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This is the introduction to my April 2016 “Dear Frances” column in The Hawaii Herald.

Dear Readers,

I received the following letter from Dr. Christian Serdahl, a physician in Sacramento. He was responding to my Feb. 5 column in The Hawai‘i Herald titled “Support Group Angels.” In it, I questioned the lack of good medical care for our elders. His letter arrived a day after he read my column.

Dr. Serdahl is the first physician to ask me, “What exactly do you say to caregivers to bring compassion into their care?” He sat in his examination room and listened to every word I said. I felt like I had preempted his busy schedule, which I actually had done. Dr. Serdahl has no computers in his examination rooms, choosing, instead, to communicate directly with his patients. “My computers are in another room,” he said. His letter explained why.

For Dr. Serdahl’s letter, as well as several poems I’ve written about some of my medical experiences, go to The Hawaii Herald website. My column for them runs at the beginning of each month in the paper, and stays posted on their website.

Wordsworth wrote this poem to Akiko in his effort to bring her back from her electronically addicted world.

 

Akiko

iPOd, iPhone, iTune

iSolate friend from friend.

Return to the world we once knew

When there was no cyberspace

Between us all, forever and ever

Until the end.

 

Remember those words

That once flowed from your heart.

Where did they go

Those images and song?

Are they lost in your wireless wires

Or have they vanished into thin air?

 

Oh, don’t you miss

Real friends like us,

Instead of cartoon characters

On computer screens?

Can they read your poems?

Talk story with you?

Can you splash in waves

Or walk the shores

With animated friends

On computer screens?

 

 

new pocket award photo

Thank you Northern California Publishers and Authors (NCPA)  for honoring Wordsworth, It’s In Your Pocket, with Best Children’s Award and Honorable Mention for Best Cover and Design. All four books in the Wordsworth series now bear that Best Children’s Book golden seal, from NCPA and Hawai’i Publishers Assoc. If you would like that golden seal to attach to your copy of WW, It’s in Your Pocket, I will gladly send it to you. Thank you, Wordsworth fans, for your support.

It’s been a long time since I came across two novels so riveting and binding. I consider The Last Samurai a work of genius and so, in my mind,  the author must be a genius, too. A story of a single mother and her 3 year old who searches for his father. Mother uses the film The Seven Samurai as a backdrop to become her son’s male role model.So I had a hard beginning: After a chapter, I emailed friends to get this book. After a few more pages, I sent out another email retracting my email. Then Red suggested I read it like a poem and am sooo glad I did. This is a  brand new copy and look what I did to it. I gobbled it up like my last supper.

On a Red-eye to NY recently,  I was the only one reading, couldn’t put down A Little Life. I met a young man in NY quite by accident and when he began to tell me his story, I told him to read A Little Life because he is one of the characters. “Read the book”, I told him, “and tell me which of the characters you are.” I bought and sent him the book. Four young boys attend college in NYC, they form a friendship that will make you weep. They each pursue their dreams but their journey is one that will touch all your senses and emotions.And leave you stunned and reflective.

At our last poetry writing support group for caregivers, caregiver Bob shared the following poem:

 

I Began to Write

 

I began to write because I was angry.

I began to write because I was hurt.

I began to write because I needed to vent.

I began to write because Fran could not.

But along the way an epiphany.

I fell in love, I fell in love with words.

I find joy in finding the right word and

Like a jigsaw puzzle only one word will fit.

I love the richness and simplicity of the right word.

It has elegance and beauty in its own right.

I love the harmony of words together

With meaning greater than the sum of its parts.

I see stories unfolding to make you weep.

To laugh and move you to action.

This is the power of words.

©Bob Oyafuso

Bob confessed how he pondered over each word and of the time  spent
searching for  the right word. “It’ll take me 35 years to write a book,” he laughed. He explained so well the process of writing poetry.

Driving home, I thought of …
It took me years of reflecting and over six months of actual writing to write the following poem. When the episode happened, ( I was a young new teacher, I noticed a first grader missing…I panicked and went outside and saw him running across the playground with arms all out…running into the fog. I stood and watched him until he returned; he merely said “I couldn’t touch it.” We walked back to class without a word, my arms around his shoulders.)
I knew I had to capture it so I wrote a short story.
Somehow the story just didn’t do it. I wrote the story in various forms and finally settled on the following:

Run, Run, But Not Into the Fog

A little boy
Runs into the fog
As it slowly creeps
Over the field,
Softening edges
Into mists.
He runs and runs
And soon is swallowed
By the mysterious giant.
Then slowly, quietly
He returns to me
With wooden legs
And puddled wings.
“The more I ran
The more it disappeared.”

from The path of Butterflies.

No one ever said writing is easy.

Me and Charlie

NYC  is about good friends. And only a dear friend would wear this to dinner three nights later. IF you have read Charlie’s most recent book: To Hell and Back: Last Train From Hiroshima, or his Titanic books, or my favorite science fiction Dust, among many others, you’ll have an idea how a cup of coffee can last  three delightful hours and more.  Thank you, Charlie. Now go write your autobiography.

In New York

I spoke at Isabella Geriatric Center in New York City this weekend. I called the presentation “Gratitude. Trust. Dignity.” After my session, the residents surrounded me, asking me to return so every staff member, social workers and families could hear me. They asked, “Can you help us start book clubs and writing groups?”

IsabellaGeriatricCtr_web

They welcomed the homework I gave—to begin a daily Journal of Joy.

Coming next: a heart-warming observation in the elevator and more valuable lessons learned from the elders and the young.

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