mom kindergar

This is not the post I originally planned for this week.

After what happened yesterday at Sandy Hook school in Connecticut, I couldn’t write a holiday post. This is one of those rare times when I am actually grateful that my mother has advanced dementia.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile know that my mother, Mary Elizabeth Shepherd, now 94, was once a kindergarten teacher. She is third from the left in the back row of the 1940s picture above.

All of her life, my mother has protected, loved and nurtured children of all ages. She was a CASA volunteer, a Sunday school teacher, a substitute teacher, a devoted mother and grandmother, and a volunteer tutor for children who needed help. Anyone or any thing that hurts children wounds her deeply. I am grateful she is oblivious of this tragedy; it would break her heart if she understood.

Charles Dickens, author of GREAT EXPECTATIONS, wrote this:  “Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried than before—more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”

In conclusion, author C.S. Lewis faced a personal, profound grief and loss during his life.  In his book A GRIEF OBSERVED, he wrote: “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” During this time of sorrow and fear, may we join hands and hearts and cry together, our tears raining upon the blinding dust of earth.

Hummel figurine of children singing and playing instruments.  (photo by Marylin Warner)

Hummel figurine of children singing and playing instruments. (photo by Marylin Warner)

Statue of young readers, Abilene Public Library, Abilene, KS. (photo by Marylin Warner)

Statue of young readers, Abilene Public Library, Abilene, KS. (photo by Marylin Warner)



Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, teachers

65 responses to “RAIN UPON BLINDING DUST

  1. What a lovely post . . . thank you!

  2. Wonderful post, it’s still hard to process the news. Great thoughts tonight.

  3. petit4chocolatier

    Beautiful post and your mom is a special woman.
    I am still trying to comprehend everything still coming in on this sad tragedy.

  4. Heavy hearts around the world indeed.

  5. I don’t know that we’ll ever truly sort out and understand this loss. It hurts all of us, everywhere.

  6. Molly

    I remember the Hummel figurine from Grandma’s house. It is an artistic piece that put a visual to how Grandma always looked at children. I remember that she was the one that didn’t mind how loud we “played” the piano or organ. She was ok with my cousin and I (secretly) mixing concrete in one of her good bowls – as long as we used it to fix cracks in her patio. Grandma was a true child lover….and I agree that she would be devasted if she knew what was going on right now. BUT she would also be devasted for the murderer’s family. She was (is) the most kind hearted, loving person ever.

    • Absolutely, Molly.
      I have always seen so much of her in you, and now in your children as well. There is a basic kindness, a loving and helpful nature in both Grace and Gannon and how they treat others.

  7. Your posts are always filled with tenderness, and the quotes were special as well. thank you for sharing the images and stories abou your mother

  8. Marylin, it’s not odd at all that you, of all people, should change what you intended to post at the news of this horrible event, like you a parent and a grand parent, and 4 out of 5 of my grandchildren are of ages that would have placed them in that school had we lived there! So, our thoughts, Ishbel and I were tuned into this too like millions of others around the world thinking of the tragedy as it unfolded and having hurt and pain in our hearts for so many young innocent and needless deaths and not being able to imagine the pain felt by the parents of the children.

    And your Molly is clearly from the same mould as her Mother and Grandmother, mentioning the family of the soul who perpetrated this awfulness too as did the father of one of the dead children. The lesson there is that even in the face of evil there will always be some people of kind heart who show that they have great spirit and that love, peace and harmony are things worth hanging on to. xxxx

    • juliabarrett

      Tom and Marylin – I was with my children when we heard about this tragedy. They are so precious to me. I don’t even know how a parent begins to cope with something like this.

      • Oh, Julia, I’m counting the days until we can hug our grandchildren and breathe in the precious scents of their innocent play and energies. Tonight I watched the father of the darling little girl who’d died talk about her many special qualities, and how her 3-and 4-year-old siblings couldn’t grasp that she was really gone. All of their lives–and so many lives–were sadly altered yesterday.

    • Thank you so very much, Tom. Your sympathies and sweet assurances are a balm on troubled hearts.
      It’s also touching that parents and families all over the world are responding with such kindness and empathy to a tragedy in Connecticut. These are dark hours for parents everywhere, and I can’t imagine how the families of the children, the teachers, the principal and the social worker believe they’ll ever feel whole and hopeful again. This kind of healing takes a very long time.

  9. Dicken’s quote is an exquisite reflection of our nation’s grief as we try to understand what has happened. Your mother is fortunate to be shielded. The tiny Hummel of children singing is a beautiful expression of her love of children’s innocence and happiness. Her kindness, Molly’s remembrance of that sculpture, and your words remind us that we must cherish one another and to teach new generations not to fear, but to love. Thank you for sharing your thoughts when it is so difficult to know what to say..

    • K., I truly believe she would be broken hearted over this. So many young children, so much wasted life and potential. Mom understood how our children are our future, our joy and sense of purpose, and she would be very sad to realize what is happening.

  10. Alice

    A lovely gift for us in our tears. Thank you.

  11. You’re welcome, Alice. I’m glad if it helped.

  12. Marylin, this really is a sad moment one for whole humanity since the death or suffering of one child is one too many and especially for the families who have lost their children.
    It is quite sad 😦

  13. Such an incredibly sad time. This was a wonderful tribute post.

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  15. We are all grieving for these families in our own ways through our blogs. Each one cries out from the heart differently but yet the meaning is still the same. A sad and senseless tragedy. Yes, your mother would have been heartbroken. The silver lining to her disease.

    • Who would have thought there’d be this sad event giving a silver lining to my mom’s dementia. My dad died of Alzheimer’s almost four years ago, and he would have been devastated by this tragedy. Both of my parents devoted their lives to helping others and working to improve life for everyone. This would have been heartbreaking
      to them both.

  16. This is surely a sensitive reaction to the most dreadful news of the last week. Nobody understands this and nobody who would be able to ‘explain’ this to our older generation? No, certainly not.

    • For several years I’ve been in the mother role for my mom, visiting, staying with her, playing beauty shop and getting things she needs. This week I was the mother being glad my daughter was shielded from something I knew she couldn’t handle. This is a harder role, Paula.

  17. That’s a beautiful Dickens quote that I had to share on Facebook. Just like you won’t tell your mom about this event, I’m not telling my kids. They’re way too young to comprehend this tragedy and the horrors of it.

    • At times like this, we do our best to protect those who are too young or too frail to understand. Sigh. It’s the best we can do.
      I agree about the Dickens quote and am glad you shared it.

  18. Kathleen Durbin

    Dear Lord,
    Our praise is for You.  Our thanks is for You.  Our love is for You.  As You know, a tragedy has unfolded at the Sandy Hook School in Connecticut, USA.  Lives of innocents were taken, in addition to the adults who tried to protect them.  Today, our prayer is for the surviving family and friends.  Their memory of this horrific incident will likely never be erased, but our prayer is that the recollection be blurred and the sharp edges of the trauma be softened.  We pray that You will surround all with Your mantle of love and serenity.  We ask You to be with those who need You most.  As in all we ask, may thy will be done.  In Jesus name we pray.

    • Amen.
      Thank you, Kathleen. (Kathleen is the president of the Fort Scott writing group that my mother participated in for many years. It is still active and meets the 3rd Saturday of each month.)

  19. Beautiful tribute to those who are affected by the tragedy that occurred Friday. It is indeed a time of sorrowful and somber hearts. Blessings,

  20. The news was heartbreaking. Your tribute is beautiful. I will post on my Facebook. (I did post a holiday post, but questioned whether I should. I decided to do so for my grandchildren and others who do delight in the spirit of Christmas.)

  21. Teresa Cleveland Wendel

    Very touching post. How true that grief feels like fear.

  22. This horrific tragedy is the topic in every home. Your post was beautifully written from your heart. Thank you for sharing the photo of your mom.
    My heart and prayers go out to everyone who now has to mourn the loss of innocent lives.

  23. It’s one of my favorite “very young” pictures of my mother, posing with the other teacher and parent volunteers of her kindergarten class in Kansas City. That was the year, during a fire drill, she had to carry a boy who had tied his shoes to his chair. She weighed 100 lbs.–she carried him IN the chair.

  24. Meaningful reflections. Love that you quote CS Lewis, as well!

  25. I work for an elementary school and, now that I’ve been through a few days of devastation, my thoughts have turned to the parents and children who are in my care. There is an excellent article on the website that carries on Fred Rogers’ work. It’s called “Mr. Rogers Talks About Tragic Events in the News.” He gives advice to parents on how to talk to their children during times like this. Here’s the link http://www.fredrogers.org/new-site/par-tragic-events.html

  26. Nancy Parker Brummett

    Thank you, Marylin. My tears join yours, as do my prayers.

    • Oh, Nancy. Today I read the bio-sketches and family comments about each of the victims. I had to stop mid-way because I was crying again, and then I felt like I’d let the others down, and I needed to read theirs too, and pray for them.

  27. dianabletter

    This is a beautiful post. C.S. Lewis’ writing about grief is very powerful. And tears are liquid prayers…Thank you for writing this.

    • C.S. Lewis, more than almost any other writer I’ve read, clearly experienced and shared the fear within grief. Sandy Hook School was a powerful and sad example of fear and grief.
      I agree with you, Diana, that these tears are our liquid prayers.

  28. Marilyn this is a heart-felt post, you brought your Mother’s spirit into the words. Our hearts are heavy with grief and unspoken emotion.

    I nod in respect in how you honor your Mother everyday, thank you for allowing us to be a part of your intimate world. Mary

  29. This certainly produced the tears, Marylin. For all of us. Bless you, and Mum, this Christmas season.

  30. It’s still fresh and raw and painful. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for the families.

  31. This was a beautiful tribute to children everywhere, especially in Sandy Hook. I am always terribly saddened when crimes against children occur! This happens far too often, Marylin. I was looking back into your ‘archives’ and found a post I must have missed! Smiles and hugs, Robin

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