There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
When death happens I think of this scripture because it’s so true about having a time for everything. This weekend was a time to build, laugh, embrace…but in having that honor…. death arrived. And before I can talk about the happenings of our weekend I find it in my heart today to first honor my beautiful and beloved Aunt. She is my mom’s Aunt actually, a great-aunt to me. The last living person in my grandpa’s generation. She was my grandpa’s sister. There were four children to the hard-working couple who came here from Oklahoma in hopes of a better life and to escape the dust bowl. I just spoke of them last week in fact. I included this image of my family history. The sweet little girl is my Aunt.
There was first a little girl who passed when she was just three, then there was my Aunt Louise and her real name was Berttie Louise (pronounced Birdy) She didn’t like her first given name so we all knew her as Aunt Louise. Then there was my grandpa, his name was Gerald but he went by Sandy because their last name was Sanders, then the last to be born another boy, Ronald, who went by Ron. And my Aunt she was beautiful like a movie star. Even in her aging she was beautiful to me. She left us on Saturday. She crossed over at 3:30 in the morning and I like how there are two three’s in her passing. She was in pain, she went quickly and I’m thankful for that only I never said good-bye. I was supposed to see her upon my return from Oregon. I didn’t want to cancel my trip because it was a monumental trip. A trip for growth, a trip I had to do. I had to be brave. And in making that choice I missed her passing and I missed my good bye. Mourning was even addressed on our weekend trip and how it’s important to mourn. Her viewing is this Friday, her service will be graveside Saturday. My first cry was with Cinnamon at the top of the hill in a public restroom. I shared with her quickly of the news. I shared with her my confusion on how I should be, what I should feel? In that quick span of time I managed to also share how when I turned 40 it was supposed to be the best birthday of my life so far, how we had big plans to go away and my grandpa was sick again from cancer and without hesitation, I cancelled our plans to go away so I could spend each weekend with him until his passing. It was the best decision I could have made. I had one final conversation with him where we shared deep secrets and special thoughts with one another before he got really bad and it was on the exact weekend I was supposed to go away. He wanted me to go. He wanted me to enjoy my celebration but in this particular case I could not. It was a May 3rd 2010, my 40th birthday when I got a phone call after work that he wasn’t doing well and may not make it through the night. I left. I just dropped everything and I left to be with him. I wanted to be there when he took his last breath. And I was able to hold his hand, gently talk to him, to just sit, to be near him as he took his breaths and got closer to death. It took him three days to let go. And during that time we held on tight, we stayed close. I will never forgot my 40th birthday it will forever be associated with his passing. He left me roses and a hat, and plenty of memories. When I see an egret I think of him. I saw an unusual amount of them after his passing. One on my rooftop in fact which was a first and so far a last. I will never forgot and I mourned properly.
But now, now I was away and I wasn’t sure. So it went like this, one moment in the bathroom with Cinnamon where I shared my heart quickly and I began to cry and she embraced me. And right there at the top of the hill in that public restroom I had a moment. And now I will never forget my monumental trip, the one I took alone when Aunt Louise left us.
So today I just want to honor and respect her with a few images from a few years back. My mom and I with littlest and only girl went to help her clean her house. She always kept a very tidy and clean house and in her older age and deteriorating health she couldn’t clean like she used to. So we cleaned for her. We polished her salt and pepper shaker collection, we washed windows and sorted through old mail. But we also just sat and visited and for me, I had my camera with me. I document the details, the moments so that’s what I did 5 years ago when we helped her clean her house. And I saw her a few times after this and sadly in the busy life of being a working mom, I didn’t see her as much as I could have. She didn’t live too incredibly far away. And to be honest I feel not so good about that part. Why does death do that to us? I should learn from this. I should learn.
Here are the images from that day. Not all the images but the ones I find special. She didn’t want me to take her photo because she didn’t think she was beautiful any more but trust me she was. And I just had to respect her wishes so the two photo’s I have are from the back. One my little girl took for me. I asked little Abbie to go behind us and click a picture. I wanted a picture where I was next to her without her getting upset that her image was being taken.
And I realize now in art there is healing. I also had my camera with me in my grandpa’s passing. I photographed his hand in my sisters, I photographed the roses in his garden, the ones we gathered to place by his bed, the guardian angel coin, the times my mom stood next to him and put cool cloths on his head. I photographed it all, even the clock and the rocks, and the sky. I had to. It helped. So at least I have learned in art there is healing.