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Paradise - There or Here?

Updated on May 23, 2012

Look up - and see Paradise

Dusk from my bedroom window
Dusk from my bedroom window | Source

I am sure that all of us would love to find ourselves in Paradise. There are times, depending on one's attitude, when, if we open our senses to the world around us, we will realize that perhaps Paradise is a lot closer than we think.

I often find myself awake in the middle of the night, and instead of tossing and turning, I decide to get up and go for a walk. I live in an apartment complex and it is easy to feel cloistered by staying inside too long. I quite enjoy my walks in the dark (it is never very dark living in a city), and sometimes I take a slow stroll, whilst at others, a brisk walk. The weather, at the moment, is temperate and the heat and humidity has not yet set in. It is quiet and I don't feel rushed when I explore the complex during these night hours. I often find that this is when I will see nocturnal creatures and the cats that try to eke out their existence in this environment, know me, and will sometimes shadow me when I walk, or will come to me for some affection and something to eat.

Super-Moon May 5th

Rising orange moon in perigee - taken with my little Canon Supershot.
Rising orange moon in perigee - taken with my little Canon Supershot. | Source

On the 5th of May, the Moon was at its closest orbit to the Earth (perigee) and as the full moon rose in all its orange glory, it was truly a wonderful sight to behold. I have seen some marvellous photos of this full moon rising, and I made an attempt to photograph it myself, just using my Canon Powershot, and even though I could not capture the beauty with my camera (although the end result wasn't too bad), I put the image in my own memory banks.

As the moon rose and continued its arc around the heavens, it shone down in brilliant whiteness, bathing the surrounding area in its light. I am excited that on Sunday, there will be an annular solar eclipse, however, due to the moon being closer to Earth than normal, it will not fully obscure the sun. I read that the eclipse would be visible from the Oregon/California border, southeast to Lubbock, Texas. Lubbock is further north and west to where I live (in Corpus Christi) and I am wondering whether the eclipse will be visible from here. It has been almost twenty years since a solar eclipse has been visible in the United States. If you watch the eclipse, you run the risk of blindness, as the concentrated infrared radiation can burn you retina and you wouldn't even feel it (no nerve endings there). Sunglasses won't even protect your eyes enough. One needs specially made protective glasses or I believe one can make a pinhole in a cardboard box, but even then, one needs to proceed with caution. I would definitely find out more before trying to observe the eclipse.

Two weeks later, another heavenly passage occurs, when Venus (planet of love) will cross the path of the sun - a rare occurrence which is named the "transit of Venus." I have always loved looking up at the stars or appreciating clouds and rainbows and the like. In Johannesburg, perhaps because it is 5,500 feet closer to the heavens, the stars are bright and fascinate me. The weather and climate in this city is wonderful, with cold, dry winters and summer rainfall. Usually cumulonimbus thunderclouds develop in the afternoon and grow darker until the anvil forms at the top and produces a storm with thunder and lightning. The rain pours down to feed the grasses, flowers, trees and rivers and then it is over and the sun shows its face again while the air feels fresh and clean.

Solar Eclipse Sunday 20th

Grackles drinking at dawn

Grackles at the pond, drinking quietly at dawn
Grackles at the pond, drinking quietly at dawn | Source

Walkabout in the wee hours

On my walkabouts, I enjoy the stillness of the night. Depending on the time of day, I so appreciate listening to the birds which have congregated noisily before dark and chatter together about their day as they roost in the trees within the complex. Their chorus of voices fills the air with song that rises into the darkening sky and then, suddenly quiets as if, all at once, they have nodded off. At night, I am often up before the birds stir. I walk quietly so as not to disturb their slumber. I looked up into the trees this morning, and could see their shadowy, still forms as they roosted before break of day. Before even the first rays of the sun, it cheers me to hear them begin their morning twitterings and break into excited birdsong as the day approaches.

I have tried to photograph many of the birds at my feeders, but without a blind or a zoom lens, my presence often scares them away. There are pigeons, mourning doves, inca doves, sparrows, grackles and various other blackbirds with beautiful songs that have been visiting lately. I also had a pair of cardinals that took up residence nearby, and were grateful for a steady supply of seeds for a few years. Sadly, there are some children that have taken to destroying some habitat here,forcing the birdsto flee and to find homes elsewhere. I so enjoyed seeing that beautiful red male sitting atop the shepherd's hook from which the feeder is suspended, and hear his "tsip, tsip" noises as he prepared to take sunflower seeds to feed to his pinkish-gray mate. At least the hummingbirds are not deterred by human presence. I put up my feeders this last week and have had a couple of birds visiting now and then. One is more likely to see them in the earlier and latter parts of the day.

Squirrel gets her fill

Squirrel has seeds for the taking...
Squirrel has seeds for the taking... | Source

Squirrels are hungry too!

My feeders have really connected me to nature. When I first arrived at this apartment complex, not even birds came by. Over time, I added two birdbaths and began to supply seeds and hummingbird nectar (one part white sugar to four parts boiled water) and the birds came steadily by to visit. In addition to the birds, squirrels popped in and their determined efforts at feeding from the stash were always a real treat to watch. My neighbors thoroughly enjoyed watching their antics too.

Sometimes, when there is a little food left in the bowl that I put out for the cats, the pigeons come up to finish it. The bowl is near the living room window and it amuses me to watch my cat, Mr. Hobbes, slowly stalk towards the window as he watches those little pigeon heads bobbing up past the window frame. Then, he launches himself at them, only to realize that they are safe from his clutches because of the window pane. He is learning not to hit his head, but will still stalk and watch. It keep him quite occupied.

Magnolia refreshed after the rain

Magnolia, which my Dad loved so much, glistens amongst its leaves, refreshed after the rain
Magnolia, which my Dad loved so much, glistens amongst its leaves, refreshed after the rain | Source

Magnolia seedpods fresh with raindrops

Magnolia seedpod fresh with raindrops
Magnolia seedpod fresh with raindrops | Source

Friendly faces on my walk

Cheerful Hibiscus
Cheerful Hibiscus | Source

Heavenly little faces

A little heaven on Earth
A little heaven on Earth | Source

Heavy rains and threats of a tornado

About two weeks ago, we had some heavy rains. I ventured out after the rain stopped and delighted in the raindrops decorating the Magnolia leaves, flowers and seedpods. As I walked about, I took photos of various flowers growing near the walls, either in pots or planted in the soil. Their pretty faces smiled at me and I could only delight in the beauty and variety of these lovely plants.

I wrote this piece while at work, sitting in a show house waiting for interested parties to arrive. I was feeling extremely tired in the afternoon, and not ten minutes after I walked in to my apartment, my cellphone rang. My brother's voice was on the line and I knew before he said a word that my darling Father had died. I had spoken to my Dad that morning on Skype. When I saw his face, I knew that he had taken a turn for the worse. I had made a point of speaking to him on Skype regularly. His wonderful caregiver, Maggie, was at his side and told me she had just given him a nebulizing treatment so he was able to talk. Lately, Dad had been telling me how much he felt the cold. The Johannesburg winter can be cold indeed. I told Dad how much I loved him and relayed messages of love from both my son and my cousin. Dad said to tell them he sent them love too. I did not make the call long and was finishing the call by telling him that I loved him and God bless (as I always did). Just then, the Doctor walked in to examine him and start some antibiotics. I greeted the doctor and asked him to take care of my Dad. It was late afternoon. Dad died in his own bed, peacefully, just after 9 on Friday night, attended by his wonderful night-time caregiver - Peter. Peter was rubbing his back which was very sore, and had given him a hot water bottle. Dad thanked Peter for all the kindness Peter had given him through his care. Earlier on in the day, Dad had looked at the postcards I had sent from Texas, always telling him that I loved him. Dad had a final coughing fit, then died.

Sunrise Reflections

Sun warms the waters of the pond with her reflection
Sun warms the waters of the pond with her reflection | Source

Heaven, there and here

I launched into action and booked flights, woke up at 4:30 a.m. to pack and got to the airport (with the help of some dear friends) to rent a car to drive to Houston. More about the journey in another hub, but suffice it to say that I arrived in Johannesburg, exhausted, on Sunday night, in time for the funeral, which was held on Monday.

There were many friends in attendance. Friends of both my brothers, my father's and mine. Prayers were said at his grave, right beside my Mother, who died in August 2010, and the most wonderful words were spoken about this quiet, sensitive and very intelligent man. I was heartbroken, and when the clods of earth hit his coffin, I closed my eyes. It is almost midwinter in Johannesburg, but the sky was that bright blue I have only seen in this city, and the sun was shining warmly upon us. Two of my good friends, one on either side of me, held me tight. My one friend, whom I have known since high school, recently lost her mother. She whispered helpful words in my ear. I felt the sun on my face and saw bright red hues behind my eyes. A breeze sprang up and lifted my hair and brushed against my face. My friends felt like wings, lifting me up and I will be forever grateful for their kind and loving presence.

I have no doubt that my Dad, my friend, my support and my comforter, is at rest and has joined my Mom - which he so badly wanted. I am comforted by that. The timing of this writing is unusual. I began it thinking about Heaven, while I sat in Corpus Christi, Texas, and I end it sitting here, in the middle of the night in Johannesburg, mourning the loss of my beloved Dad. Were it not for the company of family and friends, I would be truly desolate. I am, however, home - in almost the middle of winter in Johannesburg. This season has its own kind of beauty. I am wondering whether this will be the last time I visit home.

Want to see Paradise? Look up!

Early morning sky
Early morning sky | Source

Everlasting

I am filled with memories and thoughts. My Dad would joke that it is not the cough that carries you off, but the coffin they carry you off in. Dad died after his coughing fit and was laid to rest, with dignity. He rests peacefully now and I just know that his soul has ascended and that he is with me still, in a far more powerful form. He is fit and strong and no longer has body aches and pains and the vagaries of old age that plagued him. He sees, now, better than ever and joins my Mom from whom he hated to be parted. I can only be glad for my Dad and thankful that he was the ever present light in my life - and will be, always. A cousin of mine sent me a message to say that she remembered how I used to dance around the lounge and how proud my Dad was of me. She said that I made him happy. Now, as I think of Dad, I think of the arms that would hug and comfort me, the hands that would stroke my silky hair and the light that shone in his eyes when he looked at me. Thank you for your constant belief in me, Dad, and the words of comfort you always had for me. Rest in peace, dear heart! The sun will rise again tomorrow, and you will live on in my memoryforever, as also in the memories of those who loved you. God bless, Dad.

One of those synchronicities has shown itself yet again. This is my 18th hub, Dad died on the 18th.

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    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Dear Tim,

      Thank you for such a gracious and beautiful message. I greatly appreciate the hugs and here are some for you, too: ((((Tim)))) You brought tears to my eyes with your comments and touched my heart. I thank you for your sensitivity and compassion, and couldn't agree more about those birds - I'm so glad you have them to accompany you on your way through life also.

      You made my day and I thank you. :)

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 5 years ago from Escondido, CA

      ((( suelynn ))) those are hugs surrounding you from the beginning starting with 'him' then Ruth and many more after this will follow. I thank you for the courage of a lion, the heart of a tinman, and the mind of a scarecrow to share just who the wizard of your life is.

      A wonderful walk you shared, an enlightening video giving pause wondering if that were really an eye test and we are inside looking outward, and then finally a true testament of Love.

      I'm watching my friend Fred (to the left) feasting on Winifred Sage in blossom. One day the children will learn those birds are Angels surrounding us in disguise. I'm gladdened they accompany you on your walks.

      AFC

      tim

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Dear MelChi

      Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comments. I do so appreciate them. Big, warm hug to you. xx

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Hi Suelynn, I was sorry to hear about the loss of your father. You wrote this article beautifully and it is a great tribute to him. Your words are true and real - thanks for sharing them. x

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Dear Kim,

      Thank you so much - you have no idea what a blessing you are. Lots of love to you, my special friend. xxx

    • profile image

      Kim 5 years ago

      Sue, such meaningful and wonderful words. Thinking of you during this time. Wishing you a safe trip back, and may the adventures ahead be fill with love, courage, and special memories.

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Thank you so much, Margaret. Much love to you. xx

    • profile image

      Margaret Harkness 5 years ago

      Beautiful words and images, Sue-Lynn. A lovely tribute to your Dad. xx

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Thank you so much Rahul0324, I appreciate that it touched your heart...

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      I pray for you and your family!

      A very moving story and experience shared here!

      I am speechless!

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Lesley - thank you so much for your kind words! We have most certainly been uplifted by the outpouring of love and support by all of our friends, and that includes you. HUGS back, Suelynn

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      A very beautiful piece of writing Sue and the photos so lovely and peaceful.

      I am so sorry about the loss of your father, he must be very proud of his wonderful daughter...

      My thoughts are with you and your family, kindest regards Lesley

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Brian Cramer: Thank you so much for your kind comment - it's greatly appreciated.

    • profile image

      Brian Cramer 5 years ago

      A beautiful homage to your father, may his dear soul rest in peace.

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Dear Bobbi, thank you so much for saying, and I know what you say is true - it's so nice to read your words.

      Hi Emale and good to see you here. I appreciate your comments very much. I am thinking Boppie has more than enough on her plate...

      Cyberhugs right back.

    • profile image

      EMale 5 years ago

      Suelynn,

      Such a beautiful tribute to your father. I know he is with his Heavenly Father and with your mother and the rest of your family. You have such a wonderful literary way about you. I have said it before, but you ought to write short stories. I am sure Boppy, our fellow Nookster, would be more than willing to help you get started.

      As Always,

      ??Cyber Hugs??,

      EMale

      *8^)

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 5 years ago from Florida

      Suelynn,

      I am so sorry about your Dad and I know you will miss his earthly body, but his loving spirit will always be with you.

      You know he loved you very much and you will always feel that love forever and a day---because there is nothing stronger than a parents love for a child.

      Your Hub Friend,

      Bobbi

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Vincent Moore, what beautiful comments to make and they so touched my heart. I greatly look forward to my next big adventure which feels like a fresh, clean new start! If your post is anything to go by, it will be a happy move indeed. Thank you.

      Tillsontitan: Thank you so much for those words of kindness, I appreciate them so! Very grateful for the votes also. Thank you.

      Billybuc: Your words touch my heart! Thank you for saying them.

      Cathleena: Bless your heart! I do so agree. Thank you so much.

      KDuBarry: Thank you so much! You have all made such beautiful comments and lifted me up. He was a wonderful man and great in his unassuming and quiet manner. The events following his passing are teaching me a great deal that I knew and then more. Blessings to you, too.

      Each of you has touched my heart in the very best way and I am so thankful. xx

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 5 years ago

      Such a beautiful and heartwarming hub, Sue :) This one brought a tear to my eye. May your father rest in peace. With this kind of tribute for him, I can tell he was a great man!

      Bless,

      -KD

    • Cathleena Beams profile image

      Cathleena Beams 5 years ago from Lascassas, Tennessee

      Suelynn - This is a beautiful expression of your love for your Dad. I do believe he is there with God and your mother waiting happily for that distant date when you will be with them inside of Heaven's Gates. This life here is fleeting and short. Beyond it lies eternity. For those of us who BELIEVE it is a peaceful assurance of a promise yet to come. God bless you in all ways!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My sympathies to you and your family. I have no doubt your father is in a much better place. This is a lovely tribute to him and I'm sure he is proud of his daughter.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      This is a lovely piece with so many beautiful pictures, so sorry it ended the way it did. I'm sure your Dad is proud of you and what you've written. Love emanates from this hub .. your love of nature and animals and your unending devotion to your Dad. Vote up, awesome and interesting.

    • profile image

      Vincent Moore 5 years ago

      What a wonderfully loving and interesting tribute to your daddy. It's a wonder when the days grow nigh and suddenly we depart this side for the other side of living. I pray that your dad is now with your mother and both are walking hand in hand somewhere in time.

      Your hub is a palette of color and your gifts as a scribe a welcoming fragrance to my soul. Welcome to the Hubs and I understand your moving to the Canadian Prairies where this poet resides. All the best with your new life experiences, you will find us Canadians very friendly and interesting. Peace and blessings to you Suelynn.

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment, Daisy. I appreciate your kindness.

      Ruchira, thank you for your good wishes - they go a long way to helping us through the bereavement.

      Sunshine, you are so right! Thank you for commenting and sharing with me.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Thank you for sharing your father's journey with us.

      A very wise man once said:

      "You aren't a true adult until your parents have passed away" -JFK Jr. I appreciate that quote since I lost both of my parents before I was 40.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      sorry to read about your loss Suelynn.

      As you rightly said that he wanted to be with your mom...he is the right place. Wishing you and your brother peace to carry on with your lives...Amen!

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 5 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Susan,

      I'm so sorry for the loss your brothers and you have experienced. Thanks you for sharing this beautiful tribute with all of us.

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Dear Laura, thank you so much for sharing it with me and I appreciate your wonderful comments. Love to you!

    • profile image

      Laura Sher 5 years ago

      Absolutely beautifully written. I'm sure his memory will live on always and they are good ones. Much love always. LS

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Rouhel, thank you so much for your very kind words! The love and prayers of family and friends warm my heart and keep my spirits up. Big hugs to you and yours.

    • profile image

      ROUHEL 5 years ago

      READING YOUR WORDS WARM MY HEART , REMAIN STRONG AND KNOW YOU ARE MUCH LOVED BY SO MANY......... WARMLY RF

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Dear Ruth, Thank you so much for your words of truth and wisdom. I look forward to seeing you when I return. xx

      Dear Denise, So true and thank you so much for saying. Yes, our memories help to sustain us. Thank you for your words of comfort. xx

    • profile image

      Denise Wallace 5 years ago

      Sue, I read your beautiful words and tears welled up in my eyes. You write so beautifully with such feeling, I could feel your sadness and pain and the wonderful love you feel for your dad, your mom and your whole family. Exactly as Ruth says, we are now the older generation, but we have our wonderful memories of our dearly departed parents.

    • profile image

      Ruth Josephs 5 years ago

      Suelynn, My deepest sympathy on the loss of your beloved Dad. You can be comforted by knowing that you gave him so much joy. It is a strange feeling when both parents are gone and you are the older generation. Our loved ones live on through us and the good deeds we perform.I look forward to seeing and being with you when you return.

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      My Dad died on the 18th and this is my 18th hub! Rest in Peace, Daddy Darling. ?