May 1, 2014


  1. a Japanese poem consisting of five lines, the first and third of which have five syllables and the other seven, making 31 syllables in all and giving a complete picture of an event or mood.


May ! it is already May.  

I am going into the 7th month of retired life after working for 30+ years and so far so good.  

I'm already planning my next visit to Ghana in August. In between I will see Toby, my youngest brother and my friend, Pat in California and my friend, Pierr in Seattle and who knows where else I'll go in between. 

May ! it is already May. YIKES ! ! 

The month of May has been a significant month in my life for many, many years, 40 to be exact. This May 10th will be the FORTY year anniversary of my Mother's passing, her untimely death at the age of 45, due to ovarian cancer which spread significantly throughout her body.  

JoAnn Catherine 

From her initial surgery and diagnosis in 1972, she valiantly lived for 20 months with an illness that was extremely difficult, painful and as you can imagine, emotional. 

Her death was on a Friday morning, May 10th around 9:30am. It was Mother's Day weekend. She died at Barstow Hospital, she was with her Mother, her sister, Arlene and her life long friend, Marilyn Sward. 

I was in Mr. Hurndon's Geography class when the call came from Mr. Brown, my high school counselor. Roger and I drove from Kennedy High School to pick Carlos up at Pitcher Junior High and then we drove to Crestline Elementary to get Toby.  Ana at that time was attending Mount Saint Mary's College in West Los Angeles. She came come the next day. 

The memories, the movie reel in my heart and mind, will never go away. Part of me inside is frozen in time, the young girl trying to manage, understand and be brave during those 20 months is never far away. The untimely death of a parent stays with the child forever, even as the child grows, matures and becomes an adult. 

We have an amazing Mother, JoAnn Catherine Arosemena Rodewald -  I thank God everyday that I will always be her daughter, I thank God that she was an amazing MOM for all of us, Ana, Roger, Carlos and Tobias ! ! !  

One of my all time favorite photos taken in our house in the Canal Zone in Panama during the holidays. 

Panama 1956 


I wrote this poem a few years ago in the tanka format. Tankas are expected to convey a complete mood or picture.  My attempt, to convey the surreal mood and emotions at Mother's graveside. We were indeed five starched children, we stood close to each other and nothing made sense or seemed real, at least for me. It was like being on a movie set of a story I did not want to be a part of.  

5 Children at their Mother's Burial ~  Five Tankas 

assembly: Ana 
     Family and friends
     all spill from their cars, they reach 
     Father Ponce prays, 
     whispers echo in the desert
     tumble weeds listen and still 

geography: Carlos 
     Will Mom be warm enough?
     will her beige dress get dirty 
     will she hear the thunder 
     seldom rains, louder, darker
     a spate of tears never cried 

launch: Rogelio 
     The wet grass shimmers
     a lake of sad, children tread 
     ten hands holding on
     the morning is century 
     the casket a rocket ship 

offspring: Tobias 
     Toby sees the breeze
     his mind skips to kites and play 
     he spies an ant trail 
     a family lost, weary 
     many cemetery detours 

recital: Elena 
    Five children starched 
    pleats, ties, new buckles, despair 
    the day is Monday 
    the world is red, Kool-Aid loud
    each children a grieving siren 

Arosemena Family - 1972