Writing Wings For You

Marie Lukasik Wallace ~ # I LIVE Poetry – I'm passionate about life and writing and all things creative and poetic!


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A Father’s Story in honor of Father’s Day

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What qualifies a person to write another man’s story?  For a life is not a life unless it is fully experienced and lived, and the writer can hardly capture the essence, let alone tell a full story.But the one who has done the living is a tired soul and his hands are feeble and in pain, and his heart has been in pieces and it’s difficult for him to sort out.  And so it is that the writer must be the one to document whatever he/she can. For once a life goes, so do their libraries of stories.Two years ago, I felt the calling to get to know my dad when I walked in a Hallmark store and found a book called, “My Father’s Legacy.”  In the book are “get to know you questions” about family history, not just dates, but celebrations and dreams and memories. There were so many questions I didn’t know the answer to for my family, even basic questions of family tree information. You see, I have always wanted to get to know dad, but his life and his feelings have always been vaulted with at least a hundred locks and a secret code.  As I examined the book, I realized there was so much more I didn’t know, and the questions seemed simple enough.  So I thought to myself, “Let’s give this a try.”I introduced the book to my dad and told him I’d like to document family history and some traditions for posterity. “Hey Dad, maybe I could ask you some questions?” Dad said, “I think that’d be all right.”   When I would visit, I would ask a few questions and then I’d randomly call him and ask him some more.  However, if the question became too personal, dad would quickly close up and withdraw and suddenly had to go “feed the critters” or eat, even if he just called me!The next step on our journey, my dad then began to accept that if the question was in the book, then it was legal, and I could ask it.  It would make me giggle because he would look in the book to check if the question really was there.   What this phase allowed me to do was gain his trust.  He would feed me tidbits to see what I would do with the information.   Because my intentions were honorable and how I handled his information was honorable, he began to trust me.  From there, we could go a little deeper. There were times I would call, and he’d have to get through the roughness of his day, (Alzheimer’s has people living in fear and worry), and then I would get tidbits of information.   Other days after finishing his stories he was just done and hung up.  It was disappointing, but I knew it was part of the journey. Through patience and diligence and ears bleeding getting through the toughness of dealing with someone who is closed and stubborn and sadly going through mind games of his own, we began to forge a new relationship.  He began to look forward to my calls and sometimes called me.  The darkness was revealed less and less and the pep in his spirit was back.This week I got to visit him in Texas.  I came prepared with a list of questions in various areas, because I never know what he will be open to answer.  Needless to say, I didn’t get a lot of the prepared questions answered, but fortunate for me, I was open to the experience and whatever he had to offer me.   Because of this, I was pleasantly surprised more than once.We went on an adventure to visit his hometown of Georgewest.  He got lost, and I didn’t catch it because I had my head down taking notes…But the best part? GETTING LOST WAS A BEAUTIFUL THING. Because we were in the car seven lovely hours without phones or computers or people clamoring for his attention, we just got to laugh and be ourselves. Sometimes we didn’t talk at all.  And we can’t forget the Dairy Queen!  We both enjoyed our most favorite treat, icecream just like little kids!Daddy woke up the next day ready to take on the world.  He even talked about feeling inspired to write.  He said he had a dream that I didn’t just “come to Texas,” that I was “sent to Texas” to inspire him. I got a brilliant idea to create a feast for Father’s day.  I used a sheet as a table cloth, because daddy didn’t one, and I picked flowers from his garden and put them in his favorite mason jars.  It takes very little.  And twenty minutes before people came over, daddy gave me the most real, the most honest that I have ever seen him.  He was unafraid, and gave me the advice of a lifetime in regards to alcoholism…but I will save that for another time because it’s a most wonderful story all by itself.The trip wasn’t all peaches and roses, but it was time I treasured and got to know my daddy better. The focus was on being present and noticing. I will never know how much longer I have with him, so I embrace what I have.  Smile your silly smile dad and enjoy.

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LOVE you!!!

Writing Can be a Rough Road

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Writing Can be a Rough Road

Don’t you wish there were a warning sign like this to point out a “Rough Road” in life?” Not only is there a sign, but a pink flag waving in the wind!

My daughter pointed this sign out to me on our way to school one day. It made us giggle because we were going through some tough times. Lately, the writing road has been a tough one for me….mostly time because my day job, teaching is really busy now. But honestly, the toughest part is working on my dad’s story. Dad is locked up tight inside again.

Alzheimer’s is a nasty beast to the patient and to the families. It is confusing to know what to say and what not to say because they are so caught up in fear and paranoia that often we don’t know what to say. I can’t even hardly talk about what he’s going through on this post for fear that it will get back to him and somehow hurt him. And I’m not trying to hurt anyone. I’m just working for understanding, and writing it to you gets it out of me.

You see, what Alzheimer patients are going through is very very real to them. As my dad’s story unfolds, I realize more and more where his fears come from. He is afraid of people attacking him because he was jumped daily on his way to and from school. He feared for his life often because he knew the guys who jumped him carried knives, and he didn’t know when they would pull one on him.

Rush forward to the present, dad feels this same fear of people wanting to harm him and fearing for his life. Like I said, it’s REAL to HIM. His reasoning skills are waning, so I can’t reason with him about what is real. The most I can do is find ways to comfort him and refocus his energy on positive things. And sometimes I just listen because he needs a way to get the ugly out of him.

I won’t give you details because it will feel like airing dirty laundry. It’s not like that. It’s just that I want you to know there are others out there who understand what you are going through and maybe we can talk strategies together.

Sometimes poetry works with dad because he had such a love for words. And words can be healing. We’ve even written some poetry. For a little while oils like peppermint and orange worked, until he was afraid that the oils were something that would harm instead of help him. Everyone says to use music, but he doesn’t like it and doesn’t have a player. I know through interviews there was music he liked fondly. I’m hoping this summer to bring a CD player with me to visit him with some of those songs to try this out.

The good news is that these episodes go in cycles with some really bad days and then clear days just pop in. I must always be ready because I never know if “today will be the day.”

But I do know this, I never know how much time I will have with him, so I cherish each moment and every morsel of him that is revealed, the good, the bad and the ugly…because he’s my dad…he’s a part of me, and his history is part of me, and I want his grandchildren and great grandchildren to know this man better than the “vaulted man” I knew most of my life. I want to get as many locks off as I can.

Nemaste dear friends. ~Marie


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We Wrote Another Poem! Paint Me As I Am

In Poetry Therapy, we use poetry as a way to heal.  It’s a back door way to heal.  Actually, in my opinion, all writing is healing.  I took some sample poetry from an amazing compilation of teen poems by Writer’s Corps called “Paint Me Like I Am,” and asked my dad how he would want the world to know him. At first, this was too right brained for him. Usually he operates more left brained. So, I read him some more samples and then I used adjectives he had used previously to describe himself and asked him to delineate more on that.

Below is what Ernest, my dad, wrote, with little assistance from me. (He has arthritis and Alzheimer’s, so I’m his hand and placeholder.) What is amazing to me is that my dad was invested and even got excited to do it. He has started to call me now and has more days he talks about his life than not. He has written something our family can treasure, and I’m so proud!
PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU LIKE IT! HE GETS EXCITED ABOUT
PEOPLE READING HIS PAGE :0)

PAINT ME AS I AM by Ernest

Paint me working and doing my best
For I liked to make things better
Taking things that work that didn’t work before
Engines, motors, broken chairs and making them new again.

Paint me determined.
I made up my mind not to have any booze at all…
Or anything that would come near it…
I didn’t want any part of what I did before…

Paint me as keeping my thoughts and good emotions toward others
Requesting forgiveness for my stupidty…

Paint me as always looking for making a difference in life.
As time goes by, I make sure each day of my life that whatever I do and say is better…
Never wanting to give or get trouble…

Paint me independent wanting the peaceful life,
less noise and misery from people or cars and traffic and busses and sirens…
It gripes me a lot…I had enough of all that…
I have to get away from the racket.

Paint me as one whose mind holds onto better days
(don’t really care about money)
Whose richness is in the simple life,
The more simple the better
Let me just work on my cars and trucks and lawn mowers.

Paint me as determined to keep life in balance
And I’m skiing away from life itself
(the house, the dogs and the cats, and even plants.
Leave me with my critters.

Paint me without hateful words
Or holding onto hatefulness
For it puts me out of balance…

Paint me happy and content with my life.

***It might need some editing, but it’s great for a first draft. :0)