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.  

Her name is Joy…..and she is her name

If you by chance stopped by yesterday, you may have seen the pile on my dining room table, you may have read about how I emptied my crafty cupboard so that I could re-organize it so it wasn’t so frustrating when looking for things.  Because I’m queen of procrastination, I didn’t start the project until around 7 last night.  Once I began.  I couldn’t stop.  I was up until 11:30 working on that thing.  Then I was way too wired to go directly to bed so I watched an episode and one-quarter of Mad Men.  While I was organizing I found a large envelope with greeting cards that my mom gave me.  I was curious and began to read who these cards where from?  I found a Christmas card from my fraternal grandma.  As I read her cursive note I found it sweet.  It just said things like, “We all love and miss you”  she wished me a nice Christmas and New Years,  wondering if I might make my Aunt Lori’s wedding that would be that summer and ended again with “all our love….love you”

She lost the privilege to see me as much as she would have liked when my parents divorced and my mom stayed in L.A. while my natural father went back up north to live.  The distance between us was about 210 miles and around three and a half to four hours away depending on traffic. So I didn’t see her very much.  This means I only have a handful of memories.  I suppose these are the sorts of things that happen when one is a child of divorce.

I know her name is Joy, I know her eyes are very blue, I know her skin is soft, I know she not only has the name Joy but she is also full of joy and laughter, I know she is generous, She smiles a lot, she has a twinkle in those blue eyes of hers, she smells good, I know she loves life, I know she loves me.  I don’t know her middle name, I don’t know how old she is, I think her birthday is sometime in December, I don’t know where she was born, I don’t know how she met my grandpa, I sadly just don’t know enough about her.

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This picture was at least a decade old or older.  I sadly don’t have many pictures with her

Tomorrow we drive to Yuma AZ to attend my grandpa’s memorial.  I knew him even less than I know my grandma.  You see when I was little he was a very tall and and intimidating man. I was actually sort of afraid of him.  They owned a bar and restaurant most of their lives, or at least all of my life.  So I often saw my grandpa at the bar sitting  in dim lights with a class of hard liquor and almost always a cigar in his mouth, gold rings on his fingers, you get the picture?  Grandma would say “Now go give Papa J.E. a hug, he won’t hurt ya” So I would sheepishly walk over to him and hug him like I was supposed to.  So from a little girl point of view he was just a tall scary guy while grandma was just the opposite, warm, friendly cuddly and sweet.

I’m going to the memorial because I love my grandma and she loves me.  I think it’s unfortunate that I didn’t get to know them better as an adult even.  Distance and raising my own family kept me away.  However my brother especially was close to Papa J.E.  I like to believe he was a man’s’ man, he loved hunting, fishing and out-doors type stuff.  My brother experienced all those out-door things with him and this gave him an opportunity to actually know grandpa.  He was hit especially hard when he passed because of their well-developed relationship.

brandon with grandparentsThat’s Papa J.E. my brother Brandon and Grandma Joy

There was one time a few years back Grandma Joy and Papa J.E. were traveling through my city and stopped for a visit.  We sat in our backyard and I got to see a different side of Papa J.E.  He smiled a lot, he was kind and he told really great stories while laughing out loud as he spoke.  This one small visit in my life changed the way I felt about him.  He wasn’t mean after all.  But still I didn’t know him.  It’s funny how life is, the hands we are all dealt.  But still as blood lines go, this is part of mine and because I adore my grandma and I’m also not sure how much longer she will be with us, I will go.  I will also ask her, where she was born, how she met Papa, what her middle name is, you know things like that.  While I have this opportunity I should take it.

Before I close I just want to leave you with a few memories I have of this dear grandma of mine.

She always called me the morning of my birthday, most times before I even opened my eyes for the day.  My mom would carry the phone into me and I would hear her joyous voice, “Well happy birthday Tracie!” She starts most her sentences with “well”

I always love it when she says this one “well Tracie, you have put on a few pounds now haven’t you?”

She made sure that each time I came up for a visit she took me shopping for a new outfit.

She made sure to sit in the trailer with me while Papa was watching over the bar.  They would park a big motor home just outside the bar and she would sit with me and play games and talk.

She always seemed to have a poodle with her.

They once lived in a big log cabin and in it was a Jacuzzi tub that I had fun bathing in, they even had a rooster and from what I understand, she collects all things roosters.

She was a great cook and liked things like lamb, olives, green onions, salami and cheese and of course any kind of Mexican food.  After all it was an Mexican food restaurant they owned.  I tried my first chimichanga there.

She didn’t know how to swim but they always had a pool.  One of my best, best memories was the time she invited me for a midnight swim so we could watch the moon.  We didn’t wear any clothes and we used a raft to hold on to and float around in the pool.  We talked about UFO’s and took in the star filled sky.

She hung out with my great grandma who lived with them. Often when I would visit, it would be me grandma joy and great grandma Dory.  Great grandma crocheted and would make me little slippers and scarves.  The both of them drove down in grandma’s Mercedes when I graduated high school. I remember staying all night with them in the motel room they rented.

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Check out Great Grandma Dory,  this is exactly how I remember her,  super tiny with lots and lots of wrinkles with a thick, thick accent, sounded Cajun to me.

That’s all for now.  I do have more memories but this has already gone on too long.  Although I didn’t get to see her much I feel as though somehow I got some of her qualities.  We for sure know I got her nice solid legs but also I like to think I hold a bit of her sense of adventure, her constant smile, her joy, her warm love.  She is a special lady.

unexpected things happen….it’s just how life can be

desert flowersSunday while on my way out, I saw this and I had to stop.  So vibrate they were hard to capture.

Okay so I got sick.  It happened.  I came home Thursday just hoping the Vick’s would fix everything and I would be good as new for work Friday.  That didn’t happen.  Not at all.  I couldn’t even get out of bed Friday morning; I can’t remember even hearing the house being awake.  I’m supposed to get up at 5:15 to take the soccer player to his zero period and I slept straight through.  Lucky I have a really great partner who just did what had to be done and didn’t even wake me because he knew I needed the rest.  He then took the littlest and only girl to school and I slept and slept and slept.  I didn’t realize I could sleep so much! Lucky I had the weekend to rest up however I received an unexpected invitation to a funeral on Saturday and I felt I could muster up enough energy to be there for my friend.  I got up late Saturday and oh boy the house!  My guy and the house it’s not exactly his priority like it is mine.  The accumulation of shepherd hair was all I could see, I felt like every square inch I looked I saw clumps of hair.  I had to vacuum, I just did!  Or else I wouldn’t be able to fully relax, I’m working on this issue. It shouldn’t be so important.   I also felt this urgency to strip our “sick” bed sheets and wash them in very hot water.  I thought I was doing pretty well; I got all this stuff done before I headed out.  I didn’t take a picture at the funeral I attended.  I didn’t think I should.  It wasn’t my grandpa after all.  I was there to support my friend and I love her family very much.  They are such a beautiful family and when I say beautiful I mean on the inside and most definitely on the outside.  My friend’s mom reminds me of a mix of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Audrey Hepburn, just a very stunning lady and just as beautiful inside. It felt like an honor to be a part of this day.  It was small, it was meaningful and the music was simple and pure.  I had a hard time leaving my friend on this day.  I rarely get to see her since she moved to Arizona a decade ago so having coffee and reminiscing was so nice.  She and I both have 18 year old young men who graduated this past June from high school and all we can remember is sitting side by side breastfeeding them together as our husbands played cards in the other room.

Which brings me to this, as I drove home from the day’s events I got a call from my oldest, he had run out of gas on his way home from work and needed my help.  I was already out and about so I could help him out.  It was a long night and lucky the only thing I had to do after church yesterday was rest.  I sat in a recliner most of the day, using tissue after tissue as I read “Mansfield Park” and I do like the character Fanny very much.  I can relate to her, I really can.    I was craving limeade from Sonic so my guy went and got me a really big one, we shared it.  He is so good that way.  I don’t have many pictures to share either cause it was just a real weird kind of weekend.

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me and my buddyI had Pablo cuddled next to me as I read, and I had Garfunkel up on my shoulder for a time.

sonicvery impressive image right?

Lastly my girl the littlest and only one, she is trying out for her 6th grade cheer team.  Oh boy, I’m so nervous for her.  There are more than 20 girls trying out and they can only have 10 total on the team.  She already had her small group at church pray like this “I pray I make the team, but if I don’t I pray I will be okay with it” This morning she told me, “Mom, I have never tried out for anything in my whole entire life” Big deep breaths.  I can only hope she does make the team that would be amazing.  But she even said if she doesn’t, she can always try again next year.  I hope she stays so resilient.