The Passing Years

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“As the Wheel of Time turns, places wear many names. Men wear many names, many faces. Different faces but always the same man. Yet no one knows the Great Pattern the Wheel weaves or even the Pattern of an Age. We can only watch, and study, and hope.”~Robert Jordan

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Christmas and New Year are the only two major events that spell #festivity to me, besides birthdays, of course. I await these two with great anticipation and joy. As the old year gives way to the new, I record my feelings and experiences of the past year and my #hopes and #aspirations for the new. They were almost the same; the same vein with a bit of variation or degrees of reactions or responses to life’s vagaries. The incoming new ‘decade’, however, brought in an absolutely unexpected, strange feeling.

The build-up to Christmas was like to any weekend – a holiday, yea! And it remained so through the run-up to New year and the start of a new decade. In fact, I went to bed at 10.30 p.m on New Year’s eve. That’s something I’d never do earlier. I’d be waiting excitedly to ring out the old and ring in the new. Then I’d wish everyone a wonderful year before falling into bed an hour or two later!

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“The lives of all people flow through time, and, regardless of how brutal one moment might be, how filled with grief or pain or fear, time flows through all lives equally.”~Orson Scott Card

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Not this time. I was drowsy and had to fight to keep my eyes open. So I flopped into bed. 

I was surprised by my lack of enthusiasm for Christmas too. I had to manufacture my happiness as an actor would slip into character or a called for emotion on stage. #Christmas is my most loved time of the year, and I was sad that I was numb to it inside of me. I went through the motions as required on cue.

I was numb to the celebrations, not in my spirit and worship. My prayer life remained steadfast and strong. My hope and trust in the Lord were firm. I was numb to social festivities. The shopping lacked the usual festive fever, something very not me. I am super elated when I shop on any day; it could be for anything and any time of the year.

I wondered if the changes in my situation were the reason. But I’ve had a major tragedy strike, faced major issues and changes in life, and still not lost the spirit of Christmas celebration. Why now? I found an old post from New Year Eve 2012 when I was uprooted from where I had lived since my birth. And I found the true ‘me’ still kicking and strong.

“Have I died?” I asked myself. 

No. not yet! I’m just tired. Very tired. I’m down but not dead.

#immovingon

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“She knew that this day, this feeling couldn’t last forever. Everything passed; that was partly why it was so beautiful. Things would get difficult again. But that was okay too.

The bravery was in moving forward, no matter what.”~Lauren Oliver

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Here’s a part of the post which gives a glimpse of a New Year past before life as I knew it was about to change.

“Unlike previous years, this year did not see me with regrets or longings for what could have been but wasn’t; where I could have gone but didn’t; what I should have done or could have done but gave up a step too soon. I surprised myself a bit, honestly, by the new perspective and the calmness I had as the year softly and silently slipped into my grateful, content, and not-so-perfect life. I was in a place of imperfection with peace, acceptance, happiness, and faith; and this made things good.

No one but God is perfect and in our journey towards that perfect love and light, we learn to appreciate more, to find peace in tumultuous times, to develop better attitudes toward ourselves, and the people we come in contact with. We begin to accept whatever comes our way… the good and the bad… with forbearance and hope.

It all sounds like a dreamer’s utopian musings, doesn’t it? I assure you, it isn’t. This is a seeker’s account of her experience. There is pain, there are disappointments; tears; loneliness; anger; frustration; regrets and all the lows that are a part of life. But once you begin to look through the eyes of steadfast faith, hope, and trust that “this too shall pass,” the cross is lighter. I believe that God is watching out for me and mine. And as we make progress toward our goals, slipping, sliding, falling, He walks along – lifting, carrying, prodding us. I cast my cares on Him and He takes the burden off. So, though my cross is heavy sometimes, the burden is light. My heart is lighter. My mind is less prone to worry, and I can be grateful and enjoy my life even when the chips are down. That’s how I walk into 2013!

The New year is a harbinger of new beginnings. Beginnings in new places; new faces; changed climate and weather patterns; with Christmas in Summer and a Winter birthday in the month of May! New language, different food, and flavors, with new inclusions in my diet. Making new friends. Building a new social circle at this stage, learning conversion of a new currency against a rupee (though I know it is not advisable to compare rates of another currency against the rupee, it’s depressing!), but old habits die hard, and that’s the truth in this respect at least!!

But I raise a toast to new beginnings, to life and its vagaries. Cheers!”

With this, I send out good wishes to all my blog members and hope you have a good year! #2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Senior Moment

Another one from my journals written on Thursday, June 9, 2011. As I read it, I realized that things are more or less the same, if not worse, when it comes to the impatience of the younger generation towards their predecessors. Though people of an older generation have advanced in their learning and application of new technical skills, and they’re better than they were in 2011, a majority will still not be at par with the existing skills of youngsters. And if they aren’t, it’s all right.

These seniors have learned to drive today’s modern cars. They’ve learned to navigate their way through crowded roads; roads more crowded with vehicular traffic than they were in their day. They’re keeping up with the constant development of mobile phones with new apps, new technology in photography, communication, and a fast-changing world, in general. Change is not easy. In fact, it is hard for most. Yet, the seniors adapt and adjust to the new. 

Do these young ones appreciate the effort senior citizens make? Do they understand that learning new things at an advanced age is more difficult? Could they be more appreciative and patient with the seniors?

It’s the same as it was earlier; the percentage of those who are appreciative of seniors’ efforts to catch up is much lower than that of those who don’t.

And, in case you’re wondering; I’m not yet a ‘senior’! 🙂 But as the previous post suggests, I’ve always held these views about the treatment of our seniors: old parents, grandparents or neighbors in terms of their adjustment problems or learning issues. If you can’t help in any way, don’t berate or act like an arrogant know-all, and definitely, don’t think they are stupid.

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The old was once a new invention! The seniors have seen a lot of new inventions and changes. They have changed and moved with the times. But with age, things slow down for many. Instead of being arrogant and uppity with the older generation, help them or better, teach them with patience if they can learn even a little bit. And if they can’t just appreciate them. They’ve got a big experience behind them. (Pic: Matt Artz on Unsplash)

 

A Senior Moment

This post was prompted by a forward I found in my inbox. It was an illustration of how a member of the younger generation (a college freshman) perceives the people of the older one as primitive beings.

While I haven’t run into many youngsters like the obnoxious one mentioned here, I can safely say, they exist with all their pompous arrogance. I’ve seen it as road rage and disparaging remarks thrown at senior citizens driving on the road. I fully understand that at times they can do things wrong while driving and, at times, cause an accident, but then so can you, my young one. If they’ve still got their driving license they have as much right on the road as you have. At least the traffic authorities deem so!

I have noted the frustration of young drivers honking madly as an old person laboriously crosses the road. I’ve heard and seen enough to wonder from where all this comes. On the brighter side, I have heard and seen a great number of young people being kind, gentle, and patient with their elders. These are the ones you will not find airing their disapproval of the older folk they encounter, outside their families and homes.

Generally, one can say youngsters, these days, are becoming quite impatient and intolerant of older people who have not kept abreast of the times. Having been born in a world where everything has to be super fast, almost instant, they adopt arrogance and condescension with those they perceive as stupid and slow.

They fail to see that the fruits of progress they are enjoying today didn’t happen overnight. These senior citizens have been a part of the process; they have moved through the stages of development. Each has seen an improvement on a previous generation in terms of innovations and discoveries.

As children, we grew up with some new inventions that our parents never knew in their childhood. We also enjoyed improvements on existing devices which made them faster, quicker and more efficient. But I don’t recall being impatient, intolerant or arrogant with senior citizens who hadn’t seen these things at their time.

Instead, we would be keen to explain about new gadgets, and even try to convince them that the new device worked better and was good to use. I know how difficult it was to sell pressure cookers to housewives in small towns back in the tail end of the 50s and early 60s. The general fear being; it would burst! My mom, though a bit apprehensive, went ahead and bought one in 1963, and I thought she was brave!

It was the same when kerosene stoves entered the kitchen to replace coal and firewood. Later on, when they introduced LPG for cooking, it found the same initial resistance. Yet, I wasn’t intolerant with my grandmother who still used firewood and coal to cook and heat the house in winter. In fact, I enjoyed sitting in her kitchen.

Computers are still a #challenge for the older generation in my country. Some have learned or taught themselves the basics so they can surf the net and stay in contact through emails.

However, with the introduction of mobile phones and iPads and such hand-held devices, many more have crossed that line of doubt and fear and ventured into the world of internet and Wi-Fi. Their knowledge might be basic but they know enough to get on and keep in touch with the progress and that includes me too. I’m not a tech person, but I manage. The younger generation is impatient with this too. If you can’t keep pace with them, you’re not worth their time.

The progress in the past two decades has happened at a faster pace than earlier years. This could be a reason why not many who carry the #seniorcitizen tag have been able to catch up with recent developments. I’m sure that is no reason to view them as stupid or inefficient.

 

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They’re not dinosaurs; they are survivors. They are the people who have adopted new ways of living and adapted to more life-changing inventions and developments than you younger people have. But that’s just me. Tell it to an impatient generation that has grown up on #instant gratification.

(Reposting with a few additions and more editing!)

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A Better Morning. A Proverb. And A Mare’s Snort!

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A street in Viña.

It’s a cold day… it snowed in the night and was snowing when I awoke. But now it’s stopped and I’m feeling the cold. My thoughts, as they tend to, travel back and forth to better memories of places or incidents; times that could take my mind off the cold by warming my heart. So, I read through my journal.

This entry brought a smile as it ended. I do recall that day.

 

A Better Morning

Well, it’s usually a good morning every day for me. So, I thought I should qualify that by a degree and add “Better” instead to the morning. Chilean mornings are different. The house is quiet, in fact, the whole world around our block and a couple of blocks away too are blissfully silent. Not even a squawk from the gulls. Probably, there are no gulls anyway.

How different from the mornings I experienced in a bustling city in India! The world there woke up before daybreak! At least the moms or women did, I presume, as I didn’t see many men hitting the kitchen to rustle up breakfast for the school-going kids or themselves at that hour.

I mean no offense nor a barb intended for the husbands. It’s just how it usually is in India. And with the waking would come the sound of a grand welcome ushering in a new day; the kitchen band struck discordant notes: clangs, bangs, whirs of a mixie and whistles of a pressure cooker.

What a contrast!

Here, in my room where I’m all by myself, it is certainly a quiet morning. I’m as quiet as a mouse. The only sound that you can hear is me shuffling about, the wooden floor squeaks under my weight (which is great!), and there’s the click of the bathroom door shutting; running water and the occasional thud/clang of me or a pan falling! Otherwise, as I said, I’m as quiet as a mouse. Is my tongue in my cheek?

In truth, I haven’t fallen down and I hope I’m not speaking too soon. But in my haste to get my hot cup of ginger tea… well, accidents do happen! You can’t hold me for that, can you? I don’t expect an answer. It’s plain rhetoric.

A Proverb

At my Prayer Breakfast, I got a verse from Proverbs for meditation. I was listening to the lesson: A Teachable Spirit. The verse says: “Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool.”~Proverbs 17:10 (NKJV)

Think about it. I had a lot on my plate as I mulled over the verse and attempted to plumb the depths of its meaning and the application in life.

Do I have a teachable spirit?

Do I walk in humility?

In all honesty, I’m not there yet, but I’m on the way. This tells me I’m not a lost cause. For today, that gives me hope and as I said, it’s a better morning… however, my tea got cold!

A Mare’s Snort!

I went to buy some vegetables yesterday. I walked down to the store not far from our place. I was halfway there when I saw a group of young women coming my way. One, in particular, caught my attention as she stared at me and tried to hide a snicker. I’m not very observant but since I was getting a snicker, I gave her a look-over too and passed by.

Nothing about her drew any thought; good or bad, funny or ugly in my mind. As we passed each other, I heard a loud snort of laughter… the kind that goes haw-haw-snort, haw-haw-snort! It reminded me of a horse… or a mare in this case… of Sandra Bullock in one of her movies where she plays this character who snorted when she was actually laughing!

I smiled and that led to silent tummy-shaking laughter. I’m glad she gave me a funny moment rather than a nasty one.

I knew what she was laughing at. First, I had on very loose trousers and a very loose sweater! And I walked awkwardly. Loose clothes so I could accommodate double layers to keep me warm. Also, so I could conceal the bulky waist support with rods in it and the knee support around my right knee. Add to that the collar I had for my neck. I am obese and I walk awkwardly with pain.

Although not justified, I can understand how some young people are insensitive to alien sights. And I must have qualified as one; a foreign face, ill-fitting clothes, and an awkward gait. But, a spoonful of humor helps the untasteful go down, if I may misquote a line from Julie Andrews song in The Sound Of Music.

Since I started writing, the weather has changed. The sun has put his hat on, hip-hip-hip-hooray! The sun has put his hat on and is coming out today. On that kiddish note, I sign out. It’s a Better Morning already!

Five years later, as I read this account on a cold day, my spirits are uplifted. I recall how it was for me then. Today, I’m not obese. I don’t have to wear my waist support with its rods, or my knee support and the collar daily. I’m not in constant pain. And though I know I’ll never be free of osteoarthritis; it’ll worsen with age, I’m filled with gratitude, praise, and worship for my present state of good health and mobility.

The sun hasn’t “put his hat on” and it’s still cold… but it is already a Better Morning!

“Every time you find humor in a difficult situation, you WIN!”

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My Sister Makes A Wish!

“If you are a dreamer come in.

If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,

A hoper, a pray-er, a magic-bean-buyer,

If you’re a pretender come sit by my fire

For we have some flax-golden tales to spin,

Come in!

Come in!”

Shel Silverstein

 

They say, ‘if wishes were horses beggars would ride.’ Not always, I say. Getting a wish sometimes isn’t quite the “beggar’s horse ride.”

My sister made a wish… and she got it! It all started as a game and became a terrifying reality. But I must start at the beginning.

Daddy had decided to put in his papers and take an early, premature retirement. Premature it was; he was only forty-five and had a long way to go. But his heart was set on dedicating his time totally to evangelism.

So in 1965, he left the service and we moved to his hometown in Punjab. He was going home; we were going to Never Land! Of course, the descriptions differed in each of our minds. I am not sure what Never Land signified for my siblings, for me, it was rich in every way: experiences, adventure, fantasy, challenges, and fun.

My eldest sister didn’t fancy it much I guess because as soon as she completed her Senior Cambridge, she came to the “village” from the boarding school in the hills, and dashed off to Delhi to train as a nurse. Daddy wanted her to join the college in Ludhiana and get her Bachelor’s degree. She didn’t want to stay in Punjab. She had mummy’s support and she joined her nurse’s training course in a hospital in the capital city.

This left four of us kids (my younger brother had arrived by then) with Grandpa, Grandma, Mummy, Daddy, the cattle; cow and buffalo, chickens, rabbits and a dog named Tommy; fruit trees, open spaces, and rolling fields around us.

It was a marvelous new life for my elder brother and me because we had no school to attend (the new session and admissions would start in two months), and we spent the whole day exploring the surroundings. Shooting at pigeons and whatever flew or ran or crawled with our catapults!

I don’t remember how my elder sister spent most of her time, but there were rare occasions when she would join us to spend the afternoons in our treetop getaway. We would carry up some books, a few munchies with lemonade, and while away the lazy afternoons swaying gently in our hammocks that were way up the tree! We had to climb up a ladder placed against the trunk of the Tali tree to get to the hammocks.

Looking back, I admit, it was dicey! Climbing from the ladder into a swaying hammock more than eight feet from the ground wasn’t safe. I was barely ten years old then. Anyway, life was different then. Kids played and survived many outdoor games and activities; things parents wouldn’t allow their kids to do now.

To get back to the story, on one such rare day, the three of us were sitting around in the vegetable garden behind our house and sharing our wildest dreams, wishes, and fantasies. As we tried to outdo ourselves in our imaginings; she blurted out that she would love to see two planes right above us in active combat. My brother and I guffawed. We knew she was right off her track because she wasn’t into these sorts of imaginings. She was very ‘girlie-girlie’ and didn’t dream of such stuff. Besides, we were not at war with anyone. However, we agreed that she had indeed outdone us in ‘bizarre’.

Not much later, we heard the roar of planes and looked up. It wasn’t unusual to see these fighter planes in practice sorties, as the Air Force base wasn’t far in airspace terms. There were two Gnats chasing a plane we couldn’t identify. It was bigger than the Gnats. My brother and I were intrigued. By then, they were almost over us and he yelled.

“It’s an attack! Run! That’s a Pakistani plane. Look at the insignia.”

It happened in the twinkling of an eye. Before we could even digest what he was saying. The air was rent with staccato gunshots. I ran and hid behind a Jasmine bush nearby and watched. The other two stood transfixed and watched. There was a dogfight raging in the sky above us.

I can recall the feeling even today. It was all in the extreme… the fear, the excitement, and the amazement. Then, in front of our eyes, the Pakistani plane took a fatal shot and burst into flames. It careened wildly and began a wobbly descent, thankfully, away from ‘our’ airspace and crashed in a field close to where we were.

Our yelling had brought out my uncle who was on one of his breaks between joining ship again. He wouldn’t believe us because by then the plane had gone down, but the trail of black smoke convinced him. He ran out with the others who appeared from nowhere in an instant. We followed; my brother and I.

I was slower and lagged behind. My uncle who was way ahead, saw me coming and stopped me at a distance. All I saw was the plane burning with huge, angry flames, and a mob shouting and yelling curses and abuses at the dead pilot. It was a terrible sight. But not as terrible as what was to follow. We were at war with Pakistan.

I peered at my sister, later that night, when we were huddled in the trench and our town lay trembling as some flak from attacks on the Air Force base and the G.T highway strayed and fell around us. She smiled wanly. I knew she was thinking what I was thinking but I had to say it.

“Couldn’t you wish for something better,” I shouted to be heard through the cotton plugs in her ears.

She wouldn’t reply. Her teeth were clenched on the handkerchief in her mouth. I stuffed mine back into my mouth as Daddy yelled a warning. A bomb exploded two-hundred and fifty meters away.

This was just the beginning… 

 

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When Mummy Sang A Song

JI heard a song by Bill Anderson: Mama Sang A Song, and it struck a chord with me. My mama sang hymns too, all day. And as the song says, I think a lot about the time back when I was a girl.

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Mummy was a #SAHM (stay-at-home-mum). Back then the term was not in use because in my country, in those days, most mother’s stayed at home. So it was no big deal. But unlike most mothers, mine had been a working girl before she married!

She was a #WRIN. That’s what the women working for the Women’s Royal Indian Navy Service were called. Since Daddy didn’t want her to continue working, she resigned herself to being a housewife. The term ‘homemaker’ was not in use then. But Mummy didn’t seem to resent that.

However, life didn’t prove to be what she had dreamed it would be. She grew up in a well-to-do family. Although she was an orphan, she was the child of rich parents who left her for a ridiculous reason. Her foster parents were affluent too.

My father, on the other hand, grew up in a respectable family but ‘rich’ or ‘well-to-do’ were not ascribed to it. His father was a school teacher, then, with ten children, though respectable and certainly not in a hand-to-mouth situation, the family was just getting by comfortably.

Mummy grew up in a different society and their cultures and traditions were poles apart. But then, opposites attract (they say!). It didn’t matter much though. What made it difficult was the lack of luxuries she had been used to as well as the extravagance she enjoyed as a single working woman.

She told me how annoyed her mother was when she learned of Mummy’s decision to chuck a college education (her mother had registered her name for admission to a prestigious college in their city) and take up the Pitman’s Secretarial Course, instead.

My grandmother warned her that her salary if she worked, would be less than her monthly expenses. But Mummy was adamant and did what she wanted to do, and landed up as a WRIN. She found out soon enough that she couldn’t manage on what she earned!

How could a stenographer who wanted to eat breakfast in Taj Hotel, Mumbai, off and on, survive on a steno’s salary! Sometimes, she’d take along a friend or two, too. And let’s not talk about shopping! She realized that her mother was right. Her salary wasn’t enough for her extravagant nature. When I heard this story as a wide-eyed girl hanging on to every word, I thought this was the point when Mummy would say she curbed her lavish lifestyle and became financially wise. Was I in for another wide-eyed revelation!

Her mother sent her a handsome amount of Rs. 100/month as pocket money so she could continue living the way she wanted. BOOM! She laughed rather triumphantly when she saw my expression. I guess she knew what I was expecting.

Daddy gave her the best he could. There was no lack of domestic help; people to help around the house and kitchen and at most times, two people on twenty-four hour call. Not that they were called at odd hours but in an emergency, they were there in the servant’s quarters behind the house. But that compensated for little. Her expectations went beyond the domestic arena. So life was difficult for her. There was a lot of adjustment involved at every step.

But Mummy sang. She sang to build up courage; she sang to console herself; she sang to rekindle joy; she sang to calm her soul; she sang to cheer up her sagging spirits; she sang to fill the home with melody. But most of all, she sang because she loved to sing.

When she was at a crossroad and didn’t know which way to turn, she sang, “Lead Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom, Lead thou me on…”

She cooked and baked her way through delicious meals for the family and filled the kitchen with tempting aromas and heavenly tunes: “The chimes of time ring out the news another day is through, someone slipped and fell was that someone you? You may have longed for added strength your courage to renew, do not be disheartened for I have news for you: it is no secret what God can do, what He’s done for others, He’ll do for you…”

When daddy put in for premature retirement from the Navy and moved the family to his hometown in Punjab, she was devastated. Did she crack? No.

She took it in her stride. She took to rural life; pumping water from a hand pump, washing, cleaning, and cooking with no domestic help. She was not one to sit pretty even though she had lived with help around the house all her life. But neither did it mean she never felt the strain or that the transition didn’t take its toll. She calmed herself with: “Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder, why it should be thus all the day long while there are others living around us never molested though in the wrong. Further along, we’ll know all about it. Further along, we’ll understand why; cheer up my sister live in the sunshine, we’ll understand it all by and by.”

When she was lonely; had no one she could befriend in this Punjab town, she went through the day happily humming: “I’ve found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me, he tells me every care on him to roll, he’s the lily of the valley, the bright and morning star, he’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.”

And when she lay down tired, at the end of the day, she’d fall asleep singing: “Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on his gentle breast, there, by his love o’er shaded sweetly my soul shall rest.”

Mummy sang some other songs too not just hymns, but her favorite and most sung songs were hymns. I have mentioned situations and some hymns she would sing to show how she built herself up and how she looked to God for peace and strength to keep her happy, smiling, joking (yes, she laughed and joked a lot!). This, however, isn’t the only reason she sang. She sang because she loved singing. She sang Alto in the church choir.

Mummy actually taught us faith. Not in sermons, not in speech but through her songs. She turned to God every time to replenish hope, love, and joy, not only when things became difficult for her but all day long. In doing so, she taught me a valuable lesson.

Mummy’s singing brought peace and calm then, and today the legacy she left carries forward in my home and life. I sing too. I sing a lot of songs from different genres, unlike my mother, but like her, I sing a lot of hymns too. Like our home when I was a girl, my home is also filled with songs. I am grateful for her singing. It made me happy when I was a girl and it makes for such precious memories now.

These lines from Mama Sang A Song sum it up:

God put a song in the heart of an angel, and softly she sang it to me…

I get to thinking lots of times…of the old home place where I grew up, of the days both good and bad…

Our home fire never flickered once, ’cause when things went wrong…

Mama sang a song…And those were the greatest days of all, when mama sang a song…

No voice is left to fill those halls, and no steps to grace the floor,

for you see my mother sings in heaven now, around God’s golden throne.

But I’ll always believe this world is a better place (for me)

because one time my mama sang a song.

I am a grandmother now but the memories of mummy singing as she carried on faithfully with her chores and duties, still motivate and inspire me.

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Thank you for the songs Mum. Thank you for your faith.
“Sing again, with your dear voice revealing a tone of some world far from ours, Where music and moonlight and feeling are one.”~Percy Bysshe Shelley 
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