Michael Munas' Journal|
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Michael Munas' LiveJournal:
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|Wednesday, September 24th, 2014|
|Too Damn Lonely
At eighty-eight, he had lost his wife of sixty-plus years just a few months ago. He told me that it was difficult for him to do things these days. For instance, she knew how to keep the flowers in the yard but now they had grown into just a big tangled mess. He lamented that often he will get the idea to do various activities or get together with people but it feels just “too damn lonely” to do so. He cried several times as we talked.
It’s hard to know what to say because everyone’s loss is different and certainly unique to them. What I did offer was something was this: Imagine your wife is still checking up on you every day – and try to honor what she would have wished for you by living your life in ways that would make her proud of you. In other words, her voice will always be in your heart, and it will help to listen to it.
We talked for nearly half an hour and eventually he started smiling with the thought that his wife “would be scolding him just about now”. I mentioned that being connected with folks is one of the best medicines available and just look what we had accomplished in less than an hour.
After several major strokes, my dad ended up in a VA nursing facility and when I would take the kids to visit, we would often see him by himself in a room endlessly tracing the border of the tray on his geriatric chair. The way his mind had been reduced prevented him from much real interaction and it always broke my heart to walk into that room and see lonely like that – this man who was a painter, teacher, artist and my father.
|Friday, August 22nd, 2014|
I’m intrigued at how anger works in subtle ways. Often, it is understandable and even justified, but can easily add-up in a heart until it dominates a person’s character to a point where they become trapped by such continual harsh sentiments. I see it at work, in relationships, in politics, in religion, or even something as inane as driving down the road. I especially notice it in my Facebook account where angry folks sling all sorts of vitriol in the form of Liberal vs Conservative condemnations at each other. I think at the end of all this, neither side will ever be convinced by the other using such tactics and more than likely, they will have expended massive amounts of energy without changing much of anything.
It’s important for me to be vigilant of how anger works in me as I fear that I won’t readily recognize this process. While somewhat simplistic, Buddha wrote an interesting take on anger:“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned”
|Thursday, July 10th, 2014|
|With a Decent Happiness
Today, I was noticing the Cabbage Butterfly pairs rolling and tumbling through the grass -- as if everything in the world is as it should be. Maybe they are smarter than most of us. Soon, it will be one year since Laurie Jean and I were married and I am such a lucky man to be with someone who has such an open and caring heart. She has added so much strength to my weakness.The Rain
By Robert Creeley
All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.
What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
so often? Is it
that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me
something other than this,
something not so insistent—
am I to be locked in this
Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out
of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
with a decent happiness
|Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014|
|What Age Would Belie
The flight of decades, consumes more of the body than anything in an open heart. I’m often overwhelmed by what I learn about growing old from the old -- or maybe, it’s really what I have learned about staying young.
|Thursday, June 26th, 2014|
These sandals were made of red tooled-leather and yes, they had previously belonged to one of my sisters. The house was just a few years old and my parents were young. I remember believing that they knew everything and could rise to any challenge. I’m much older now than they were then and I still don’t have many answers. This makes me think of how fragile and connected we all are, even if there are those who can’t see it.How the trees rise and stand up, with strong trunks,
with branches and leaves?
(Surely there is something more in each of the trees,
some living soul.)
~ Walt Whitman, “Song at Sunset”, from Leaves of Grass
|Thursday, June 12th, 2014|
There were those nights as a kid when I was afraid to get out of my bed -- even to get a drink of water, for fear of the wolf-like man under the bed. Surely though, if I jumped far enough, he wouldn’t be able to grab me by the ankles. Of course my logic had all kinds of flaws which would be reasonably obvious to most adults.
I wonder how many current fears are just as unfounded but seem just as real as the wolf man. Sometimes, it takes something as simple as stepping off the bed to know.
|Thursday, May 29th, 2014|
|I learn something (about taking care of myself) from you
We talk about your father’s work at J & L Steel and how you met your partner in the 40’s at West View Park’s Danceland. You tell me that your parents staunchly did not want you to marry. Even so, you married, went fishing together and ultimately raised your family along the banks of the Ohio. Now in your 90’s, you look at each other knowing what the other will say before it is expressed. We talk about: the old theaters in the once big steel town – you can name at least three, all of which sound grand; the loss of the trolley line; and shoulder-to-shoulder shopping on well-dressed Saturdays.
Your parents and most of your siblings are gone, yet you keep moving forward. I ask how you get your groceries and you mention that one of you still drive, but it seems not for much longer. Then I wonder who will take care of this for you, especially since they closed the nearby Foodland. You tell me your pain and discomfort somewhat lessened while we talked and I’ve had the best night ever.
|Thursday, May 15th, 2014|
The other evening at the hospital, I was helping with the family of an elderly and dying patient. Hopefully, I was able to provide some comfort to her and her family -- a popsicle for one of the grandchildren, a Pepsi for one of her daughters, some warm blankets, and a few words here and there.
The selfish part and opposite to what may seem logical is that I enjoyed this. Of course, I don’t like to see anyone suffer but it’s more that in such a difficult process, I might somehow provide a palpable level of emotional support that may have value to these folks(So much for pure altruism). When I was young, I couldn’t imagine being around death or dying. Mortality sat on some far-off shore to me and I did everything I could to avoid it.
We have such short lives.
* * *So set its Sun in Thee
What Day be dark to me --
What Distance -- far --
So I the Ships may see
That touch -- how seldomly --
~ Emily Dickinson
|Friday, May 2nd, 2014|
|The Hand of the Living
I met a 96 year-old meteorologist last night. He had fallen at a care home and was significantly injured. We talked about isobars, forecasting, Accuweather and on-air weather personalities -- but the most significant thing to come to me out of this night was that we are all very small and so short-lived.When the dull nights are over, and the dull days also,
When the soreness of lying so much in bed is over,
When the physician; after long putting off, gives the silent and
terrible look for an answer,
When the children come hurried and weeping, and the brothers
and sister have been sent for,
When medicine stand unused on the shelf, and the camphor smell
has pervaded the rooms,
When the faithful hand of the living does not desert the hand of
~ Walt Whitman, from “Leaves of Grass”
|Tuesday, April 29th, 2014|
|Because there aren't any lawn chemicals on the grass
In the early spring the onion grass is usually the first thing to shoot up out of the lawn. I don’t mind cutting it because the scent takes me back fifty years. I do, however, try to avoid running over the Spring Beauties and the Bluets. The neighbors must think I’m crazy when I take numerous small circles with a very large garden tractor around apparently nothing.
This same little patch has appeared year after year.She likes for me to save them and that makes me smile.
|Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014|
|Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014|
|The time of year when daffodils bloom in places where homes once were
It makes me happy to see something survives well after the house, the families, and the years they called it their home.
The oldest oak tree east of the Mississippi was discovered in Dysart Woods, Belmont County, Ohio several years ago and was thought to be 373 years old. The old oak next to our place in the same county – the one that looks like a “Don’t-pick-my-apples Wizard of Oz” tree is probably only a few years younger and was certainly there before any Mark Twain-style of civilization.
Some days I think about growing older and how much I want it to be with you. There aren’t any promises that can assure this but just maybe we will leave a few things behind for someone to wonder.
This may be why my dad liked to paint trees.There is no salvation for us but to adopt Civilization and lift ourselves down to its level.
- "To the Person sitting in Darkness”, Mark Twain
|Thursday, April 10th, 2014|
|Where Cows Browse
In a certain light of day
with shadows so small
your scent and ponied voice
surround my summer skin.
To this, and wot not I recall
the water-skeeters shaking
the surface of the rambling run
over cold water-moss rocks
which you tread, without shoes
|Monday, March 17th, 2014|
|One of my many Vices
This malleable iron Samson vice was on my dad’s workbench throughout my younger days. I am guessing it is around 75 years old and while it might simply be a tool in function, it has served as so much more.
Being careless, I probably first started pinching the web of my hand between my thumb and finger when I was about four. The handle slid much too easily into the spindle for my experience level.
Later, with our walnut husk-stained hands, my siblings and I would crack the tough shells of black walnuts in it.
When I was a bit older, I remember using it to file down pennies to the size of dimes so that I could thwart a Coke machine -- even though I spent much more than 9 cents effort in doing so each time.
In my teens and twenties, I spent many hours banging away on metal fastened in its jaws -- for lawn mower, tractor, and car repairs.
It is now mounted on the workbench at the cabin and the sounds of the handle sliding in the spindle remind me of my dad and his legacy.We felt so tough with certain mechanical advantages.
|Monday, February 24th, 2014|
Under a big rock at the lake, lives Pete the Possum
He likes bread, cat food and loose field corn
- moves slowly and waddles when he walks
and must endure rhyming about being awesome
|Thursday, February 13th, 2014|
Sometimes I look at the little frog you gave me and realize that so many tangible things of you are now gone but really the way you touched my life changed me in the only ways that matter forever and everything and all of us will one day be gone, except for the impressions -- like the kite you flew on the beach, so many years ago.
You would be proud of your kids, and they will always have so much of them in you.
|Friday, December 20th, 2013|
There’s the occasional pair of large pines growing where a house once stood or the fieldstone remnants of what once was a springhouse or barn. No one lives anywhere near here these days and the only undisturbed remarks are the burial grounds such as the one at the Salem “Circle” Cemetery. Now the valley is full of unreclaimed highwalls where famers, labors, miners and everyone they knew have disappeared. Driving these gravel roads, that go nowhere, leaves an indescribable big empty of attrition in my chest. It was here where the plow horses my great uncle once drove, stomped their hooves in the mud and snarled against their leather harnesses. When I was young, I couldn’t imagine it being changed and now it is my history.
|Thursday, November 14th, 2013|
|Everything is as it should be
Yes, it is a commercial selling something, but in its depiction of life, there is a message of something greater.
It reminds me of the wonderful string of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents -- of which, only one aunt remains. It reminds me of the times Marie and I would go 'home' to them and how that place is now gone, except in memory.
Of all of the losses and the gains we experience in this immense sea of joy and sadness, everything IS as it should be. And in many inevitable ways, we all will sit down one more and one last time
|Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013|
|The Smell and Texture of Burlap and Walnuts
Whenever I see black walnuts on the ground, it reminds me of when my dad would take us out to his friend Steve's farm. Each year, we would fill several burlap sacks with unhusked nuts and bring them home. Steve contracted ALS as a younger man and I remember feeling dad's overwhelming hurt. He didn't talk about it much but still...
It was love when he fashioned his close friend a wire cigarette holding device so that this dying man could smoke in the weeks before he passed.
|Thursday, September 19th, 2013|
Our pasture is where coal and railroads once ran. Black smoke belched productively from engines but poured delicately from stoves in shops and bars that no longer stand. The cows no nothing of this account but graze here to die for someone's table -- unbothered and curious by our presence. For the Monday midnight shift: Rose Valley #1 will work, Franklin #2 will work, Powhatan #6 will work, Saginaw will not work.
The random treats your dad left in his dinner bucket traveled underground but were lucky enough to see the light in your small hand. I tell you that I love you and the unwritten history we share.