In Silent Keepers we read the author's recollections of her father whose strength and steadiness, love and wisdom were exactly the factors she needed in her life. Although there were times of extreme contention and emotional pain, her dad was always there, providing, without preaching, scolding or even disciplining, the silent strength she needed. Her dad was always a very quiet man, never boisterous or loud, and never known to raise his voice even when provoked. Toward the end of his life he became completely silent when his larynx was removed to quell the advance of cancer.
The book honors a man who was quite ordinary, but who influenced through silent strength all he came in contact with. It also honors another who was not even human, but who influenced through devotion, constancy, warmth, and silence. Rochester, her beloved feline companion, was also quiet his entire life. In the sixteen years he spent in constant close contact to the author, he never uttered a sound other than a muted purring as he cuddled with her. The single exception to that was when, as a kitten, he fell out of an upper window, hanging on to the sill with only his anterior paws. On that one occasion he let out some substantial screeches that led to his immediate rescue. He was always there providing comfort and companionship when life seemed to lose its direction and the evidence that "the sky was falling" seemed unassailable.
Sometimes a quiet, familiar and loving presence is all it takes for a person to "grab hold of himself" and go forward to face whatever challenge is there. Rochester became a keeper as did the author's dad. A keeper may be defined as someone whom one wants to keep and stay close to no matter what happens. It does not imply that a keeper is a guardian or jailer. Even things that seem to be of a demanding urgency may drift away as their importance dulls and fades, but a keeper is absolutely never expendable.
This is a remarkable book about two very ordinary individuals. But ordinary does not mean unimportant. On the contrary, it becomes a term of endearment and strength and extreme importance. We are all diminished because they and individuals like them are no longer with us.
adapted from "A Word In Preparation" by Robert A. Kolb Jr.
"Readers can always count on the works of Janice Gray Kolb to provide universal insights and wisdom, as well as heartening passages of inspiration to provide hope for the soul. In her current book, Silent Keepers, she does not disappoint her many readers who look to her for solace, comfort, and compassion." Brad and Sherry Steiger, co-authors of the Miracle series.
"Jan and I have shared a deep friendship for many years, and I will confirm that she has been blessed with the ability to communicate beyond the limits of our own time and dimension. If this sounds incredible, I would urge you to read her books. Jan writes of the joys and sorrows of her own life, her words flowing from her heart so full of sensitivity and love into poetry and prose that is meltingly beautiful. Through her books she strives to comfort those who are grieving, provide encouragement, increase awareness of the beauty of nature and appreciation of our human relationships as well as stimulate the reader's own creativity. In Silent Keepers, she wites of her father and dear little cat with love and appreciation, and honors them with her inspired words." Connie Gilman, dear friend and friend of animals
"Silent Keepers is a beautiful memoir to my grandfather, Ellis George Gray, written by my mother, Janice Gray Kolb - and also of her cat of sixteen years, Rochester. Ellis and Rochester keep silent vigil of the author's life and heart - both then and now. While the story stands alone as a sweet and fascinating tale of love - it also serves to bring back your own memories and inspire you to relive them through your heart and through your pen." Laurel Elizabeth Kuhl, daughter
"There was only ONE Ellis, and I'm grateful to be able to carry that name on. I know that my great-grandfather, Ellis George, was an engineer and a wonderful, committed father, grandfather, and Christian. He passed away thirteen years before I was born, so I never was able to meet him, but the knowledge that I am named after him is an honor, and gives me an extra measure of confidence to pursue my career as an engineer, like my father, grandfather, and great-grandfathers before me.
"I am thankful for the life that Ellis George lived, for the father that he was to my grandmother and the grandfather he was to my mother, who lived with him for a time while my grandfather Kolb was overseas in the Navy. The legacy my great-grandfather Ellis Gray left helps to give me a foundation for my life and for my future. I'm proud to be named after such an incredible man." Robert Ellis Hudson
"When my grandfather and namesake, Ellis George Gray, passed away in 1977, I was 15 years old. His passing was the first that I had encountered in my young life, and had a profound effect on me. I was very close with my grandfather and grandmother and had enjoyed so many happy and fun times with them. 'Pop-Pop' was an important person in my life and I will always have strong memories and impressions of him. This book leaves me with strong feelings about a good man who left a lifetime of impressions on his daughter Janice, and on me, his only grandson. I also learned some meaningful things about him during his life and also since his passing as my mother has opened herself to his presence.
"As a dog-owner, I have a deep respect for my mother's relationship with her cat Rochester, and the incredible relationship that they continue to have years after Chester's passing. My mother's relationship and experiences with Rochester prove to me that my faith is real and that God works in so many ways to reveal things to us in ways that many would think unbelievable or unconventional.
"Silent Keepers is a wonderful reading experience that intertwines two exceptional and yes, seemingly ordinary beings, one human and one animal. It reveals to us that in their quiet ways both during and after their physical lives, they have had a profound impact on someone who has been open to their presence and gifts. This is such a strong message to all of us who are grieving or looking for greater truth and meaning through the passing of loved ones in any form." George Kolb
Table of Contents
Poem: Permission Granted
Poem: Beyond Comprehension
A Word in Preparation
Meditation 1. In Eternal Time
Meditation 2. Fletcher Works
Meditation 3. Friday Night Outings
Meditation 4. The Jersey Shore
Meditation 5. Fears
Meditation 6. Simms Restaurant
Meditation 7. Silence
Meditation 8. Places of the Heart
Meditation 9. Telephone Call
Meditation 10. Synchronisms
Meditation 11. Elvis
Meditation 12. Ellis, George, and Mysteries
Meditation 13. His Loving Constancy and Presence
Meditation 14. Attack
Meditation 15. Foods Dad Enjoyed
Meditation 16. I Am Here
Meditation 17. Surgery and Silence
Meditation 18. Fasting and Prayer
Meditation 19. I Will Not Forget You
Meditation 20. His Goodbye
Meditation 21. Poustinia
Meditation 22. Neighborhood Nemesis
Meditation 23. Heartbeat
Meditation 24. Angel Unaware
Meditation 25. Dad Visits
Meditation 26. Returning Home
Meditation 27. Remembrance
Meditation 28. Eternal Moments
Meditation 29. The Ring
Meditation 30. A Symbol of Eternal Love
Meditation 31. The Blue Dishpan
Meditation 32. Heartsongs
Meditation 33. Revisiting
Meditation 34. A New Form of Visit from Dad
Meditation 35. Contemplating the Cemetery
Meditation 36. Images
Meditation 37. The Questionable Keepsake
Meditation 38. Grieving Through Writing and Reading
Meditation 39. His Visit to Sanbornville
Meditation 40. Dreams
Meditation 41. Volare oh oh
Meditation 42. How Deep Is His Love
Meditation 43. Holy and Sustaining Beliefs
Meditation 44. Everywhere
Meditation 45. Conversations
Meditation 46. A Parentless Parent
Meditation 47. A Gift for Eternity
Meditation 48. Jottings
Meditation 49. Solace of Creativity
Meditation 50. Peace in the Woods
Meditation 51. June 2, 2007--Happy Day!
Meditation 52. Mary
Meditation 53. A Glimpse
Pictures for the Heart
Poems from the Heart
Meditation 1: In Eternal Time
In this corridor of grief we lose part of ourselves in losing someone important to us. If we dearly love this individual be they human or animal, when someone dies we die too. Pain of grief never truly disappears. We accept the fact that grief, like continuous waves rolling in and out on the soft impressionable sands of our heart and mind, will always come and go, will always be present. Our loved one’s foot prints are ever in that sand and do not get washed away, leaving their loving eternal mark and imprint of eternal love for us. Grief is ever inside us and will never completely go away. It cannot ever be vanquished or cured. We can be overcome and ambushed by an unannounced and unpredictable wave of emotions, sorrows, and flashbacks with great unexpected suddenness.
I write from a passing of thirty years ago of my Dad and a five year period in regard to Rochester. It is all still as if in the present. It is a blessing and how I ask to live from God.
I do not learn to live in this way deliberately until Rochester passes. The presence of loved ones continues in a way not truly explainable when life is lived in this way. It is as if we are on the brink of two worlds and that there is an expectancy and vitality all about us as we live in the moment and believe anything is truly possible for we have not closed a door between us.
"Only a thin veil hangs betweenThe pathways where we are," states the first two lines of a short poem by Julia A. Baker, and God keeps watch over “thee and me.” But sometimes we are given the incredible blessing of having a beloved one break through the veil. Yes! Still yet another poem by Rumi tells us that the door is always round and open and people are going back and forth across the doors where the two worlds touch. That is how I live and I am so grateful. I forever expect subtle and sometimes not so subtle contacts, signs, visions, dreams and all the inventive and amazing ways loved ones attempt to tell us "I am here."
The other evening on a news program we saw and heard a man we did not know but is an American and doing important work. I choose to share what I heard and insert it here in my already written meditation. He began talking immediately saying he believed our loved ones who have died are ever around us and we can speak with them. Heaven is close. Because his words spilled out so suddenly, apparently because he wanted to give credence to his spiritual beliefs so his statements would stand out over the rest of the interview, he strongly stated them first surprising even the interviewer, I believe. I felt the words he spoke confirmed all I write here. He was like an Angel that suddenly appeared saying an "amen" to my beliefs.
I believe time is different and of an unusual quality for someone who is grieving. Even if it is many years in the past a moment can be retrieved in an instant. We live in an altered state or dimension. It is because we love the person or animal so deeply and they still live and are alive to us. I believe, as I frequently write, grieving lives in an eternal present--in the present moment. This ignores or defies ordinary thinking or any means of keeping time such as seasons, clock or calendar. It tells us love is eternal in this passage of our spiritual life that we travel upon forevermore. We are travelling In Corridors of Eternal Time. It is not wise to use the word "recovery" for that indicates you can return to the way you existed before your loved one passed. No, you never can. You never can.
We can never go back to that life. That old life passes away forever with the individual that we are loving for all time and eternity. We are different now. And yes, even stronger once we rise up.
I have written so much about grieving in my Trilogy that can be referred to if you wish. I am writing now of the true essence of grief that ever remains, but also becomes an inner inspiration and gentle force of indescribable love and comfort in every moment. These are not just words. I am living this now on the brink of two worlds.
Our loved ones who were and are life itself to us and are in Heaven still live with and in us and through us. Each time we recall a memory we are giving them renewed existence. We share things in life with them, the simple things we once enjoyed together when they were physically here. Our loved one is within us and with us. Rochester’s Anima is within me. In a spiritual sense though his life continues on, our loved one is born anew....
Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2009
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