Reach

Reach
by Carl Josehart

Reach for distant shores
my little one
sea shells
gentle waves
sandy shores
sunny days
a peaceful earth

Reach for high hills
my beautiful one
twinkling stars
snow capped peaks
the moon at night
the sun at mid-day

Reach for God in heaven
my child, symbol of hope
angels ascending and descending on Jacob’s ladder
surrounded by divine protection
hugged by your parents’ loving embrace

Reach high
my young one
and wide
and far
your fragile little body
the next link in an ancient chain
your expanding intellect
the storehouse to come our national treasures
your unblemished heart
full of compassion and love
your perfect soul
full of wonder and praise

Reach
Grow
Fly


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These Tiny Hands

“It has been said that time heals all wounds. I don’t agree. The wounds remain. Time – the mind, protecting its sanity – covers them with some scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone.”

– Rose Kennedy

Too many friends and loved ones have had to say goodbye to children – all taken too soon. My heart breaks with yours and I pray you find strength, comfort and courage to live with the pain.


These Tiny Hands
by Carl Josehart

These tiny hands
slender fingers
perfect and pretty
close around my finger
hold on tight
my little one

These tiny lips
tinged blue
still nurse and suck
nourishing a body betrayed
by nature’s random luck
my love run’s deep
and I have milk a plenty

This fragile body
yet grows
already scarred
and bruised
I pray my tears
will wash away your pain

This tiny heart
broken in half
still beats
inefficient pump
reluctantly fuels a powerful spirit
you smile
as if to comfort me
while I wonder
how I will care for you

These tiny hands
perfect and pretty
curl hopefully around my finger
hold on tight
my little one
prayer
nourishes a powerful spirit
love
will wash away the pain
time
gives us a chance to dream

This tiny life
touched by joy and sorrow
crawls slowly forward
toward an unforgiving destiny
tenderly I’ll hug you with open arms
a warm embrace
to cradle my precious one
on gentle upturned arms
to let your soul take flight


You may also appreciate Reflections on Julius , The Stories of Our People

I Give You Torah

To my dearest cousin on the occasion of her daughter receiving her first Siddur.
– 1/31/2017


I Give You Torah
by Carl Josehart

My darling child
many things I gave you seem
temporary
as I look back on them now
food eaten and gone
clothes you grew out of
toys you no longer use to play
But two things I gave you go with you
Forever
even when I cannot be near
I gave you love
I gave you Torah
pass them on

Thank you
dear mother
for the many things you gave me
food to nourish my growing body
an education to nourish my growing mind
love to nourish a growing capacity to care
and Torah to nourish a growing soul
Now
here is my child
help me as I
pass them on

Mothers and the Almighty
Eternal partners in parenting
milk
honey sweetness
from words of Torah
to nourish our young
heart and mind
body and soul
to keep them strong
even when we cannot
be near

My dear child
I look at
your fragile little body and see
the next link in an ancient chain
your expanding intellect
the storehouse to come of our national treasures
your unblemished heart
full of compassion and love
your perfect soul
full of wonder and praise
My darling child
I give you love and
I give you Torah
pass them on


 

The Unlived Lives of the Parents

“The marks humans leave are too often scars. You build a hideous minimall or start a coup or try to become a rockstar and you think, “They’ll remember me now,” but (a) they don’t remember you, and (b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion.”
― John Green,  The Fault in Our Stars


The Unlived Lives of the Parents
by Carl Josehart

the unlived lives of the parents
will be visited on the children
unto seven generations

failures
chances not taken
talents lacking
born too late
original sin
inherited

unrealized hopes
fantasies
shards
discarded fragments
holy ashes
residue from sacrifices
made on
altars of propriety
sensibility and
good common sense

seeds sown in anger
despair
plowed under
yield bitter fruit
lost harvest
rotting on the vine


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Like Mommy

Like Mommy
by Carl Josehart

“That’s not the way Mommy does it.”
The words sink in and
Daddy
a visitor to the world of everyday life
begins to examine the process of tying a shoe
There is not a more efficient way
of that he is sure
But,
for now,
his credibility as a parent
depends on being able to do it
Like Mommy

Dressing his son
He put on
a sock and a shoe
a sock and a shoe
instead of
a sock and a sock
a shoe and a shoe
Like Mommy

Packing his son’s lunch
he cut the bread
into rectangles
not triangles
Like Mommy

Serving his son breakfast
He poured the milk on his cereal
instead of
letting his son
“a big boy now”
do it himself
Like Mommy

Pondering a morning full of crises
and failed opportunities
He wonders why
the only way
to be a good Daddy
is to be
Like Mommy


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He Roared

Got some news today that I immediately wanted to share it with my Dad – thirty four years and he is still the first call I want to make. So instead of a call, I will share a memory instead. Hey Dad, this one is for you.

He Roared

by Carl Josehart

He sensed his children were in danger
And he roared

Loud
Strong
Brave

Yet in this roar they saw how small he was in proportion to his foe
And for that they loved him

For he had roared
Instinctively
Without hesitation
Knowing the danger
Taking the risk
And for that they were proud

He loved his children
An obvious point it would seem
Surely they must have known it
Yet it was the first time he had shown it
In that way
And they were moved

So in his presence
They felt
Safe
Warm
Protected

And in their minds
He would always remain

Loud
Strong
Brave


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The Stories of Our People

The Stories of Our People

by Carl Josehart

Looking up at me with expectant eyes, she implores me

“Tell me a Pepper story.”

My niece, barely past her 5th birthday at the time is begging me to tell her a story about my childhood pet Schnauzer, Pepper.

Her father, my brother, often told her stories from his childhood before bedtime.

You see, our mother died mere weeks after my niece was born so she never had a chance to know her grandmother. My brother was hoping that through telling his daughter stories, she would come to know her grandmother.

At the time of this interaction with my niece she was desperately longing for her own pet dog and was more fascinated by stories of her father’s childhood pet then of a grandmother she barely met as a newborn.

Trying to satisfy my brother’s wishes and my niece’s insistent pleading I struggled to remember stories that involved my mother and our pet dog.

“Daddy already told me that one – tell me another one.”

Running out of stories I am struck by how hard it is to sum up a lifetime of memories into stories of everyday life. I found myself piecing together memories of events that happened at different times into apocryphal stories, if you will, that express an attribute of my mother’s that I wish my niece to know about. In essence creating Josehart family Midrash (folklore) – stories of our family interpolated into that space between fact and memory that express the essence of the attributes and values we hold dear as a family.

Spending time with my niece recently (she is now a college junior) over the Thanksgiving holiday – my mind began to ponder the ritual nature of some holiday celebrations. I began to realize the great challenge that lies before me – as an infrequent visitor into the lives of the children growing up in our family for me to create a strong, living connection to them in experience and memory.

Just as I found it difficult many years ago to impart a sense of relationship to my niece who missed knowing her grandmother firsthand by a few short years; it is also difficult to create a sense of personal connection between family members – especially the children – even today when we live miles apart and see each other only a few times a year.

These challenges have led me to a newer and more profound understanding for the tradition of story telling that is so much a part of my Jewish heritage as well as so many other faith and ethnic traditions. Telling you the facts – that my mother was born in 1938, died in 1996 and was 5 feet tall – seems so much less important than telling you that she enjoyed eating ice cream before bedtime, that her eyes squinted shut when she laughed and that when I was growing up she would often sit just out of sight on the bend of the stairway in order to listen when friends and I would discuss books we were reading in school.

Similarly, at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Easter or Passover – as we gather with our families and listen to our relatives tell stories of generations long past – often for the hundredth time – it is important for us to open our hearts to hear the message being conveyed about these cherished people. To understand that we don’t need to accept the factual accuracy of each story to respect the emotional integrity of the message – the innate truth of the lives that they lived as remembered by the ones that loved them and want us to know them as they did.

The opening of many prayers in the Jewish tradition call to mind previous generations, near as well as distant. Perhaps this can serve as a reminder to take a few moments when you gather with family during this holiday season to think about your parents, your grandparents, and other relatives about whom you may have heard stories or shared important moments. Think about your connection to them and then join in creating the next link in the chain of memory by telling their stories. In doing so we can add our own voices and memory to our family folklore and become a living link in the chain of memory and relationship connecting generations past and present and to the ones that follow.

Happy holidays, my mom asked me to say hello. She says your looking a little thin and should eat something.