Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fortune Cookie

Opened a fortune cookie and found this inside:

Everybody feels lucky
for having you as a friend.
Lucky numbers 30, 33, 37, 39, 40, 45

and on the back

If ever there was another fortune cookie so appropriate for Margret, I have not seen it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Verse I Rather Like

I found this in the blog of the anesthesioboist. It makes me think of Margret.

William Henry Channing (1810-1884):

To live content with small means;
To seek elegance rather than luxury
and refinement rather than fashion,
To be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich;
To study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly;
To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with an open heart;
To bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never.
In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious,
grow up through the commonplace.
This to be my symphony.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Can Hardly Believe It Has Been Four Months

I found this verse on a message board:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

and it made me cry. The person who posted it also said "It is always hard for those left behind because to them falls the grieving."

That would be me. And a lot of other people. We're the "left behind" and "grieving".

I can imagine Margret in Heaven, because she was a believer. Her Heaven would be a place where the weather was warm and she didn't have to bundle up in sweaters and coats and hats, and snow boots, and wrap scarves around her neck and face to warm the air she breathed. There would be friends to converse with, too. Margret would talk to anyone, and she made friends easily. There would be babies to play with; Margret loved babies, and they loved her right back. There would be pools to swim in, parks to walk through with flowers to pick, and there would be horses to ride; she liked all those things. Food, don't forget the food! There would be all sorts of meals, and restaurants, and gatherings with food at the center. I miss her saying, "Mom, do you know what's for dinner?" I tried all the ways I could think of to get her to say, "I'm hungry," or "I want something to eat," but she insisted on asking "Do you know what's for lunch?" or dinner, or breakfast, or snack. It was a frustration, but it was how she let me know hunger was on her mind.

Margret, I love you. I miss you. I will remember you, always, as the most incredible gift of my life. Right now I grieve for you. Please don't be unhappy with me, it's such a big change from you here, hugging me, coming through the door of an afternoon with a smile and "Mom, I'm home!" to having the house echoing with your absence.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What's that Name?

Leonardo Alessandro Giulielmo Patritsio Armand Luigi... and then the last name.

That would be some mouthful for a little child to remember, to recite, to write down in Kindergarden, First Grade or Second Grade. Would he have to write the entire list of his given names every day on every school paper, or would the school pick two for him to use? There are many forms that have space for a first name and a middle initial, with no provision for those folks who have extra names to deal with. I suppose you could ask for an additional sheet of paper, write all those extra names on that, and staple or paper clip the extra paper to the original form. Hmm, what would the clerks and beaureaucrats do with all that extra name?

And what would you call him for short?

That's what Margret's Dad wanted to name her if she had, by chance, been born male. He wanted to honor a group of his uncles, and didn't want any of them to feel left out. Most people would be honored to have a child named after them. Most people would not feel particularly slighted if a newborn was NOT named after them. Margret's Dad didn't want to take any chances with the feelings of his uncles. They were, each and every one of them, his favorite uncle. Well, maybe Uncle Armand was a little more favorite than the rest at times, with all the favors he did for his nephew, but I'd be willing to keep that a secret.

I consider us all fortunate that I persuaded him that he could name the boy children, and he would let me name any female children we might have, because his first two choices for girl names were Kitchenchaira and Baldeagella.

Yes, dear, those names certainly would be unique. No, dear, I would not want to be the girl child bearing those names. *shudder* Who in their right mind** would name their daughter after a piece of furniture?

I can understand naming a child after a favorite bird, but wouldn't Bluebird, or Oriole, or Jay, or Robin, or even Wren or Sparrow be more fitting? I could almost live with Osprey. Twist my arm a little and I might agree to Kite. But, please, please, please not Baldeagella!

Then there she was, and I named her after my two best friends from college, Margret and Gail.

Ta DA! World meet Margret Gail!

When I was pregnant with our second child, I was fairly sure she was going to be a girl. Just so happens that I was right. Her Dad was so sure I was correct that he didn't pick out any boy names. (silly man) So what happens if I was wrong and we had a son? Dad said we'd call him Boy, and when he reached the age of 16 he could decide what he wanted to be called, and we would then change his name legally. Then B was born and I was very very relieved. She is named after my aunt, on whose birthday she was born, and also after the crafty aunt of she after whom Margret was named.

What was Dad going to name C had she, by chance, been born male? He would have honored the Italian anatomist Bartolomeo Eustachio, by giving that name to his offspring, in full. And he would have called that lad Bart for short. This was long before the Simpsons, but I wonder what effect that would have had. Can you imagine raising Bart Simpson? Nope. No way.

C was eventually born female, I gave a sigh of relief and named her after her Dad's favorite aunt, and gave her a variation of the name of a distant aunt on my Dad's side of the family for her middle name.

Their dad left the picture (he took off hitch hiking with another woman) while I was pregnant with the youngest, D. I didn't offer him the option of choosing a name for a boy. At that point I preferred not to talk to him at all. I chose her name all by myself. She bears as her first name the name of the mother of one of my best friends while growing up. I often wished this woman were my mother, instead of my own mom. She was smart, pretty, a good cook, industrious, calm and even handed. My mother was also smart, pretty, a good cook and industrious, but I wouldn't call her calm, and her capriciousness sometimes made me wish I could run away and join the circus. I also gave D the name of my favorite high school teacher, and my mother's first name.

My name? I was named after both grandmothers, Mom's mother first, and Dad's mother second. I didn't like my middle name until I learned that it had originally belonged to my delightful grandmother. Then I only liked the name because it belonged to her.

** I confess to moments when I wondered about that part, too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Missing Margret

The first week, I felt a sort of numbness, which made going through the motions, writing her obituary, setting up the funeral, and attending it somewhat unreal. The second week I kept looking at the door at the time she would normally come through it, home from a day of volunteering.

I wrote the following on August 20th, on a message board where I am a member:

This past week has been a really tough... the 14th was one month since we went home without Margret. It's hard to keep going, doing 'normal' stuff, because I keep finding things that make me cry. The first time I came home from grocery shopping after Margret died, I blubbered. Why? Because Margret would always look in all the bags to see what I had gotten, and comment on it, and put the yogurt in the fridge. The first time I put all the dishes away myself was difficult, because emptying the dishwasher was Margret's chore, and she took great pride in making sure all the silverware was arranged just so. I still have not been able to sit down and write thank you cards yet. I will get there eventually. I understand that it takes time to make my way through the grief process and get to the other side. The only way out of it is to go through it. I want to thank everyone who sent a card to her in the hospital. Know that the cards and wishes helped. I want to thank everyone who sent me a card, after, or signed Margret's guestbook. Each sentiment expressed makes the weight on my heart a little less.

I find each week brings its own challenges. Little things send me into tears. A tv show with a reference that hits a tender spot. While shifting things around in the coat closet I found myself in tears, hugging Margret's winter coat. There is a tray of greenware angel ornaments in the craft room. Margret and I picked them out so she could paint them for Christmas presents; I'm going to finish them for her, and that thought makes me cry. They may not get done for Christmas, because tears and greenware don't mix well.

Last week's episode of Grey's anatomy where Izzy keeps seeing the spectre of Denny, and the bit about unclaimed bodies set me off. The episode of Life on Mars had a little girl die; that set me off too. Little snippets of memory pop up here and there: "Please let me go," is a sad one. The excited hugs she exchanged with Aunt Peggy is a happy one. Maybe overall there is a balance, maybe a balance I can find. *sigh*

Mundane moments, transcendant moments, memory and imagination, crazy mixture. I am capable and decisive one moment, vunerable and can't make up my mind another. I have time to sort through my feelings. I'll take it.

Some days I am mostly OK. Some days I am mostly not. I keep going. I manage. I've decided I'm not going to die of a broken heart.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Margret does Yoga, and other athletic things

Before her decreasing oxygen saturations robbed Margret of her get up and go, and other things, she did lots of the things any normal kid does. She ran, she played, she climbed and hollered and played tag.

We walked through our local parks together, and especially enjoyed the hikes through Jacobsburg State Park. All the girls liked to look down from the bridge and spot fishes lurking in the water below. Sometimes, if everyone were very tired when we reached the other end of the trail, I would let them wait together while I trotted back down the trail to the parking lot where we started. Then I'd take the car to meet them, and we'd all go home.

She did gymnastics and balance beam in special olympics here, and when she stayed that year at her dad's house, she did cross country skiing - and brought home a medal.

One Christmas I bought a gift certificate for riding lessons to give to the horse crazy B. Margret came with us, and the teacher offered her a lesson too. It didn't work out exactly as the teacher had expected, with Margret almost falling off. She needed a little more individual instruction than the other girls her age, but both girls got lessons. Margret even competed at a horse show or two, and brought home ribbons. She enjoyed riding. She enjoyed being around the horses. We were very proud of her.

As a family we each got our own bowling ball and shoes, and, surprise, surprise, went bowling! Margret was pretty good, too. I had to hustle to stay ahead of her. Husband was lots better than Margret or me, so we mostly competed against our own previous scores.

Margret and I joined a water aerobics class at the Y. She did great. While I swam laps in master swim, she developed a lovely backstroke with a little help from the swim coach. She was comfortable in the water, and able to swim the length or width of the pool.

After Margret was put on oxygen, her choices in exercise became more limited. I took Margret to Contra dancing (a little like line dancing, but not exactly, if that helps any) but she ended up sitting almost the whole time, too tired to dance much. We tried a yoga class, but that went WAY too fast, and again, Margret sat most of the class watching the other students. I inquired about individual lessons, and that worked much better for Margret. In a one on one teaching situation she excelled. Her muscle tone improved, her balance and coordination too. Some of the breathing excercises, when she had a cold or mild bronchitis, helped her make sure all the segments of her lungs were expanding as best they were able, and helped keep the cold from getting worse. At least in my opinion the yoga helped do that.

Yoga was a really good workout for her as she was recovering from pneumonia a couple years ago. The classes were paced to what she could do, so she was pushed to improve, but not too hard.

Margret practiced yoga with her teacher right up until she entered the hospital this last time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Margret's Crafty Mama - Origami (flapping bird)

When the girls were little, about 4, 6, 8 and 10, I did an Origami Workshop for the children's room at our local library.

We prepared by teaching the Children's Room staff how to make the items we had planned. The girls all helped to show them.

When the participants and their families arrived, and started folding, the girls and the staff helped the workshop go smoothly. I stood at the front of the room, demonstrating with BIG paper, and staff and girls assisted anyone having trouble following the directions.

Here is one of the pieces we folded that day, a box that can be made from any reasonably large rectangle of paper:

And here is another. This one is a favorite of mine, and I have made many many mobiles using this design.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

One More ceramics photo

Thanks to Margret's sister B, I have a copy of the photo I was lamenting.

The cats she's holding, she did. The indian maiden (Pocahontas?) on the top shelf is her work. I did the ginger jars. The teapot and Belle from Beauty and the beast are her work as well. Over her shoulder you can see the head of another figure she painted. The mugs behind my head were collected by husband, from MusikFest.
Do you do ceramics? Buy greenware? Paint bisque ware? How do you amuse yourself and make presents at the same time?