Cycles and Circles in Women’s Lives

Just back from a wonderful trip to Texas. I attended a Women’s Retreat at Glenda Taylor’s Earthsprings in East Texas. The Piney Woods got some much needed rain while we were there, but the sun didn’t desert us, and felt all the more welcome after the clearing storms.

So many lessons and memories in the connections with friends of over twenty years. And having the amazing college age daughter of one of the women present was a special gift. Great to see how women’s wisdom gets passed down to the next generation through the vehicle of women’s circles. And she mentored us, encouraging we elders not to “take to our beds” but to stay connected to members of her generation, sharing and supporting them.

As happens at the later stages of life, one of our members is in a nursing home and I visited her as I nearly always do when I come to Fort Worth. She has been given one of life’s most dramatic challenges to dance with, but I was inspired with how she is doing just that. Here is a prose poem I wrote about some of what I learned from her.

Sylvia Jean

Our bodies embrace in a full-bodied hug, confirming

our deeply connected 25 year sisterhood. Seated at the

café table, as in the long ago, we tell each other our

dreams. She speaks of a woman who tells her what’s

going on, and scolds her for not getting it right. I

refrain from admitting, even to myself, that her

dreams seem dreadful nightmares to me.

“I’m noticing my head,” she tells me and I see the

familiar sheepish smile. “You might think it’s silly

to be noticing my head,” she says and she chuckles,

knowing she can trust me with this information.

I remind her she always was aware of her body and

marvel at how she has kept her curiosity and wonder

at what’s happening in the Now. And her disease is

taking from her all but the Now.

I remind her we’ve been best friends through thick and thin.

“I know and I feel like I’m going to cry.”

“Me too,” I say.

She creates a poem in the moment, a gift to her husband

at his leaving. Some words are incomprehensible, but the

phrases are complete with a song-like rhythm and rhyme.

In the bittersweet moment of my leaving, she constructs

another poem, a gift to me, accompanied by a youthful

smile which takes pride in this accomplishment. We

both seem to know we must keep on keeping on, practicing

letting go, allowing her to become again the child she always was.

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