Posts Tagged ‘Albert Kohut 1915-1989’

“I Remember…” Albert Kohut, 1915-1989.

April 26, 2017
My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

Dusk from the East, taken by my phone.

Today is my father’s birthday.  Had he lived, he would have been 102.  He didn’t, dying at the young age of 74.  Today I read poems at Sevananda here in Atlanta for the Earth Day Celebration, between 6-9pm.  Though is poem isn’t exactly a Nature Themed poem, my love of Nature was formed by my father’s great love of it.  He had marvelous gardens, the best tomatoes, explored the gorges of New Jersey and other places, was a long distance runner, and restored a 200 year old house in rural New Jersey.  He was so loved by everyone who knew him. It’s been almost 3 decades since he died, but I love him so much.  I just wish I could have told him, shown him more of this.

Jane

I Remember….

 

I remember the scream

In the middle of the night

Of something dying

Down by the river,

Killed by an owl

Or possibly a fox.

 

 

I remember bolting awake

In my parent’s bed,

My heart in my throat

My father just died

The funeral over

Sleeping in

His bed,

Afraid to move from this reality

To the next,

No comfort to be had

Even with the scent of

His tobacco in the sheets.

 

I wandered the house,

Touched the walls,

Looked through windows

To a landscape not

Changed over years,

Ran my hands down the

Black walnut banister,

Smooth, smooth

As if the days would turn back

Just by this touch

And he would be here.

 

That scream somewhere on the banks

In the middle of the night,

When I jerked from sleep to

Awake, knowing, he was dead-

The father who loved me

Was gone forever.

I knew then

I was unmoored from life

floating out of reach of love.

 

A scream that challenged dreams

He would come back,

He wasn’t awaiting the fire

He would wake up,

Much as I did,

In a cold-sweat fear

And slowly, slowly

resume his place in the living.

 

There are unseen things

That happen in the night,

Down on the river bank,

Where life is challenged by death

Where a rabbit screams his mighty last

Where the heart leaps to the throat,

Where the most we can hope

Is a silent ghost

Who walks out of the river’s fog,

Extends his arms

And embraces the sorrowing.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

“I Remember the Scream”….Albert Kohut,1915-1989

April 26, 2014
"Early Autumn Dusk" Oil, janekohut-bartels, 2007

“Early Autumn Dusk” Oil, janekohut-bartels, 2007

 

He was my father, a talented, complex and troubled man.  The parent that truly loved me, his first child and only daughter.  Today his birthday and I miss him. He was a man of gentle humor, soft spoken and deeply loved by those who knew him.  It took me years to understand him, but I cling to the memories and the lessons he so quietly gave.  He died too young.

A true story:  Plump Nancy Madsen sat on me during her 10th birthday party.  I couldn’t breathe and bit her in the back. (Her dog, Freckles, a dalmation, has bitten me over the left eye a few years before, so I thought this was fair play. I still carry the scar after 6 decades)  Of course, whiney Nancy screamed and started to cry and her mother was furious.  (Her mother, Mabel, didn’t like me or my mother, probably me because of Freckles, and probably my mother for lots of  reasons…).  My father ordered me to go to the car. (We were close neighbors and I could have walked home.)  Of course I was crying, afraid of what my father (more so my mother) would do because of my biting fat Nancy, but when he came to the car, he started to chuckle:  “Let’s not tell your mother about this, and let’s go get some Breyer’s ice cream.” 

I never forgot this kindness of my father.  That was the way he was.

Lady Nyo

 

 

I Remember….

 

I remember the scream

In the middle of the night

Of something dying

Down by the river,

Killed by an owl

Or possibly a fox.

 

I remember bolting awake

In my parent’s bed,

My heart in my throat

My father just died

The funeral over

Sleeping in

His bed,

Afraid to move from this reality

To the next,

No comfort to be had

Even with the scent of

His tobacco in the sheets.

 

I wandered the house,

Touched the walls,

Looked through windows

To a landscape not

Changed over years,

Ran my hands down the

Black walnut banister,

Smooth, smooth

As if the days would turn back

Just by this touch

And he would be here.

 

That scream somewhere on the banks

In the middle of the night,

When I jerked from sleep to

Awake, knowing, he was dead-

The father who loved me

Was gone forever.

I knew then

I was unmoored from life

floating out of reach of love.

 

A scream that challenged dreams

He would come back,

He wasn’t awaiting the fire

He would wake up,

Much as I did,

In a cold-sweat fear

And slowly, slowly

resume his place in the living.

 

There are unseen things

That happen in the night,

Down on the river bank,

Where life is challenged by death

Where a rabbit screams his mighty last

Where the heart leaps to the throat,

Where the most we can hope

Is a silent ghost

Who walks out of the river’s fog,

Extends his arms

And embraces the sorrowing.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

from “Pitcher of Moon”

 

My new book, “Pitcher of Moon” is available from Amazon.
 Paperback: http://goo.gl/RzFRj4
 Kindle e-book: http://goo.gl/cOh8Ww 

The Tribe of Kohuts…..

September 27, 2012

Earlier this month, we traveled to central New Jersey for the 100th Birthday Celebration of my dear Aunt Jean. We drove because I insisted on taking one of our few French pumpkins from our garden, jams and jellies and eggs from our hens as gifts to my aunt. That was a long trip, but having a car made it possible to make day trips out into the countryside to see what changes 20 years of absence had made. The poem ” The Homecoming” tells of just a few of those changes we found.

Most importantly, there were 75 plus people attending, cousins, relatives in some way, but people I had not seen in 23 and 50 years. Of course, I had never met many of the grown children from my cousins, and there were plenty in attendance. So many people remembered my father and related stories to us about him. He was well loved in his lifetime and hearing people, I was once again struck how special he was. He’s been gone for 23 years this November, but his presence was in the room; he was that loved.

There were many long-gone relatives in that banquet room. Uncle John and Aunt Margaret, Sonny’s father and mother, an uncle who was the essence of kindness, his pockets filled with candies which he rustled and we children came running like kittens; Aunt Margaret who would take me on a train to NY for lunch, first washing my face to make me presentable; Uncle Zoltan and Aunt Pauline, who stepped in to parent me when my father died. They loomed large in my life when I felt lost. Uncle Louis, Aunt Jean’s dear husband, who was my father’s favorite brother; Aunt Bubbie, Uncle Mac, Aunt Irene and Uncle Lee…so many people gone, an entire generation, with only Aunt Nancy and Aunt Jean left to herd the rest of us through life.

My Aunt Jean, at 100, was glowing, strong and full of life: beautiful, witty, and one I wouldn’t get into any political argument. That was the general impression I got from other relatives. At 100, Aunt Jean can hold her own.

She uses a wheeled walker, but watching her, you can see she walks faster than that walker. I also saw her put aside the walker, and shove a heavy chair out of her way. There is strength and life in this 100 year young woman.

Over the years, because of distance (we are in Atlanta) and other things, I had missed the Xmas parties every year, had not extended myself to the various cousins, was sure that no one would remember me. I was very wrong. My oldest cousin, Sonny (John) Kohut, the son of my father’s oldest brother (dead) and his adorable wife, Marylou immediately embraced us. We didn’t have name tags on, but it didn’t seem to matter. I was Al Kohut’s only daughter and that was enough for this tribe.

Aunt Jean has been instrumental in my writing life: over the past 5 years she has read every poem I have sent her, and I thanked her in my last book, “White Cranes of Heaven”. She deserved thanking and more because I sent her just about everything I wrote. She complained every time my letters didn’t include some poetry. Apparently, she also passed some of these poems around the family, so I wasn’t such a stranger there.

Over the years, Aunt Jean has become “Mother Jean” and I her ‘daughter”. She also has her own daughter, Pam , and I gain a sister here. I was receiving two and sometimes three letters a week from her. Aunt Jean writes around 50 letters a month all over the world to relatives. The Kohuts are Hungarian,(Aunt Jean tells me ‘closer to the Czech side’) and most of them are bi-lingual. My Hungarian would have my tongue ripped out by wolves: it is that bad.

Mother Jean saw a daughter sorely in need of a functioning family. Her embrace of me has made all the difference in my life. She saw a woman desperately in need of the love of her tribe and made it possible in so many ways. A compassionate belief in the goodness of life and living, a fortitude against evil, and a remarkable ability to embrace the needs of others.

We came from this celebration deeply reconnected with a tribe of people who were loving and caring. The next book will be dedicated to this tribe and I will attempt to remember them for what they gave us that weekend.

It is good to belong somewhere after all these years of doubt. I am very proud of my Hungarian heritage, and my Aunt Jean has helped me feel the strength of it.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2012

“River Of Babylon”

April 24, 2012

Watercolor, 2006, Jane Kohut-Bartels, "Dawn"

My father’s birthday today.  He died 22 years ago, and I miss him so much.

Lady Nyo

River of Babylon

Do you remember

That visit a few scant

Months before you were gone,

When I saw the pain

Saw the end coming

But would not believe?

I wrapped you in a hospital sheet,

Hiding your face like a thief

And we wheeled down the hall,

Avoiding the eyes of nurses,

Down the elevator, down to the street.

We were laughing, elated

Making our great escape

Right under their noses!

In the mellow spring sunshine,

The scent of daffodils

Blossomed beside us,

Up and down Witherspoon,

Enjoying the tender season,

Our escape made richer

By the danger of it all.

But you had different plans,

Intentions that blossomed as you

Lay there, waiting for

The right moment,

The right weather,

The right dupe.

I was driving your Audi,

That paint-faded car with

Butter-soft seats,

And somehow you knew where it was

And though your left hand was a claw

 Held tight to your thin chest,

You casually, so casually gestured

With your right to ‘go there, turn down

This street.’

I remember now, how you threw

Your white shrouded arm in the direction,

And I pushed behind you,

Not knowing your intention until

 It was too late.

You grabbed the door handle

And I begged you to let go,

But you were fierce,

Your determination to go,

And not just for a ride.

I broke your hold,

And I broke your heart,

Just a little to me-

A mortal blow to you.

How I wish I had lifted you

into that car,

How I wish we had run away.

We could have hid on the river bank

We could have been right under their noses,

Doctors and nurses and all the authority

They took from your now-fragile life.

I could have climbed the bank to the house,

Stolen your French horn

You could have played your Mahler,

Softly, softly Father,

We don’t want them to find us-

And we could have fished for sunfish,

Listen to carp jump in the water,

We could have slept in the hollow

Of a fallen log,

Ate blackberries until our mouths, hands

Were stained purple.

We could have thumbed our noses

At the rules,

Even for a little time.

But I was afraid,

Too much the coward,

Afraid of the anger, the fury

And now I wished I had done all this,

And more,

And damn all of them! All of Them!

We could have headed West,

Unknown alien territory,

Or we could have floated down the Millstone

The river you loved so much,

Taught me to love.

We could have floated out

To the Rivers of Babylon

And let them carry us away.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011, 2012

Love Letters….

November 25, 2011

This is a sorrowful month for me.  My father, many years ago, died, right in the full swing of Autumn, the most glorious of seasons in the North.  Then my dearest of friends, Marge Chester died unexpectedly the other day.  They were both wonderful and similiar people in many ways. This is just a little letter of love to them, now so gone. 

 

Dear Daddy,

This month of your death so many years ago –feeling like a blurred yesterday—you would have loved this month, this glorious autumn.

The drought of the past few years has made the colors brilliant, longstanding.  I can’t remember a fall season, now sliding into the earliest of winter, so beautiful.  The reds of the maples are like the slashes of summer’s red cardinals, the oranges and golden leaves, bushes, long grasses as vibrant, as glowing as the sun refracting off broken glass in the grass.  The air is brushed clean with strong seasonal rains, a further blessing after a dry summer.

But the winds! They come out of the north, like bellows, or a bull bellowing. They blow everything before them, and trees, these large pecan and live oak so prominent in the south, are like swaying troupes of dancers.  When this happens at dusk, before the heat of the day cools, when the sky darkens and there is a roiling of clouds in a balmy sky, the winds come marching in like Storm troopers and this spectacle of nature is awesome, fear inspiring.

Thanksgiving was too warm for our holiday: 60 degrees; there is something wrong about this.  Pleasant, but wrong.  Better a cold dreary rain. I’ve been playing Copeland, conducted by your buddy Lennie, and I thought you would be pleased.   At least the music follows tradition if our weather won’t.

I miss you so much.  It took years for me to understand why. I only hope I can be as generous and loving to my own child as you were to me.  I didn’t appreciate you then. It took years for me to understand. But you were, are….loved deeply by me.  All the cousins and remaining dear aunt say I take after you.  I couldn’t be more pleased with that opinion.  Dear Aunt Jean was reading a letter from you from 1943, when you were up to your eyeteeth in WWII.  She said she could well understand where I got my writing ‘skills’ from.  I hope she will share your letter.

Love,

Your daughter

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Marge,

I still can’t get my head around your death.  We were talking the night before for Christ’s sake!

You died in the same month as my dear father.  You were born in the same month as my dear father.  But the strongest commonality here is  you had such a gentle generosity to you, such a love of life  and good, Talmudic wisdom.   LOL!  We would joke about that last thing, as I knew how much you were bent in life in dividing the wheat from the chaff.  And because of how you looked at life, you lived a beautiful one.  I haven’t been able to ‘properly’ mourn yet, sweetie.  That first hour of sobs scared me, as you know how I react to death, but I think the grief will come: it just hasn’t sunk in yet. 

You were my rock and my best friend.  Now I have to write to your mate, and I can’t get my words straight.  But I do have them in my heart, but I just can’t yet believe t they are needed.   I don’t believe you are gone.

In time, I will know but for now, I am holding you close to me, remembering the sound of your voice, and the years of compassion and solace…and good wisdom, from many streams.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Thanksgiving, 2011

A Thanksgiving Memory…..

November 19, 2011
  1.  

     

    In Memory of Marge.

    My father was a tender man.  He came back from WWII, from the Pacific Rim, probably shell shocked, certainly a pacifist.

    It was somewhere in the  50′s.    My parents had bought their dream house: a very old, and badly- needing- restoration pre-Revolutionary War house.  My father, along with my 9 months pregnant mother, moved into this house and began the necessary restoration.  I remember my brother and I were bedded down in what was to be the dining room.

    Both my parents were biting off probably more than they could chew with this property.  There were two barns, a few sheds, and lo and behold!  An outhouse.  That was the toilet…the only toilet.

    My mother, being city bred, and also so heavily pregnant, refused to use that black walnut-built two seater outhouse, and since it was already winter, who could blame her?  My father worked nights  putting in a proper bathroom, and peace reigned again.  Sort of.

    (Black walnut is beautiful wood, and since they were surrounded with acres of it, that particular wood was used for just about everything, including the beautiful curving banister in the front hall.  My father also tore apart the outhouse and used some of the wood in constructing a cabinet under the back staircase,  accessible from the kitchen.  It was a great place for us to play hide and seek as children.)

    Thanksgiving was coming one year, and my father decided he would buy a live turkey, fatten it up and slaughter it for the day.  I vaguely remember going with him one night, when it was already dark and cold,  and what I remember was  a very large, dark room, lit by a bare bulb hardly casting light  on the proceedings.  If I remember correctly, it probably was a poultry farm somewhere in Middlesex County, probably in Millstone.  Back in the 50′s and 60′s, five miles from Princeton, all of this area was farm country.  Very old, English, Scottish then Dutch countryside with huge acreage of farms, dairy and grains.

    So my father brings home a live turkey, and with two  kids and a toddler, he thinks he is going to make “Tom” dinner.

    My father soon realized  his now-country- bred children had made friends with Tom and the idea of eating a friend, well, this wasn’t on the menu for us kids.

    My mother wasn’t about to pluck or clean a turkey.  She was a nurse and ballet dancer and hadn’t education in this.  She didn’t like to even touch fish to be cooked.

    So Tom went to Ham MacDonald in Rocky Hill.  He had 12 children and I am sure Tom served the purpose he was bred for very nicely there.

    My father went to his friend in Millstone, Chester, who was a  butcher, and got a goose.  I think he decided on goose because of the quick disappearance of Tom and he knew any turkey carcass showing up on a plate would have been suspect.

    So that  Thanksgiving we had goose, which was rather strange because Thanksgiving wasn’t called “Goose Day”.

    My father was a tender man.  Perhaps WWII and the times had made him tender.  Perhaps having children made him see life through our eyes.  Some men become harder faced with life.  I think it was because of his nature.  He practiced compassion, even to the sensitivities of children.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Jane Kohut-Bartels

     


%d bloggers like this: