breaking forth, then residing,
breathing in, breathing out,
A rhythmic nature mantra.
It is such a gift to be soaking my soul
with the sight and sounds of the Pacific.
A small dried rose bud, fading gently with memories tucked in between its petals to enchant.
Sing the song of your memories, it is a beautiful gift to give. Petal after petal ...especially those that include others who need to hear how their lives have touched yours.
Antique angel motif buckles, I kid you not. They were pretty cool, I regret I didn't buy at least one of them.
I have noticed in these last few weeks after my father's death, that I feel my father is right beside me. I find myself talking to him, seeing with him, believing that he is living within me... in my heart, or cells or imagination...most likely all three all at once, do you know what I mean? Have you or did you ever feel like this about someone who you have loved who has died?
Little girl with a pin curl, do you know how sweet you make the day go by?
Pigtails and ice cream, the tender moments of childhood that keep a smile tucked safely in one's heart pocket.
A few weeks ago an American flag folded tightly into the shape of tri-angle was handed to my mother in honor of my father at his grave-site. Later we were told that if we donated his flag to the American Legion, it would fly on Memorial Day with the other flags of those who served our country.
Before giving back the American Flag we were told to write (on the band that attaches the flag to the pole,) my father's name, where and how he served, and in what war.
Over 350 flags are flying today in our small town. One of them says: George Amaro WWII... Navy.
--------------------- One of my favorite memories of my father's is when he talked about the first night at base camp:
"The first night in the bunk hall, young men from every part of the Untied States gathered for bed. Most of them farm boys, barely eighteen-years old, and who had never been passed the city limits of their own towns. I was one of them. Like those other boys, I was proud to be there and scared too.
In the dark of the night the sounds of homesickness started to rumble. Within a few minutes every guy there was bawling. We knew the road ahead of us and the country road behind. We were just young boys who had never left home sharing the same feelings..."
Peace on Earth, we are all the same.
Photo: A piece of French 18th century toile du Jouy. One angel welcoming another.
Dare to Dream.
Find a link about dandelions and add it to the comments, then make a wish in silence.
If you cannot find a link that is okay, just add your wish.
Remember the wishes do not need to be said, you need only to write the word
The song continues to play, while the words carry me back, I am standing there for a split second and death cannot steal the memory that feels so real....
Grief has it own map, and it takes time to walk along the unknown path it puts before you. Walking, running, or standing still... the view remains the same, the rhythm beats on. I feel its strangeness, the sudden urge to run or cry or wrap myself up a blanket and hide. But grief does not let you go, no it might change its song and dance routine but it plays on. The pain is either embraced, or it embraces you without you knowing it gets under your skin.
It does not matter if the person you loved died young, old, after a long illness, or suddenly, or if you got to say goodbye...death sting and mourning has a song all its own.
As the floodgate open swirling memories around me, my heart hears a sad song...and dares not move-
Each step forward is one further away from the moment of when my father was alive. It is a new world and the song has me somewhat off balance. So I whisper to the new day,
"Sing softly I will listen."
Typepad changed their format today, and the minor glitches are causing me to think out loud. You know how it is when your are use to doing something one way, the groove feels comfortable, and you can go through the motions with your eyes closed? It is the beauty and beast of routine. Then changes comes along and throws a new learning curve ball teaching you how to play differently.
Today marks the 1000th time I have posted, everyday rain or shine, happy or sad, antiques or babies, France or California, feeling like it or not since November 2005. Thank you typepad for shaking it up a bit and adding some new spice to the ol' bag of tricks. Did you do it just for me?
Since Chelsea's friend asked her to go to the Cannes Film Festival at the very last minute... Chelsea told me, "I stuffed everything into my purse in ten minutes and dressed on the train."
I love that wild, spontaneous, free-spirit, kind of fun, don't you?
Early this morning Chelsea called, she was giddy and made me laugh. She told me that she didn't dare take any photos at Cannes Film Festival... "Mom it just wasn't the thing to do, and secondly I was afraid someone might take my camera and smash it."
"Well okay no photos, but tell me did you recognize anyone?" Since Indiana Jones was playing at the festival she saw Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchett. Lucky duck that Chelsea girl.
Above is a photo of two stars that light my path since I haven't any glitter, snap, crackle, or pop- nor Brad or Depp to offer you from last night's red carpet extravaganza.
On another note- A high school friend came to visit me today. She told me that on her birthday her husband asked her what she would like and she said, "I would like a memory." I found that to be the perfect idea for a gift... a memory.
Chelsea sure gave me a sweet one.
Walking up the red carpet (or the Tapis Rouge in french) at the Cannes Film Festival.
Connections can-can!! Chelsea's-friend's-mother's-sister who works for a famous designer (I am sworn to secrecy) was given two tickets to attend the Cannes Film Festival.
Chelsea's-friend's-mother's-sister passed them on to Chelsea's friend who called Chelsea asking, "What are you doing today wanna grab your prettiest dress, heels, and makeup (?) we are going to walk up the red stairs in Cannes!"
French Husband called yesterday morning filling me in on the "stars" and sending me the picture above, which Chelsea had someone take with her cell phone.
Much later French Husband wrote:
"I talked to Chelsea and V. 2 hours ago they have been invited to a VIP dinner with the actors of the movie .... She could not talk much on the phone... (may be she was in conversation with... Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt!!!) .... more later."
What fun n'est pas? Ah dancing over the moon wishing on stars. A sweet escape.
Photo: Taken in Versailles late last December. A very small detail from the base of an 18th century candlestick. Eternal flame held by a waiting angel.
I should have...
Kübler-Ross lists that there are five stages that a grieving person goes through. The five stages she states follow a progression: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
I woke up around 7am this morning. Opening one eye I saw my mom dusting my bed frame. I asked, "Mom are you dusting or am I dreaming?" She replied through a steady stream of sadness, "I just have to keep busy."
Keeping busy is one way to cope with the sense of loss. Though I dream of sleeping. Both are part of denial and eventually acceptance.
Since it is part of my Mother's culture that after the death of a loved one a person dresses in black or navy as a way to show respect and give a sign of mourning: I have been wearing mostly black too. Mostly because the other day I walked into the kitchen and my mom looked at my feet. My eyes followed her eyes to my red shoes. I saw the red flash its bright color and thought to myself...oops and quickly kicked off my shoes.
Because the stages of grief look and act differently on each person I think a black ribbon around one's arm was a good idea that the last generation had and used to signify a person in mourning.
Each person must find their way to express the depth of emotion, to process the many thoughts that come with loss. Kübler-Ross has defined them, though we must learn to ride the wave without drowning.
When my boyfriend died many years ago I ate a dozen glazed donuts in one sitting. With each bite I grew more angry thinking to myself, "Nothing matters, I can do what I want! In the end nothing matters." After wards I went to Mass with a bloated stomach, a very angry heart and under my breath called God every bad word imaginable several times over. I waited for some sort of punishment to strike me. I even dared God to strike me.
In the end being angry at God was healing too. I saw that my anger was at me...
Life is unfair, I am not perfect, and still love happens. The real miracle after all is accepting that as painful as life and death can be it is worth every phase it takes to becoming whole and loving again and again.
the spirit moves. stillness is a lovely dance.
it helps to have flowers up your sleeve.
tied with a bow.
let the spirit move.
There is a first time for everything.... and a second time for most things. Each day the face of this new journey (my family is on) makes itself known. Popping up in the most familiar places starring nakedly while a wave of emotion rolls over us...
My Mother opens the closet that she has opened many times before, but this time around my father's clothes seem awkwardly different. The mail comes in with my father's name on it front and center knocking my mother off her feet. My brother looks up a name on his cell phone and my father's name appears... he wonders if he should erase it but he cannot and becomes sad thinking about it. I hear a Harley running down the road, I look up and tears roll down. My mother folds clothes finding a pair of my father's socks and sobs into them....
There is a second time for the familiar things in our lives to come back and address us anew. We stare, catch our breath, and hold on with the knowledge that many others are and have walked this way before.
As a friend of my mother said, "When those "first times come around" and they will for a long time to come, whatever you feel let it be without holding back. If you want to cry, cry. If you are angry, be angry. Whatever feeling overtakes you, let it be."
Do you think by allowing our feelings to take place safely we welcome the slow change to our broken hearts and not succumb to blurry numbness? Though I must admit sometimes that numbness seems like a welcoming path.
The first steps of this well worn path yet newly discovered.... I think I'll hold on to those of you who have walked this way before.
Sacha called to talk. With each of his words I wanted to jump through the phone and pinch his cheeks. Somehow to get back to the days where he was a little boy and I could hug him for hours without him minding a bit.
Listening to him made the soft spot that I have and hide ache....
I asked him if he thought I could be his Mom again, "You know the one who tells you that your shirt doesn't match your pants, or that you need to sit straight, or to clean your room, or that you better stay home to do your homework... In short after four months away do you think it will feel strange me telling you every now and then what to do or how to be?"
He reassured me by saying, "Mom, I think as soon as we see one another we will take off right where we left off and it will be very good."
... with that I felt a million hugs all at once.
Later in the day Chelsea called. We talked and talked as only "girls" can do. I asked her how her "friend-who-is-a-boy" was doing and she said without skipping a beat, "Oh the-friend-who-is-a-boy is now my boy-friend."
Though being the kind of mother that I am I didn't skip a beat either and asked, "Have you kissed?"
Chelsea chuckled, "Mommy!" But before she could answer and before I could ask the next question she said,
"... it was worth the wait."
Ah Life the unpredictable, unending path that leads us! Thanks for giving me a spark of sweet joy today.
a little girl,
in my father's easy chair.
moment by moment
healing in the evening...
Little souvenirs. Tucked in pockets, stuffed in the corner of the drawer. Left unattended in a box on top of the closet or under the bed. Moments treasured, stored within the heart, bobbing in the back of one's mind, singing ever so softly bringing a smile to one's face then fading into the background.
I remember this feeling... the feeling of emptiness and unbearable lost. I remember this feeling, where the days haunt, and reality stings as it sinks in. I remember these days where tears sprout in unusual places and numbness a welcome remedy. I remember the feeling when my boyfriend died years ago... and I remember it takes time to go through it... but this is far greater as it takes in my entire family. As my little niece said to my mother,"It doesn't feel the same without Vovo here..."
When someone dies I believe they come to you in your dreams. I often ask those who have lost someone if they have had a dream of their loved one. French Husband and Chelsea both have seen my father in their dreams... the rest of us are still waiting.
Though I have dreams and day dreams over and over again of my time in my father's hospital room. Recurring dreams, dreams without faces or structure...I call them processing dreams, the need to work through the reality of these last ninety days to accept the events that took place and let them go.
French Husband went back to France. He will return later next month with Chelsea. Sacha arrives in a few weeks. I will remain by my mother's side, I cannot imagine leaving her at this moment. I cannot imagine being away from my children and family in France either... though they cannot imagine me being anywhere other than where I am.
My blog will process the enormous feelings I am carrying around. It will notice the steps to living life without my father, it will share about my family and watch my mother accept the hole in her heart. This blog, this healing tool, this therapeutic office, this gathering of friends will hoepfully listen and help me surrender and carry on.
Please bear with me as I sort-out this depth of time.
My heart is full... more-so it is overflowing. It is heavy with love, tenderness... it aches. I have seen your love, tasted your love, felt your love...love's messages pour from your steady, strong heart with such power that the darkest of nights feel like summertime at noon.
Where would I be without you?
I wish that I could somehow make these days easier, softer... whole again for you. Your grief, your suffering is a testimony to the greatest love you had. The black you wear, the silence you endure, the distance you put between you and your activities, are symbols of respect for dad. I admire your strength and your weakness, to grieve openly. To hold out your heart and look at its emptiness and not fill it. Mother's Day.... Thank you for being such a good, strong, giving mother even in this time of sorrow.
While my father was in the hospital I stayed with my cousins Judy and Chris, since going home to Willows was too far away to be a daily option. Their back bedroom (or as nicknamed, "The Green Room at the Walnut Inn")became my home away from home.
Since I stayed at the hospital at night I slept during the day. Every morning I would come into Judy's home to find my bed turned down, flowers at my bedside, a picture book on my pillow. Later when I would wake up their table would be set charmingly with a home made meal and a glass of red wine waiting for me.
I was spoiled beyond words. Treated like a Royal Princess. I soaked-up every bit of their kindness and was able to hold vigil by my father's heart because I had their faithful foundation underneath me.
All this is to say... Happy Birthday Judy! Thank you for giving me a safe refuge everyday unconditionally.
When was the last time your love helped someone help another? I am amazed each day by the lessons of love I am receiving. Compassion comes from experiencing something first hand, and then being able to share from what you have gained, witnessed and learned to another.
Everyday there are ways to love one another. To give to another. What an extraordinary gift to receive someone's compassionate heart and feel it breath into your own...
The rice fields are flooded, the seeds are taken root, the harvest will come months later.... yet today the water stagnates; it is bittersweet. Life in its many moments, rich are the cycles, the seasons, the different stages...
Everything reminds us of my father...and he is no longer here....
Molly jumps the muddy overflow from the nearby rice field. Having little nieces and nephews around in this moment aids healing...they simply live, rejoice and beg us to do the same. Jump!
Yet jumping is not as easy as Molly makes me believe it is...life goes on....with each day moving us further away from my father's physical being and begs us to find him spiritually.
Jump. My heart is not stagnant, and my tears make everything muddy.
The tenderness that surrounds our hearts is healing. Soft and caring, full and rich. My family and I thank you. We are overwhelmed by our grief, yet your generous constant support cushions our sadness. Thank you for each and every word of sympathy, prayer uttered, thought of hope given. Thank you for every flower, fern, plant, and seeds of hope. Thank you for the plates of cookies, casseroles, side dishes of rich friendship and servings to feed an army of weakness. Thank you for the cards chosen and sent, the candles lite all over in churches near and far. Thank you for sharing your stories, your pain, your compassion, for leaving comments that have helped me and MANY others. Thank you for the CDs of music, books, sweets, and your full open hearts and virtual hugs. Thank you for listening to me for three months, for holding my family up and telling me that my sharing was a healing ministry for you as well. Thank you for praying for my father; for keeping him in your thoughts. Thank you a million times over. Thank you for bearing witness to suffering and not running away from it. Thank you yesterday, today and tomorrow.
I hope that the tenderness that I have felt in your friendship, returns the blessing to you today.
The days unfold, a tiredness slips into the empty space. The fragrant petals of yesterdays long gone soothe but cannot replace the thorn of sadness.
I knew that the day after and days to come would carve deep, and release the fullness stored...
but to such depth do the petals unfold?
Many layers, petal by petal as tears nourish the wounded heart.
Looking out I see many family and friends... It is such a healing gift to be surrounded by your love for my father. Thank you for coming and showing my family and me that my father holds a special place in your heart.
Your friendship allows us to know that my father will be nearby because of the memories stored within you. Please share them with us…never hold back, not now or in the years to come.
After 90 days at the hospital my mind’s eye and heart were full of my dad’s journey that he bear-ed with such grace.… My dad showed me courage, he showed me that he could endure much pain; he showed me dignity is his suffering.
My father’s death was beautiful… my family gathered around his bedside, prayed, saw him gaze lovingly into our eyes, knowing- trusting he was going to the heart of God, that his family on the other side was waiting for him with arms wide open.
It was a long and brave journey made whole.
I have struggled to find the right words, the right stories, the right note that would speak truly of my father...
But there are simply too many….. Family, faith, Ferndale, farming, fiesta, Westport, motorcycles …..
Single words that hold a lifetime connecting you, my family... to my dad. He had a rich life… a giving life and life that I admired even to his last breath…
I only hope I can be so strong…that I can be as generous in my love as he was in his abundant love for life and family.
He was a man of faith, and the rosary was never far from his lips.
Our family is the way it is because of my father’s and mother’s faith, their faith in God. It is a legacy of love that cannot be taken even in death. It lends us grace and gives us courage.
My Mother and Father shared a special love story, one that was real, honest, and paved the way for us their children to follow: Before my father died my mother told him: That out of all the beautiful women she was luckiest because he choose her, and that she was so happy to be his wife, and the mother of his children.
Listening to my Mother in that moment sharing with my dad her love… oh how he beamed, his face lit up full of love before starting his journey home.
My mother’s love was sacred to him.
This is what I know to be true….
My father loved unconditionally, it didn’t matter what you did or didn’t do, and it didn’t matter if you where his color or how old you were…. it didn't matter what opinion you held, or if you rode a motorcycle or not….My dad loved and was loved. Who could ask for anything more? What a valuable gift I saw in my father’s attitude.
My brother Marty said, “That dad stopped aging at 60 or maybe 40….he simply did not grow old.” Life was something he enjoyed. And he lived it everyday to the fullest, in style and young at heart.
Every child should have a Father who shows them what love is all about. I could tell you over 81 reasons in a blink of an eye, why my Dad was a gem. How he was a generous man, how he would give you the shirt off his back, his wrangler jeans, boots and helmet too....even if he was standing, stranded outside, in a snowstorm, and you had a snowsuit on. He was loving down to the bare bone.
Every child should have a Father who tells them that the world is a beautiful place, and that they are worthy of it..
Oh Dad how you were so strong, so beautiful so extra cool!
We will see you Dad, yes we will see you in the rice fields as they flood and take root. We will see you in the eyes of your grandchildren and in all those that loved you. We will hear you in the memories that are stored in our hearts and that will be told and retold and remain vibrate for eternity. We will hear you with each Ninety, Harley, Honda and skid of the bicycle wheel. We will hear you when we turn on the radio and see Mom grabbing one of the grandchildren to teach them to jitterbug in the kitchen. Oh yes Dad you are here I see you in the eyes of those gathered here, of the many familiar faces, I see you greeting them with your sideways smile and easy laugh.
We will see you as the seasons turn, unfold and render… We have an abundant harvest in your love and you will be missed…
Last night we entered the church early and sat up front. The community came later and sat behind us. The feeling to sit in a large church, silently with others is one that creates my heart to feel connected to something beyond.
Though last night as my family and I sat upfront, I did not know who or if anyone was behind us. It was that quiet, that peaceful, a silent night....
When the priest started to say the rosary the response from behind was incredible. Like a tidal wave of love pouring over us, flooding our hearts, washing us of our sorrow, holding us up...
The beauty of living in a small town and witnessing the lives of many interconnected.
Last night I felt joy! I felt the love my father and mother have planted with years of devotion to their faith, their family, friends and community.
Thank you also blogging community for your tremendous support...
I will read the eulogy today. I have gathered courage and a big splash of support from your holding me up these last few months.
I am doubly lucky and it feels so good.
1. French Husband arrived for my father's funeral and will stay a few days.
2. School, the distance, and timing do not permit Chelsea and Sacha to come; Though they arrive in early June.
2A. I am trying not to think that French husband and I are in California while our children are clear across the world....
3. The amount of incredible food that keeps coming into my mother's home makes the scale tip higher and higher. Who has willpower at a time like this?
4. Holding emotion in is exhausting.
5. Funerals are exhausting too.
6. The eulogy...or I should say the blank piece of paper starring me in the face is haunting. Where do I begin? Each time I try to put something down on paper I see my father in the dark hospital room and his gallant desire to live... and I hear myself telling him to let go- Three months of bearing witness to my father's heroic effort and his dying days has my heart far too sad to create a worthy eulogy.
7. My sister in laws are the best beyond helpful and supportive.
8. Having little children around is natural healing medicine.
9. My mother... my brothers keep my father ever on their lips. Story after story.
10. I must focus on the eulogy.... please, please, please give me the words to share and the courage to speak without turning into a puddle. Where does one begin?
A dream like state called reality,
Rainstorms in the middle of nowhere or-
Tears mixed with laughter... as each person recalls and relives memories of my father. I feel him in their stories and see him in their eyes. He lives in their hearts. Oh memories!
A sacred time before the wake...flowers, food, friends, feasting on family.
The normal everyday question, "How are you?"
I am here...blue skies, partly cloudy, big chance of rain.
We pass through these days with memories of my father coming to the surface, we hold each like a treasure from the bottom of the sea, a ripple of joy extends, it is healing.
My five year old niece Molly was on the swing set in the back yard, swinging back and forth giggly cute. Suddenly she looks at me seriously, drags her feet bringing the swing to a stand still... She jumps off, comes up to me and says, "Aunt Coco are you sad that Vo died?" I responded that I was very sad. With that she says, "I think you need a hug."
Her hug was like a sweet life jacket in these days of swelling emotion.