement that don’t require killing one another.

Every few months, as I sit in that waiting room, I have an opportunity to think about new ways we can make a difference for these men.  There is so much to be done, but as always, if we each just try to touch those we meet, we can change this world one deed at a time.  Thank you, Heavenly Father, for VA waiting rooms and the wonderful men who inhabit them.

Following is a poem I wrote several years ago as a memorial to our veterans.  It is engraved on a monument in Veterans’ Park, Rogers, AR:

The grasses here once ruffled
Underfoot of some young man
Who loved the rich, green fertile fields
Which stretch across this land.
He loved the freedom he possessed
And knew it was his own.
For, in the Light of Liberty,
He called our country home.
There came a day when he was asked
To heed our nation’s call.
Unswerving in his loyalty,
He answered with his all.
Thousands more were just like him—
They’ve served our country well,
Men and women, side by side,
Marching into Hell.
They’ve guarded our most precious gifts
And kept us safe through time
And sacrificed so much of life
To make our freedom shine.
The words we carved here aren’t enough
To say how much we feel
For all the veterans who’ve served us
And walked our rich, green fields.

Veterans park poem photo

© Carlene Welch, 2012

Carlene Welch is the General Manager at Home Instead Senior Care of Northwest Arkansas, and avid writer and poet, and my mom. She serves as a Stephen’s Minister at her church and is one of the wisest women I know. She writes custom poetry and prose for cards and gifts. For more information, contact us at stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.

AVFM: Cocoon…for when it takes a village

This post is part of a series I like to call “A Visit From Mom.”  These posts are written by, well…my mom. I think she kind of rocks! My mom and her mother were the primary inspirations for me to starting writing way back as a little girl.  Now, I share my blog with my mom cause I think she has some things to say that you might really love.

It has been awhile since my children were in elementary school.  Cari was in the third or fourth grade and truly idolized her wonderful teacher.  When Christmas came, and Cari wanted to present her with a gift, I wrote the poem that follows and framed it for her.  Thus began a tradition I truly enjoyed as it gave me an opportunity to uniquely express appreciation and admiration for those special people who choose to teach our youth.

Today, as we had our first opportunity to skype  with our daughter, Lora,  who is in the Ukraine finalizing the adoption of my new grandson, I felt again the importance of those special people who are drawn to forming and nurturing young people.  What a legacy it is growing the generation to come!

Divine love

Cocoon

Wrapped in silky threads,
Secure against the wind,
Cocoon holds fast to tender leaf
As branches sway and bend.

Each day makes it stronger
As it feeds and grows and feeds,
And the gentle leaf it’s anchored to
Fulfills its every need.

The silken thread begins to loose
T0 free the life it holds.
The butterfly sees worlds anew
As shaky wings unfold.

Now it soars at edge of sky
With sun-drenched wings at flight,
And cocoons itself in memories
Of a tender leaf—FIRST SIGHT!

© Carlene Welch, 2012

 

 

Carlene Welch is the General Manager at Home Instead Senior Care of Northwest Arkansas, and avid writer and poet, and my mom. She serves as a Stephen’s Minister at her church and is one of the wisest women I know. She writes custom poetry and prose for cards and gifts. For more information, contact us at stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.

The Road Not Taken- A Tribute to a Poet

Bridge path tree leaves

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Robert Frost’s passing.  He is one of my favorite poets, probably because his work so reminds me of my own mothers’ (see ANY of the A Visit From Mom posts….she’s a genius with rhyme!). I thought, though, in honor of his passing, I would share one of my favorites….you may have heard it once or twice.

I love Robert Frost because he was a himself….at a time when the style of literature was decidedly moving away from rhyme and meter and toward free verse…he did his thing….unabashedly spinning  rhythm and rhyme into his work and not swaying to the beat of the “new modern drummer.” He wrote how he wrote and did not look back.  So here’s to you, Mr. Frost, for inspiring a new generation of writers!

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost
“Freedom lies in being bold.”- Robert Frost

AVFM: The Load Gets Lighter…for when burdens get heavy

This post is part of a series I like to call “A Visit From Mom.”  These posts are written by, well…my mom. I think she kind of rocks! My mom and her mother were the primary inspirations for me to starting writing way back as a little girl.  Now, I share my blog with my mom cause I think she has some things to say that you might really love.

highway-rainbow

A few years ago, I was working long hours at a very demanding position, commuting 2 hours a day, leaving home before anyone arose and returning in the late night.  I missed my family! I was totally bound by the concept that if I worked harder, tried harder, excelled more, I would finally be in a position to relax with my family and enjoy life.  

On one of those mornings, as I cried on my way to work, I said my usual prayer to my Heavenly Father and the message came to me very clearly.  I pulled off to the roadside and had a moment of silent, joyful revelation.  

Shortly thereafter, I spoke with my family and decided to give up my “dream job” and come home to the people I really treasured.  In that process, I found a position I love doing work I love with people I love!. . . And it was a regular work week—I could spend time with my precious family.  

That was almost ten years ago, and I’ve learned to treasure every extra moment.   It is my prayer that you enjoy the fruits of my lesson well-learned:

The Load Gets Lighter

Weary from my travels,
And the trials of each long day,
I looked into the heavens
And prayed, “Lord, I’ve lost my way.

If you could please remember me
As you look down from above,
And show me some sweet kindness
And bless me with your love,

I know my life would flourish
And happiness would flow.
Just now my thoughts are sadness
And my sorrow only grows.”

His Hand then touched my shoulder.
He whispered in my ear.
“I’m gladdened that you called to me.
I always have been here.

Now, I can help you carry
The heavy load you bear
And light your road with sunshine,
Spill jasmine in the air.

Now, go from here with singing,
And know you’re not alone.
For when your journey’s ended,
I’m here to take you home.”

 

© Carlene Welch, 2012

Carlene Welch is the General Manager at Home Instead Senior Care of Northwest Arkansas, and avid writer and poet, and my mom. She serves as a Stephen’s Minister at her church and is one of the wisest women I know. She writes custom poetry and prose for cards and gifts. For more information, contact us at stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.

AVFM: What is a Boy?….Special birthday wishes and a voice from the past…

This post is part of a series I like to call “A Visit From Mom.”  These posts are written by, well…my mom. I think she kind of rocks! My mom and her mother were the primary inspirations for me to starting writing way back as a little girl.  Now, I share my blog with my mom cause I think she has some things to say that you might really love.

Mom’s visiting this week with a little birthday present for my son,  Xander…he’s crossing into that dark and foreboding territory known as the tween years this week. Today is a very special treat as mom is sharing some of her mom’s writings. Enjoy!

xander

This week marks yet another birthday for my eldest grandson, Alexander.  What a treasure it has been to watch him grow and develop into a sweet, considerate young man.  I found a poem my mother wrote many years ago to celebrate the births of my brothers, and it seems very appropriate for this particular week.  Enjoy, Xander, and know that your grandpa and grandma love you dearly!

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Photo by Melton Microfilms

What is a Boy?

A boy is a piece of skin stretched over an appetite—a noise covered with smudges.

He is called a tornado because he comes at the most unexpected times,
Hits the most unexpected places and leaves everything a wreck behind him.

He is part human, part angel, and part barbarian.

He is a growing animal of superlative promise to be fed and watered and kept warm.

He is a joy forever, a periodic nuisance, the problem of our time and the hope of our future.

. . .And every new boy born is living evidence that God is not yet discouraged with man.

Joyce Schafer, © 2013

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Xander’s attempt at the “Kaufman Hairy Eyeball.” I’m intimidated, aren’t you?

I don’t know how it could be expressed any more eloquently than this, and I know my Mama is watching and smiling to be remembered in such a moment.

Blessings,

 

Carlene Welch is the General Manager at Home Instead Senior Care of Northwest Arkansas, and avid writer and poet, and my mom. She serves as a Stephen’s Minister at her church and is one of the wisest women I know. She writes custom poetry and prose for cards and gifts. For more information, contact us at stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.

AVFM:The Broken Fiddle…for when your feeling used up

This post is part of a series I like to call “A Visit From Mom.”  These posts are written by, well…my mom. I think she kind of rocks! My mom and her mother were the primary inspirations for me to starting writing way back as a little girl.  Now, I share my blog with my mom cause I think she has some things to say that you might really love.

As a youth, I was a highly successful student, becoming valedictorian of my class, and accumulating academic accolades including numerous scholarships.  It was always my intention to do the same in college and have a lucrative career changing the world.  When I met my future husband in college, we married and had a youngster, leaving my aspirations for a college degree on permanent standby.  Since so much of my personal identity was wrapped around those achievements and dreams, I spent several years deeply regretting and resenting what I considered to be a huge sacrifice. The following poem was written during that period of time when it finally dawned on me that I was holding the most significant contributions I could ever present to this world and that my self-value and legacy would always be tied to the hearts I managed to touch along the way—whether I discard the remnants of a broken fiddle or lovingly coax it back to life.

Broken Fiddle

Each strand twangs as it rends apart

Until it dangles lifelessly at the end,

Curling up in desperation and fear—

Recoiling from the dreadful bow

That tore itself across the heart once too often.

The tender melodies have long since been silenced

By the constant friction of years of meaningless abuse.

This instrument was built to be held in loving hands

And caressed and treasured.

But someone gave it to relentless children

Who used the bow as a weapon to destroy the finely tuned wires,

And then discarded the broken fiddle

To suffer its injuries in a dark, forgotten corner,

To grow mildewed and musty.

broken_fiddle_2s

And then she came—picking up the broken fiddle

With loving fingers, caressing the scratched and dented wood,

Mending and healing age-old wounds,

Cherishing the spirit within.

Waxed and polished and strung taut with new life,

Resurrected through reverent hands,

The fiddle shrieks in high-pitched tones—becoming accustomed

Once more to the bow scraping lightly across its tendrils.

And then. . .the violin sings its tender melody for her.

© Carlene Welch, 1979

Carlene Welch is the General Manager at Home Instead Senior Care of Northwest Arkansas, and avid writer and poet, and my mom. She serves as a Stephen’s Minister at her church and is one of the wisest women I know. She writes custom poetry and prose for cards and gifts. For more information, contact us at stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.

AVFM: I Am Your Lamb (a little poem for the new year)

This post is part of a series I like to call “A Visit From Mom.”  These posts are written by, well…my mom. I think she kind of rocks! My mom and her mother were the primary inspirations for me to starting writing way back as a little girl.  Now, I share my blog with my mom cause I think she has some things to say that you might really love.

My mom wrote this poem during the days we spent camped out in the ICU waiting room after my dad had a massive heart attack 6 years ago.  At the time, we were not sure he would survive and if he did what sort of quality of life would be had.  They were some of the hardest…and most beautiful days of my life.  Time slows to a creeping crawl when you are waiting there, people you love visit and pray, and friends and family wrap around you like a warm blanket.  I have never felt closer to my mom and sisters as I did there snuggled under blankets in waiting room couches talking about, and waiting for, life.  When my mom told me she wrote this, I had to read it…and when I did, I knew…so did you.  

82787-360-woman-in-hospital-waiting-room

I Am Your Lamb

If you struggle through life, wond’ring
How you’ll make it through tomorrow
Or even through what’s left of today
Just look into the heavens
And clasp your hands together
And close your teary eyes and pray.

Pray to the One who loves you
More than anyone can love you
And let Him fold you in His tender arms.
For He alone can shield you
From the storms which have beseiged you
And He alone can always keep you warm.

Just say to Him:
I am your lamb—you are my Shepherd–
This is your flock—it is with You I belong.
Is it me You have called to?
Where is it that you need me?
Please know that I will follow, though the journey be long.

In the center of the tempest is a place of silent calm
Where we can have a moment to be still.
As it rages all around us and the darkness is upon us
We can have this time to listen to His Will.
Though the work is overwhelming
And there’s so much yet undone
We’ll refresh ourselves at Jesus’ feet
So we can travel on.

Just say to Him:
I am your lamb—you are my Shepherd–
This is your flock—It is with you I belong.
Is it me you have called to?
Where is it you need me?
Please know that I will follow, though the journey be long.

© Carlene Welch, 2012

 

welch's

My sisters, mom, dad and I in October 2010 (5 years after his heart attack)
From left to right: my sister, Alexis; mom, Carlene; dad, Jim; my sister, Lora; and me

Carlene Welch is the General Manager at Home Instead Senior Care of Northwest Arkansas, and avid writer and poet, and my mom. She serves as a Stephen’s Minister at her church and is one of the wisest women I know. She writes custom poetry and prose for cards and gifts. For more information, contact us at stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.

AVFM- Goldilocks:The Modern Story

This post is part of a series I like to call “A Visit From Mom.”  These posts are written by, well…my mom. I think she kind of rocks! My mom and her mother were the primary inspirations for me to starting writing way back as a little girl.  Now, I share my blog with my mom cause I think she has some things to say that you might really love.

My Mom wrote this poem for me in December 2011 when I was working on a talk for a local women’s group called “Enough: The Art of Having, Doing and Being ‘Just Right’.” I sat across from her at lunch one day frustrated with the rate at which the talk was coming along and said “I need a poem…about Goldilocks…being enough.” Twenty minutes later, I had this.  I told you she rocked! Enjoy!

Goldilocks: A Modern Story

Once upon a time
In a land of twists and turns
There lived a girl named Goldilocks
With lessons to be the learned.

She found a store- ‘twas filled with books
On every subject known.
They called it “Bears and Noble”
For its fame had grown and grown.

She was a pretty little thing-
This girl named Goldilocks-
She had lots of shiny shoes
And ruffled fancy frocks.
Her jewelry box had overflowed
With baubles of all kinds and
She spent each waking day
Searching for new finds.

“So many things to want,” she said-
“So many things to buy.”
The world was filled with wondrous things
And though she knew not why,
She just to had to have some more
Of everything in sight.
“Happiness” was all about
The shiny, blingy, bright.

“Goldi” stopped at “Bears’ first rack
and gazed at all the books,
Choosing the most recent source
Of new and trendy looks.

Sipping at her mocha latte,
Bored with wanting more,
Our little girl decided to go on and
Check the second floor.
Now Goldi had so much to do
She oft was quite fatigued.
This guilty moment in the store
Should have brought relief.
The laundry wasn’t finished yet
There were errands to be run-
There were groceries still to buy
And cleaning to be done.

The dinner meal was not prepared
And shirts still needed pressed-
But here she was at Bears and Noble-
Who would have ever guessed.

She’d go in search of written word
To help her organize
The overwhelming list of chores
That made her days fly by?

Nothing on the second floor
Gave help to Goldilocks.
She looked up frantically to
Check the time upon the clock.

If she could only be the girl
Who was in such control,
She could organize her world
And be the best at all.

Now, standing in the self help aisle,
The choices filled the wall,
And in this room of great advice
There were solutions for us all.

If Goldilocks could read this one-
Her business skills could grow-
And this one helps with losing weight
And this one keeps the budget low.

Her closets will be cleaner now-
Her children will be gifted,
And if she reads through all these books
Her world will just have shifted.

Wait-there is one book on the shelf-
It stands in quiet light
And after all these random words-
This Book is, well….just right.

                                        -Carlene Welch  
                                          © 2011

 

Blessings!

Carlene Welch is the General Manager at Home Instead Senior Care of Northwest Arkansas, and avid writer and poet, and my mom. She serves as a Stephen’s Minister at her church and is one of the wisest women I know. She writes custom poetry and prose for cards and gifts. For more information, contact us at stringsattachedministries@gmail.com .