The last place my Mom and Dad lived in before he died was out in the country, near Lake Fork, Texas. There was a big plate-glass window in front of which Dad had hung bird feeders. Among the many birds who winged in were cardinals, crimson feathers startling, vivid, unforgettable. Whenever I see cardinals, real or otherwise, I think of Dad, I think of that place, a home place for him, a vision he’d worked toward all his life. And I think of my mother, too, acquiescing to him, sharing his dream. What was hers?
In Pier One yesterday, caught like a magpie by all the Christmas glitter and glow, I saw LED candles with tiny red cardinals on them. I had to stop and touch the glass. My throat got tight as I thought of my father, but also of my mother, 13 years down with Alzheimer’s, bedridden, incontinent, unable to turn over or ask for what she wants, able only to croak sounds and smile her occasional but still lovely smile. I didn’t buy the candle. I bought five small, red clip-on cardinals, glitter on their tails and shaken like salt in among their color. Foolish, I thought as I checked out. She won’t see them.
But today I go to place them in her room, among the bits of holiday tinsel I put up even though she doesn’t know. My heart hurts, my throat is tight. I think I summoning Dad to bring her on home.
Posted in Before Versailles, books, Christmas, creativity, Dark Angels, family, fathers, George I, historical fiction, history, mothers, Now Face to Face, spirituality, Texas, theme, Through A Glass Darkly, Uncategorized, vulnerability, writing
Tagged Alzheimer's, birds, cardinals, Christmas, holiday sadness, Karleen Koen, Pier One, sadness, Texas
Hello. I’ve been offline resting, but online ebook seller bookbub has Through a Glass Darkly on sale only today for $1.99. If you would, if you can, pass it along on Facebook or Twitter or Goodreads or email or whatever.
Here’s the link: https://www.bookbub.com/ebook-deals/latest?page=2.
Where have I been? Well, the novel I’m in is taking too long, so I’ve been in lots of worry and fear and judgment, which makes me tired. But I am in some sort of ending (never-ending is what it feels like). I hope all is well with you. I hope I pick this up again, for it feels nice to be here. Love, Karleen
Posted on November 17, 2015 in Before Versailles, books, Charles II, creativity, Dark Angels, fame, family, fathers, fear, fiction, friends, George I, historical fiction, history, inspiration, Karleen Koen, Louis XIV, Louise de la Valliere, love, mothers, Now Face to Face, romance, romance writing, sensuality, spirituality, story, story and love, Through A Glass Darkly, writing
Tagged books, English history, George I, Karleen Koen, romance, sex, Through A Glass Darkly
We make an ofrenda, which is an altar for the Day of the Dead. I bring photos of a father, grandparents, an uncle, a sister. Among them is a suicide, an alcoholic, a poet too gentle for this life, women who had to scramble to survive or live with men who treated them badly. Few died with any semblance of peace.
I offer chocolates and mums, a pencil for the poet, a cigarette for the smokers. What I wish I could give them is another pass at life, for too much of theirs was stark and unforgiving. Some of it was character, some of it was heritage, some of it was cultural.
Do not go gentle into that dark night, wails a poem. But why not? Why fight against the dying of the light? For we all must die. It’s the last clause in the contract made with being born. What unseen can I offer my dead, who have gone on before me? Courage to amend mistakes and character flaws with unflinching honesty? The never ending weeding of my inner garden? Loving what is? Love?
For them. For me. For it all. Forever and ever. Amen.
Posted in Before Versailles, character, Charles II, creativity, Dark Angels, family, fathers, fear, George I, historical fiction, Karleen Koen, life, Louis XIV, Louise de la Valliere, love, memoir, mothers, Now Face to Face, sisters, spirituality, story and love, Through A Glass Darkly, vulnerability, writing, writing process
Tagged alcoholism, All Saints Day, Day of the Dead, dying, Dylan Thomas, family, fathers, mothers, suicide, tradition
I’ve been driving across a lot of vast, open spaces in the past few days….the beginning of plains country around Amarillo and the high desert and desert of New Mexico stretching all the way to mountain. Dad has been on my mind. He was about the same age I am now when he died. And I never really knew him. If he could have waited on me to grow up more, to be able to sit in the discomfort that was always between us, we might have been able to have some real conversation, or if not that, that sincere quiet that can reside between two people who love one another. My Dad was a child of the Great Depression, and that marked him all his life. He left home early; by 16 he was off to college and then to the Merchant Marine Academy. He was forthright and opinionated. He drank too much and said things I would imagine he regretted later. It was the saying of those things that put distance between us. They hurt, and by the time I was 8 I moved some place far back inside myself and never came close to him again. But some of my siblings managed better. My late sister Carmen said she always saw him as a hurt, little boy. My brother loved and admired him and has nothing but that to express when my Dad’s name comes up to this day. But me….I missed an opportunity to know him. I couldn’t get past the fear of hurt. So I’m thinking of him as I drive past vast, open spaces because there was a vast, open space between us, and now I’d like it closed.
Posted in Before Versailles, character, Dark Angels, family, fathers, history, Karleen Koen, life, love, memoir, Now Face to Face, spirituality, story and character, story and family, story and love, Through A Glass Darkly
Tagged Amarillo, Dad, family relationships, fathers' day, Great Depression, Karleen Koen, my Dad, my father, New Mexico, thinking of Dad, thinking of fathers