My father passed away on June 24th.  When death strikes somebody near and dear to our hearts, it’s a wake-up call, a siren song urging us
to make the most of the hours we have left.  I’m pushing fifty. What’s done is done. Certain windows of opportunity have closed. The roads not taken are destined to remain so.  What we’ve surrendered might never be recovered.  Yet, all is not lost.  Each of us carries, in a secret pocket deep inside, an insurance policy made of neglected hopes and dreams, waiting to be cashed in.  Desires that, with time and nurture, might enrich our lives, bring us joy, and set us on the path to purpose and fulfillment.  What is it that you long to do?  What are you waiting for?  Life is a limited-time offer!


Under each public roof
there’s a box or a drawer
of things we’ve misplaced
and return looking for

But childhoods foreshortened
and innocence lost
are among precious items
you won’t come across

No good advice spurned
or time carelessly squandered
inhabit dark corners
where car-less keys wander

No vanished virginity,
old flames, or lost loves
court bohemian scarves
and forlorn single gloves

No obsolete friends
will be spotted consorting
with vagabond wallets
and cellular orphans

No scandalized ethics
or compromised trusts
wear google-eyed sunglasses
covered in dust

No frittered good health
or sharp minds gone astray
jostle musty umbrellas
from past rainy days

But ignored inner selves
and raw talents untamed
and sweet dreams once forsaken
might yet be reclaimed

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19 thoughts on “WHAT’S GONE AND WHAT ISN’T

  1. Lennon Carlyle July 8, 2018 / 6:34 am

    Oh Joan, I’m so sorry about your Father passing away. Give yourself a big hug from me. This is so true what you’ve written. Good advice, we need to live each day to the fullest for we never know how much time we have left.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan July 8, 2018 / 9:57 am

      Thanks, Lennon. Hug received. Dad’s been losing ground for a while, but his passing was unexpected. You never know how close you are to your expiration date, I guess. I keep telling myself he’s whole and happy again, in a better place. Resting in peace, or doing cartwheels, or playing the harmonica. 🙂


  2. Tippy Gnu July 8, 2018 / 9:59 am

    Sounds like you were close to your father and will be missing him for some time.

    As for unfulfilled dreams of childhood, well there’s a list: I’ll never become a war hero while commanding a Coast Guard ship. I’ll never become a gigolo to famous female celebrities. I’l never write War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy beat me to it). I’ll never own Disneyland. And I’ll never own my own hermitage at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

    But I’ve learned that dreams don’t have to be fulfilled. These days I approach life with an ad hoc attitude, taking advantage of enticing opportunities as they arise. The bucket on my bucket list is full of holes, but it’s always being filled anew each day. This keeps my life simple and easy, with no grand ambitions I have to stress myself out to fulfill.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Just Joan July 8, 2018 / 5:12 pm

      Thanks, Tippy. I will miss my dad forever. This poem was written years ago, in a different time and place, for a different reason, yet it seemed to fit. There are so many things we can’t get back once we’ve lost them. But there are also dreams that we’ve stashed away, waiting for the right time, and maybe that time is now. I’m an ad-hoc girl, too, my plans are loose and fluid, but a couple of things in that bucket are too big to slip through the holes. Take advantage of whatever appeals to you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Shonda July 8, 2018 / 10:27 am

    I am sorry of the loss of your dad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan July 8, 2018 / 5:17 pm

      Thanks, Shonda. Like your Mommy, he was tired at the end and just ran out of gas. 🙂


  4. chevvy8 July 8, 2018 / 2:16 pm

    You have my condolences dear Joan. Though we always expect it, death inevitably comes as a surprise. Make the time to grieve and celebrate all the things your Dad meant to you.

    I think your poem is brilliant. I can see living years all the way through various eras. Yeah, I can see myself as a drifter through some of those lines. Great symbols and imagery, Joan. One of my favorites is:

    No obsolete friends
    will be spotted consorting
    with vagabond wallets


    lost loves
    court bohemian scarves

    To the extent we can, I think we should live with no regrets. By all means, let’s chase after the things we can yet achieve but I think we might as well embrace all of it, then it’s not necessarily lost.

    Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan July 8, 2018 / 6:04 pm

      Thanks, Chevvy. Even when we know death is close, we don’t know the day or the hour. I understand that Dad is gone, but it still feels like he’s here, like a warm sweater, a listening ear that is now closer and more accessible. The poem is a list (two juxtaposed lists, actually) of things you’ll find in the lost and found, and things you won’t. Regret is inevitable; two roads diverged in a yellow wood and you had to make a choice, or you threw away something precious too carelessly. But regret is also useless. If we accept where we are, we can salvage what’s left of our dreams and quilt the scraps together into something beautiful. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • chevvy8 July 8, 2018 / 11:23 pm

        I just love the image that you’ve painted in that dream quilt. I think that is exactly what we have to do – pull the good and the bad experiences, lessons, hopes and dreams to make something beautiful. And if not a quilt, how about a book?😀

        Liked by 1 person

  5. murisopsis July 8, 2018 / 4:09 pm

    My sympathies. Your poem is truth and one that bears a reminder. We often don’t relish each day and we should!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan July 8, 2018 / 6:06 pm

      Thanks, Murisopsis. Whatever we might have lost, there is always hope. 🙂


  6. L. T. Garvin, Author July 8, 2018 / 9:53 pm

    I love this beautiful poem, Joan. Yes, it is very true, some things we will not find again, but I suppose, for everything, “there is a season.” There are times in my life when in despair, I feel that my best days are done, and it is sometimes a chore to focus on the opportunity that still is ahead. Days are precious, no time for regret for those days we burnt and lost opportunities, I agree, it is time for acceptance. I am deeply sorry for your loss. There is nothing quite like that particular type of loss. I send much love to you and wish you the very best. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan July 9, 2018 / 8:59 pm

      Thanks, Lana. Often, we don’t realize how precious a thing is until we’ve lost it. [Cue Cinderella’s Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)] Thanks for your kind words and encouragement. We’ve still got places to go… best to keep our eyes on the road ahead, with only an occasional glance in the rearview mirror. 🙂


    • Just Joan July 9, 2018 / 8:29 pm

      Thanks, 227. Dad was a lot of things… teacher, house painter, stamp collector, bowler, storyteller, list maker, Super 8 camera man, spelunker, afternoon napper, master of sly farts at the dinner table, but most of all, he was a good man and a good father. Oh no, I think I’m going to need a tissue! Appreciate your condolences, my friend. 🙂


  7. K E Garland July 9, 2018 / 6:21 pm

    Joan, I’m sorry to hear this. Death always causes us to stop and think about life for a minute. I hope you’re doing well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan July 9, 2018 / 8:40 pm

      Thanks, KE. I’m OK, for the most part. Dad was on a downward slide for several years and suffered a lot of losses. It’s a comfort to think of him up in heaven, whole and happy again. Death does light a fire under us though, to rescue those dreams off the back burner and bring them to fruition. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan July 10, 2018 / 12:49 pm

      Thanks, Quirky, for your kinds words and cyber-hugs. Dad is in a better place, far away, yet close in spirit and memory. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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