In art there is healing

Ecclesiastes 3

   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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  

I had a visitor last night in my dream

Have you ever had one of those dreams, the kind where you get to visit a loved one who has already moved on into the next life? When I have this kind of dream, I don’t want to wake up.  I want to stay there.  Hang out for a good long while, ask some serious after life questions. What’s it like, what’s your soul been up to?  Last night in my dream my grandpa made an appearance.  When I woke up this morning I wrote the dream in my journal because I didn’t want to forget.   On May 6, 2010 just three days after my 40th birthday I lost my grandpa.  I found him again last night.   I turned around in that cabin’s old dirty kitchen that needed the walls painted badly and he was there.  His warm approachable face was smiling back at me, arms outreached for one of his strong, meaningful hugs.  I lingered in this hug last night just a little longer because I have missed him so much.  He wore a light blue, crisp dress shirt and black slacks.  I had conversation with him but sadly I can’t remember what we talked about.  My grandma she was there too at the cabin but she couldn’t see him. Only I could see him.  I could hear him, I could feel him.  Thank you grandpa for visiting me in my dreams last night, I have missed you so very much.

me and gramps

Shortly after he passed I began to notice white egrets or some call herons. The strangest sighting was in my backyard one morning, one landed on my rooftop and I had never seen an egret land on my rooftop or be anywhere near my home.  The white egret just stood there, prehistoric, and wise looking.  Standing still for a moment then flew away.  Now when I spot an egret, a white one.  I think of him.  For a while after he passed I would visit this one little park and try to find the one egret that lived there.   I would get so excited when I would find him just standing in a shallow pool of water. I would sit still for several moments just watching this bird.  My grandpa had a fountain made of egrets. The fountain is still there with my grandma.

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elsie

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about one month ago, Rich noticed this across the street from our house.  He said as long as he has lived here which is nearly all his life, he never seen this before.  Elsie must have carved into wet concrete when things were new. 

ELSIE (a poem…sort of, by me)

There was a little girl called Elsie, she grew up in a 1950’s tract house

With her sister, her mom and dad

They were the original owners of this house when it was new

They had citrus trees in the back and three palm trees in the front

She grew up in this house and when she was still young

She had a baby boy

She named him Joshua

She didn’t mean to make wrong choices

But she did

When her boy was still very young

She accidentally overdosed

Her body was dropped in the front lawn of the house

The house she grew up in

The little boy Joshua lost his mama on that day

Things in that house were not so good

They didn’t mean to be bad

But they were

Many years later

A young couple with two baby boys came along

They bought the old broken house

The house with bad memories

That couple, it’s us

We had another baby in this house

A girl

In this house with bad memories

We have always felt safe

It feels exactly like home

Children have seen

A young woman

In a white dress

In the middle of the night

Standing in our yard

We like to think it’s

Elsie

Only children can see her