Saturday, March 31, 2012
I went into your room just now and watched you sleeping, so peacefully.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
You're so good for me!
Another lucky thing...you've been sleeping through the night for a month now, but still, I am always sleepy!
At four months of age, a quick list of the things you're doing:
- Smiling when you're smiled at
- Reaching for me and your toys
- Not crawling yet, but soon will be
- Grabbing your spoon when you eat (or "suck") your cereal
- Looking out at the sea from your window when I hold you in the morning
- You love being sung to
- You make eye contact with people
- You don't cry when other people hold you
- You're growing out of your "snowsuit"
- You have a firm grip
- You arch your back and kick your legs when you're excited
- You reach for me when I come by Cindy's to pick you up
- You're getting too big for your bathtub
It's been raining solid for two weeks now and people are starting to complain of "cabin fever." We get about a storm a day, it seems, but very little snow so far. Looks like the cross country skis will have to wait another year. I've been frantically packing for my trip to Anchorage, trying to get an annual report written. Being a working, single mother has been trying this week. But you're the most significant thing, you come first. When I put you down for your nap this morning, I felt a great sadness, realizing how much I'll miss you next week. It will be so bizarre being away from you. I know you'll REALLY be crawling when I return. (You are now, a little). Play times in the morning are a real treat. I love to watch you play with your toys, love it when yo look up and smile at me.
You're still sleeping so I'll take a quick walk outside for a breath of fresh air.
February 24, 1984
In spite of all this pain, I know what I have to be grateful for -- you, a job that I'm doing my best at, a home that I'm trying to make a good place for us to enjoy.
March 14, 1984
The moon was full tonight and the air was cold, so I stepped outside to breathe in the night. The water was so calm, looking and sounding more like a lake, rather than the sea. You could barely hear the sound of the waves lapping against the rocks. Sometimes when I look at the ocean, and the islands beyond, I think of the happier times I had with your father, especially the kayaking we used to do. He knows a lot about nature, the moon, the tides, the stars. Maybe you'll have a chance to talk with him about these things.
Your motor development amazes me. You were crawling at five and a half months. You steer yourself around so well, it's almost as though you had antennae. The other night when I went into your room to check on you as you were crying, you were standing, supporting yourself on the crib railing. You figure all these things out by yourself, with no help from me. All I have to offer are smiles and hugs, and kisses. I think you'll be walking by the time you're nine months old. You are certainly an interesting little person. I love hearing you laugh. You laugh when I tickle you and make faces at you. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the love I feel for you.
I'm already saving up for piano lessons -- God gave you beautiful hands, with incredible extension. Since you were a tiny, tiny baby, your hands have been expressive. At six and a half months, you respond to your name. You love exploring.
March 17, 1984
I understand that you were quite a hit at Mike and Kathy's last night. They baby-sat while Mom went out to dinner (the first time I've been out without you for a long time). Those crab enchiladas were wonderful! It was a dinner I won't soon forget! At the moment, it's about 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning and you're playing on the floor, having had breakfast. I'm glad you're starting to show more interest in your toys than in my plants and tapes. You're delightful to watch. You're turning into quite an athlete at 6 and a half months and have become an expert crawler. Yesterday at Cindy's, you crawled over to me and pulled yourself up to a standing position using my arms as supports. You just figured out how to take all your toys out of the toy box. And you always turn and smile and look over your shoulder when I call your name. What a smart little guy you are!
March 18, 1984
Little one, may the Lord bless you and keep you in the palm of his hands always, and may he smile upon you.
March 22, 1984
Christopher, sometimes I think that in you, I know what it is to truly love. It is the first time I have ever felt this way. I loved your father once, but the happiness I knew with him is gradually fading. Perhaps you'll have a new daddy someday, someone who will love you as much as I do. You must never think that you were in anyway responsible for the break-up of your father and me. It is really a shame that he is missing out on the joy and delightful moments that you at six and a half months are bringing. I know that in his own way, your father loves you. I sometimes feel incredulous at what a beautiful baby you are. In fact, you're the prettiest baby I've ever seen, and that's not just a proud mother speaking. I hope that someday you'll be proud of me too.
Your motor skills still continue to amaze me. You're way ahead of other babies, who at 4 months are just starting to roll over. Here's a chronology of what's happened so far...you first turned your head at 5 hours of age. You did this when I called out to you, prior to your trip to Anchorage via airlift. (Did you know that you gave us all quite a scare after you were born. You weren't breathing correctly and turned blue. The cord was wrapped around your neck. The doctors in Sitka labored over you for several hours prior to making the decision to airlift you to Anchorage to Providence Hospital. You had improved immensely by the time the medical team got here -- they just wanted to be on the safe side, and sent you to Anchorage anyway. You were in intensive care for 2 days, then you were home-free. Dr. Hunter, the Sitka doctor who delivered you, said that the cause of the breathing difficulties isn't really known. In any case, you've been fine, except for a few colds. I still get a little anxious when I hear you cough. One thing you proved right after you were born is that you are strong and have a lust for life. May you always be this way.
Sitka will always hold a mystique for me. It is certainly a place that you will want to come back to. I have a kind of ritual in that everyday. I hold you before our living room window which looks out onto the sea. Sometimes, when it's sunny, we pause for a while on the path near our house, and I watch with delight as you observe your surroundings. There is a certain spirituality in this place. I think that God can be heard in the wind and be seen through the power of the sea and tides.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
What a beautiful day it was today. After getting out my invitations for Open House, I dropped you off at Jill's and had a delightful time Christmas shopping. On my way to the library to take in some refreshments, I looked up and saw a full moon hovering over the mountains. It wasn't yet dark and the sky was dark blue. What a sight! I was stunned. There are many times when one is struck by the beauty of this place. You don't have to go far to find it. When I picked you up at Jill's I was invited to dinner. It turned out to be a feast prepared by some friends of theirs. You were really a hit and got passed around quite a bit. The Lunas' German exchange student took care of you for a while. You enjoyed the many faces and all the activity. You're such a good baby! How lucky I am! You're going to be fun in the years to come. A package arrived in the mail today. In it were some dolls that your cousin Nick sent "with all his love."
Tonight after you woke up crying, I placed you in my arms so you could see the full moon outside your window. We admired it for quite a long time together. The boat parade tonight was beautiful.
My divorce will soon be final and I hope my bitterness can transform itself into something positive by planning for our open house, fixing up your room, reading, and inviting friends over. You are my reason for the season.
Clear beautiful sunny cold days.
Nearing Christmas, our first!
The boats made a spectacular
All lined up
Just for us!
We saw bald eagles twice last week!
December 28, 1983
We had our first Christmas together a few days ago, on the island where I met your father. Memories of a happy time...
The days continue to be crisp, clear, and lovely. The other day, while you slept,
I watched the sunset over the water.
I was waiting for our guess to arrive.
What a joy to have friends over! The house came alive with laughter and good conversation.
The tree looks lovely, as does the entire house. Another Alaska print would make it complete. I like this place! Some packages arrived yesterday from your great aunt and uncle Wodaski and great grandmother Zukoski. Also from your grandparents. I can't wait for you to meet the rest of your family. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. You're sure to be quite a hit.
The divorce becomes final tomorrow. I'm willing to do what's necessary to help you have a positive relationship with your dad. He loves you and wants to spend time with you. I looked down at you as you were sleeping just now, precious baby. The family is just you and me now. We'll have to help each other. I can be strong for you.
Seems like everything I've tried to quite you isn't working. I'm so tired, and you must be too, little one. You didn't have your nap today. As a last resort, I'm letting you cry yourself to sleep. Why are you so restless? You're well fed and clean. I know that in order to meet your needs, I must first meet my own. How I long for sleep. You're still crying as I write this. Does that diaper need changing? Sleep is beckoning.
I looked down at you
And then up
And then up
And saw a clear starry night and
A full moon
And I had the feeling that the
Whole universe was nodding in approval.
What I want for you...
Is that you maintain your sweet disposition.
That in being loved, you will love.
That you be kind, generous, and considerate.
I will let you choose your own path.
You will always be accepted by me, into our home.
How amazing that one so small has so much to give.
Your smile lights up my day, my life.
May you enter the world with self confidence
And hope and peace in your heart.
How glad I am that you chose me to be your mother.
I bounced you on my knee and sang to you
And you laughed with glee. What fun you are, little one!
The sun is shining brightly on this beautiful winter day.
While you napped, I took a walk by the sea,
And watched the waves lapping
Gently against the shore.
The mountains are snow-capped now.
I thought back to the many walks we took
Together before we were born.
I think of the fun we'll have as you grow older,
Walking and talking together.
May you grow to love and appreciate this place, my son.
When I was carrying you,
I often heard something within me saying,
I still hear that voice.
It was as if God was telling me to
Have faith, that all would be well.
That there was an important reason for me to hold on,
And you were the reason.
What a handsome boy you are.
Long lashes, long sensitive fingers.
Warm California sun enveloping me
(That old familiar feeling, the joy of just being)
Joni Mitchell playing on the radio,
Nancy explaining the mechanics of a game to Isiah...
The healing is starting...
I am reveling in the sand and surf,
And admiring the California blue of the sea.
Sweet smells and sounds, so endearing...
So glad to be here...
Friday, March 2, 2012
"May your past be a pleasant memory,
Your future filled with delight and mystery,
Your now a glorious moment,
That fills your life with deep contentment.
May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities, and promises.
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered, and protected.
May your soul calm, console, and renew you."
Give me a few friends
who will love me for what I am,
and keep ever burning
before my vagrant steps
the kindly light of hope...
And though I come not within sight
of the castle of my dreams,
teach me to be thankful for life,
and for time's olden memories
that are good and sweet.
And may the evening's twilight
find me gentle still."
"I saw a stranger today.
I put food for him
in the eating-place
in the drinking-place
in the listening-place.
In the Holy name
of the Trinity
He blessed myself
and my family.
And the lark said in her warble
Often, often, often
in the stranger's guise.
O, oft and oft and oft,
in the stranger's guise."
Celtic Rune of Hospitality
"I arise today
Through a mighty strength:
God's power to guide me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's eyes to watch over me;
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to give me speech,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,co
God's shield to shelter me,
God's host to secure me."
first millenium - Bridgid of Gael
God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking.
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping.
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.
God in my slumber,
God in mine ever-living soul,
God in mine eternity."
"May the blessing of light be on you - light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire,
so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it.
And may light shine out of the two eyes of you,
like a candle set in the window of a house,
bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.
And may the blessing of the rain be on you,
may it beat upon your Spirit and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there a shining pool where the blue of Heaven shines,
and sometimes a star.
And may the blessing of the earth be on you,
soft under your feet as you pass along the roads,
soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day;
and may it rest easy over you when, at last, you lie out under it.
May it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly; up and off and on its way to God.
And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly. Amen."
Helen Gordon Quigless
Poet, librarian, community leader
Known as an energetic, imaginative individual, Helen Quigless's passion for writing poetry was equalled by her dedication to community projects, including the Partners in Art program, which provides guidance in the arts for disadvantaged children. She was a respected community leader in her home town of Tarboro, North Carolina, where her involvement in the Phoenix Historical Society of Edgecombe County helped develop the town as a major historical site. In her professional life as a librarian Quigless was no less driven. Despite struggling with rheumatoid arthritis and progressive blindness she was responsible for developing the library holdings at the University of the District of Columbia from its inception in 1974. Quigless is most widely known as a poet; her work appeared in several prestigious anthologies, including Black Southern Voices (1968) and Today's Negro Voices (1970).
Helen Gordon Quigless was born in Washington, D.C., on July 16, 1944, the daughter of Milton D. Quigless and Helen McAlpine Gordon Quigless. Quigless grew up with her brother Milton and her sister Carol in Tarboro, North Carolina. Her father was a noted physician and general surgeon; he was one of the first black doctors in Edgecombe County. In 1946 he opened a clinic on Main Street, in Tarboro, to provide medical care for blacks who were prevented from seeking treatment at "white" health centers and hospitals; he died in 1997. Her father's position in the community may well have inspired Quigless in her own community work. She attended Putney School in Putney, Vermont, before earning a bachelor's degree in English at Fisk University (1966); in 1969 she was awarded a master's degree in library and information science at Atlanta University. From the age of 19, she suffered with rheumatoid arthritis, a painful illness that left her blind and bedridden in the final months of her life.
Quigless began working at Federal City College, later to become part of the District of Columbia University, in 1968 and remained there until illness forced her retirement. She began as a media specialist, but was eventually responsible for developing the library and information holdings at the university. Despite her time-consuming and demanding job, Quigless also found time to write poetry. She was linked with the Black Arts Movement, a group of black writers, musicians, poets, and artists whose work provided cultural and intellectual weight to the civil rights movement. In 1967 her poetry appeared in For Malcolm, an anthology to commemorate civil rights leader Malcolm X, and for the next few years she could be listed alongside Marvin X, Etheridge Knight, and Gwendolyn Brooks, as one of those who provided a poetic voice for the black community. She published poems in two other anthologies, The New Black Poetry (1968), and Today's Negro Voices (1970), as well as the 1970 edition of New Negro Poets.
Quigless was well known as a poet for a relatively short period, but the direct approach she took in her poetry also made her a dedicated community leader in her home town of Tarboro. Struggling with illness, Quigless nevertheless worked hard on community projects, using her connections in the literary and art worlds in fundraising and publicity. She founded Partners in Art, an award for middle and high school students in Edgecombe County. The annual award, funded by a coalition of local businesses, is presented each spring. It provides access to art materials, and professional tuition, as well as allowing students to display their work for the public. Meade Horne, former executive director of Edgecombe ARTS, who worked with Quigless on the Partners in Art program, told The Daily Southerner that "She had a great spirit and great determination. I never met someone more determined in my life." Besides her involvement with Edgecombe County Cultural Arts Council, Quigless was also a leading light in Edgecombe County NAACP, and the American Association of University Women. She served as president of the Phoenix Historical Society of Edgecombe County, using her position to promote genealogical research in and around Tarboro, one of the United States' oldest towns. She was also influential in the development of Tarboro's historic district, which is one of the largest in the South-Eastern United States.
Quigless's life was overshadowed by the illness that finally took her life at the age of 59. Yet her dynamic personality, determination, and creativity brought her influence that went far beyond the small town where she was raised; as a poet she was part of a literary movement that helped define American literature in the late twentieth century. Yet it was for the culture, history, and the people of Tarboro that Quigless reserved her greatest dedication and effort. Sister Mary Ann Czaja told The Daily Southerner "Her creativity was the gift she gave to society."
Helen Gordon Quigless' poetry has been published in anthologies, including For Malcolm: Poems on the Life and Death of Malcolm X, Broadside Press, 1967; The New Black Poetry, International Publishers, 1968; Today's Negro Voices: An Anthology by Young Negro Poets, Messner, 1970; New Negro Poets (1970).
At a Glance …
Born Helen Gordon Quigless on July 16, 1944, in Washington, DC; died on January 17, 2004. Education: Fisk University, BA, English, 1966; Atlanta University, MS, library and information science, 1969. Religion: Episcopalian.
Career: Poet, 1967-2004; Federal City College (now University of the District of Columbia), Washington, DC, media specialist and librarian, 1968-(?).
Memberships: Edgecombe County Cultural Arts Council; Edgecombe County NAACP; American Association of University Women; president of Phoenix Historical Society of Edgecombe County.
Jet, February 23, 2004.
"County at a Loss for Words," The Daily Southerner, http://dailysoutherner.com/articles/2004/01/20/news/news3.txt (November 22, 2004).
"Helen Gordon Quigless," Biography Resource Center, www.galenet.com/servlet/BioRC (November 18, 2004).
Thursday, March 1, 2012
And I'm standing on my front porch
Breathing in the morning calm.
To my right, there's a giant oak tree.
To my left, a towering pine.
The wind chime tones an ancient melody,
All is well, all is well.
The birds are awake, and singing
Their morning song.
What a pleasure to observe these things,
As life goes on.