Tag: Vietnam Veterans

Memorial Day – To Acknowledge and Listen

fruit-blossoms

I’ve been thinking, on this cool grey morning with a hint of rose along the horizon, what I might have to say this Memorial Day.  I thought of how much it means when we listen to one another, even when we cannot understand.  Listening is a huge gift.

Then the word “acknowledge” came to mind.  I was interested to read its definition in the dictionary, so I did a Google search.  The first definition on the screen said, “Accept or admit the existence or truth of.”

That is huge.

Once a dear person I know who served in Vietnam called me, after years of silence, to share a little about his experience.  He had read my poetry about the chronic illness and grief I had experienced, and he felt I would understand.  I am still so honored.  For me, this is what poetry is mostly about: healing.  I also love the beauty of language.

I think sometimes we are afraid of saying something “wrong” when really the person who is hurting is so helped by a simple acknowledgment.  A kind word.  Otherwise, the person in pain feels even more isolated.  Also, if we have failed in the past, we can simply say, “I’m sorry.”  We are all human.  I think people know when our hearts are in the right place.

One thing I loved about my mother was (is) her sense of humor.   Now that I am 59, sometimes I have experiences with someone younger who knows so much more than me.  I love this, and this is as it should be.  One day, after an experience in a store, I thought of myself with my mother sometimes, when I was young, and I started laughing as I walked to the back door.  No one was around and I said, “Oh, Mother, I’m sorry!”  I’ve been to family funerals where there was so much laughter with the tears – everyone telling their stories.

It’s a great Mystery, but conversations continue . . . as we acknowledge and listen.

Love and blessings,

Ellen

fruit-blossoms

The “fruit blossoms” are courtesy of antiqueclipart.com.

Two Wisconsin Veterans

I’ve been wondering if I should write about Veterans Day this year, or observe in silence.

I always have another story to tell.  Or tell again, with a few more layers.   Trust grows.

My father, Harold A. Borgh, Ph.D, served in World War II.  I can only imagine my mom and dad, in love in their twenties, not knowing if they would be able to build a life together.  When I was caring for my mother, I sometimes found, as time progressed, that her older memories were more vivid.  If I could find a movie from the 1940s, for example, she would connect with it.  Yet, she never stopped trying.  So sad that she grew up with war and died with war.  She watched the news day and night.

They did so much and were modest.  My father was a kind man.  I think of times when he could have scolded me, but loved me unconditionally instead.  He was only 68 when he died in 1983.  By God’s grace, I went to Poland with him for over a month in the summer of 1978.  There was a tour with UW-Milwaukee; he wanted to go; my mom had a teaching commitment.  I was teaching elementary school, but not in the summer.  So I went with him.  This was Karl’s and my first summer in our little house in Illinois, and Karl was kind to understand I needed to do this.  Dad, as veteran and historian, was continuing to learn and bear witness.  He and Mom went to other places in Europe as well.  I went to Canada with my mother in 1972, to see Shakespeare plays with her.

Today I am listening to Amy Shreve PRAY Instrumentals.  I can never hear “Be Still My Soul,” “Wayfarin’ Stranger,” or “I Need Thee Every Hour” too many times.

Others in my family served in Vietnam.  I’ll close this post with a picture of The Vietnam War Memorial that I found on wpclipart.com; followed by a picture of The Paul Brandt School Forest, by Ruth Bauer.  Paul served in Vietnam.  We honor and love, we pray for peace and healing.

The Paul Brandt School Forest in Boscobel, WI

The Paul Brandt School Forest in Boscobel, Wisconsin

WINTER IN OCTOBER
For Paul F. Brandt

Another death
a sudden death
this autumn of
winter in October.

Condolences pour in
your service strengthens
and your body is laid to rest
in beloved Wisconsin land.

Now the grief begins
and how else could it be?

Surely a few people
will remain with us
in our loving sorrow
like the golden leaves
left on the tree
outside my window
that will turn green again…

Paul, my cousin, died suddenly in 2006.   His significant contribution to conservation and education in Southwestern Wisconsin continues to grow.

Photo courtesy of Ruth Bauer.

 Poem published in Time of Singing (Fall 2008).