Monday, July 11, 2011

It takes a heap o' livin'...

You might recall my love of poetry. I mentioned it recently as a simple pleasure. You might also recall my love of singing. I've mentioned that tidbit a time or two as well.

And you might also recall a couple of lamentations. Though I love to read poetry,  I wasn't given the gift of writing it. And though I love to sing, Well...I'm a little lacking there as well.  When it comes to singing, I'm the gal making the joyful noise.  The joyful part is for God, the noise for everyone else.

God didn't leave me completely wanting, though. You might not be surprised to learn that He gave me a flair for the dramatic. That's why in the church choir, I'm often the narrator.

And that's how I found myself in a difficult spot last week.

About a decade ago, our church was having a talent show, and a dear old lady approached me with a favor.  There was an old poem, she said, that had been her mother's favorite. She hadn't heard it recited in years, and citing that aforementioned flair for the dramatic, she asked me to recite it in the talent show.

I ashamed to say that I chickened out.

You see, the poem is written in a strong, country dialect, and I don't speak fluent Ellie May. (Really, I don't...) I felt kind of foolish doing it. Therefore, because of my own vanity, I didn't do a sweet old friend a simple favor.

I wish that I had.

Last week, I got a call from the hospital. Our old friend had been battling cancer for most of the decade that passed since that time, and the cancer had finally won. They were bringing her home to die.

And then her daughter said, 
 "Debbie, Mama wants to know if you remember her poem..."   

I did.

And once again, my old friend asked a favor. 

So last Thursday morning, I stood before her family, and her friends, and a casket covered with yellow flowers, and though I sort of citified it up a a bit, this is what I said:

It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home,
A heap o' sun an' shadder, an' ye sometimes have t' roam
Afore ye really 'preciate the things ye left behind,
An' hunger fer 'em somehow, with 'em always on yer mind.
It don't make any difference how rich ye get t' be,
How much yer chairs an' tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain't home t' ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o' wrapped round the thing.

Home ain't a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it's home there's got t' be a heap o' livin' in it;
Within the walls there's got t' be some babies born, and then
Right there ye've got t' bring 'em up t' women good, an' men;
And gradually as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn't part
With anything they ever used—they've grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an' if ye could ye'd keep the thumb-marks on the door.

Ye've got t' weep t' make it home, ye've got t' sit an' sigh
An' watch beside a loved one's bed, an' know that Death is nigh;
An' in the stillness o' the night t' see Death's angel come,
An' close the eyes o' her that smiled, an' leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an'when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an' sanctified;
An' tuggin' at ye always are the pleasant memories
O' her that was an' is no more—ye can't escape from these.

Ye've got t' sing an' dance fer years, ye've got t' romp an' play,
An' learn t' love the things ye have by usin' 'em each day;
Even roses 'round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they 'come a part o' ye, suggestin' someone dear
Who used t' love 'em long ago, an' trained 'em just t' run
The way they do, so they would get the early mornin' sun;
Ye've got t' love each brick an' stone from cellar up t' dome:

O', it takes a heap a' livin' in a house t' make it home.

The poem is Home by  Edgar Guest.
The door is home, by the Duchess.


Denise said...

Oh sista, ya done gone and made me cry. Ya had ta put that dadgum picture of mama's house at the end. (more tears)

I was so honored to have heard the recitation on Thursday. I know you made her and her family so very happy (even if you felt it was late). I know you certainly made me proud!! Great post.

BTW, I think the flowers on the casket were white, not yellow. Maybe you were too nervous to notice.

Debbie said...

They were white? I honestly thought they were yellow. I guess I just associate Mrs. Lillian with that color. She was such a sunflower.

And that home was the only logical choice, wasn't it?

Barbara F. said...

A really great poem, beautiful in its simplicity, and I'm sure you did it justice, Debbie. Rest in peace, Mrs. Lillian. xo,

Terra said...

This is a lovely poem and very true, and how good you read it for your friend as a tribute. I can see how it would be hard to read out loud.

Sonja said...

me too... along with the other commenters, you've touched my heart and blessed the memory of your friend. How often I can recall times when I've 'chickened out', but God gave you such a beautiful remedy. Bless her sweet heart, and yours.

This is so special Debbie!


At The Picket Fence said...

Beautiful! It actually makes it even more poignant that it is written in "Ellie May" dialect. :-) I'm sure you blessed that family tremendously!

lailani said...

Such a touching post - great poems, great reminder :)

jackpotsgirl said...

God is so gracious to give us do overs. So many times it helps heal the pain of the original regret. So thankful for a Father that loves me enough to give me second chances. Thanks for sharing.

Miss Char said...

What a treasure you are to miss Lillian and her family Debbie. You done good my friend.

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

This is a touching poem with many truths in it. I am sure her family really appreciated what you did for her...

Ann said...

Honestly, were you able to get through the entire reading without tearing up? I was just sitting here reading it and tears filled my eyes!
You are a good friend, Debbie. I agree with the others that the family must surely have appreciated your reading.


no spring chicken said...

You've either got me laughing out loud or crying. You are so like that! Edgar Guest is the most oft copied and shared poet in my house. I love his simple telling of home and family...

I know that you were a blessing and blessed at the reading of this poem...

Hugs, Debbie

Denise at Forest Manor said...

Oh Debbie, you've made me cry. I'm sitting here right now with wet eyes and a lump in my throat. That is the sweetest story, and I too, am glad you got a second chance to fulfill your dear friend's request. That is a difficult dialect, to be sure, but truer words were never spoken. Thank you for sharing.



Angel said...

A great poem and a great lesson to go along with it. You have a way of making words come alive. Blessings my friend!

Dayle said...

Awww ... how sweet to bless a friend in this way.

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Well a roller coaster of emotions...first laughter and then tears! You my dear have a gift! I would love to have heard it and also given you a big hug. I am so glad you blessed the family that way. I love Edgar Guest poems...many have been displayed on my kids mirrors in the bathroom. I think I will write this out for my own mirror.

It also reminded me how many times my husband's gift with his voice has blessed others also.

Awesome post...another reason why I will not toss the baby out the bathwater when it comes to technology.

Ms.Daisy said...

When a dear friend died, a poem was found in her wallet that I had trouble reading. I don't think I could have read it at her funeral so kudos to you if you were able to read through without tearing up. It is a beautiful poem and I know you made her family very happy. Do overs are the best.

P.S. Loved your comments on my post. I hope I don't disappoint.

Crickit said...

I must admit... I had to read it through a time or two but when I was through.. I give it a loud AMEN!! :)

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

You brought tears to my eyes... I'm glad you could read that for her, Debbie. What a wonderful tribute... and it does take a heap of livin'... blessings ~ tanna

Kathryn Ross said...

Deb - You're priceless! This would be totally up my alley - it reminds me of the one I do around the holidays: " Jest 'Afore Christmas" by Eugene Field - one of my mom's favorites. Wish I could have heard you citify it. I'm glad you were able to get closure to a disappointing choice from so long ago. Sometimes those things can really hunt us. I have my own list of "wuda, shuda, cuda" - (see Shel Silverstein).


Chatty Crone said...

I think I have heard that poem a long time ago - and I think I cried then and now I have tears too. If the Lord wants you to do something - there is no way out.

The Decorative Dreamer said...

Aww Debbie! I've never heard that poem before. It is wonderful! How sweet of you to honor her final wishes, and I am sure you did a fantastic job! :)

Marcia said...

Oh, Debbie, you usually make me laugh but today you made me cry. I'm sorry for your loss but I am touched to see how God gave you that special opportunity. What a beautiful poem. I've said it before over at my place, home is one of my favorite words. Love that quote on your sidebar too.

Thanks for stopping by sweety-pie. Thanks for taking my button with ya too.


Mevely317 said...

Aw, I've got leaky eyeballs again -- but that's a GOOD thing! Scenes from Grandma's farmhouse just started dancing across my subconscious.
I've a feeling your old friend was mighty pleased and beaming down at you as you read aloud.

The Polka Dot Closet said...

I stop, I can't take it! What a sweet story! Did you say, you did not have the gift of writing...I beg to differ


Manda said...

Wow... love how God brings things full circle. This is a precious gift!
I often question "Why do I let fear control me so much?"... I understand the nerves! Bless you, Debbie!!!

Linda W said...

Add me to the teary-eyed list here. Such beautiful thoughts, and I know your dear, sweet friend was looking down and smiling at you!

BECKY said...

So sweet, Debbie, and I know you did a wonderful job! How precious. I was the funeral deaconess for awhile at my church, and it was always such a blessing to be able to do something for those who had just lost loved ones. I know you feel the same.

Have a delightful week, gal.

Maryann said...

What a blessing you must have been to the family by reading that. It would have been hard for me to hold it done good1

"Ima" said...

How sweet that you did that for her and her family. I'm sure you blessed them so much in a time of sadness. And I would love to hear you recite that :)It is a great poem and very true. Blessings!

gnee @ Singing With Birds said...

You had quite a week, and your kindness makes me smile. Thank you for touching so many lives and sharing it here. Hugs from Idaho!

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

This one brought tears, Debbie. Beautiful post!

Kathleen said...

Your blog was my last read tonight, I'm so glad I popped in for a visit - this post was so poignant and so sweet.

corners of my life said...

Even though I enjoyed it, I was trying to imagine your voice. Wish I could hear you recite it.

Carol said...

What a beautiful poem. I can hear in it my head, but am not able to speak it.
What a dear friend.

Rettabug said...

I'm so sorry for you loss, Debbie but I'm really happy that you were able to fulfill a long ago request. I'm sure she heard you!


no spring chicken said...

I may have to shear the sheep just FOR the faint!

:) Debbie

Kelli said...

Crying and laughing at the same time! How do you do that Debbie?? A gift of course! HUGS for touching my heart yet again.

FrouFrouBritches said...

What a sweet post! I know her family had to be touched by your effort, even if you did "citify" it a little. Personally, I don't blame you a bit. I had a hard time even reading it to myself. I don't know how you read it out loud. I'm sure you did a fantastic job! Love that you put a picture of the Duchess' door. so sweet!

Susan (My Place to Yours) said...

Your emotions were playing yo-yo last week, weren't they, Friend? Bless you! I'm so glad you were able to set aside pride and pay such a beautiful tribute to your friend. (How we grow up in a decade, huh?) There's a lot of wisdom in that poem. Thanks for sharing it with us, too. I'm sure your friend must have smiled at that!

Sharon said...

I knew you would do this just beautifully, friend. And I'm sure that everyone was blessed by your reading - I'll just bet you were, too! Did you see God smiling? :)

There really isn't any other place than home, is there? The homes we make on this earth are just foreshadows of the mansions that are being prepared for us. Won't eternity be wonderful?!

The Duchess' front door speaks volumes - to the woman, and to the love she has for hearth and hearts...



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