Patti Hall 2014
Hey, I hope you find time to check out some of the other A-Z April Challenge blogs here:
As my parents approach their eighth decade, I’m frequently called on to fly up to Alaska, from my beach cave in Washington State. Illness, injury and even sibling death, has pulled me back into my family circle these last seven years.
No matter the reason that I’m staying with my parents, hard emotions like stress, tension and worry come with the package. It is wonderful to be there, but it’s not a vacation.
Don’t get me wrong, all the good stuff is included; hugs, kisses, laughter, music, and reminiscing about our shared memories. I cherish the privilege of watching my mother mix colors, to paint another beautiful scene, and then witnessing my dad replenish the flowers next to the my late sister’s portrait.
There’s a phenomena that occurs almost every evening (eventide), that manages to set aside my harder emotions and allows me to soak up the good stuff.
My parent’s home is situated on a slight incline at the outer edge of their little town. Mega-city, Anchorage, is as a distant backdrop.
Each evening, I’m caught off guard when I see the colors begin to dance on the living room blinds. Some days the colors come more slowly and I just get that feeling…then I go look out the window or door. Either way, it is a surprise.
I suck my breath in, then audibly release it; another Alaska sunset has begun.
I grab my camera, and maybe a coat, scarf, and a change from slippers to boots. Maybe not. Every second counts. The drama of colors and clouds are rearranging in those seconds.
The cars and trucks of local residents whoosh by on the busy road, heading to some “thing” that they think is important. I expect to see vehicles skidding to a stop, right there on the road, to see this more important “thing.”
Instead, they barely notice the beauty before them, and this maniac woman snapping photos (of the ho-hum-we-see-it-every-evening sunset) in her bathrobe and slippers.
I take air into my lungs in huge gulps.
Words escape me, but not sounds, “Ooooh, ahhhh!”
I close my mouth, raise the camera and snap another miracle moment.
Frantic with the need to make someone see this stunning show, I look around for a witness. No neighbors, no one out walking the dog, or pushing a stroller on the paved walking path.
I race, from the end of the long driveway, back to the house and try to lure mom and dad out to see this evening’s wonderment. I can usually get at least one of them to look out the living room window. Sometimes my enthusiasm even gets them to look out the back porch window.
I insist that this evening’s show is even more beautiful than last evening!
Defeated, I go back out and snap a few more shots and can barely make myself stop. I keep glancing back as I move towards the front door. I get right down to the business of putting the miracles on my computer. You should hear the folks ooh and ahh when I show them what they missed.
All the day’s emotional angst seeps away with each second that I watch the dance of the colors with the clouds.
Good medicine, that will last until tomorrow’s worries fill the day. Then they are, again, washed away at eventide.
Reliving this experience in words here, sharing it with you, makes this miracle… eventide everlasting.
Patti Hall 2014
Hey, I hope you find time to check out some of the other A-Z April Challenge blogs here:
“Travel brings power and love back into your life.” ― Rumi
It’s funny, but I think that you like the truth better than any tale I could weave, and I can weave some fanciful ones. But, surely it is the real heart and real emotion that we need the most…
Whether it’s, “Oh, my gosh, I never knew!”
or, “That’s just how I feel too!”
The best and worse of me, resounds in you. P.H. 2013
I just wrote that for you:>)
Traveling home is very different, on many levels, to each of us. It also changes with the reasons that we go home. Since 2007, there has been a different reason each time that I traveled home. My late husband, Paul, came up with the money for a ticket, and then insisted that I go that first time. The visit was initially to see my dad, who had a health scare, but then, also to make up with a family that I had distanced myself from for too many years. That was good. And hard. And it lightened my heart to have my reading, gardening, rolling- with- laughter mom back in my life.
Another visit to the north was a casual one, almost a vacation. Fishing in Homer with #1, a sister who took me everywhere when I was little, says I was HER baby! A long-time friend of hers verified the news. I made up with a sister that I hadn’t seen or spoken to in at least eight years, and made headway with another. I helped dad with his yard sales and listened raptly to tales from his childhood in Kentucky. I loved the way his faded southern accent peeked in and out of his reminiscing. Of course, mom and I reveled in working the garden together, and I, in watching her dance in front of the green house in her jammies, to the loud music coming from within. Joy.
In 2012, my visit was filled with pain and heart-ripping sorrow. My direct sorrow was laced with regret. The sister I had reunited with just eight months earlier, the sister who had been sending care packages of craft ideas and love ever since, the sister I’d been sharing texts and long-missed phone calls with, was gone. The gratefulness that we DID connect, didn’t come until much later. My secondary sorrow was the torture of witnessing how the loss hit my parents; the death of one of their seven, a crushing blow.
Then, too, the twin to my lost sister, their birthday is tomorrow, lost her literal other half. There are just no words for the pain I felt she must be suffering. Still suffers. Another sister was a close business and personal buddy with our lost one. Another sister was out of the country. The brothers stood by, strong shoulders for our tears. My heart tore in painful strips of crumpled, tear-stained ribbon. I tried to capture and identify my pain and soothe it, but the ribbons flew in all directions; my parents, our twin, each sibling, even dear friends who fed and flowered us so well. A tattered ribbon of pain from my husband’s death flew in, and tangled with the rest.
Our (now) single twin flew home, soon after the beautiful memorial, into the loving and healing arms of her husband and son in Arizona. When I flew back to my beach a few weeks later, the ribbons of pain flew behind the jet and tangled between my feet as I disembarked. They knotted in my hair as I walked the beach, searching for my lost loved ones. A little over a month later, a phone call; my mother is in the hospital, and so, I packed my ribbons of pain for another flight to Alaska.
The ribbons of pain were no longer filling every space in my parents home. But as I cared for mom, cooked, cleaned and organized, the ribbons fell from every drawer, cupboard and closet; still there, but moved aside to make room for daily living. The ribbons filled pillows that we rested our heads on each night. We used them to wipe away the tears that flowed, unbidden, from our eyes. I was there for over 4 months, which allowed special time with the four siblings who live near.
Eight months after the return to my Washington beach, I lost my 3 year-old grandson and the fresh ribbons of pain, added to the others, almost smothered me. My mother’s sister died October 1st, adding still another tangle of ribbons. I feel them right now. Those ribbons of pain make it hard to open Maggie’s door; my little RV cave is packed with them. I am safe, as long as I keep them away from my nose and mouth. I’ve accidentally swallowed a few and they almost choked me.
Mom is having hip surgery January 3rd, and a brother is having a potpourri of surgeries in the next few months. I fly out on the 2nd and spend the day in Juneau, the capital city that I have never been to. I look forward to walking up to the huge Mendenhall Glacier, that presents its blueish glory, just a few miles from the airport. There are other wonders close by that I hope to explore. Are you excited to see the photos? I am too! If you have a friend in Juneau who can give me a quick tour between 2 and 6 that day, please let me know.
I’ll be back to my beach in mid-May and I’ve promised to visit Mrs. M soon after. She’s doing well, by the way, and is doing outpatient PT now. I also have a long list of family and friends to visit on my return. Those ribbons that I’ve been writing about? They have been keeping me inside the sorrow of those lost loved ones, and not allowing me room to be with the loved ones who are alive. I know that. I’ve decided to drop them out the airplane on my way back from Alaska:>)
“Every traveler has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.”
― Charles Dickens
Here’s a beach sunset from a few days ago. Enjoy, please:>)
Every Damn Day? Who’s idea was this anyway? The culprit can be found here: Every Damn Day December at http://treatmentofvisions.com/2013/11/26/evdadadec/
It has been nice to be home this week, but Mrs. M. has called and I will be returning to Oregon tomorrow. One last, late afternoon visit to my beach, and I collected some sand to make her a beach scene in a glass dome. She loves the beach too, so I will take her one of her own. (Beach therapy in glassware)
The driftwood bull carving was still there and I told him how much you all enjoyed him:>) Here are a few other beauties and oddities that I gathered with my camera today.
I could actually smell winter at the beach today. I didn’t last long outside, but found some pretty beach glass, a Westport moonstone (round, smooth, clear rock), a heart-shaped stone and a piece of petrified wood. No agates, but still, some goodies to make Mrs. M.’s mini-beach!
Have a great week and I will be back online as soon as I can.
I’m am still filled with adrenaline from my impromptu visit to the beach. Drove to Bonge Beach in search of agates and other beach treasures (and the solace that the beach provides) at 6 P.M., then drove all the way down the Grayland Beaches. Just in time for a spectacular sunset and to watch the excited clam diggers harvesting enough razor clams for several meals.
They go home wet, sandy, and cold, but also filled with satisfaction for a hard job done. It looked like everyone got their limit, by the happy smiles and bulging bags. A few were in groups, and some had fires built on the beach. We are a dog-friendly community, and many folks had their furry friends along. I saw at least six families with children.
Taking all this in, while I am still reeling with the recent loss of my aunt, was like a meditation. I thought of her sisters, children and grandchildren. I ache for the raw pain they must feel. I thought about how much they all would have loved seeing what I am seeing. I hope they come here and look what I found tonight, and get a moment of…comfort?
All 22 photos are at my site: www.phallphotos.wordpress.com
On October 1st, while I was being amazed at the offerings of the sky, my Aunt Norma was on a final journey to her loving husband who passed away eight years ago. As a hole in the stormy clouds above the ocean opened up, it sent rays of light from above, and chills ran up and down my body. This is usually my reaction when I get to witness this natural phenomena, but it felt stronger that day.
Yesterday I visited my other aunt and talked to my mom in Alaska; they had both lost a sister the day before. For my mother, that is a daughter, a close family friend, a great grand child and a sister, that she has lost in less than 2 years. I got to hug two cousins yesterday and renew our cousin-love vows. I stopped by to give my uncle a hug and to renew our vow of family love. I have recently been rebuilding friendships with the children of the aunt who just died, and I am trying to support them through this hard time.
All of this has me thinking about the nature of loss. How very different the loss of one person can be to each of us; how the news hits us and how it settles around us. Our experiences with loss, and our relationship and history with the lost one, make such a difference. Some want to laugh, some need to cry, others want to reminisce, while some just want to ignore the pain. It is very hard to know which way a grieving person is leaning on that particular day, or hour or, even, that minute. I am doing the best that I can for each. The biggest thing I think I can do, is to be a good listener and let them lead me to the place they are, emotionally. I offer gentle sympathy. After a lot of listening, I can usually offer something that I think will help. Sometimes it is just a hug, or hanging out for awhile. Sometimes it is an action I can take. Either way, I try and be gentle. And yes, this loss is my loss also, so I’ll need to be gentle with me too.
I also spent time with my daughter’s family yesterday. As usual, I drug them all out to see Nature’s glory in the sky. Pretty soon, Nola (6) and Cora (7), were dragging me down the sidewalk and around the corner to get better views of the incredible fading rainbow-setting sun-lit sky.
They ran up the concrete steps of a vacant 1930’s church, and still, stood on their tippy-toes to get a better view…then, around another corner, and they careened, arms out, down a wavy concrete ramp.
This loss, like others, seems to bring us together, even as we regret not having spent more time, laughter and rainbows with the one we lost. Let’s just try harder with the ones we have left. I think my aunt would be happy with that vow.
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