Friday, April 18, 2008

A tribute to my aunt

My Aunt Dorothy, my mother's eldest sister, passed away a couple of weeks ago at the age of 93. It's amazing that she lived so long, and it's also remarkable that my uncle lived to the age of 90 (he died about 2 1/2 years ago). When she was in her 50s, her twin sister, Alice, died of cancer. Confronted with her own mortality, she wrote this and asked her daughter to keep it until after she died. Her daughter had it read at the funeral and has shared it with all the family. She was a very gifted pianist and graduated from a music conservatory in Chicago, quite an achievement for a woman of her era!

When I was growing up, we lived in Illinois and my aunt, uncle and their three children lived in California, so we visited back and forth during summer vacations. I have wonderful memories of her as a very vibrant, fun person. My favorite memory is when she demonstrated the Charleston for my cousins and me, and I remember staring in disbelief that someone that "old" could move so fast! (She was probably in her 40s which of course seemed old to me then.)

by Dorothy Goldsmith Penn

Don’t weep for me; I’ve had it all!
I’ve felt the wind blow through my hair,
Acceleration surge through my limbs.
Inhaled deeply and felt gladness sweep over me,
Deep, deep breaths and I’m glad I’m alive.

Don’t weep for me; I’ve watched a child.
Its soft, soft skin; its freshness so very new,
The tiny hands and dimpled arms; its blue, blue
eyes and suckling lips,
To cradle in your arms and watch in fascination.

Don’t weep for me; I’ve raced in the wind,
Played basketball, and tennis ‘til breathless and damp,
Loved every minute; sailed in a boat, cast a fishing line,
Swam until exhausted; soft water soothing my limbs.

Don’t weep for me; I’ve heard a kind word.
A compliment of praise that warms my heart,
Makes life glow and glisten; makes living worthwhile.
They say you’re clever and very wise,
And you want to really be that way.

Don’t weep for me; I’ve tasted achievement.
To paint a canvas and never know and suddenly it
begins to be what you want.
You stop and stare and are so delighted.
This effect, that effect, and now you are excited.
You know you should stop, but really don’t dare.
Aha! Voila! You can do no more!

Don’t weep for me; I’ve walked in a park mid
green, green trees.
The sun is shining; singing birds and bees.
The sky is blue, big fluffy clouds,
Mounds of cotton billowing in swirls ‘til your
eyes see rings and flecks and things.

Don’t weep for me; Each day is an adventure.
I’ve wiggled my toes in mushy wet sand,
Run on the beach, dewy wet spray hit my face.
The waves for miles as far as the eye can see
Rush in and gorge sand from under your feet.
And you marvel at the symmetry of the world,
Back and forth huge waves in rhythm,
White caps come tearing down to dissipate into
calm pools of water.
What power, what force, what danger, what beauty!

Don’t weep for me; I’ve heard the music.
First nursery rhymes, then children's songs, then
jazz and boogie, country and disco,
Then the delights of the classics, Beethoven and
Brahms, Chopin and Schumann, Haydn and Liszt,
Where tunes keep singing ‘round in your head.
Powerful orchestras that accelerate and clash.
You’re bursting with joy and when all subsides
The exquisiteness of quiet melodic tunes.
You’ve reached heaven and now compose yourself.
It’s over and you’re walking on earth again.

Don’t weep for me. Why would you cry?
I’ve been so happy and am a lucky guy.
Some walk the earth and see but dirt.
The walls have opened and out poured these gifts.
Take them, explore them, and experience their thrills.
How lucky we are to be given a chance.
Grab a star and soar the great heights,
For that is truly the gift of life.

Copyright © 2008 by the family of Dorothy Goldsmith Penn. May not be copied or reproduced in entirety or in part without permission.


Malicious Intent said...

that is beautiful!

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acrosstheuniverse said...

Very beautiful Thanks for sharing it. I am Artismbynick's mom, but have no blog. Thanks for visiting his, and please do so again. Your work is lovely.

ABreathOfFrenchAir said...

Beautiful poem!

Distressing Delilah said...

Stunningly real. Thanks for posting this.

Sam said...

What a wonderful life, what a remarkable woman, and a beautiful poem -- that both guides our path, aligns our priorities, and reminds me of how special Dorothy was. Thank you for publishing this and letting so many people share in her "life well lived."

Thanks cousin,


Inspiration Alley said...

Thank you for sharing this. Your Aunt was obviously an amazing woman.

moonmystic said...

I am moved. . .

Rosebud Collection said...

Just beautiful and doesn't that poem say it all about life..A life that was lived to the fullest...May we all be that lucky..

nanjodogz said...

Love this piece!