52 South

Today I am grateful for safe travels to a family funeral and for a warm and comfortable bed in which to rest.

I attended my Aunt Jenny's funeral on Friday and appreciated that I was able to be there. Jenny was my dad's sister. She had been ill with Parkinson's for many years, and she and her family suffered in that time. She died at age 87, and I believe she now knows peace. I wish for peace for her husband of 64 years, my Uncle Nilus, and for their six children and their families.

It was good to see members of my own family and my extended family, as cousins gathered to pay respects. I am thinking especially of Sister Norma Jean, my dad's youngest sister and now the only surviving member of her immediate family. She has said goodbye to both parents and all six of her siblings. It gives me pause to think about the nature of life, the wisdom of life, the full range of feelings that life brings if we truly live it.

I hadn't written a poem in months. Sometimes that is the way it goes. One started coming to me as I drove to the funeral Friday morning. I finished it Saturday morning, as I considered the previous day's events and emotions.

Here is that poem:

52 South

Leaving the edge
of urban
for the heart of
rural on an
early morning trip,
I took the on-ramp
for U.S. Highway
52 South.

Traversing the winding
roads and rolling hills
of my current home state,
I was treated to
beautiful skies as
daylight arrived.
Clouds and sun
played together to
beckon me.

52 South led me
right into my
native state,
into the county
of my birth and
into a mix of
emotions and memories.

Arriving at my destination,
adjacent to 52 South,
I pulled up to the church
where my aunt’s funeral
was about to take place.

The same church my dad’s
funeral took place 19 years
ago, also in the fall.
Siblings laid to rest in the
same cemetery as their
parents and brother.

Just yards off of 52 South,
family history closes
another chapter,
even as new ones
are being written.

A generation is
fading away, as cousins
of the next generation
speak of memories that
now span decades.
There is laughter along
with quiet wisdom.

We are bound together
by bloodlines, and
brought together by
U.S. Highway 52.

A well-traveled road
uniting us to honor
well-lived lives.

 And a picture to go with the poem, a sign just a few blocks down from that church and cemetery:

A life well-lived starts with today. It starts with living gratefully in the moment. If not for that, I would have missed this sign and so many others.


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