a quick fire challenge

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Dear E,

Here is a quick fire challenge- Write a 10-word sentence that sums up your day.

Here is mine.

Earthquakes brought people together and shook up spreadsheets and data.


B called before I knew he might be dead–thanks!


The Tide is going out; aronia berries are coming in.



filled with adventure and a determined spirit

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In our last conversation she said the meaning of life was to create and share joy. It is one to remember and like my mother said, perhaps a little ironic but I will take it. It is certainly the best mantra I have heard. She loved her life she loved birds and she wrote me a very nice letter in January of last year when I was steal reeling with being honest with my family.

There were the Krackle chocolates, the bird beaker filled with M&Ms, the late night card games. It is hard because the grandmas I see on TV tend to be of the unending sweetness variety. Kind 100% warm and loving and GS was those things but there was always so much more tied up in that relationship that before I could even recognize it there was always a bitter undertone to the relationship. I know TV lies and no one is 100% sweet and perfect but even as a child there was an ever present tension.

As the golden child I think I had it pretty easy, she was harder on other grandkid but still.

That is why it was so hard. Taking the lesson some of your best teachers teach you how not to be. She was a wonderful woman filled with adventure and a determined spirit. There is a recording of the service and you will have to have my dad find it for you at the house.  If nothing else she gave us a spine. Unabashed in her opinions and holding herself and others to an exacting standards, she was wonderful.

Some of my favorite memories are the few days I spent alone with her in McCall in 7th and 8th grade. We made grilled SPAM sandwiches and played doubles solitaire into all hours of the morning. She did have a strong spirit and shared that with all of us.  My mom certainly took her traveling bug and independent spirit.  I am afraid at bad times, I have her critical nature for everyone but myself. I see her tone in some of the current family tension and have nothing left to do but laugh at the unresolved baggage left in that family and slightly worried when I see it building in my own.

I hated seeing the effect of her tone on my M-U and well had very well checked myself out of the situation for the past several years

You can’t go forward from where you are right now. Just a random reminder that popped up on my computer and well another metaphor I will read into.

Again, I love GS she was wonderful but there was always that twinge or baggage at that is tough. Nothing to forgive, or get over it is just there. Certainly, worth reminding that she did not have an easy life.

So was there a single gift, I don’t know. Do my best to love life I suppose and don’t be afraid to seek out an adventure or two.


Dear B,

It sounds as though you have a pretty clear-eyed assessment of who she was and who she wasn’t. And I suspect she had a pretty clear idea of who she was. It doesn’t seem that she was pretending to be someone she wasn’t and that is always refreshing, even when the bare truth is not always beautiful. I’m glad you can take all that in and still love her and have happy memories and appreciate her strengths. Keep that spine she gave you strong but flexible.

Let us always be determined and able to recognize, create, and share joy.


Auntie E

a decent coping mechanism

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Well, the weekend is over. Cross-country flights complete and the tragic-comedy of the funeral and family is over. I think I was pretty amazed by the way the event just absolutely brought out all the various family directly and absolutely. It was as if every bit of tension and unease over the last few decades was on display both in my immediate family and in the extended family as a whole. In a word, Oh vey. Well two words really.

So what’s left to say? What is the “takeaway” as one might say in the professional world, how were our “deliverables” delivered and our work frames framed? Well a few important lessons

  1. Shrimp must always be served on shaved ice. It is impossible to buy shaved ice commercially, you can only make it or get it from someone with a machine so… if a family member becomes sick or dies- immediately knock over a Hawaiian ice stand so you can have shaved ice to serve the shrimp on at the reception
  2. Since all the family tension will be on full display rather than just count “elephants in the room” it is more fun to make a family tension/dynamic bingo card and play family tension bingo. Inside the five by five framework (with a free square in the middle) arrange all the family stories, resentment, bitterness, inside jokes , worries, elephants that are likely to crop up. The first one to connect five in a row wins. This game can also be played by assigning point values to the awkwardness but for some reason the bingo card seems more umm.. interactive.
  3. Back to shrimp… vinegar gets rid of shrimpy scented hands

Again, I would have to say how incredibly proud I am of my m-u  with the grace and class she pulled off her speech, making the arrangements and wrangling her family. The weekend was a little too busy to really understand how she was doing. Grief can wait when there are picnics to prepare and house guests to house.

On a personal level, my goal is to feel good enough about my life by Christmas to not feel so put upon with ever interaction with M. Or at least come up with a decent coping mechanism for dealing with her every judgment laden comment.  Maybe I need my own Bingo card for that game….

There is much more to say about GS and her life and legacy but that might be for another time..

Good night,


Dear B,

What insight you have gained–there’s nothing like death to bring out the best and the worst in people. I love your Elephant Bingo idea! Make a note to contact Milton-Bradley. Sounds like you’d have to play multiple cards, though. And who knew about the shrimp/shaved ice rule!?! No more faux pas for us.

Did anyone tape the memorial service? I would love to hear V’s speech–it sounds like she did SO well. I’m very proud of the work she did while she was here–getting clear on some things she needed to let go of in order to heal some of the wounds from her family. You are right,there’s plenty of time for grief after the crowds go home. I just hope she will allow herself that sad space.

Part of being your full self is having the confidence to express your thoughts and feelings. You have such good strong thoughts about how V handled everything–I hope you will find a time to express those to her directly. Don’t depend on M or me to tell her for you. Remember all those good words you would like to have heard at difficult times in your life. You can learn how to be by seeing how not to be. Sometimes our greatest teachers are the ones who show us how not to be. In a number of ways, that is the gift GS gave V. I’d be interested in knowing what GS gave you.

It is a time to be reminded that all things have endings. Putting that darling dog down, saying goodbye to J, watching the grass die and the harvest coming on–death and rebirth always around us whether we notice or not. And as you experienced, great sadness and joy can coexist. Strange, this life we’re in.


Auntie E