a wordless embrace

We (my wife and I) are grateful to be back in the hometown that we grew up in on Long Island. My parents still live in the house I was raised in, so coming home is always filled with nostalgia and the telling of old stories and discovering new memories.

It is rare to visit Long Island and not go to the beach to take pictures, but the weather has been dark, rainy, and windy. More like a blustery day in November from a Winnie the Pooh story than springtime in New York.

So, since walking through torrential cold rain along the shore did seem to have its drawbacks, I decided to take pictures of my home and found myself drawn to the… well… probably thousands of… knickknacks? Home decor items?… that are just… everywhere. I suddenly realized that my childhood home is like living in the pages of an “I Spy” book.

I am quite sure that Better Homes and Gardens (is that magazine still around?) would not feature this home in an article on “How to Decorate Your Home with 1,000 Little Things” or “The Latest Home Decor Trend: I Spy Living.” But I sure had fun finding little treasures on this Winnie the Pooh blustery day.

Retrobox! How cool is that? And tiny Santa pants, and a snow covered cottage, and – this is one of the themes in my home and life – “Coffee please.” Coffee, in case you are wondering, is the fountain of youth. Just ask my mom who is about to turn 97.

Music is another theme in my home. My dad would play energetic Puerto Rican (another theme) beats in a Spotify-less world where the radio host would announce the next song or two by completing a string of basically slurred Spanish words delivered at the speed of sound with a hearty, “LA SALSA!”

Jesus is another… not a theme… I would say a presence in my home. Reverence… spiritual interest and pursuit was imprinted on my heart in my growing up years. I am grateful for how that influence shaped me.

The deepest, most precious, immeasurable treasure in my home is love. This is my bride embracing my mom when we arrived in the evening. Moments like these adorn this home. It was not a perfect home. It has known heartache and sorrow. But at the center of a thousand knickknacks is a story of love… warmth… family… a wordless embrace… love.

so much love

i suppose
that when
in your 90’s
that the road
behind you
has more to tell
than the road ahead
and instead of the worry
and the hurry
to get
where you thought
you should be
you listen to
that long long road

i hear my mom
as she walks that road
and stops along the way
she pauses and wonders
what can she say
to give thanks to God
for her family
what can she say
to give thanks to God
for all the love
that surrounded
her journey

in one story
she laments her losses
then as the tears are flowing
a moment comes to the surface
and suddenly she laughs
sorrow harmonizes with joy
laughter sings with tragedy
but still
still gives thanks
and on that road
she remembers
all the gifts
without number
that she has shared
with family
with friends

now she’s tired
her most frequent visitor
is pain
here eyes are dim
but her voice
doesn’t wane
as she skips down that road
picking memories
like a beautiful rose
she holds in her hands
the important things
that somehow
we forget
but she knows
and her wisdom falls
like sweet silver snow
on the hearts
of all who listen
bringing light
and it just glistens
in your soul

she recalls the years
with pride
and with deep lament
she speaks
of her mom and dad
her sisters
her brothers
with thankfulness
carried by her tears
she speaks of their love

there is a power
in her spirit
that pays no attention
to her age
or the sheer exhaustion
of each day
her diminished frame
is a sanctuary
of strength
and love

i hope i have passed along
the smallest portion
of her love to my family
for even a fragment
of that love
would fill the world
would flood a soul
would help mend the wounds
we all carry

thank you mom
for speaking truth
for remembering to laugh
for lamenting all the sadness
for all your love


Scene 1 fades in from black: I’m standing in the doorway of what used to be the bedroom for my two daughters. Eleven months before I said, “Her mother and I do,” at my oldest daughter’s wedding, and like the refrain of a song, I just said the same words at my youngest daughter’s wedding! My oldest son is already married. Three down, one to go. I pull out my phone and capture… this… empty room. I guess I was hoping to capture the conversations, dance parties, tears, Christmas mornings, laughter, prayers… capture all that happened in that room. The phone displays an empty room. But I am filled with gratitude as I remember that grace brought me here and will continue to lead me…home. I am crossing the vast Canyon of Parenthood, which is followed by the great Canyon of Fatherhood and the Canyon of Where Did the Time Go… and I realize that I am at the beginning of that time in my life where I will be remembered a bit less, and less. And that is what will be. And it’s ok. Scene 1 fades to black.

Scene 2 fades in from black. I’m standing in the doorway of what used to be the bedroom for my youngest son. I pull out my phone… you know the rest. Now, the emptiness of the room is a bit more final in my heart. All four of our children (can I still call them children?) are gone. Now I watch our children and their families, and I see them and the 6 little ones that are the new generation in their “rooms” praying, crying, laughing, enjoying dance parties, creating moments to remember and one day say good-bye to… one day let go… one day to try and capture on a phone. And I know that the new generation will forget more than they remember of their papa and nana. And I know that is what must be. And it’s okay. Scene 2 fades to black. One more scene.

Scene 3 fades in from black. I am being held by my mom in an impossibly strong, firm embrace. Impossible because my mom’s 96 year old body appears to be so frail, brittle and fragile. I see her connecting to my dear wife in a hushed conversation filled with memories and love. She can’t really stand up straight anymore. It seems like she is always folding in on herself, like she is ever seeking the fetal position. I tell her, as often as I can, that I love her, and her frail, thin voice tells me the same. My mom is a stranger in this world. She has lived long enough to bury he mom and dad and all of her siblings. The neighborhood is filled with strangers, for all of her friends from the old days have passed as well. She is, in so many ways, alone. Few remember who she is. And as I have had the opportunity to watch her in these late years, I am grateful for all that she has taught me. She has embraced her reality, and it is okay. She has taught me to welcome your emotions and the reality that you are in, but to not let it steal the grace and love that you can, at any moment, give to someone. She is frustrated, but not angry. She is sorrowful, but not bitter. She feels forgotten, but is not resentful. I want so badly to take away all the pain, heartache and struggle that makes up her days and nights. But I can’t. It must be this way. And that is okay. If I could take it away, it would diminish her and also diminish me. It is okay. This scene will fade to black. I am not sure I will be able to navigate that blackness. But, it will be. And that’s okay.

a valentine’s life

My mom and dad have been married for 62 years. They both have their physical struggles and they take care of each other. My dad takes care of my mom’s arthritic feet every morning. I felt privileged to watch him carefully wash, dry and apply topical aids on her feet. They have lived a Valentine‘s life together, and not just a Valentine’s Day. I was also reminded of what Jesus taught us. Take a moment and read the gospel of John chapter 13 today. Thanks for stopping by.

dear son

Our youngest son is getting married tomorrow... I walked into his room and reflected on what I found...

dear son
thank you for the empty room
it tells me the time has come
to see you journey on
and say how proud i am of you

dear son
thank you for my heart is full
it tells me that the time has come
to listen to my memories
and watch you make your own

dear God
thank you for your grace for me
it tells me there is grace for him
let him be so much more than me
let him soar and sing and be
a wonderful man

a wonderful man

who was once a boy
to me


can you hear this mother cry
her daughter is gone
such a sad sad song
she cries
it’s just all wrong

can you hear this daddy cry
he lost his boy
such a sad gray song
he cries
it’s just all wrong

oh great Light
have mercy now
have mercy now
mommy cries
have mercy now
have mercy now
daddy doesn’t know what to do
oh great Light
break through
oh great Light
break through

can you hear
the silence of the children cry
laughter gone
such a sad sad song
the silence cries

can you hear the heartbeat sound
you have life
so lay it down
yes lay it down
all around all around
the world is crying now

oh great Light
have mercy now
have mercy now
mommy cries
have mercy now
have mercy now
daddy doesn’t know what to do
oh great Light
break through

oh great Light
break through