On Thanksgiving I wanted to express how thankful I was for the marriage and family of families that I have been privileged to enjoy my seventy-eight years. I also wanted to share with everyone how Mary and I met and how I was able to win her hand in marriage. I hoped it would serve as a lesson to the many single and eligible grandsons in attendance at our Thanksgiving meal. So, I sat down Thanksgiving morning and wrote the following poem. It is a true story of my experience and perhaps one that will give you a chuckle.
To Win fair damsel ís hand
By James A. Devereaux
While talking to a neighbor friend
I've had a good life
Now I lay me down to sleep
I do not know how old I was but I would have been perhaps three years old or younger. In any case, this prayer introduced me to the mystery of faith, the stark reality of our temporary existence on earth, the promise of something more and a way to cope with fear which at the time for me was the darkness of the night. When finished with the prayer my father would tell me to think happy thoughts to squelch my fears.
I have some advice
New York City on a snowy cold day
Smells from the stockyards brought tears to my eyes
Al Parker sent me a kind note wishing he could write some verse on the time he spent on 20 acre farm in NC. He inspired me to author the following representing my summer experiences on a fifty acre farm in Iowa. Those were the days. I hope they bring back some of your memories Al.
My Childhood Summers on a Fifty Acre Farm
by Jim Devereaux
With milking chores over the cats got a treat
The old Chicago trolley cars
Memories keep cropping up
FOOTNOTE: Being from Chicago, Mary and I first heard the expression "Sitting on ready" in Alabama while stationed in Fort Benning back in 1956. We were with Ann and Roy Dunaway visiting Ann's sister for a fun-filled weekend. The expression itself brings back many fond memories - including a southern toast that Ann taught Mary which all of our children now enjoy, but that's a story for another day.
Iíve traveled around in many strange places
Just for the fun of it, I thought I would go politcal for a moment and toss in a poem about my view of the way things are in the world of politics. Frankly, I see government as a temporary and inadequate solution to a social problem. It†(government that is) needs to be†kept in check lest it become†a beast we truly need to fear. †
As I See It
Some of my grandchildren were telling me about their bucket lists and all the things they would like do before kicking their bucket.† I started to think about my own bucket list and found myself thinking along different lines. I shared "My Bucket List" with my wife Mary and she was in total agreement. It is nice to have a companion with the same list and thinking the same way. †
My Bucket List
We lived just outside of Atlantic City for a few years when I was with IBM. It being summer time I was reminiscing about taking the kids to the beach on a summer day. With eight kids at the time, we actually preferred going to a local swimming pool where we could keep better track of everyone but, on occasion, we did build some beach memories. †
On the Beach in Sixty-Eight
The 2012 Election
Oblivious to the Obvious
I wrote ďOblivious to the ObviousĒ following a parish mission Mary and I attended while we were visiting our daughter and her family in Florida. The priest was particularly effective in keeping his focus on humanityís need for Christ and for confession, a sacrament that seems much neglected these days.
My Easter Reflection
As I rapidly approach my 80th, I was thinking about the time when I was half my age and gave my father-in-law a good laugh as I started to tell him something and began with ďMany, many years ago . . .Ē as if I was a font of aged wisdom. Mary and I still chuckle over his sense of humor. I guess as a very clean windy city police sergeant he needed a sense of humor during the days of mobster rule in which he risked his life for a measure of law and order.
By Jim Devereaux
Many, many years ago
I was four years old the first time I ventured a peek into the forbidden alley in the back of our Chicago apartment building. My folks were poor but I had no sense of poverty. Curiosity got the best of me when I heard a man shouting ďRags Old IronĒ at the top of his lungs. I opened the gate to see what was happening and experienced the following:
Rags Old Iron
By Jim Devereaux
Garbage filled the alleyway
I joined the class of fifty-five
I tossed and turned in bed last night
Some people think popcorn is to eat
I joined IBM where I learned to THINK
Weíd travel far to find a spot
With older siblings married
The alphabet is funny
On land on sea and in the air
Iíve heard two voices loud and clear
It took five seconds of my day
Three times I heard a voice within
My sister paved the way for me
Time passes leaving memories
Some men with a dream
I have long valued my four years at West Point and consider it the nationís topmost school of applied natural law. I have also noticed the response of Centurions that encountered Jesus Christ and his apostles, Peter and Paul, in the New Testament. I have come to think of myself in terms of a Centurion much attracted to the person of Christ and His message. I see all of life as a battle against the forces of evil and I wrote the following meditation to help me remember the war is not over, and as long as I have a breath of life left in me I need to engage in the particular battle in which I find myself trusting in the Lord. I offer it as a prayerful reflection to all those battling something in their lives whether it be sickness, persecution or temptation.
A Centurionís Meditation