A Collection Of Work

Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Harper’

Love After Death

In Romantic on May 1, 2012 at 9:17 am

Père Lachaise Cemetery - 2010

Recently I wrote a post about having overnight guests and my concern over the unfinished state of things due to our renovation mess. I think we managed quite well in spite of my Virgo tendency to want everything in its place before letting anyone in the front door.

Love After Death is their story.

Our guests gave me permission to write about an interesting twist to their love story as long as I didn’t use their real names. John took a couple of great pictures of them, but they didn’t want their photo online either so I went into my files to pull up a photograph that I thought might fit the story. I know you’re probably thinking what does a cemetery shot with a heart on tree have to do with love and this couple, but I’ll explain if you stay with me.

John and I had not met the woman who said she’d like to be Josephine in the story mentioning her fondness for the name based on the book Little Women and her sense of connection to the character Jo.

The man didn’t mind what I called him so I chose Jack, for Jackson Pollock. I’d only met Jack once about two years ago when he popped in for quick visit as he was driving through Cornwall but he and John have been friends since about 1999.

Jack and Josephine have known each other for more than thirty years having been part of a group that went camping together regularly and also spent a fair amount of evenings together socializing at their local pub in the 70s. Back then they were both married and never considered they might ever be more than friends.

Years went by and the group of friends changed with many moving on. Eventually both Jack and Josephine were divorced from their spouses and they lost touch until Josephine spoke with a friend about a year ago that she hadn’t had contact with for months. This friend told her that she’d heard that Josephine’s old friend Jack had died.

After hearing the news of his death and funeral arrangements, Josephine decided to go to the service. She found a spot to sit in the well attended ceremony and was shocked when she looked at the order of service and found that it was another Jack, one that she had not known as well that had died and whose service she was attending.

It turns out that there were two men named Jack in the group who had last names that were shockingly similar, a fact not well-known by Josephine’s friend, which set the scene for a happy case of mistaken identity.

After the ceremony, Josephine was standing upstairs and was surprised to look down and see Jack across the room. She said it was like a scene in Romeo and Juliet with her shouting down below to him, “Jack” and how he didn’t understand the reason for such an exuberant hug until she told him how happy she was to see him having thought he was dead.

Their accidental meeting at “Jack’s funeral” led to phone calls and dating and more recently a Christmas proposal and a decision to make a “Until death do us part” change in their relationship.

People find love in all sorts of places, but this one feels particularly sweet when you consider how what she thought was goodbye, turned into hello.

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Not Just A Turkey Sandwich

In Romantic on February 13, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Living in separate countries for much of the year before our wedding, my husband and I never had an opportunity to share a Christmas holiday together until our first year of marriage.

While we had little trouble sorting through the different holiday customs, such as pulling Christmas crackers around the dining room table or overloading the Christmas tree with too many ornaments, we were unaccustomed to the more personal rituals that each had grownup with or developed while raising children with our former spouses.

Some things were easy as my husband did not care whether he had a Christmas tree at all and I decorated it as I wished after he dug up one used several years earlier and brought it in from the garden. While I was used to a much larger tree, I found that a smaller one was easier to decorate and there was no quibbling about what went on top. Having had the same angel on my tree for the previous 22 Christmas seasons, I was pleased that he did not question why we needed a Teddy Bear angel on our treetop in a house with no small children.

Christmas dinner found us both preparing our own traditional favorites and we moved around the kitchen almost like synchronized swimmers timing everything so perfectly that the pink stuff he said looked funny next to turkey, slipped easily from its mold, and his roasted parsnips, found a place along side my grandmother’s sweet potato casserole.

With Christmas day being such a smashing success it was not until a few days later that some of glitter began to rub off our still new relationship.

It was my fault really, and can be attributed to what never changes, the expectation that your loved one should be able to read your mind.

My husband John was thinking as he always does about how best to make use of the turkey leftovers. Little is ever thrown away in our home and he could not have anticipated the reaction he received when he announced that he had made a soup with what was left of our Christmas bird.

I assumed for a half second that he had used the bones and the bits of turkey left on them, but I quickly discovered that all the turkey in the house was now in little pieces floating in a mixture that I was not going to eat. At least not in a turkey sandwich which I was looking forward to having for lunch that day.

To say that I handled it well would be a stretch. As I went sulking off to my studio space grumbling to myself about how important that sandwich was to me, and how could he use all the turkey up and never ask me, and how I was really looking forward it, and why did he think I bought the white bread which I never eat except with turkey sandwiches, and why couldn’t he have just asked me first, and on, and on, and on.

I tried to tell myself that it was just a turkey sandwich and no big deal, but as I went off to think, I thought about what was it that made the loss of a simple thing like the sandwich so important. Frankly, I’m not even that fond of turkey and tend to think of it more as an accessory item for Christmas dinner than a necessary piece.

It turns out it wasn’t about the turkey sandwich, but rather the ritual of eating it with my family back home.

Traditionally, it is almost like putting a period at the end of the sentence and closes out the family Christmas festivities each year. Missing my daughter and the rest of my family and friends back in America made it more painful in a way not to have this closing ritual and after I had thought about it for a little while, I came out of hiding to talk with my husband who listened quietly, hugged me while I had a little tear, and acknowledged my feelings without being the slightest bit dismissive.

I thought it was all behind us after that until we went into town to pick up a few things at the grocery store. As is our way, we split up in the store with each going off in different directions to pick up the items on our lists with a plan to meet at the checkout line.

Imagine my surprise when I saw him standing at the deli counter ordering sliced deli meat something he’d normally never do. I knew immediately what he was doing and watched as he bought a few slices of turkey so I could put some closure on my Christmas, in the same way I would have in America.

I was so touched that I almost began to cry standing next to the canned soup, in the aisle where I had stepped to watch him without being seen. The tender look on his face when he presented it to me later was as sweet as any love letter I have ever received and let me know that he understood what he was offering me was not just a turkey sandwich, but a gift of the heart.

 

To see more of  Elizabeth Harper’s stories and photographs, grab a cup of coffee and head over to Gifts Of The Journey.

 

Write About Love – Together With Me

In Friendship on February 13, 2011 at 12:45 pm

The Write About Love Project ‘ began last year after I saw, ‘ Write About Love ‘ written in chalk on a gravestone while visiting a famous Paris cemetery with my sister. Coincidentally, I had talked with her only the day before about how unsettled I felt with my writing and its direction.

Having spent several years as a blogger sharing my stories of finding love and a new life in another country, I finally felt ready to do something with the fictitious characters who showed up in my head, begging to be heard.

With several stories outlined on my desktop, my indecision about direction was not based on a lack of ideas, but rather something having more to do with a sense of responsibility and contribution as questions about what we leave behind had nagged at me for some time.

Daily doses of tragedy and horror made accessible through online media overwhelmed me, and I was torn when I thought about writing mysteries and stories of intrigue that had violence at their core when the real lives of so many people were nightmares on their own.

An unpublished writer, my questions were all about the stories I felt compelled to write to compete with popular fiction authors and how that seemed like permission to connect with a vengeful, ugly side of myself that I was not ready to explore even through characters in my incomplete books. I struggled with writing containing imagery that I considered dark and destructive or writing something that would let me spend time in the light.

Whether ‘ Write About Love ‘ was a gift for only me that day or whether others stumbled across it also, I don’t know, but seeing a chalk message that still looked fresh after a downpour made me feel as if I had been given my answer.

Since a good part of my conflict dealt with how I might be remembered after I die, it feels right that I received a message to ‘ Write About Love ‘ in a place where people come to remember the lives of the dead.

At first I interpreted the words ‘ Write About Love ‘ to mean that I should work on a love story until I realized that ’ Write About Love ‘ was not intended to be about fiction and that it was not just a message for me.

The ‘ Write About Love Project ‘ is a place for all of our stories. One where I hope to have others join me in what will be a project of hope and inspiration, a place where we can all go when we need to read about something other than an often bleak world.

Please be a part of this by emailing me your stories and allowing me to post them here.

thewriteaboutloveproject@yahoo.com

Personal stories of love, hope, and acts of kindness are welcome. I hope to see stories that inspire and help us remember the impact we have on others when we share our experiences and write about love.

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