Friday, March 30, 2012

The Spring Verdure Peeping Forth, March 30, 2012

“…in the hardy winter of a healthy old age;
that sort of old age which seems merging
into a second flowering youth,
for among all the fissures of his wrinkles,
there shone certain mild gleams of a newly developing bloom —
the spring verdure peeping forth even beneath February’s snow.
~Herman Melville

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from San Diego, as March draws to a close and spring time blossoms forth. Some days I do identify with Melville's description above of "a healthy old age", with "the spring verdure peeping forth even beneath February's snow." But then there are those other days, when the spring verdure seems to peep forth not at all! Thank God for the former, which seem to outnumber the latter, at least for now.

Happy Birthday Joan! Tomorrow is the birthday of Joan Shepard of Dixon, California, who suggested the Melville quote at the top. She is the daughter of the late Elmer and Beryl Swinney Shepard. Joan and her daughter Havilah Wardle (see first picture) returned recently from Henderson, Texas where they attended the funeral of Joan's father Elmer.

Joan: Springtime blows in my birthday each year and sometimes lands me happily with family. This year with Dad’s passing, Havilah and I joined friends and family in the country landscape where Elmer and Beryl farmed and Havilah played some twenty years ago. In fact, Havilah was born in Henderson, Texas, the rustic town we returned to for Dad’s memorial. Having braved DFW airport and rush-hour traffic, Havilah and I stepped back in time, celebrating her granddad’s life, trying to locate all the places and feelings we held dear through our years with him in East Texas. 

Mom used to say that life unfolds like a book; you close one chapter and open another. This time I had to read back through the pages before letting the story close. So, after the funeral, Havilah and I went back “home” to the old farm. The crumbing structures and surrounding fields, lying fallow now, lit the sparks of memory and affection for us. We celebrated the former bounty, the fruit trees and purple hull peas and dogwood that grew here. This is where the child Havilah cooked “mayonnaise pies” with red clay and cicadas celebrated our summer. It’s where Granddad taught a toddler about vapor trails and airplanes in a wide-open sky, where we churned Grandmother’s honey ice cream and rode a relic of a tractor to the woods.

We could have lingered for days, embracing friends and family, but this chapter was coming to an end. This was a special birthday, one that allowed me the greatest gift of tender memories filled with appreciation. I feel a debt of gratitude not only for my parents and com- passionate daughter, but also for Dane, who cared so lovingly for Dad during his final years. As I turn the last page, I have to say “thank you” to the source of life itself and to family for your tender prayers and presence.

Wedding Bells! Congratulations to my nephew Patrick Shepard and his bride Nicole Haw who were married in Cancun, Mexico just this past Wednesday, and who are continuing to bask in the warm romantic sun of the Yucatan Peninsula. Attending the wedding and enjoying the week in Mexico with them are their immediate families, including Pat's parents, my brother Darrell and his wife Mary Medina Shepard of Kirkland, Washington.

Thanks to Pat and Nicole for this third picture which shows them at their wedding on the warm sandy beach of Cancun.
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