Posts Tagged ‘Aunt Jean’

“Bhava Yoga” and the resiliance of life….

August 8, 2014
PItcher of Moon, available from Createspace,

PItcher of Moon, available from Createspace,

Giant English Hollyhock

Giant English Hollyhock

I am amazed. Two weeks ago I lost my dear 102 year old Aunt Jean. She was the most influential person in my life. Warm, compassionate, wise, witty, when she died, I didn’t feel much. Now I know I experienced a numbness of emotion, afraid of what would happen when I ‘let go’ in grief. When my father died 24 years ago, I suffered criticism for ‘head nodding’ during this staged memorial service. That stopped me up and I was afraid. I gave too much power to a cold, self-centered woman who used power and control even at a funeral. I know now that grief, even over something so natural as (any) expression of grief….should not be corralled, denied, or controlled. I have learned something important here, and I have a lot of gratitude for those people in my life, especially the dead ones, for their support and compassion. I am grateful. Not so grateful for some still living….

I am also amazed at how the body and mind heals. It takes time, and I have had a particular arena to observe this: I am diabetic and my insurance (Humana) has informed me that I am in a ‘donut hole’. In other words, unless I pay a couple of thousand dollars and then the uninsured price (monthly) for these meds, I am on my own. Until the first of next year. In other words, the public is held up by pharmaceuticals and insurance companies who work hand in glove with them. Including the doctors that get kick backs.

At first I wondered what in hell I would do? And then, over the course of only a week, I realized the long term depression I felt had lifted. I wasn’t so damn numb anymore. And it could be traced back to the Victoza I was taking. Now? I am on my own, but it’s sort of a welcome challenge. Very tight control of what I eat and a lot more exercise. A LOT more exercise.

Last night my husband of 30 years brought home a leaflet advertising Salsa/Mambo classes. For years we both have wanted to take Argentina Tango, so we are still on the search here. But what a lovely gesture of my sweet husband to remember this! For the past week I have been working with 3lb weights and back to some belly dance movements: this has loosened me up, and my body feels better. A month ago I had a serious fall, and didn’t move much, afraid to, because of it. Now? Tango looks good. Even flamenco again, but I think that’s down the road. But I have the red shoes waiting!

As a poet, I exist in the realm of philosophical implications. I don’t think many of us can get very far away from that. My dear Aunt Jean was always so, and her letters express so much of this mindset, even to the very last one I received from her at 101 years old. I have so much to be grateful for. I have such gratitude for the presence of this stellar woman in my life.

Lady Nyo

Bhava Yoga

Morning’s roseate sky
Has been blasted away,
Branches now whirligigs
Swirl with a fierce southern wind
As windows rattle in frames.

A tattered umbrella
Shades from a relentless sun.
I listen to Bhava Yoga
The vibration of Love,
Where imagination meets
Memory in the dark.
Yet surrounding these soothing tones
The world outside this music
Conspires to disrupt, sweep away
Any centered down thought, reflection.

The fierce wind demands my attention.

Still, the pulse of Bhava Yoga
This Vibration of Love,
Draws me within,
Feeds imagination with memory,
Calls forth something as enduring as the fury outside,
And I feel the pulse of the infinite.

Our lives are lived in the spheres of
And we are like birds,
Clinging with dulled claws to
The swaying branches of life.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2014, from “Pitcher of Moon”, published by Createspace,

Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey and Family…..

November 1, 2012

Watching the national news this evening, the plight of the elderly stuck in high rises without food/water/heat/power just tears at the heart. These people are stuck in the chaos, and the brave first responders are attempting to reach them. And apparently, there is a Winter storm predicted for some time next week. With luck and such hard work hopefully power will be restored soon for people who are in their shattered homes and lives can be saved.

I haven’t had the heart to write anything about this horrific event. I find I am responding to this like I did with 9/11. Fear and a sense of displacement. Then I had a lot of anger, but who can get angry at a hurricane? A force of nature isn’t the same as terrorists.

However, friends from around the world have written and asked about my family in New Jersey. Specifically, they have asked about my 100 year old Aunt Jean. We were just up there in the beginning of September, for her Birthday Celebration, and if there is ANYONE who can come through a hurricane, it is my dear Aunt. This is a powerful woman, in command of all her senses and she takes no captives. But she does have power, in her very elegant suite in the assisted living complex. So, relatives have moved in with her, and I know she will soothe the great grandchildren and comfort the anxiety of the various adults. She is made that way, and I guess this is the reason she has gotten to such an age. Perhaps seeing the world over many wars, seeing the destruction of her Hungarian homeland at various times, and going back innumerable visits, well, perhaps you get a better perspective on something like a hurricane.

I don’t know, but I know I sit here, and my heart just sinks when I see the ocean cities of my youth and vacations just destroyed. The entire seaboard of New Jersey has been devastated from Cape May to the top of the state. NY is another matter, and so many friends and fellow bloggers are there and writing from a ‘boots on the ground’ perspective. Bless them for what they are now going through. (Thank you, Karin, of

Talking to Don, a cousin , apparently there was some rank stupidity on the part of the mayor of Atlantic City: The Governor ordered an evacuation of all barrier islands or low lying areas for the safety of citizens, and this mayor, Lorenzo Langford, countered this by telling people to stay put. He didn’t want ‘his’ people evacuating.

What is going on here? Is this politics or stupidity? He suggested people could shelter in a school…one block from the bay. This school is totally flooded.

The people who have to answer for this stupidity are the first responders: rescue workers, firemen, police, etc. They are the ones who have to go down the streets in boats pulling people off roofs and out of second story windows. People should seriously consider what peril they put others in when they don’t evacuate during such events. But they don’t and apparently politics takes over in the egos of some politicians.

Power is still out to over 2 million New Jersey residents. Gas fires have burned 100 houses. Gas fumes and hissing are now common in these towns, and it’s like a powderkeg waiting to blow.

There is only time and the courage of people in New Jersey. Hopefully residents have learned that you don’t ignore the power of a hurricane. The destruction around them will make this lesson stick.

Lady Nyo

I haven’t a poem to end this entry, and poetry gives comfort. But the moon has been full this week, and I remember a poem I wrote about Japan’s disaster of almost two springs ago. I know it isn’t the same, but in a way, it is. And I know for some, a poem will bring comfort.

Is there a moon viewing party
In Japan tonight?
Destruction, sorrow
Covers the land,
Despair, loss
Regulates the heart.

Perhaps the moon presence
Is of little interest
And less comfort.
Perhaps sorrow goes too deep
To raise eyes above shock and debris.

Her gleam falls upon all
A compassionate blanketing
Of the Earth,
Softening the soiled,
Ravaged landscape,
A beacon of promise
Of the return to life,
Beauty to nature.

Jane Kohut-Bartels,
Copyrighted, 2012

“The Homecoming”…..

September 17, 2012


The Homecoming


I passed right by it on that river-twinned road,

the county lax on cutting limbs,

shrub from the roadside.


Sixty years I travelled down that road

The house sticking out

Like a beacon of light pulling me homeward.


I was ashamed I had gone by,

Not recognizing until up upon it,

And then missing the driveway.


Oh, how much things have changed!

Paint peeling from clapboards and trim,

Shutters, too, and a worse offense-

The pin from the door of the smokehouse

Fallen, where the plank door hung like a

 Drunken one-armed monkey. 


Gone was the orchard, gone the 50 fruit trees

My father labored to grow. Gone, too, the peonies

That crowned the hill below the pasture, too far

From the fence for any horse nibbling.

Gone the fence, too.


Inside I marveled how small

The rooms seemed, though a huge

Stove and island took much room

From  the old kitchen, once more

Simple in décor.


I put my hand on the oldest mantel,

And the house didn’t breathe.

I heard no tinkling laughter,

No ghosts  nor kin playing in the halls,

No strains of a French horn,

No barking of dogs,

No clucking of long gone hens.


That ghost I was familiar with,

Making drying plates stand up and twirl,

And once in a while, I would  jump down from

The barn’s rafters, run to the house eager to play

With any soul  faintly calling my name.


I never knew what ghost did the bedeviling.

Either a shade of a Dutch farmer smoking

His long, white clay pipe,

Or a Colonial soldier oiling his rifle,

Perhaps a housewife, mourning her  dead children.

Typhoid in the 1820’s took

Scores of children.  Many graves

Told the tale.


“Sleep on dear babe

And take thy rest,

God called ye home,

He thought it best.”


I never knew what haunted the house,

But something did.


On the side of the house by the brook

Was  a 15 foot pile of firewood,

A foot from the shakes, but Good God!

Don’t people know termites

Can fly and fly up into those  shakes where

They add to the misery of age?


I remember standing in the upstairs hall,

Looking out  into the black night,

And seeing the foxfire centered over the

Septic tank.  Gold, a fool’s gold indeed.

I was greedy for that fool’s gold, being

A willing enough young fool.


The house had grown into a fragile, elderly old dame,

In desperate need of her toilette

To repair the ravage of years.

No roses blooming on the trellis,

No pots of flowers flanking the front door,

The iron holders for the window boxes

Like empty arms imploring some blossoms.



I turned and walked away,

With memories good and tragic,

I had grown apart, or grown more cynical,

Life taking a toll on long-ago memories,

Now saddened but at a strange peace.

Finally  freed of the haunts of the house-

Its history, too.

Nothing  I could do to repair

The ravages of time or fashion.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted  2012

I took a trip to central New Jersey a week ago to attend Aunt Jean’s 100th Birthday Celebration. She is beautiful, witty and in great health. When we were there, we took a trip out to our old home, in our family for 44 years. My father restored this 250 year old historic house. It was, eventually, the death of him. The poem on the gravestone is from the grave of Jennie Wykoff, who died of typhoid in 1820, at the age of five years. Bless the present owners, it is a hard house to maintain, and only devoted love will extend the life of this house.

95 year old Aunt Jean wrote yesterday,

December 2, 2008

and since she won’t be reading this blog, I will spill the beans…

I have few living relatives…but those that are seem to reach their 90’s. At least if they are women. That’s the good news for me because I am one.

Aunt Jean and I have been writing casually for years. That is something that you do. However, she and I have discovered so much in common over the past year, that we keep the letters going every month, health issues allowing.

Aunt Jean is Hungarian. She was born there, and her family was that class of land owners who were rather from the feudal times. That isn’t remarkably unusual in pre-Communist Hungary, but it’s interesting to know her history.

Her family owned a villa and a vineyard in I believe in the Northeast part of Hungary, near the Russian border. Of course with the Revolution of ’56, they lost the property, but the Russian government gave her (as the surviving relations-owner) a plane ticket their every year. She goes back every year to look over the family property (or what was…) and the vineyards, and she is treated like royalty when she does by the townspeople. Feudalism dies slowly in those parts of the world. That’s why it’s called “Old World” I guess.

Aunt Jean is quite the international traveler. Apparently she is well connected in Europe and knew the Gabor sisters. Some bad blood passed between Za Za Gabor, and they have to be seated at opposite ends of the table because they snipe at each other in Hungarian. Or so the stories go.

Aunt Jean is quite the matriarch in our family, and probably the most interesting woman. She told me in her letter yesterday:

“As per your comment on us being much alike! you are quite right. Hope you are sitting down, Jane-Elizabeth as you read this letter! As a teenager, I too wanted to be a dancer on stage!! Dancer with the Radio City Rocketts!!! A far reach! Only the wish was there. Not strong enough to pursue it!!!…As I grew older, another wish was to write articles and be my profession. One great wish was to write the plight of the black people of Africa. (came up with the title, but can’t spell it..will mention it in my next letter..)”

I am in awe of this woman. She raised two girls (cousins) one who died, (Carole) years ago, and Pam who lives her late 60’s I believe. Life and marriage got in the way of her ‘life-plans’…but Aunt Jean is a writer of great repute in any case. She is known for her letters …sometimes over 30 a month, (and they are hand-written and long letters) and she keeps correspondence going all over the globe. At 95, with painful shingles and failing eyesight. Her writing is beautiful and testimony to a careful education in those things that were valuable to a woman of her class.

Aunt Jean is probably the biggest and strongest family influence in my life as a writer. She ‘loves my poetry’ (tanka) and even though it’s erotica, she doesn’t buck. I have a feeling that Aunt Jean probably doesn’t know what erotica is, but she does love Tasha Tudor, and 65 years ago bought her books for her two daughters. She wrote just a few weeks ago, mourning Tasha Tudor’s passing at 93. She still has Tudor’s books on her coffee table.

Aunt Jean writes “Jane-Elizabeth! Yes, this is the most amazing time of technology and digital time we live it. Not enough people stop and pause to think about it as the cycle of the Earth turns~! What will it reveal next? As I watch a plane take off, I marvel at the power it has to lift tons and tons of people and all else!! Each generation born, has new technology already in mind. Hope you can read most of this letter. I keep trying!!”

Dear Aunt Jean. If I could do and appreciate a fraction of what you have done in your life,…I will die a good and completed woman. Your spirit and deeds are remarkable for any time, but your ambition shows a keen intelligence and drive, and that you held these wonderful ambitions all your life, and especially that you sacrificed it all to marriage and raising my cousins, is merit enough.

I love you so much Aunt Jean, and as you say: “Coming in haste (answering my last letter fast…) because the future is fading faster than the setting sun!! At this age, I have to ignore Emily Post!~

Well, I wish you another 95 years because you are one of the most fascinating woman I have ever met. I am so proud to be your niece and to have so much that we share in common. You called the other day, and I feel so ashamed that I have not kept up with our phone calls. Life gets in the way. And I am also ashamed that my Hungarian has fallen off, and you can’t really understand my accent anymore. And that the only words I can remember you wouldn’t use in ANY company….

I love you, Aunt Jean, and my first book, “A Seasonings of Lust”…the one that you have pushed me and pushed me to publish….and even though it is all erotica, and your toes would probably turn up if you read it, well,…

It’s dedicated to my dearest Aunt Jean…because you are the roots of it.

Lady Nyo and Jane-Elizabeth (Aunt Jean, being the only one in the family that consistently calls me my proper name…except my mother when she is mad at me…)

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