Great Big Beautiful Clouds

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5/28/2013

My father took red roses to my mother’s grave today. I went with him to buy the roses—plastic, long-stemmed copies of the real thing. Artificial baby’s breath round out the bouquet, which he put in the marble vase where her ashes lie.

Whatever remains of my grandmother and grandfather since they died, years ago, now lie near my mother’s grave. These are my father’s parents, not hers, and my father’s name is already etched in the tombstone he will share with my mother.

To be truthful, I doubt that my mother needs the comfort of proximity to her in-laws now.  I like to think that she is unencumbered by protocol and customary expectations in her new form. She lives wherever and however she wants and she is energetic and youthful and pain-free. She is not lying below the ground.

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Cemeteries are for the living. Spirits long gone do not live below earth except in the form of rooted oaks and baby acorns or the iris clump that started from bulb taken from my great-grandmother’s garden. They lie in the wisp of white cloud against sapphire blue skies, dipping and swirling to touch the mountain top. They can be heard in wind moving through the pines and in birdsong that plays before the rest of the world awakes.

That hummingbird I hear just now may be my mother. I can imagine her flitting around, saying hello with a trill of noise and a flash of velvety green that I see from the corner of my eye.

Or she might be riding on one of those great, big beautiful clouds.

No matter which, I know she’s there.

  

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I took these pictures of clouds on a visit to the ghost town of Caribou, Colorado.  

There is more about Caribou in my post on Through the Lens of We.

And if you missed out, I hope you will check out the photography and thoughts at some of my other posts there: 

No Matter Which Way

True Blue

Of Sunshine and Leaves

The Future Lives in a Cloud

How Things Began

 

The Crux of It

Sunniest Flower

Sunniest Flower

5/12/2013

I have a friend who longs to be understood by her grown sons. And so, she is writing a memoir.

She believes that her sons know nothing of her essence. She says they know her simply as Mom, as their father’s wife, as the daughter of the grandparents they once had. They do not know who she was when she was 18 and married to a man they never knew. They cannot know how she looked when she won the barrel race with her horse Gunner when she was 15. They do not remember when she wore her long hair in an up-do and it was blonde. And they think of her life’s work as bookkeeping, though it has been poetry all along.

The story she is writing is poetic and purposeful and full of messy beauty. From what I have read so far, it is much more than a rehashing of years.

As I read my friend’s story, I began to imagine the story my mother might have written—had she been of the mind to tell it. Not liking undue attention and not inclined to spend much time thinking of herself, she did not write a memoir.

I can only speculate how my mom’s story might read. Beyond the basic, indisputable facts, what she would write about herself might be quite different from what I know. I am, after all, not privy to what lie deep within my mother as she journeyed this Earth. I can only guess what she might have wished for when she was 16 and what it was that she might have changed at 80. I do not know what she feared most.

Truth is, I know her stories better than I know her story. I know she ate a spoiled Bologna sandwich on her honeymoon and spent most of the trip to Colorado with food poisoning. I know some about her life on the farm and growing up poor in rural Kansas. I know some about what she did and did not like about her jobs that helped send four kids to college. I know how she looked sitting on the bed next to her mother, brushing what white hair remained on my grandmother’s head at age 100.

Maybe we children are not meant to know all there is to know about our mothers. Maybe in addition to babies, mothers give birth to a part of their self that reaches inside and picks out what beats loudest, folds it up neat and square and tucks it away for safekeeping. Maybe moms peek in to admire that essence, like they peek in at night to watch their sleeping babies. They touch the soft skin of their babies now grown, they smell the green grass they rolled through in childhood, they taste the mashed potatoes of the family gatherings and they see each added page of the photo album of life. Maybe a mother’s essence is protected from the worst of life’s lessons and not immune to the change of experience. And though it may be hidden from the light of day, it remains.

Did I really know my mother’s essence?

In the way known by all who had the good fortune to have had a loving mother in the center of their childhood universe, yes. While I might not be able to state everything that was important to her or each disappointment or happiness she lived, I know for a fact that she gave her children comfort and safety, kindness and caring, love and security.

I could write lots of stories of what my mom did and rehash her years in all their messy beauty.

But what I would rather remember, and honor, is not what she did, but how she made me feel.

That was, and is, the best part of her essence.

Your Lucky Day

At Independence Pass, near Aspen, Colorado

At Independence Pass, near Aspen, Colorado

You might recall this picture if you have been around here a while.

I used it in my Luckiest is Me post which was written on John’s birthday. 

This time around, it’s here to make a big announcement.   (And to tempt you with the opportunity to see more than the rear view of John.)

I have lots of pictures of the back side of John, many moments when I have captured him in the process of taking a picture.  I have plenty more pictures in which he is facing me, but hidden behind his camera. That shows, I guess, just how much he loves photography.  (His passion for photography started when he was in his twenties.  His passion for me, of course, is no less strong–simply not as long-lived. :-))  

As I said in my last post, I have been busy writing and taking pictures and doing the other things that fill up my life.  I’ve also been watching over John’s shoulder as he preps his photographs for a show at a local venue that will happen in June.   We often stand side-by-side and click the shutter of a nearly identical view, but in my over-the-shoulder analysis, I noticed that his pictures end up with far greater depth and clarity and brilliance than do mine.   Could it be that’s because I always fiddle around between the “big” shots and am taking even more pictures of John taking pictures?

Anyway, I said last week that I would soon share exciting news.  It seems only right that you should be among the first to know and that you should be invited to join us on our big day.

Yes, we have decided to plunge.

Yes, we are ready to take a very big step.  

Yes, we are poised to hitch together our tomorrows.

It’s true.

And so amazing to announce: 

We have decided to blog together!

wedding invite

Please click here to RSVP and sign our guest book.  

No gifts, please.  Your gift will be your presence.

Please note:  Since I am no longer a “marrying” kind of girl, I should let you know that I will also be keeping my name and my space at Winsomebella.com

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We look forward to seeing you at Through the Lens of We.