Sunday, March 16, 2014

Loss and Gain

March is a rough month - as it has been for the past four years.

March 20 is the day that Bob passed and this year marks the fourth anniversary.  There always seems to be a bit of a sense of disturbance in the atmosphere, if you will, when the calendar turns to March.
Bob's family, picture taken in 2005; Keith is in the front center.

To make things worse, this March started with processing the loss of Michael's father on February 27, and the loss of my father-in-law, Keith Mosher, on March 4. Both funerals took place on March 8, a mere 650 kilometers apart.  While I mourned not being able to be with my loved ones during a time of grief - both to comfort and to be comforted - I also recognized that even if I had been in North America, there is no way I could have been at both services.  I also knew that these type of events would happen.  It is a given when you live overseas that you wonder who will die in your absence.  We have been very blessed that since 2005 there have not been many family deaths. 

But logistics aside, losing loved ones is always significant and causes a lot of nostalgia and reflection. As I watched family videos on my computer during the funerals, while being so far away, I contemplated both loss and gain.  I contemplated the brevity of life and how quickly it changes.  I reflected on my life and remembered a poem that I had read some time back by Longfellow:  


Loss And Gain
Hannah and Noah with their Grandpa and Grandma.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When I compare
What I have lost with what I have gained,
What I have missed with what attained,
Little room do I find for pride.

I am aware
How many days have been idly spent;
How like an arrow the good intent
Has fallen short or been turned aside.

But who shall dare
To measure loss and gain in this wise?
Defeat may be victory in disguise;
The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.

Said of this poem:  "The life of beloved poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is proof that good can come from sorrow and difficulty. He received great honors for his many successes, but—like all of us—he also knew his share of heartbreak and grief, including the tragic death of his wife. From the losses he suffered, however, Longfellow gained insight and strength that found voice in his poems. Longfellow's poetry lives on today not only for its rhyme and rhythm but because it expresses courage and optimism, even in the face of disappointment.  In his poem "Loss and Gain" Longfellow writes of regret, of longing, of the wisdom born of humility, and of the hope that can come when we have faith in the future."

Who shall dare to measure loss and gain in this wise?  Indeed.  Wise words.
Bob's mom and step-dad, Lucille and Keith, married 44 years.  While not Bob's biological father, Keith was a loving grandfather to Hannah and Noah, and I know he loved me very much as well.  
 So in memory of Bob, for those of you who knew him well and miss him too, let's play a little game called, "What's he saying."  Bob was very expressive...very, very expressive...and you could interpret a lot from his facial expressions.  So, looking at the pictures below, guess what he is saying:

#1:  Location:  Ghana.  This first one is easy.
#2:  Context:  We are in a hospital in Milan, Italy (Bob is the patient) and they just brought in the hospital food.  What does the look on his face mean?
#3  Context - Liberia:  A nightly ritual of helping children get jiggers out of their toes.  Bob has a needle in his hands and those are Enoch's feet.  What is he saying to him?

3 comments:

Michael Thomson said...

http://themanisapoet.blogspot.com/2010/03/goodbye.html

Bob was special and may his memory not fade from the hearts of his beloved.

Mourning with you as you mourn, this time literally as my Father too is mourned.

http://themanisapoet.blogspot.com/2008/10/daddy.html

Richardson Family said...

thinking of you today

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for sharing that wise poem! and the photos of Bob, which made me both remember and miss him, even just as an erstwhile reader of his blog. Remembering is good though, so thank you.