Saturday, May 19, 2012

Well Remembered
Rest in Peace Son

There in that special corner of a mother’s heart, hidden in the shadows where no one else is allowed to dwell.
I find you there…always son.
This is the place; where all my most important memories stand side by side like soldiers on parade!
It is that special corner of my heart owned by my child and no other.
The memories are tucked neatly away to be brought forward on special occasions, not that I ever expected it to be an occasion like today.
In there I find the sweet ones; like frosting faces and mud pie messes.
They stand there side by side, rubbing shoulders with the tough ones that hurt your heart and make you cry as you remember.

Each of those stands quietly alongside the ones that fill your heart for a lifetime.
It’s where I know with certainty I can always find you.
Maybe it was in a look well remembered on that face I love so much; thinking back there are so many.
Or maybe one of your smiles that touched my heart like no other.
It may have been in a word or a phrase, turned by you that amazed me so; at the time because it was uttered by that one undeniably special human being; you my son.
I cherish each of them.
You touched my heart like no one else in this world because you were a part of us.
You were a wonderful part of our love that never needed to be explained!

Standing here in the kitchen grief stricken and lost;
I wonder how; how do you say good-bye to your son?
As parents we understand that alongside the mad and the glad and the hopes and the fears we all face; we can only hope for the best.
Like all parents we all rode the rollercoaster of love sometimes sprinkled with disappointment and raised voices that were meant to help not to harm.
We didn’t get a play book.
There weren’t instructions wrapped in blue.
 We could only love you but you knew that….

When you push past the he said; she said and the, this and that of life…
It bumps face first into the reality of “I love you” with every ounce of my being…..
Your father and I brought you into this world we would die for you…
The words and the sentiment seem hollow now as they echo down empty hallways because we’re standing here now without you.
Neither of us is able to understand how that can be!

Inside my head I’m screaming take me, take me, take me…..
Inside myself, I’m shaking, screaming, crying, aching…. And so it goes.
The disbelief, the numbness drenched in sadness and recrimination.
Tears slide slowly down; I am incapable of stopping them.
And then just like that I see your face and that Easter basket all pastel and aglow.
Hunting Easter eggs as we looked on….
It all comes flashing back in an instant there we are watching our rosy cheeked little boy!
Those days are long past now but not forgotten by either of us.
I know we must cling tightly to them every single one of them and to the love…
If I don’t know anything else at this awful moment I know that the love above all else is what counts.

There in that special corner of a mother’s heart, hidden in the shadows where no one else is allowed to dwell.
I find you there…always son.
This is the place; where all my most important memories stand side by side like soldiers on parade!
It is that special corner of my heart owned by my child and no other.
The memories are neatly tucked away to be brought forward on special occasions, not that I ever expected it to be an occasion like today.
In there I find the sweet ones; like your first word, first step, first bike ride and your first day of school.
They stand side by side rubbing shoulders with the tough ones that hurt your heart and make you cry as you remember.

Rest in Peace,
James O’ Neill
Rest in Peace

For Pat and Bonnie with much love and a heavy heart,
D.A. Hughes

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Long Good bye

For Al Iside

I’ve changed the sheets and emptied the drawers
I’ve removed the pictures from the fancy frames that were once placed there so lovingly
I laundered the pillows so your scent is no longer present
I have given away or sold the nick knacks that once seemed so important
Those cards I kept all the years that touched my heart went off in the last bag of trash
The words are no longer true or meaningful
I did keep the last note written in your hand so I would always remember

Like an eraser on a black board you now have been erased in the here and now
Little things little signs that spoke volumes about your sadness were ignored
The illness was everything all consuming devouring you taking you away little by little
Now your gone, erased just like that with a note and a deed most unbecoming
No time for a long good-bye

I always knew that one day I would write this
I knew it would fall to me to write your eulogy
We both knew that one day your turn would come
Although nothing ever happens as one might expect
It is with great sadness and regret that I write about your life; the one I believed was true
Turned into ash; along with you and all I knew about you
Like fairy tales where princes ride white horses; the truth is it is only make believe

Today I changed the sheets and emptied out all the drawers
I carefully removed your pictures from the fancy frames they’d been displayed in
I laundered your pillows so I didn’t have to smell you there
I gave away and sold the nick knacks because they are no longer important
All those funny silly loving cards I cherished were tossed away; worthless now
Their words like all the words ever said became heavily tarnished
Ah but I kept that last note to remind me who you really were

After all the years, the blood, sweat and tears that bind and mark a long relationship
Only to discover in the end that you are no longer here
Leaving me to wonder if you really ever were
The you; that person I thought I knew so well and trusted
In the end turned out to be nothing more than words; made up words
I now see that maybe the words were about you, that you, the one you longed to be but never quite attained
Although now I’ll never know.

It cuts deep that forever kind that is buried with you and the we that once was.
This is my long good-bye
Not the words I thought I’d write at the end of you

08/08/1959 To 04/02/2011

By, Six Shooter Sally
A Friend of a friend

Thursday, February 25, 2010

William (Billy) Hartfeild

Born April 16th, 1945
Moved On, January 27th, 2009

Saying good-bye after a life time of memories is difficult for everyone involved but love is like that. We lost one of the good guy’s recently and in his passing I witnessed another kind of grief that isn’t often mentioned; maybe because it’s not often seen.

There are certain things that will forever remind me of Billy. His laugh was unique and he was quick with a joke. The Gold Cadillac Cocktail Lounge, his Suzuki motorcycle, Budweiser Beer and Golf just to name a few. Yet the one thing that reminds me the most of Billy and always brings him to mind is his buddy Snag. Those two were a like salt and pepper, beer and a shot, Jack Daniels and a hangover. They just went well together. There was something about the bond between them, they were blessed enough to have enjoyed for thirty plus years.

They knew without asking that they had one another to count on and that is rare in this world. I’d heard them joke that if one of them were to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere, at three am, out of gas and flat broke and called the other, knowing without question or hesitation the other would show up.

When I got the call it was as I would expect, from the man that had been his sidekick, drinking buddy, golf partner and over all escape from his family a couple of Saturdays a month not to mention his very best friend. He told me in that way of his “well the prick finally did it, he up and died on me! Can you believe that?” I could hear the pain in his voice and that heavy sense of loss as he toughed threw the call; recounting each small detail of their final time together.

Of course I knew Billy had been sick, cancer is a tough mother but so was he and he fought hard, because he was like that. Snag and his family watched powerless as he wasted away but threw it all his best friend was a constant. As Billy laid there the pair talked sports and talked shit especially about the good old days at the Gold Cadillac. Those were the days I remembered; when they both were a lot younger, a whole lot tougher and certainly wilder. I don’t think Billy even owned a car then, just that ratty old bike; I liked to make fun of him about. Back then those two chased everything in a skirt. If one lied, the other most certainly would swear to it. On more than one occasion they had been known to fight their way out of a bar or two. It never mattered how the fight started, they always finished it, having each others back. Then they’d come rolling into the Cadillac laughing their heads off because they’d had so much fun.

They had this salty banter between them, often greeting one another by giving the other the finger or slinging some insult across the room. If you didn’t know them you might think they didn’t like one another but you would have been very wrong. They were just like that, to them it was funny. I guess in their own way they were telling the other “we’re good man”! Sometimes in life we’re lucky enough to come across that special person that is always there for you; even when you are an asshole. It’s important to find someone that simply understands you; good or bad, right or wrong, drunk or hung-over and likes you in spite of all the warts. That was the two of them, Billy and Snag. No matter what roads they cruised down they made time for the other. They watched as each others lives unfolded taking slightly different paths, not that it mattered. In spite of the obstacles their friendship never wavered, they were really lucky and each of them knew it.

At the end they were together saying their good-bye’s in the fashion you’d expect. Snag held Billy’s frail hand willing it to change or be over, so the suffering would stop. That was I’m certain one of the very hardest things either of them ever did. Of course knowing them they continued talking shit, while reminiscing about their running days. Of course by then Snag did most of the talking, reminding Billy about their escapades over the years. Oh yea, those were the days when Jack Daniels was always part of the party and they could do anything on two hours sleep. He told me in that fateful call that Billy went out like the man! Saying it was hard letting him go but he understood that Billy was tired and ready. He continued by saying “So I told him what are you waiting for you prick. Get on with it, it’s time to let go man.” Knowing Billy I’m certain he replied in kind saying “I was just waiting on your ugly ass.”

Then his voice trailed off, lost now in the ocean of grief surrounding him. I knew there was nothing more to say it was over. I had an inkling that he was wondering what life could possibly be like without Billy in it. Rarely in the year that has passed is there ever a phone call between us that Billy isn’t a part of. He may be gone but as long as his best friend is around he will never be forgotten.

We raise our glasses in your memory with our hearts filled with love and respect. “To Billy Hartfield”


Friday, September 25, 2009

May Alexandra Brown

For My Nana
03-14-1904 to 09-26-1969

The sun seemed to rise so slowly, on the morning that you passed away.
I thought all your storybook characters had gone as well.
I would learn later on that they had stayed.

Poor Peter Rabbit hugged his blue jacket tightly, as he mournfully shed rivers of tears.
And old Mr. Wolf sat by him self, knowing that the woods will never be the same.
The Leprechauns called for the fairies, as the Gnomes summoned the others near.

I heard wise old Mr. Hoot Owl, cry out from the tangled old pepper tree.
Understanding he was one of your very best friends so knowledgeable and true.
He hid there in the branches not wanting anyone to see.

Each and every one of your charming characters mourned your passing.
I still can remember countless stories each one told from your heart.
It was that magical ability that made them ever lasting.

Each story was better than the next; no child could ever tire of listening to them.
You created such wonder with those characters; you brought to life with every word.
It helped to know every family of frogs, which you chatted with often, as you walked along the Themes.

The strength and the conviction of your words allowed me to see,
Peter rabbit and all his friends whenever they came to call.
The leprechauns and the mischief they’d been up to became so real to me.

I and all the children sat mesmerized as we cherished every moment listening in your lap.
When I could get you started, the story that might well last the entire day.
Sometimes I would think it was ending then I’d hear Tom Turtles tap, tap, tap.

Yet morning was the best time, climbing into your big bed, with all the pillows.
Snuggling beside you, as you poured from your bedside tray, our morning cup of tea.
Off on a story that might start off sounding something like the Wind in the Willows.

Sometimes you’d read the tea leaves in the bottom of my china cup,
You always assured me that great adventures would happen in my life.
This allowed me to imagine; a handsome prince, a magical ball or my very own speckled pup.

And after all these years it still feels warm and special to think of you.
The scent of lavender conjures images of the wonderful days we shared.
They were so precious yet selfishly were too few.

The sun rose so slowly the morning that you passed away.
I cried sad, sad tears calling to Peter Rabbit and all your friends, knowing that they were missing you too.
One by one they appeared just inside my room, it was then I understood that you had let them stay.


Monday, September 14, 2009

The Chairman of the Board Robert "Bob" Hammond

Good bye my friend, you are missed.
And I know for all of us here today, you will be long remembered.
Like all of us you were many things to many people.
Husband, father, grandfather, a dedicated company man, excellent co-worker and friend.

Bob was a gentle, quiet, caring man.
He earned the love, respect and friendship of many people.
I know most of you and for each of us that he touched he has left his mark forever.
I know that is so for me.
To some of us he was known as Mr. Hammond or Bob.
Yet for many of us he was known simply as Hammond, The Chairman of the Board.

I know we will each be reminded of him in many different ways.
For me it will be the roar of laughter inspired by a joke.
Short sleeved shirts with two pockets.
Or whenever I see a Navy fighter pilot takeoff or land on an aircraft carrier I will be reminded of him.
Yet most often I will be reminded by the fifth day of the week, Thursday. It was the day Bob made special.

Truly fine things in life are very rare,
Hammond will always come to mind as one of the truly finest people I have ever known.
For all the times we shared and laughed;
For all the encouragement and education you gave me I will forever be grateful.
My friend you are loved and missed.
I raise your gavel for you one last time and close this meeting for The Chairman of the Board.

With much love and respect I say Good Bye my friend.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Letter To My Father

With Love and Respect For Daniel Raymond Keene
Born march 9th, 1943-Passed Away July 30th, 2007

Not long ago I wrote a letter to my Father, somehow knowing it would never be mailed.
I wanted to let him know how grateful I was for all he had done, when I was a child.
I wanted to let him know how much it meant to have had a man in my life that loved me.
I wanted to explain to him in no uncertain terms how he had impacted my life.

My Dad was a bull of a man standing just five foot nine, sporting a massive set of arms and shoulders.
Shoulders none of us could ever quite get our arms all the way around.
His soft beard that tickled my face has turned white over time yet I loved how it felt against my cheek.
He was strong as a bull yet quiet and gentle.
I remember him lifting my brother and sister off the ground as they held onto his bicep.
He was really something.

Being human, he like the rest of us had his down falls and made his share of mistakes.
Yet in an odd way, he taught me about forgiveness, in his need to be forgiven.
None of us kids would be who we are today if not for him touching our lives.
I needed, to say thank you.

As I grew up I realized, that he was a mere mortal after all, yet still my hero!
After all he had single handedly saved my family and I wanted him to know that I remembered.
I needed to thank him for taking on a ready made family; under the protests from people that loved him.
Thank you for listening to your heart and not their words.

It’s funny to think back realizing that you were my first concept of a biker.
You looked so cool in your t-shirt with your Lucky Strikes rolled up in one sleeve.
I loved the smell of that old worn out leather jacket that I held onto countless times.
I loved any excuse to ride her with you, even if it was just to the market to pick something up for Mom.
To me it never mattered where we went, I just loved being with you on that shinning BSA.

Looking back is always fun because as a family we shared a lot of really good times.
As kids it never occurred to any of us that we weren’t rich, because we had everything and each other; with the exception of air conditioning.
Looking back I see so clearly, how happy we all were, it was truly a great way to grow up.

You incited tickle fights, water fights and shaving cream fights, which always took place in the house!
All of us can remember flying threw the air into the pool time and again during endless games of Marco Polo.
I catch myself laughing as I remember all the “frogs” you stepped on!
I still vividly remember that first camping trip you took us on with the wayward tent pole that didn’t want to stand.
I remember every other trip that followed just as clearly, each echoing with our laughter and tears; especially Gary’s with that gum stuck on his nose!

In the letter I wrote him, it was important that he know I was always proud of him.
Proud of the sacrifices he made for my Mom and us kids so selflessly.
I wanted him to know that I truly understood the high price he’d paid for all the long hours and lack of sleep.
I realized once I became an adult, that there are few men who would work that hard for a family not biologically their own.

I hoped that when he read the letter, it would touch his heart to know he was loved so unconditionally.
He had been so important and influential, in the lives of all three of his kids.
It was important that he understand, that he was admired and respected by each of us in our own way.
How could any of us not be proud to be known as his children?
He had after all taught us how to laugh again, trust again, and feel safe again.
If he had never accomplished anything else in his life, he accomplished making us a family.

In that letter to my Father, I told him that he had truly made a difference.
Telling him, that he had left an indelible mark forever on the hearts of his family.
Especially his three children.
Most importantly I wanted him to know that all that love and laughter he spilled over time; would come to engulf five tiny hearts that are linked forever to his.
Sadly I wrote this letter to my Father back on 02/19/07, somehow knowing it would never be sent.
Today July 30th, 2007 after losing him I regret it so very much.

Revised 08/31/07

Friday, August 7, 2009

Charles Edward Brown

Was born in London, England on January 17th, 1903
He left us on July 29th, 2005
That is one hundred and two years, six months and twenty- nine days
That in it’s self is amazing.

He leaves behind his daughter Sally, three grandchildren, Donna, Gary and Lisa as well as five great- grandchildren, Cameron, Michael, Ashley, Chelsea and Trevor.
They are his legacy.

In those 102 years many extraordinary things took place and were discovered or invented.
To think that man flew only the year before he was born is hard to fathom. Think about the history he lived through. Surviving both world wars and what historians have titled “the great depression”. He watched
in awe as Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. During the past one hundred years man has made huge advancements and Charlie Brown saw it all.

Charlie like most of us had distinct chapters in his life.
We all know only too well about the last years. We know how hard it is to watch someone you love as they are ravaged by age. It takes them away from you a little at a time. His quality of life had diminished but not his inner spirit, that remained bright until the very end.

The first chapter began in England growing up, attending school and finally working.
Charlie found that he liked working with his hands. He worked for Black and Decker repairing and building small hand tools in England and later in America. He enjoyed tinkering and could repair most anything. He was orderly, organized and took care of everything he ever owned from cars to screwdrivers. To him each was important and must be well maintained.

He married May Cannon and together they raised their son Jim, who passed away a few years ago and their daughter Sally. They lived in their own home in West Drayton, England just south of London. They as a family vacationed often in Broadstairs by the sea. Life was good.

Charlie also worked for a private club in London, where he met many wealthy, powerful and influential people such as Sir Winston Churchill. It was threw those relationships that he became a Mason and through those meetings and conversations that Charlie learned of the impending war. Being a practical man Charlie built a bomb shelter in his backyard. Naturally, friends and neighbors alike thought he was stark raving mad. That was until the bombs began to drop.

In the early 1950’s Charlie and May followed their daughter Sally to America to Massachusetts, where they settled for a number of years. Charlie had an interesting hobby, which was ornately decorating cakes that his wife baked. The decoration and attention to detail was amazing. Some were of beautiful holiday scenes and others like Cinderella’s coach were far more elaborate. He had a real talent for it.

It was in Massachusetts, that he first learned to drive and then bought his first car. He had several cars after that and they all had two things in common. There was a compass on the dashboard and one of those mesh, plaid folding seats that sat on top of the driver’s seat.

In the early 1960’s, May and Charlie followed their daughter once more, this time to California. They settled in Sherman oaks, where they managed apartment complexes. Spending many weekends at Sally’s spoiling their grandchildren. Due to May’s serious health problems they decided to return to England and unfortunately it was there that Charlie lost May, in 1969; grieving he returned to his daughter in America.

Then a new chapter began for Charlie. He took on a little part time job to help him stay busy. He joined the Mayflower club and became an active member. He’d always loved ballroom dancing and this renewed his passion. He was a beautiful dancer and a much sought after partner. I always thought he looked dashing in his navy blue blazer, wearing his very best tie with his shiny cuff links and smartly folded pocket square.

He then began to travel with groups from the club where he made many friends. He went on cruises and traveled most of Europe. Venturing to far off places like Israel, Egypt and Turkey later cruising to Japan. Lastly he purchased a motorhome and traveled throughout the US and Canada leisurely taking in the sights. He truly loved this country and thought it to be the greatest in the world.

In between the travels he began managing senior citizen buildings. That allowed him to tinker and nurture his love to entertain. He would arrange variety shows for the tenants. Charlie was the master of ceremonies, opening every show with the song “When you’re smiling” and closed each show with “Thanks for the memories”. It was a happy time in his life. Charlie danced and sang well into his eighties.

Overall, Charlie Brown lived in extraordinary times and lived a most amazing and happy life. If he were here right now he would say to you all “Thanks for the memories”!