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Pictures taken at Memorial

About the Memorial
For my cousins and for myself I wrote two poems below, the first one in honor of June and the second in honor of Don. I had the honor of leading the memorial and reading these two poems for the 25 or so gathered in the home of my cousin David Landers and his wife, Lisa. Four of the people at the memorial were colleagues of June at the high school where she worked as a teacher's assistant for about nine years. It was such a warm and inspiring event, partly because June's two daughters, Tina and Tara Streff who spoke about their mother.]

Crossing the River
By Glenn Currier

Image: June in childhood - taken from video

She gets up in the morning, feeds the cat,
and with her face washed, teeth brushed, hair fixed,
and dressed,
she carefully puts on her shoes - one foot aching so bad
she wonders if she can walk through this day.

Image: June with Tara and Tina

Already feeling tired
but not yet out the door,
she takes her pills, gathers her purse and work things,
and speaks in her cute little voice to her kitty
telling her to be good, blowing her a kiss.

She feels pain.
And pain does something to you.
It depresses, it foments fear -
its dread, dark and heavy -
can blanket and engulf you.
But still, she closes the door
and takes those first painful steps to her car,
moved and motivated by the faces in her mind,
faces of her co-workers
and her beloved students
knowing her special bond with them.

She winds her way through the traffic
and the too familiar streets of Baton Rouge
and approaches the bridge
the bridge that she will mount
to cross the river.
. . . . .

How many rivers have I crossed
into mornings
with early feelings of sadness or fear?

How many rivers have you approached
in the dailyness of your life
that challenged you to find a bridge
across.Image: June as Wonder Woman

 

Sometimes I think I know someone so well
they fall into easy categories.
My judgments are so sure
my perceptions so comfortable
in the terrain of my mind.

And then something happens
revealing without warning
the tenderness
the fragility
the exposed humanity
of the person I was so sure I knew.
on the other side
of her troubles and pain
she arrives in a place where she belongs
a place where her skills
and her good intentions
flower each day
and she lends her hand and heart
in modest service to the young growth of her students.

I cannot say what ache is in her
nor grasp my own pain - much less hers.
But when I slip on the downside of being human
I fall into her arms
I caress her heart
I know she knows what it's like.

When I trip on the rug of self-pity
I catch myself and think of her resolve
and the flight of courage
she took with each daily challenge
her body presented.
. . . . .

So here today we remember the June we loved:
The June Bug, the baby sister
who drew our affection –
and who learned she could depend on her family.

The young Wonder-Woman-June
so stunningly gorgeous and impressive -
the June who loved to see that wondrous impression
in the eyes of others.Image: Laurie and June

The June with a surprising down to earth humor
who made us chuckle
and see the lighter side
of family and ourselves.

The feline June
who knew in cats a kindred species,
the June who empathized
with troubled ones – the ones regarded as lowly.

We are here to remember the June
whose depth and whose soul
were beyond our reach
but were as sure and true
as the God who filled her being.
. . . . .

I remember the June
whose childlike spirit
and delight in her simple life
make me humble and grateful
that she was family.
And I am now sure she and I belong together
we are one
in all the important human ways.

This beautiful spirit
is what I will try to recall
the next time I encounter
my own raging river.

Dedicated to my beloved cousins, June MarieThibodeaux [February 25, 1955 - January 4, 2014], Rodger Landers, and David Landers.


Image: Lucille and Melvin Landers

Author's Note: June worked as a teacher's assistant in Port Allen, Louisiana - in West Baton Rouge Parish - across the Mississippi River bridge from Baton Rouge where she resided with her cat in her modest apartment of which she was so proud. The Wonder Woman outfit was made by June's mom, Lucille Landers who was a wonderful seamstress. Lucille and Melvin Landers are pictured to the right

Click here for a pdf version of this poem

"Crossing the River," Copyright © 2014 by Glenn Currier

Image: June and Don


Kindness
By Glenn Currier

Image: Don Haywood

 

Have you ever known a person
who escaped apt description
whose depth was too deep
whose gifts were so vast
whose voice was so gentle
and whose smile disarmed
every ounce of malice
hiding within you?

Have you ever known someone
whose boundless generosity
made you wonder
if you deserved it?

Have you ever encountered
a man whose charm
was matched only by his sincerity
and the depth of his desire
to make you feel at home
in his home, his city, his world
so you knew for sure
what was his
was yours?

You are a fortunate human being
if you have known another
who did not seem other at all
but just like you
in all the good places in you

in whose presence you were certain
you really are a special person?

Image: Rodger and Don

I would say that I knew such a person
but instead I say I know Don Haywood
because this sort of kindness
stays with you
and resides within
the softest
brightest
most loving
and open
and clear room
in your soul.

Dedicated to Don Haywood [July 31,1938 - April 24, 2013] and Rodger Landers, his life partner of 42 years.

Author's Note: Don was a very creative individual. He was a real estate developer and an interior designer. He was immensely skilled in construction including electrical, carpentry, and plumbing. He would purchase houses in need of fixing up and he and Rodger would live in a house while Don made all the improvements. Then Don would sell the house for a profit. He made a good living doing this for many years.

Click here for a pdf version of this poem

"Kindness," Copyright © 2014 by Glenn Currier

Image: Rodger, June, and Don
Rodger, June, Don at family reunion at David and Lisa's home

Image: Landers family including June, Rodger, and Don

Landers clan, June, Don, and Rodger to the left - taken at reunion at David and Lisa's home


Links to video, family pictures, poems, and the 2006 big Durand family reunion


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