The poems in Just Living, Loving and Caring introduce the poet-speaker, “Aunt Nette,” as a model of Christian charity and compassion. The poems are best characterized as inspirational/ self-help, religious/spiritual, and greeting-card verse.
In her first poem, “Aunt Nette, who are you to be writing poems?”, the poet explains her approach: “I am/ A child and follower of Jesus Christ/[…] My emphasis is on people to people relationships/ highlighting the impact of responsive tenderness,/ and love upon the life of one human being to another.”
The book is arranged in three sections: “Togetherness in Life’s Garden,” “Simply Life Encounters,” and “Epilogue: Collection of Personal Treasure Reflecting Living, Loving and Caring.” The first two sections contain the standard fare of inspirational poetry, including two acrostics and many free-verse poems that offer life advice. For instance, in “Room to Bloom,” a representative poem, the speaker writes, “Make room for you to bloom/ Why not?/ […] Lean on me./ Grow and blossom./ Your beauty enhances me until I can bloom again.” While the poems are well-intentioned, they rely mostly on banal concepts and clichéd language that lacks potent imagery. In “Gathering,” for example, Nette states, “I will select and gather treasures from life,” but doesn’t offer any concrete examples of these “treasures.”
The third section functions mostly as a scrapbook of artifacts the poet collected rather than penned, including Bible verses, an excerpt from the well-known poem “Desiderata,” and varied correspondence with members of her family and church. These artifacts pay frequent tribute to Nette’s late husband, Ed Daniels, and Nette concludes the book with pictures of herself and Ed throughout their 60-year marriage.
Living, Loving and Caring lacks the aesthetic merit to gain a wide reading audience. Still, it no doubt holds strong, sentimental appeal for its author and her close friends and relatives.
Also available as an ebook