Monday, March 4, 2013

white coral bells

I spent the weekend reading two excellent books by Linda Austin: Cherry Blossoms in Twilight: Memories of a Japanese Girl and Poems That Come to Mind: For Those Who Love Someone With Dementia. The former is the story of the life of Linda's mother, written as a memoir targeted to younger readers. The latter is a collection of poems inspired by Linda's bitter-sweet experience of caring for her mother after she had become afflicted with Alzheimer's Disease. The first book has been on my must-read list for a long time, but it wasn't until learning of the second book that I sprang into action and ordered them both. 

I have a loved one-- my father-- who is afflicted with Alzheimer's Disease. It is not something I talk about easily, not even with my siblings who are doing the care-giving while I watch helplessly from the other side of the ocean. As I read though Poems That Come to Mind, there was one poem in particular that moved me to paint an etegami. 

I sing to you
songs you taught me when I was small
songs from when you were small
not knowing the words would someday hold
more meaning than we could ever imagine

One of the many songs my music-loving father taught me "when I was small" was White Coral Bells. If I remember correctly, he taught it to us kids when we were squished uncomfortably into the back of the car, on one of the endless road trips that his job forced upon us. He taught us songs so we would forget to bicker amongst ourselves. It worked.

White Coral Bells
Upon a slender stalk
Lilies of the valley deck my garden walk
Oh, don't you wish that you might hear them ring?
That will happen only when the fairies sing. 

To read more about Linda Austin's books, please visit her blog at Moonbridgebooks.


  1. Heartrendingly beautiful...I have two close friends whose Mothers have this awful disease....the books must be powerful.....but, having lost both my parents many years ago, (not to Alzheimer's), when I was quite young, it is too painful a subject to read about.

    I love the lyrics to your Father's Song..... and, as always, your accompanying art is perfect...thank you for sharing with us.


    ♥ Robin ♥

  2. The lily of the valley song is a favorite of mine, too. I have taught it to my children, and I sing it daily in the spring, when the lilies of the valley bloom here in Wisconsin.

    Warm thoughts to you from a snowy hillside...

  3. C'est pas la peine de vous cacher, vous, les clochettes du muguet, vous avez un parfum si doux, que l'on vous sent: c'est le printemps. Vous avez un parfum si doux, que l'on vous sent depuis chez nous!

  4. Yes this lily of the valley song is a favorite of mine too...
    It must be hard for you living so far. I can understand the feeling having a mother with the same disease and while I was in the US I used to take care of friends's parents with the same disease which helped me in a way thinking that other people were taking care of my mother...

  5. We sang this song as a round in scouting for many years. It reminds me of both my own childhood and those of my daughters. Sweet memories!
    Thank you for sharing with us, your readers, about your dad. And thank you for allowing God to use you through your art and your blog!