Mrs. Jean Kohut, 1912-2014 and the poem “Gratitude”

was to be the cover painting for "Pitcher of Moon" but didn't work out.

was to be the cover painting for “Pitcher of Moon” but didn’t work out.

(UPDATE: Pam, Aunt Jean’s daughter called today just to see how I was. Pam shared her dear mother with me for years. She knew how attached I had become to this wonderful and compassionate woman. That was so sweet and I appreciate this so much. Pam has the full weight of the funeral arrangements (along with her husband) but she told me Aunt Jean had previously picked her burial outfit. She was being buried in her lavender pants suit and her USA teeshirt! I think that wonderful, that an almost 102 year old woman would want to do such. She was dignified to the max, a woman with great influence, the head of this Kohut tribe. Originally from Hungary, she loved this country dearly.

Brava, Aunt Jean!)

My Aunt Jean, almost 102 years old, died today, July 28th. Aunt Jean was a remarkable woman with tremendous history behind her. For many years she encouraged me, basically the only person in my family besides my husband, to write and to develop my poetry. The last two books have been dedicated to this remarkable woman and she will always be first in the dedication of any future book. I started this blog exactly 6 years ago with a story about Aunt Jean. Later, when I can collect my thoughts, I will write more about this brave woman who at 24, faced down a Nazi court in Hungary. She was a prolific writer of letters and her autobiography, and came to this country wanting to be a journalist. Over the past 10 years we wrote each week, and sometimes I received two or three letters a week from her. She was such a marvelous example for all women. She was my Anya…Hungarian for Mother…and she will be missed by so many.

Jane-Elizabeth (as I was to her)

Gratitude

What are these lights?
They shine into the heart even
As I shade my eyes,
Pierce my soul with exquisite pain!

Ah! The blessing of the Universe,
Whose stars are shooting messengers
Come to claim my heart, my soul,
Come to knock down walls of
Loneliness, isolation.
.

Who am I to argue?
Is there not a web, gossamer as a spider’s
Silver wire crossing from bush to bush,
Shining with prisms of light falling from
The morning dew?

Does not this silver thread, so fragile, eternal
Bond us together in Humanity?

The ways of the heart are mysterious.
They triumph over cold logic.
The ways of the Universe are greater
With mercy when least expected.

Oh, sing my heart with gratitude!

If we would listen to the music,
Would let the stirrings of a grateful heart move,
We would dance in rebirth each day!

Let pride be destroyed,
The soul made new,
Resurrected each day
To meet the morning with song, hope;
To dissolve law into love –

Paradise enough for You.
Paradise enough for Me.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2014

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12 Responses to “Mrs. Jean Kohut, 1912-2014 and the poem “Gratitude””

  1. Caliban's Sister Says:

    This poem reminds me of some of the Song of Solomon. Not sure why, a tonal thing, especially the final couplet. And I SO love that particular watercolor. Keep singing, dear heart. xo CS

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  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi CS…first, thanks for reading and your comment.

    I should read “Song of Solomon”….haven’t in years, but probably you are right about the tonal thing. It’s certainly an impassioned poem and one that just, well….it came from a discussion (sorta) with a friend about ‘why’ we should show gratitude. Yes, we are not starving, have shelter, no bombs are dropping on our heads, but it goes far beyond that….to something intangible perhaps.

    A look at the violence of especially today….and what has happened in the last few weeks…well, it should send us counting our reasons for gratitude.

    Thanks, sweetie….I like that painting, too…and am going to use it somewhere, someday.

    Hugs, Jane

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  3. yelena Says:

    beautifully woven and filled with deep faith..loved this.

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  4. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Yelena!

    Underneath the cynicism of modern life, many have found a deep faith, kept digging, or life keeps digging at us…and it holds our heads above the roiling waters.

    Thank you for reading and your lovely comment.

    Jane

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  5. Nick Nicholson Says:

    Hi Jane,

    This is a beautiful and fitting poetic tribute to your marvellous Aunt Jean who I’ve heard so much about over the years. I’m very sorry for your loss, Jane. I know you’ll miss your Aunt Jean deeply. My thoughts are with you.

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  6. Caliban's Sister Says:

    Aunt Jean. This is so sad. I grieve with you, I know she’s left a huge vacancy in your universe. A remarkable woman who loved you, and whom you loved. This poem could not be more perfect or more fitting now as a tribute to her. love CS

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  7. ladynyo Says:

    Hi CS….thank you. I wanted you to know more than anyone, because you knew what she meant to me. Funny, I can’t grieve for some reason, but it will come. That poem I wrote yesterday and was going to send it to her because….well, you know why. Too late, but last week, Pam (her daughter) read a letter to her from me and an old poem “Autumn Dusk”. She liked it, was excited to hear what was going on here with the grapes.(They are ripening…) I feel a bit foggy, just can’t concentrate on anything right now, but I think this is the way grief hits some of us. No tears, and everywhere I look, there is some memento of her….Hungarian figurines, a blanket, jewelry, embroidered handkerchiefs, books, small things she had collected from Hungary over the 102 years of her life and she was always trying to impress upon me the ‘beauty’ of learning this very difficult language, which I never could handle. LOL! I think what she was to me was unconditional love, something we don’t get in life much.

    Thank you, CS. She was my moral rock.

    Love, Jane

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  8. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Nick. What she represented to me was ‘unconditional love’. something that just doesn’t come our way much. Certainly not in my immediate family. She was the only one in this large family who encouraged me to write and she did this for 20 years. She had wanted to be a writer, a journalist (or a Radio City Rockette! Go figure, straight out of Hungary! LOL!) But I think she could have been anything she wanted except for the times and traditions. I’ll never find another like her. She was my mother in the best sense….full of encouragement and compassion and patience with me. Plus, she called me ‘daughter’ and I called her mother over the past few years. This was of more worth to me than anything.

    Love, Jane

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  9. Caliban's Sister Says:

    How you feeling today Jane? I lit candles last night for Jean, and for you, and offered the hope that she transmigrates, just a little, into your soul to accompany you always. She was mother and you were daughter because those words apply to those who genuinely nurture and encourage and lift and support, and those who in turn honor and value and remember them.

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  10. ladynyo Says:

    Hi CS…that is so kind of you about last night….the candles. Right now? I’m feeling detached, rather numb, foggy. Can’t really say that I am grieving, but perhaps this is the way ACONs grieve? I think that grief is something that I am challenged with. And you are certainly right about the mother/nurturing issue. We both know that deeply, neh? There is much more I want to relate to you, but since this blog is so public…I’ll write to you on yours. And thank you for your concern and especially the candles!

    Love, Jane.

    Like

  11. TR Says:

    Hi Jane,
    This is a beautiful poem to a beautiful, wonderful, nurturing woman. I am beside you and with you in your loss. Love, TR

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  12. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, TR! She was one of a kind.

    Love, Jane

    Like

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