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Photo by Toby Tabachnick, Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle

Caregivers and “Lucky Life”

The award winning words of Pittsburgh’s Gerald Stern poem “Lucky Life”, serve as a balm for caregivers. “Lucky Life” is a gentle reminder that life is made up of so many different experiences. Caregivers and “Lucky Life” have so much in common, despite painful times, once can reflect back, and find joy and gratitude in life’s experiences. Pain surfaces periodically, reminding us to savor the sweeter moments that life has provided, the memories of those times that should re-anchor, and rejuvenate us.

Stress Relief with “Lucky Life”

Caregivers need to find relief from stress! Capturing the feeling of joy and pleasure at the beach is one such memory. Taking in the feelings at water’s edge, the reenergizing sensation needed for sustenance. The cleaning sensation, or relief from pain, reminding us that life is made up of so many different feelings and memories.

Take a few minutes to read the captivating words of Gerald Stern, and then listen to him read them. Consider reading this to your loved one, and savoring the moments of reflection.

Lucky Life

“Lucky Life isn’t one long string of horrors
and there are moments of peace and of pleasure as I lie in between the blows.
Lucky I don’t have to wake up in Philipsburg, New Jersey,
on the hill overlooking Union Square or the hill overlooking
Kuebler Brewery or the hill overlooking S.S. Philip and James
but have my own hills and my own vistas to come back to.

Each year I go down to the island I add
one more year to the darkness;
and though I sit up with dear friends
trying to separate one year from the other,
this one from the last, that one from the former,
another from another,
after a while they all get lumped together,
the year we walked to Holgate,
the year our shoes got washed away,
the year it rained,
the year my tooth brought misery to us all.

This year was a crisis. I knew it when we pulled
the car onto the sand and looked for the key.
I knew it when we walked up the outside steps
and opened the hot icebox and began the struggle
with swollen drawers and I knew it when we laid out
the sheets and separated the clothes into piles
and I knew it when we made our first rush onto
the beach and I knew it when we finally sat
on the porch with coffee cups shaking in our hands.

My dream is I’m walking through Phillipsburg, New Jersey,
and I’m lost on South Main Street. I am trying to tell,
by memory, which statue of Christopher Columbus
I have to look for, the one with him slumped over
and lost in weariness or the one with him
vaguely guiding the way with a cross and a globe in
one hand and a compass in the other.
My dream is I’m in the Eagle Hotel on Chamber Street
sitting at the oak bar, listening to two
obese veterans discussing Hawaii in 1942,
and reading the funny signs over the bottles.
My dream is I sleep upstairs over the honey locust
and sit on the side porch overlooking the stone culvert
with a whole new set of friends, mostly old and humorless.

Dear waves, what will you do for me this year?
Will you drown out my scream?
Will you let me rise through the fog?
Will you fill me with that old salt feeling?
Will you let me take my long steps in the cold sand?
Will you let me lie on the white bedspread and study
the black clouds with the blue holes in them?
Will you let me see the rusty trees and the old monoplanes one more year?
Will you still let me draw my sacred figures
and move the kites and the birds around with my dark mind?

Lucky life is like this. Lucky there is an ocean to come to.
Lucky you can judge yourself in this water.
Lucky the waves are cold enough to wash out the meanness.
Lucky you can be purified over and over again.
Lucky there is the same cleanliness for everyone.
Lucky life is like that. Lucky life. Oh lucky life.
Oh lucky lucky life. Lucky life.”

– Gerald Stern

Closing Thought

Remember that life is not always painful; the importance of reminiscing about the good, and happy times is vital. Luck is tied to our surprise that the universe can still bring moments of joy, pleasure, and peace amid the challenges of caregiving, and grief. Take time to refocus, refresh, and embrace life fully, again, and again.


Lucky Life – Gerald Stern Reading his poem

Being Happy with What I Have

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