A New Life — New Beginnings in the Senior Years

It has been some months since I have added to my blog.

2011 has turned out to be one of the most difficult years of my life.  After the Holidays, Oklahoma was hit with especially cold and harsh days with plenty of wind, ice and snow.  In January, I excitedly prepared to go on a scuba trip to Cozumel, Mexico with a small group of local divers from Enid, Oklahoma and nearby communities.  I regularly trained at the local YMCA, trying out my new face mask, snorkel and flippers.  Finally the day arrived in February to drive to Oklahoma City and fly to Cozumel.  We left drifts of snow & frigid weather and flew to sunny Mexico for a week of the best scuba diving I have ever been able to do.  Led by dive shop owner, Jerry Coleman, (Into the Blue), our small group of divers had almost perfect weather and enjoyed both day and night dives which revealed the beautiful and still exceptional and wondrous marine life in the reefs around Cozumel.  The fellowship, cooperation and joy we all shared on this Cozumel diving trip will remain as one of the happiest memories of my “senior” years.  Jerry said that at 69, I was the oldest diver who had gone on any of his scuba diving trips.

Sadly, the month after that trip, I began suffering from some personal health problems.  In a public blog, it is not appropriate to go into personal details, but I will say that those problems led to my wife, Kathy and I, separating and then divorcing in June.  On September 3, 2011, Kathy and I would have celebrated our 45th Wedding Anniversary.  Those years together have been almost all happy and harmonious, filled with the lives of three great children, Rebecca, Michael and Jennifer, and now four wonderful grandchildren, Tyler, Sarah, Ian and Anna.  They, along with son-in-laws Sean and Aaron, my brother Steve and other extended family members continue to give Kathy and me strength and support as we attempt to adjust to dramatically new existences.  I will always continue to love Kathy and together, we plan to remain great parents and grandparents for our family.  I am now living in a retirement community three miles from Kathy’s home and just five miles from our youngest daughter’s family.

Each day this summer, I have written a short entry in my Summer Haiku Diary to help fight the emptiness and loneliness I often feel.  As the months pass, my health has improved and I sincerely hope I can contribute more time to helping others where I live at Golden Oaks and in my local community–Enid, Oklahoma.  I think often of all the college friends and students I have worked with through the years as well as the Group 81 U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers and staff still working in Jamaica.  How I wish I could still be working with you as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I am not going to list all entries in my Summer Haiku Diary, and am well aware that although the syllable count for each line is acceptable, many of the entries are not “true” haiku, reflecting nature in its most pristine forms.  Often my selected daily Haiku entry simply reflects my feelings, a family moment, or a timely event that occurred on that day.

SUMMER HAIKU DIARY

June 21st

Where have the years gone?

Forty-five Spring times together

But — no more summers.

June 22nd

Swimming near the shore,

A duck watches her ducklings

As new lives begin.

June 24th

Geese flotilla nears

The grass-covered, sunlit shore,

Early in the morn.

June 25th

Time flees silent dreams

As eventide nears too soon.

Alone — all alone.

June 26th

Searing heat wave here,

Much too early still in June.

What will July bring?

June 29th

Day dreaming of you —

So many summers ago.

Southern smile and charm.

July 1st

A new month is born,

Celebrations and fireworks

Will brighten the night!

July 3rd

Flag fluttering breeze

Proudly uplifts stars and stripes —

Blue, white and blood red.

July 4th

Night sky is alive,

Kaleidoscopes of color

Celebrate freedom!!!

July 5th

Two hearts filled with joy,

Three beautiful children born,

Four grandchildren, too!

July 8th

Pink crepe myrtle grows

Near my balcony railing,

Blossoming in heat.

July 8th

Remember my voice,

Heart beat and lasting promise.

True love never dies.

July 9th

Life is for living,

Hearts beating, hands uplifted

To the Light above.

July 11th

Dust devils swirl, swirl

Across the dry stubble field.

Summer heat remains.

July 16

A navel orange sunset

Lit the sky with rosy hues.

Then the stars appeared.

July 19

Warm morning lake walks,

Watching geese and ducks float by,

Bobbing on the waves.

July 21st

Atlantis returns,

The space shuttle program ends —

Who will walk in space?

July 22nd

Hummingbirds are here,

Darting among the flowers,

Seeking sweet nectar.

July 22nd

The circle of life

Has produced fish in our pond,

Spawning near lilies.

July 26th

A Basho moment,

The same full moon shines tonight

Upon the calm pond.

July 28th

Ducks and geese are fed…

Rebecca, Ian and Anna

Visit Golden Oaks. *     

* Our oldest daughter and grandchildren from Nevada visit us for a week. 

July 29th

Tyler’s birthday now,

Learning marine biology

Along the Gulf Coast.*

*Our oldest grandson was attending a marine biology summer camp at Texas A & M in Galveston.

July 31st

Family together —

Harmons, Parrys and Reddings,

On hot summer’s eve.

August 1st

A new month arrives

Full of hope and promises.

Heat wave is still here.

August 6th

Geese were still tonight,

Silently floating on pond

As the storm approached.

August 7th

Summer night alone,

Dreaming of those joyful times

Sleeping by your side.

August 9th

Power still out today.

Winds broke power lines and trees,

Eerie silence now.

August 11th

Storm clouds and gray skies,

Blessed rains help break the drought,

Peace and calm are near.

August 14th

Puff clouds in the sky,

Reflected in still waters.

Lazy summer day.

August 16th

Airplanes in the sky,

Training to protect nation

Throughout all seasons.*

*Vance AFB, south of Enid, Oklahoma, is a pilot training base.

August 18th

Remember the days

Preparing to teach again,

While crepe myrtles bloomed.

August 19th

Thunder is rumbling,

Lightning flashes across sky

On a summer morn.

August 21st

I miss your smile,

Our lives entwined with children,

Forty-four joy-filled years.

August 22nd

Birds, above the lake,

Darting as kites in the sky,

Await the sunrise.

August 23rd

Thirty-eight years ago,

Beautiful daughter was born.

Jennifer is joy!

August 26th

Forever family —

Love remains with memories

Of days in nature.

August 27th

Hurricane Irene,

Swirling along Atlantic Coast,

Watch for water surge!

August 28th

Two egrets dancing

Among reeds at water’s edge

Startled small minnows.

August 29th

Flowers are blooming

In beds we built together —

A labor of love.

August 30th

Saw Kathy today,

Working in her iris bed.

Beautiful image!

August 31st

Summer is ending —

Wild fires rage across prairies

In high, gusty winds.

September 1st

A new September —

Hoping that gardens will grow

In both of our lives.

September 3, 2011***

No tears are shed now,

Just bright memories of you

On our wedding day.*

*This would have been our 45th Anniversary today.   Forest Redding, Jr., and Kathryn Kampe were wed on September 3, 1966 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

September 4th

The lake is sparkling,

Much cooler weather is here

As late summer nears.

September 5th

Happy Birthday, Ian!

Celebrate this Labor Day

The joys of your youth!*

*Our second oldest grandson became a teenager today.

September 6th

Autumn-like days now,

Chilly nights and sun-filled days

Renew my spirit.

September 7th

On the grassy bank

Slumbering pond-side in shade,

Ducks dried their feathers.

September 10th

Remember our hearts,

Beating as one together

On September days.

September 11th

A full moon tonight,

Memories of ten years ago —

Upholding freedom.

September 16th

Rain, rain as Fall nears,

Parched wild grasses linger on,

Geese honk in the sky.

September 19th

Summer almost gone,

Pink crepe myrtles still in bloom,

Near my balcony.

September 20th

Lasting memories,

A warm day at the State fair,

Walking hand in hand.

September 21st

Summer is ending

Record heat wave recorded

In Oklahoma!!*

*Throughout Oklahoma in the summer of 2011, there were more recorded days of 100 + degree F. heat than in any other recorded year — 65 – 85+ days of 100+ heat depending on the community. 

September 22nd

On Summer’s last day,

A walk around sunny waters

Brings me joy and peace.           

And so, as summer ends, keep our family in your thoughts and prayers as you will remain in ours.  Life is far too short to forget the friendships and bonds that have strengthened us during all the seasons of our lives.    

When time permits, I will add some scuba dive trip and family photos to this blog entry.    All the Best,    Forest

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About GOLDEN SAND

At 68, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps and have been training in Jamaica, since March 17, 2010, for an assignment as Program Coordinator of the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust. I served in that MBMP Trust post during the late spring and summer of 2010 and decided I would start a blog to share my experiences in Jamaica and the MBMP with family, friends and interested readers.
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