Category Archives: Family
Over on Facebook I learned something new last night.
You see, lately I’ve had this nearly indescribable feeling that “something is missing”. At first I thought it was just a touch of post-holiday depression. But it’s more than that, much more.
Then on Facebook, I saw a post from our friend Mongo, regarding an “Instagram” from the daughter of another friend of ours. That other friend was our own beloved Lex. His daughter, the Kat, had posted a picture of her with her Dad when she was very young. She also explained the Portuguese concept (for it is more than just a word) of saudade. As the first anniversary of Lex’s passing approaches, I can only imagine what his family must be feeling. Especially how his youngest child is dealing with it.
Saudade is a Portuguese word that has no direct translation in English. It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return. A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing.
Saudade was once described as “the love that remains” after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone (e.g., one’s children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends, pets) or something (e.g., places, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. In Portuguese, ‘tenho saudades tuas‘, translates as ‘I have saudade of you’ meaning ‘I miss you’, but carries a much stronger tone. In fact, one can have ‘saudade‘ of someone whom one is with, but have some feeling of loss towards the past or the future.
In Brazil, the day of saudade is officially celebrated on January 30.
Saudade is exactly what I’ve been feeling lately.
For me it’s getting close to the anniversary of my Father’s passing, three years ago. It does not nearly feel like it’s been three years. Every time we go to visit my Mom, it feels like Dad has just stepped out for a moment. Saudade.
We didn’t go to my Mom’s for Christmas this year. Instead we went up for New Year’s. Of course, the Christmas decorations were still up. And naturally she told us all about the Christmas she had, with my brother the Old Vermonter and his family and my other younger brother the Musician, up from Boston. It was something I wish I’d been there for. Saudade.
Then at New Years’ I had a lot of fun with my Mom. She’s in her 80′s yet still acts like she did in her 30′s. But still, she’s in her 80′s. I am terrified at the prospect of my Mother not being around someday. Saudade.
At least it’s how I understand the concept of saudade.
Where I live there are many Portuguese, primarily from the Azores (Açores, in Portuguese), I can’t wait to talk to my Portuguese friends about saudade.
It’s something I’ve felt and understood for a long time. Now I’m glad to know there’s actually a word for it. A word with many subtle shadings and nuance. Saudade.
I also have a new day to “celebrate”. On the 30th of January, I’ll remember those absent from my life.
My Dad. And Lex.
This was posted on the Lexicans’ Facebook page by Kevin Peterson. Wanted to share it here. In honor of all of those who’ve paid the ultimate price. But especially in honor of my great-uncle Robert Bain, a Scotsman who gave his life for King and Country on the Western Front. October 1918.
Merry Christmas to my fellow Lexicans. Reading the Daily Lex today nearly broke my heart, remembering what we’ve lost in the year which is passing. And yet, this marvelous community we have, is truly a gift. A gift from Lex. I am saddened again at his passing, yet strengthened by this new family of ours, this loving community of people drawn together through the writings of Neptunus Lex. May the joy of Christmas fill your hearts and may the New Year find you healthy and prosperous. You all have my very best wishes!
(Shared from the Neptunus Lex Facebook page.)
Here’s a story which I enjoyed, written by an excellent writer I am honored to call a friend.
For those of us who don’t do the “Facebook thang”, Fuzzy Bear Lioness had this to say over at Facebook:
Gift for Lex’s Family:
The wreath and gift cards were extremely well-received, of course (that’s an understatement!), and Mary asked me to be sure and tell you that she wants to adopt us all. She expressed her deep love and gratitude for everyone over and over, and said that she wished she could thank every single person involved. She said more than once, “You ARE my family; I will adopt every one of you! Please tell them!” She emphasized that it meant so much to have our love and support.
The wreath itself (see pic) brought Mary to tears, and we were all right-on to think it would be appreciated amid a more subdued Christmas than she would usually arrange. I explained it by saying that we had been thinking about how difficult this first Christmas would be, and wished to give them something to smile about and bring more Christmas cheer into this difficult time.
Mary thought the wreath was it. When she saw the card, she was enchanted and very appreciative before she even opened the gift cards–I introduced it by explaining that we had intended to gather “a bit of money” to fund the kind of 5-star dinner that the family could remember blissfully for the rest of their lives so that they would have a happy memory this Christmas, but that there was so much love that it “got a bit out of hand,” and that we hoped she would use the extra money for something she felt would honor Lex or that he would approve of.
She was very emotional after she read the card, and I honestly worried about whether she would be able to stand up once she saw how much money there really was… I shouldn’t have worried, because by the time she got to the second $500 gift card, the tender-but-tough navy wife took over–she swore in astonishment, and there were not enough smiles, tears, words or hugs to express the depth of her feelings. It was very obvious that the message that there were hundreds of people thinking of the family, especially now as well as in the future (as the card’s poem said), was heard loud and clear. She immediately said the card would be framed, and that knowing so many people cared so much was a huge lift. As soon as she recovered from the shock, she said she’d take her kids to the Harbor Island
Sheraton restaurant (which I can vouch for as one of the finest dining experiences in San Diego), then give the rest to a nonprofit that supports families of the fallen.
Mary and the family continue to do as well as can reasonably be hoped. I think I can safely say that the sentiments and gifts transmitted from all of you to them made this difficult time a little bit easier and will provide them warm and loving memory for the rest of their lives.
POSTSCRIPT: I delivered everything at 2:00 Pacific, so I did not see the comments about listing names. However, I was very careful on both the card and in person to make it clear that it was from far more people than just those who made a financial gift, that everyone had been thinking of the LeFon family and how difficult Christmas must be for them this year, that the sentiment extended far beyond a list of names. To illustrate this, the card was signed in two ways. The main signature on the RH side said, “With love & respect, Your Internet Family.” Beginning on the lower LH side (internal), I added the phrase, “All send their warmest thoughts and wishes, but these were able to send something more.”
My intent was to show that we were ALL thinking of the family, but I wanted to list the names for two reasons: 1) I wanted her to see the scope of people who had contributed–that it wasn’t just a handful. 2) I believe that seeing familiar names (since I knew some were known to her) would also increase the impact–make it more “real,” make it personal. Having seen her reaction, I think doing it this way was very effective in sending the message we all intended. I am so sorry anyone could have felt excluded, for that certainly wasn’t my intention and I assure you the exact opposite message was delivered to Mary–that this was from everyone who was thinking about the LeFon family this holiday season–and she was obviously overwhelmed by the sentiment. If anyone wants to reach her directly to express your personal wishes, please don’t hesitate to PM me and I will facilitate it for you (by email, mail, etc).
THE STATS: The grand total raised was $1710. This funded a gorgeous Christmas wreath ($91), the card ($5), and $1600 in gift cards (plus $24 in fees to purchase the 4 cards–each maxed out at $500). I was expecting a handful of checks that didn’t arrive by yesterday; If they do come in, I will PM whomever wrote it so that you can let me know what you’d like me to do–i.e. save it for a memorial brick/paver, give it to Mary, tear it up, etc).
The Old AF Sarge would like to add his 2 cents:
“Ya done good folks, ya done REAL good.”
And God Bless us, everyone…
My thanks go out to Glenn for posting Ember’s pic the day she was born
My apologies go out to everyone for my absence, but I figured you’d understand
Cindy and I have been pretty busy. Cindy’s been taking care of Ember and healing up from the C-Section while I’ve been busy working – especially since I found a steady job! Everyone’s healthy and happy even if we are rather tired
And yes, my perspective on many things and my understanding of some of Lex’s writings have changed a bit since 22 August 2012.
I should have a real internet connection at home soon, so I’ll be around much more often. Have a great day, everyone!!!
The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word “community”, in part, thus:
Out along the periphery of all this, stand a cadre of parents, friends and romantic attachments, both established and yet-to-be-formalized. Back in the “stone age,” e.g. pre-interweb, they would wait individually, lurking near a mail box in the hopes that they would perhaps receive an epistolary glimpse of their loved one’s current enterprise. Now, courtesy of the tireless efforts of untold trillions of electrons, we have the ability to form near-instantaneous groups, therein to “share” our mutual, shared joys, worries, knowledge and even, I venture to say, pride.
The military has been naturally hesitant to embrace “social networking,” for some good reasons. Also, it has been our habit to be more than a tad “traditional.” To the point that on the occasion of each and every Navy Birthday your humble and obedient servant has been party to, raise a glass in toast to “the United States Navy: 237 years of tradition, unimpeded by progress!” To its credit, though, the Army, as have the other armed services to various degree, been becoming more and more engaged, because they have discovered that with developing social communities, comes interaction, understanding and “buy in” by those who would otherwise stand off and wonder just what it was their loved one had gotten themselves into.
Likewise, we now see families and loved ones of in this case the “Soldier In Training” (SIT) also setting up ad hoc groups. In the case of SNO, there’s now a group, gathered on the ubiquitous Face Book, brought together by a parent who has “seen it, been there and done that” that will last less than a summer’s length; about ten weeks in all. But over the course of this time we will share what we know, what we don’t know, what we may have heard in hurried phone conversations or read in letters. (As if, in the case of SNO) I witnessed people who’d never known each before helping others, for example, navigate the ins-and-outs of how to get airline tickets for their SIT’s graduation. Others jumped in and explained in fine detail other things to a non-native English speaker in their native language. The last 24 hours saw a flurry of messages and responses within our little Face Book “community.” It was supposed to be “phone call day,” the first time since our SIT’s began the most intense phase of their initial training sequence, the one where all the cliches from every movie ever made about this kind of thing, comes into reality. (Well, maybe except for one)
The Doctor and I planned our day for this call. All outside tasks and chores and errands completed well in advance of when we thought religious activity availability (“church call”) would be done, and sat by our cell phones and the home phone. Your truly’s thighs began to ache from all the leg jiggling. Time did NOT fly, it dragged. Calls caused an immediate jump to whatever instrument was ringing, only to be quieted when we realized it was not the call we’d been waiting for. I assured The Doctor that as soon as someone from our group heard from theirs, they’d post it.
Finally one courageous soul had to ask, had anyone else heard anything? The floodgates opened; even as we read one response, two more would pop up, all with a universal negative. “Hopefully soon,” said one. Others offered their own hope, their own sense of waiting. The day went on and still nothing. Slowly, inexorably, we shared stories from letters, what we’d heard. Finally, a former SIT from SNO’s Company, sent whom for purely medical reasons, and who had contacts “inside the wire” so to speak, broke it to us: No calls for them. Something had happened, time had run short, they were the end of the line, and the line stopped ahead of them.
The disappointment was naturally palpable, and people who less than four weeks ago had never even heard of one another, who shared neither physical proximity nor regional culture or even a love of baseball, for all we knew, came together to express the frustration, the let down and the resignation that Things Were Not To Be. In those few hours, as evening’s twilight spread from east to west across the breadth of the Union, I got to witness in the cool light of the laptop’s screen a remarkable thing. We began to deeply bond. THIS was not little bits and pieces about own kids, husband, wife, fiancee. It was about us. About the sharing, and the sense of a group of people brought together. Last night it was out of frustration and disappointment. In a few weeks, on a parade ground set among pine trees and red earth, it will be out of pride.
Like our young soldiers, we too, in a sense, will have bonded for a time, and will always be, in our own way, “Echo Company.” For an old sailor, let me say this: “Hooah.” Carry on.