Tag: World War II veterans

Poems For My Father

love for you
became her care
until she joined you there
grief gives way to fields and wind
and now I hear your voice again

(Published in Bell’s Letters.)

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rain in dark night
refreshes each leaf
today I think of you
no longer with grief

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I posted my Christmas poem for my father again in December 2017:

A Poem For You (1991).

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In loving memory, for Harold A. Borgh (1915 – 1983).  My father taught history at Wauwatosa East High School.

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Wait on the Lord: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart:
wait, I say, on the Lord.

Psalm 27: 14 (KJV)

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Lake Michigan
June 2018

Ellen Grace Olinger

Flowers in Town

Karl took these photos today, at a small park in Oostburg, Wisconsin.  Near the railroad tracks, this is a beautiful area.

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These flowers, from the previous two photos, are planted beneath a plaque honoring World War II veterans from Oostburg, Wisconsin.  Their names are listed.

There is an official Village of Oostburg website.

Two Wisconsin Veterans

I’ve been wondering if I should write about Veterans Day this year, or observe in silence.

I always have another story to tell.  Or tell again, with a few more layers.   Trust grows.

My father, Harold A. Borgh, Ph.D, served in World War II.  I can only imagine my mom and dad, in love in their twenties, not knowing if they would be able to build a life together.  When I was caring for my mother, I sometimes found, as time progressed, that her older memories were more vivid.  If I could find a movie from the 1940s, for example, she would connect with it.  Yet, she never stopped trying.  So sad that she grew up with war and died with war.  She watched the news day and night.

They did so much and were modest.  My father was a kind man.  I think of times when he could have scolded me, but loved me unconditionally instead.  He was only 68 when he died in 1983.  By God’s grace, I went to Poland with him for over a month in the summer of 1978.  There was a tour with UW-Milwaukee; he wanted to go; my mom had a teaching commitment.  I was teaching elementary school, but not in the summer.  So I went with him.  This was Karl’s and my first summer in our little house in Illinois, and Karl was kind to understand I needed to do this.  Dad, as veteran and historian, was continuing to learn and bear witness.  He and Mom went to other places in Europe as well.  I went to Canada with my mother in 1972, to see Shakespeare plays with her.

Today I am listening to Amy Shreve PRAY Instrumentals.  I can never hear “Be Still My Soul,” “Wayfarin’ Stranger,” or “I Need Thee Every Hour” too many times.

Others in my family served in Vietnam.  I’ll close this post with a picture of The Vietnam War Memorial that I found on wpclipart.com; followed by a picture of The Paul Brandt School Forest, by Ruth Bauer.  Paul served in Vietnam.  We honor and love, we pray for peace and healing.

we tell our stories

My mother’s last illness began this time of year in 2003 and she was called Home in early 2004.  I spent much time with her at a hospital and nursing home in Milwaukee, with the glorious autumn colors outside our windows.  Her spirit grew ever-stronger.

This year, I am not sad.  I learned, however slowly, that love keeps growing – the love that transcends understanding. Good to rest in the Mystery a little more these days. 

I see my mother more as her own person now.  It was not easy for her to be born during World War I, grow up during the Depression, and then be a young wife during World War II.  These events were always a part of her personality.  It was good to buy her things she would not buy for herself.  We shall meet again.  She loved pansies.

we tell our stories

and find new hope

green leaves
change to their
colors of autumn

our stories
add new colors
to our souls

the leaves find
their way to earth
they find new purpose

the past teaches
the present
and we learn
(slowly for me)

that all is not lost

after all

for Enola

Images courtesy of Dover Publications: from Decorative Flower Designs.

Simple Fall Day

We all know those “haiku moments” when change is here for sure.

Something in us knows we are not going back, but rather forward into a new time.  Perhaps the key to an office is returned, for someone else now.  Or a father’s clothes are given to a veterans’ group; he no longer needs them and would want them used.  We may hear a diagnosis at a doctor’s office.  A poem was accepted by a journal and I danced in the living room. These are old memories now.  How varied and rich life can be and always growing in some small way. A beautiful collage.

There are also the precious everyday moments, like today, when I decide an afghan with blue winter colors, warmer than the one I had by my chair in summer, is the one I need now. Like a child, I still like to be cozy with books all year: my timeless real self.

Mom gave me this deep love of language, and Dad gave me the love of simple everyday life.  Once when I was caring for my mom, I said one of those things that really isn’t helpful!  We had such a deep bond, though, that she understood.  In trying to cheer her up, I said, “Well you don’t have to take a bus home from UWM in the cold tonight.”  And she said, “Oh, but I felt so alive!”  So we tried to bring her old world to her.

pumpkins in the fields
and for sale
Autumn roads

Image: Karen’s Whimsy

A Poem For My Father – In Remembrance

Yesterday, I saw a hearse parked in front of a funeral home, and I was reminded that while this is a quieter Christmas for me, so far, it’s not so for others.

I remembered the years after my dad died in his 60s (1983), and how young my mother was to be a widow.  She was an English professor; literature and faith sustained her. 

This poem, which I posted here in the first month of this blog, inspired my mother to display a young photo of my father.  So that’s what a poem can do! 

A POEM FOR YOU (1991)

I taped up a picture of you
It must have been your last
Healthy Christmas–long overdue,
But you understand
I know you do.

And I’m up early to have some
Time alone before teaching, too
And I understand even more now
You know I do.

Mom’s doing better now…
She told me how you stood
Between two railroad cars
All the way from Washington D.C.
To Chicago after World War II.

And I’m teaching my heart out
Giving essay tests, too
Pouring out my soul
Like you used to do.

It’s Christmas again, and I
Taped up a picture of you
I’m writing poems and
Taking walks–doing fine
But missing you
Has not ceased with time.

Published first in MIdwest Poetry Review; July, 1993.
Image courtesy of Dover Publications.  Free sample from Birds.
Dad would like the idea of free samples!

A Poem For You (1991)

I taped up a picture of you
It must have been your last
Healthy Christmas–long overdue,
But you understand
I know you do.

And I’m up early to have some
Time alone before teaching, too
And I understand even more now
You know I do.

Mom’s doing better now…
She told me how you stood
Between two railroad cars
All the way from Washington D.C.
To Chicago after World War II.

And I’m teaching my heart out
Giving essay tests, too
Pouring out my soul
Like you used to do.

It’s Christmas again, and I
Taped up a picture of you
I’m writing poems and
Taking walks–doing fine
But missing you
Has not ceased with time.

In loving memory of Harold and Enola Borgh.  Your love is with me always.  We shall meet again.

Published in Midwest Poetry Review (1993); Bell’s Letters (1993); The Spirit of Christmas (1994, Weems Concepts).

Also included in my chapbook, And So My Soul (2001, Elin Grace Publishing).  Scripture from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.  Cover and illustrations by Charles A. Waugaman.   Design and Graphics by Jeffery Dickson.  ISBN 978-0-9729848-0-5.

Photo of the amaryllis is by Karl.