|(PAULA (PARADIS) GODES, MY BROTHER'S DAUGHTER,
STATIONED ON THE
COMFORT SHIP FOR SIX MONTHS SHARED THE ART OF QUILT MAKING WITH HER
PATIENTS, AMERICANS, COALITION FORCES, AND THE IRAQIS SHE AND HER
MEDICAL CREW WERE SENT TO LIBERATE.)
[For Related Stories,
see below, pictures of quilt, Godes, etc.]
MY PAULA (PARADIS) GODES POEM
By Annette Paradis King
I believe if you walked on earth
there is a story to tell
I write all this down feeling
each story must be told
and if not written
how will others know
those characters lived at all,
far better if my words go
beyond you and me.
A growing pride comes
watching a new generation make its
greater contributions, carrying on,
yes, carrying on our father's dreams.
Years ago Aunt Marguerite
with an eagerness for crafting quilts
was elated by your gift to create
beyond her professional stitches.
Yet, from handed down humility only smiled
as you her pupil soared. In time with your
childhood experiences tucked deep inside
to your fingertips, you faced with courage
life's path. What went on between
you two I did not hear
but gather from my screen the pride on
your dear face, your smile, your posture
is so like ours. Is there something here,
or all my imagination. I look again to
child I never knew; yet, it feels I always knew.
Am I being deceived, am I being wishful?
A new generation of women with
leadership talents, ability to speak publicly,
these are the gifts of our father, your father,
Eugene, Marguerite, Laura, Lydia and mine.
Your fire burns bright and reaches high
courage to walk with head held high
wisdom to make destinations come alive
stamina to work to achieve
vigor to accept hardships far beyond
the use of your hands that heal and sooth,
This is your mark, now.
Oh, there is more,
a back bone to spread peace among those who
look for your examples of extraordinary
success offerings from hands
filled with merciful bits called miracles
as we speak. All this surely came
from the blood of your father's and his.
Your mentor, gave with joy as well
for she was flesh and bones of our father
who knew a vision of what might be.
I find no words to honor her best
for never did a heart hold more love
which she repressed, compensating with
enough, was never enough.
In you, she found new heights
the place where she alone dreamed.
I imagine her dancing
in some secret place--we knew she did..
She must have hung around to hear your
acclamations one day before she left
Barbara and you honored her well.
She must have felt totally loved at last,
down-deep in her heart and gone on that day in
I loved you for this. Helpless at the time, this
up to the part of not knowing you,
that hurt even more and has many times since.
My screen is large as life
showing the majestic USNS Comfort Ship
the one you served on and
when finished the day's humanitarian
work you evoked your interest in others to stitch
that gave hope to people who had no hope left.
You wanted to tell the story you said of the
and you wanted to tell it in an artistic way.
Thus your comfort quilt hangs in
the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.
You stand in front of me on the deck of
your Comfort Ship your Comfort Quilt
waves below like a flag in itself.
where most of the attention is focused
but my eyes are on your smile the one
so many of our women, generations
in themselves wore identically..
Your face beams the joy of your
the pride for servicing your country
and for a job well done.
I have looked so many times--and see
your warmth for your country the same
warmth your Dad, your uncle, a grandfather
demonstrated not so long ago.
Some place it is written life is a circle.
If one lives long enough
it's clear as rain,
Hands, your hands continue our story
for they are the same hands your father
used to lead you toward your dreams,
the same hands Marguerite worked fabric
into beautiful landscapes remembered from
a Maine childhood and adopted state of Arizona.
Then there were the hands of great grandmothers
who served their families stretching little food
in hopes to sooth a dozen children, and on
that same day perhaps sewed from pieces of
cloth already worn with ware
to give some small form of survival
that seems today
beyond human possibility.
You, woman of 2004 carry this touch
How proud of our name and heritage
it shines its light
out far as distant cousins,
schoolrooms filled with them.
It comes back to your hands
your mind and how your
cousins look on and dream
of things that may
come from your patriotic story
encouragements for women
of tomorrow and I ask that
their hands be blessed as yours
by these bones on bones telling
stories someone else to read.