Unanswerable Loss

DoubleTwo months. That’s how long it has been since I’ve sat before this computer and shared my thoughts, my life. One month. That’s how long it has been since I lost my Dad. I’ve been busy. We closed on our home the 7th of April, and made two trips to Chicago to see my Dad. Well, one to see him, and one to bury him. The truth is that I’ve been avoiding myself, avoiding this blog, because I wasn’t ready. Grief is a funny thing. It’s never the same for two people. I’ve written a lot about why people are who they are, and how experiences shape them. Grief has a way of pointing out the differences. Some take action and busy themselves to the tasks at hand, while others let grief surround them like a blanket held tight, waiting for comfort, but finding none. There are those who begin the desperate search to find answers, to question God, to layer the guilty “should haves”, “would haves”, and tear themselves apart. For me there is no anger. In our Dad’s final days we were all praying that he be released from his pain, and that he might be able to rejoin our Mother. Her loss was one he had never recovered from. Once those prayers were answered we were all left feeling the pain and emptiness that only death can deliver. For me there was additional sadness. Despite making two trips to Chicago in the weeks prior to his death, I had planned to go and be there for his final days. I had a flight scheduled for a Monday, he died the Friday before. The harsh reality of not living near family is that there are times when the distance causes one to feel like they aren’t quite part of things. Birthdays, graduations, the gradual growth of a child, are all things you witness from afar, and when someone you love falls ill it brings tremendous feelings of helplessness. With my Dad it was complicated further by our move. I wasn’t free to spend as much time with him as I would have liked. When our Mother died (forgive me if I have written of this before), Dad told me he couldn’t go to sleep. For more than fifty years the love of his life had been at his side, and now the bed was empty, there was no one to say goodnight to. My heart broke for him. He had always said that loneliness was the worst disease. I began to call him every night. I spoke about it at his funeral. In almost eight years I missed only a handful of nights, and when I knew in advance that I wouldn’t be able to make that call I asked someone else, usually my daughter, to make the call for me. Eventually those calls increased to every morning, and several throughout the day. I took every call he made. I wanted him to feel secure in knowing that someone would always be there. I would check the television schedule every day looking for his other great love, soccer. I would call with movies, history programs, anything to fill his empty days. There were times when we had great conversation. We would talk politics, religion, family history, and in particular movies. There were also difficult conversations. There were times when I sat here strangling the phone in frustration. Calls when he was angry at his loss, at his loneliness, and his bewilderment at God for taking “his Mary” first, and leaving him lost. Now I am the one feeling a little lost. For nearly eight years the first thing I did every morning was pick up the phone, and again every night, a call so he could hear the voice of someone he loved before he went to sleep. He isn’t lonely anymore, but I am. There is an emptiness in both the beginning and end of my day. I couldn’t call him in the final weeks before his death. I relied on my sisters to put the phone to his ear. On the morning that he died I told him I loved him and that it was time to let go. I told him it was time to go to Mommy and to his Big Mommy (his grandmother whom he adored). I had no way to know that would be our last call. He died about two hours later. Yesterday I called one of my sisters. I was the one feeling lost and lonely; I was the one who needed to hear the voice of someone I love. On the morning that my Dad passed away I was driving to the local mall. I’m sure everyone knows of the horrible drought here in Southern California, but that morning it was raining, raining hard. As I was driving my thoughts were on my Dad. I had only two hours before been telling him to let go. I thought to myself that the way it was raining reminded me of Ireland, and of course that reminded me of my Dad. I pulled into a parking space and said aloud, “These aren’t tears of sorrow; they are tears of joy, a good one is coming home.” I stepped out of my truck and my phone rang. It was my sister calling me to tell me that our father just died. Maybe in some way I knew. Maybe all of those phone calls gave us a connection that transcends this world. Dad if there was a direct line to Heaven I’d call you right now, but I know you are with Mom right where you need to be. I love you both, and I miss the sound of your voice.

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The Theory Of Three

It seems I am obsessing once again. My last post about a family member is still bugging me. I get obsessed the way some people get fleas, it itches and itches, and never seems to go away, unless of course something new happens for me to obsess over.

My mother always said that everything comes in threes. If there was a plane crash you can bet she was waiting for two more. We are Catholic, and Irish so there is the legend of St. Patrick and the shamrocks that represent the Holy Trinity. There is the rule of thirds in photography and art. If you are a collector then you know that three makes a collection. If you are a driver’s ed student there is of course the dreaded three-point turn. I started thinking about this today as I was driving through a parking lot. What triggered my thoughts were the people crossing through the lot as I stopped to let them pass, and how this can be related to people in our every day lives.

There is the apologetic one. You know, the person who scurries as fast as possible as if apologizing for getting in your way, head down, quick steps, glancing nervously sideways to make sure you haven’t changed your mind and are going to plow them down any moment. Then there are those I consider “normal”. They appreciate that you’ve stopped, they give a quick smile and a wave, and continue on their way. Finally there are those that act superior. They step in front of your vehicle nose in air, refuse to look your way, and stroll leisurely (sometimes on an angle!) in front of your car, as if they are the most important person in the world and you are an inconvenience in their day. I began to think that maybe people come in threes as well. There are of course existing socioeconomic groupings, Rich, middle-class, and poor, but I think in general the rule of thirds can be applied to many of us. There are the life of the party people, friendly, out-going individuals, who seem to fit in everywhere, former cheer leaders, high school quarterback types, they ooze charisma, and when you stand next to the finer examples of them you feel horribly inadequate. (I say finer examples, because aside from the rule of thirds, there also exists a sliding scale, some people are on the bottom of their group, some are on the top.) Then there are what I shall refer to as the “Norms”. Regular people who try to live their best life, they are friendly, nice, will go out of their way to help in any way they can, feel more comfortable in a small group, and don’t enjoy all the attention. Applying my sliding scale once again, there are people in every group that bear traits from another. Finally, there are the people I will refer to as the “Eeyores”, you know Winnie the Pooh’s com padre. Nothing is ever good enough, everyone is out to get them, cheat them, they never get a break, think everyone else has it better, I could go on, but I’m sure you may know an Eeyore, and understand what I’m talking about.

Back to my obsessive point. Religion. It can be a wonderful mysterious loving thing. It can also be an excuse for doing the wrong things. My three people rule again. There are people like me. I have my beliefs, I live what I hope is a life that includes doing good things for others, and caring for others needs. Loving my family, my friends, trying to be a good member of humanity at large, but not feeling the need to shout what I feel and believe off the rooftops, or to force what I believe on others. I am a firm believer in “to each his own.” No one knows what is going on behind the closed doors of another house. No one knows what resides in the hidden parts of the individual hearts and minds of others. I say, “Do not judge, less thee be judged.” Returning to the family member who made the remark about Dan going to hell for not accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior, I have a question. (Not for him in particular but to the universe at large.) What if say you were born into a family that practices Judaism? Are you wrong for believing what you were taught and raised up in? Are your parents and ancestors liars? The answer is an unequivocal no. What if you were born in one of those South American tribes that are deep within a jungle and never heard of Jesus? Anyone? Locked out of heaven because you didn’t get the memo? My husband asked his brother at the time if a man who harmed a child, someone who did a horrible thing, but who accepted Jesus was going to heaven? He said, “Yes.” ( I say again here, for that man who is guilty of harming a child? Hate what you did, I can be angry, I can have intolerance for the act, but not my place to judge. I don’t know where you came from, I don’t know if you are mentally ill, or if you were a tortured child yourself. God will decide.) But Dan, Dan who stops to help old people in grocery store parking lots, who can’t pass a homeless person without giving them whatever he can, or buying them a sandwich, Dan who is a great and loyal husband, a very loving and giving father, he’s going to hell. That would be my number two kind of religious person. The kind that hold themselves above others because they believe. They wield their faith like a hammer ready to pound it down in judgement against others. I envy the faith that some people have. Mine tends to be a little shaky at times, but what I don’t agree with is the superiority complex that sometimes is part of the package. There are amongst that group some who spit fire about God and the bible, but then would deny aid to those in need. Senator______(fill in the blank). Finally, the worst in my book. (And that would just be in my book, my personal opinion, trying not to judge, but sometimes….) The religious zealot who uses the words of their God, whomever that God should be, to twist them in to a crusade of harming others in God’s name. I’m not judging here, I’m right, you’re wrong. We are all God’s creatures, even the ones who don’t believe exactly like you do. Not your place to decide who gets to stay and who needs to go. Stop hurting people, stop killing children, stop claiming to be acting in the name of God when you do horrendous things. No God, I mean no God at all, wants us to hurt one another. Religion and faith are about peace and love. I have mentioned these wise words before, they come from my dad (and as always must have a soccer reference. I’m paraphrasing here), “It doesn’t matter what color jersey you are wearing, as long as you play the game.” He was talking about faith and spirituality, and I’m with him. I don’t care who you believe in or how, that is up to you. I believe in a loving God, a forgiving God, a God who knows what is in your heart and in mine. What I do care about is when people hurt each other no matter what the weapon of choice, a sharp tongue can make a deeper cut sometimes than a sharp sword, remember that.

 

Putting An End To Hatred

Before I say anything I want to say that I am not above reproach.  I make mistakes, I hurt people (though never intentionally), I say thoughtless things without thinking, in other words I am human. I am also angry this morning. We have a family member who has upset me. I will only say that he knows who he is. I am taking him to task publicly because I know there are others out there like him. He doesn’t agree with the political beliefs held by our family. That is his right and his privilege, as it is our right and our privilege to feel what we feel and believe. Yet this individual believes it is somehow justified to call my husband names, to spew hatred, to try to demean those beliefs that my husband holds dear. By the way, he calls himself a Christian. The Christ I know and believe in is a man of love, of charity, of kindness, of self-sacrifice for his human brother and sister. I am amazed that someone would call himself a believer, a follower, and find it acceptable to attack his family member in such a manner. You know who you are. I am ashamed for you. The vile and inappropriate remarks that have been leveled verbally, via email, and by text are deplorable.  I am asking you to stop, I am asking you to remember your faith, I am asking you to show your family member some respect. I have sent a text to this person this morning because I picked up my husband’s phone to call my elderly father, and I saw the message that was sent to Dan. My husband is a good, decent, loving, hardworking man. He is kind and compassionate. This person also told my husband a few years ago that he is condemned to hell because he hasn’t chosen Jesus as his Lord and Savior. I have news for you, not your call. While my husband is not a man of faith he lives his life in a manner that God would want.  I am asking, no I am telling you, and everyone like you who thinks it is OK to present yourself to the world as a Christian, but to privately express yourself in a less than Christ-like way, that you so don’t get it. Maybe you need to reread that bible of yours. Hatred doesn’t work, judgement doesn’t work, the only thing that works, the only things that matter in this life are love, compassion, faith, and family. If you wish to continue to be part of mine you will stop. I don’t want another word of hatred to cross my door. You are someone who my husband respected and admired, he was mistaken. I will no longer allow you to hurt the person who means the most to me in this world. As I told you via text this morning, he is not “stupid”, he chose me.

If you are not my family member, but any of this rings a bell, think about it. Examine your own behavior. As I said above, I am not above reproach. I simply feel that there are those who are mistaken in their beliefs, I also believe it is not my place to judge them. I do not hate them, I don’t demean them, I don’t stoop to inexcusably childish name calling. I try to live my life caring for those I love, but also caring for the less fortunate. I am asking everyone who reads this to remember the season, remember what it is about, remember that you shouldn’t treat someone else in a manner that you would not want to be treated. I will also say that even if you are not a Christian there is the way that Jesus asked us to live our lives. There are ways in many religions that speak to the core of who we all should be, loving, kind, compassionate, and caring human beings. It is the way we should all live, believers or not.

She Speaks

After a year of blogging every single day, and then a couple of times a week, it might seem like I am running out of things to say. That isn’t true of course, although I am much less of a “talker” than most. I am comfortable in my own silence (and even more comfortable in the silence of some others…) The truth is that things haven’t changed. Our life is still on hold as we try to sell our home. At the risk of offending some very dear friends (who happen to be decent human beings and realtors), I will say that we are beginning to feel a bit like shark bait for the local realtors. We continue to have people contact us about our home, always starting out as if they have a possible buyer, ask lots of questions and then go for the kill. When I explained to a caller the other day that I had a realtor in line, a best friend in line for the sale of our home should we decide to go that route, she began to badger me on the whys and hows of why in her opinion, “That just doesn’t work.” I explained that my dear friend is away for family medical reasons. I explained that I had already made the promise to my friend that the listing would be hers. I explained about a bad realtor experience back in Chicago that made me wary. None of that mattered. She simply ignored everything I said and told me that I needed to have an “open mind” when her boss came to preview my property. I was losing my temper (which is never, ever a good thing for the person on the other end of it), I was trying to be as pleasant as possible, but I could feel my blood pressure begin to rise. If this particular caller had her way I would be greeting my returning friend with, “Sorry your family member was gravely ill, by the way our friendship of nine years means nothing, and I’m giving someone else my house to list.” I actually thanked this person for her professionalism (which she wasn’t), but I find myself in a very awkward position. I want to tell these people exactly what I think of them and their “ethics”, but if I do that I risk alienating them even farther. I just don’t understand. Why is my need to sell my own house such a bad thing? We are offering compensation to the buyer’s realtor. We don’t expect these people to work for nothing, but not a single realtor in the area has brought a client to our home. One realtor went as far as telling us that we weren’t worth his time. Since when is a paycheck of nearly ten thousand dollars not worth someones time? We aren’t against someone earning a living, but we are people who had very little income for sixteen months and need to keep as much of our money as we can for ourselves. I’m angry and frustrated. I want and need to move ahead with our life, but I am also as stubborn as they come. So I will sit in my beautiful home with my heels dug in and wait for the buyer to find us without any help from anyone else, because ten thousand dollars is definitely worth my time.

Breathe….now I feel better.

Art! There hasn’t been a piece every day. There have been fairies and other things. I will share the photo from my altered art piece from my daughter’s birthday. (She may kill me for it, but if you don’t think she was one of the cutest toddlers ever…) This was the cover on one of thirty gifts I sent her. A small cigar box that contained a little tiny set of pages where I wrote out the story of her birth. One thing that the last year and a half has taught me is that “things” don’t matter. People matter, memories matter, spirituality matters. The things that mean the most are the things that cannot be held in our hands, but only in our hearts and minds. Happy Birthday Jessica.

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A Different Dialog

I’m not going to write today about my house. Sometimes things happen that resonate in my brain, and reorders my perspective about what is important in life. I went to the pharmacy today to pick up a prescription. An ordinary errand on an ordinary day. The woman behind the counter is not Caucasian, she is Middle Eastern. I’m not sure where she hails from, I will presume, although I do not know, that it isn’t from the U.S., she has just the hint of an accent. I have a hint of an accent myself, it’s a Midwestern twang with a touch of the Brogue, depending on which words stuck with me from my very Irish upbringing. None of that matters. She is a lovely woman, pleasant and nice. She always has a smile, and through the many years that I have been patronizing the pharmacy we have developed an easy rapport with one another. Today she seemed tired, and I thought I heard a trace of illness. I asked if she were coming down with something, and then she began to cry. Her nephew was killed in a motorcycle accident only two days ago. She told me he was only twenty five, she had so much pain in her eyes that I began to cry as well. I reached for her hand and held it just for a second, and for a moment she seemed surprised, and then pulled away. I told her I was sorry, I told her there were no answers. She lives amongst elderly relatives, some are sickly, but they are alive. She is at a loss, she doesn’t understand why this young man was taken when she has people in her life ready to move on. We stood for a few moments and talked about her nephew and my mother. I told her the one thing that I believe, that he will always live on in their hearts. I told her I talk to my mom all the time in my laundry room. With that I realized there was another customer behind me, a woman.  I wished the pharmacy tech well and stepped aside, and then the other woman looked at me and said, “I talk to my mother in the garden.”

I wrote about this incident because in that singular moment I wished that the world at large could share that human connection. I talked about the pharmacy tech’s heritage not because she was different, but because we are all the same. Her pain was my pain, the hole in my heart caused by my mother’s death is the same as the hole in her heart, and of the heart of the woman behind me. I am tired of reading, and so much more exhausted seeing the effort that is put into pointing out all of our differences. Bill Maher had a show on in which he and a guest were in essence laying a blanket definition of who Muslims are are what they believe. It wasn’t pretty. Ben Affleck was on the program and was challenging their statements. I’m with Ben. I’m a Catholic. Not really a practicing Catholic, but it is the foundation of who I am, and in how I choose to live my life. There are particular programs on these days where the hosts are “Christians”. There is nothing remotely “Christ-like” in how they portray the issues of today. One of the most spectacular qualities that we as humans have is our differences. God given differences. By that I don’t mean the stuff that interferes with leading a good, and God-like existence. Things like racism, ignorance, intolerance, violence…the list goes on and on. I mean the differences in each and everyone of us that makes us unique. It’s the reason that you can’t “blanket” any religion. I have three sisters, we all live our various levels of faith in our own manner. Does that make one of us a “good” Catholic, or another a “bad” Catholic? No it doesn’t, because according to what we believe it is not for us to judge. Would I be comfortable if because of the current pedophilia problem every priest was labeled a pedophile? Or by default that I am somehow responsible for what a number of sick individuals did? No I wouldn’t. I happen to have a dear friend who is a priest. He is a good and honorable man. I’m tired of everyone sitting in judgement of everyone else. What would it take to understand that because you worship differently than me you aren’t wrong? You are different in the magnificent way that God created you. We all hurt, we all bleed, we are all devastated by the loss of loved ones. We all love our children, we all want to be happy, we all want love. Here’s the other really great thing that God did. We’re all the same too. Let’s stop looking at the differences in the wrong way. Let’s celebrate our individuality, the many traditions of worship, the many expressions of love in whatever form they may take, the many colors of our skin (even for those of us that have no color in our skin), the way that each of us are different from the person next to us. Then let’s embrace what is the same. Let us comfort those who have lost, cheer for those who succeed, wrap ourselves in the connection we all have, the human experience. Finally, let’s begin to turn a deaf ear to those who would divide us, who would abuse the name of God, of Allah, of Jesus, or whomever one prays to, by turning them into weapons of divisiveness, or of judgement. Of turning our backs on what I believe everyone’s God teaches, and that is love.

The Home Stretch

Perhaps I should have titled this post “The Loss Of Home Stretch”. That’s where we are. I had sorely underestimated what needed to be done around here. We are both overworked, overtired, and feeling sad. I’ve given up hope, given up prayer, and am just waiting for it to all be behind us. I need to move on, I need some answers. For those of you who I know will feel the need to address my giving up prayer, don’t bother. I have prayed, I have prayed every single day for more than a year. I’m tired. I don’t have enough time to take a much needed soak in the tub, much-less wait for divine intervention. I have been, and I have waited just long enough to be at risk of being homeless. Dan and I need to take care of our own destiny, whatever that may be. We have had a lot of advice, loving, well-intended advice, but the bottom line is that we can only depend on ourselves. As you have probably guessed by now, today is not a good day. It is another day where I find tears streaming down my face at their own will. I know what is important in this life. The most important part is upstairs right now trying his best to apply for everything and anything. I have also made mention of my “Stuff”. The thing is, it isn’t just stuff, it’s the pieces of a life that has ceased to exist. It is memories of birthdays, and Mother’s days and Christmas. It is deciding to let go of some trivial little thing that represents a happier day. It is packing up our life into boxes that have no place to go. The other day I got the mail, and then the thought struck me that I will need to stop the mail in the (hopefully) very near future. I have no new address to forward it to. To say this is hard is vastly understating the situation. Dan apologized to me this morning. Why? Because he feels he has let me down. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He is my life’s saving grace. He is responsible for nothing more than making me a better person, and loving me far beyond what I sometimes feel I deserve. I’m off to continue working. I needed to take the pressure off my breaking heart for a moment. It helps to talk, even if it is only to this page.

 

I wrote the above post ten days ago. I didn’t publish it because quite frankly it depressed me. Things are moving ahead here. I can actually see the finish line. On a more positive note it seems that there may be some hope on the job front for Dan. I hate to say that I’m afraid to even write these words. I’m afraid that something will get in the way yet again. I’m afraid to hope. We should know some time in the next day or two. In case you care, I haven’t given up praying, but I think that I understand the meaning of  “Doubting Thomas”. I am second guessing myself on every front including my ability to communicate with the Man upstairs. I’ll keep you posted…

Signs

Tonight I will spare you all the “woe is me” saga. I had a couple of really bad days. As if things weren’t troublesome enough around here, the IRS has not taken kindly to our situation and is hitting us hard for tapping into retirement funds. Imagine that? We had the nerve to want to use our own hard-earned money to eat and pay our mortgage. Just when you think things can’t get any worse…

Strange dream again this morning. I was walking for miles and miles, but it was back in Chicago, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (RIP) was waiting for a bus, there was a woman’s voice on an intercom, then I woke because the phone was ringing. It was my Dad and it was 4:54 a.m., I jumped out of bed and ran for the phone. (Insert minor heart attack here. When the phone rings at night or early morning I always assume the worse) He felt really bad when I answered. He knew he had woken me, but he is eighty-one and gets confused, and the two-hour time difference between here and Chicago sometimes get switched around in his head. I told him it was fine and tried to go back to bed, thinking maybe I could go back to sleep and find out where I was walking to, and why Phillip Seymour Hoffman was waiting for a bus. Unfortunately for me at that precise moment our neighbors decided to let their dog out, and turn on the security light in their garden that shines right in the window next to where I sleep. I mumbled some choice language and gave up. No sleep for me!

Dan and I went out today to look at a few possible locations for our business. We still don’t know how we will pull this one off, but we aren’t giving up. He also got another lead on another job. (Major good karma and prayer request.) We need a miracle and we need it fast. I’m a person who believes in signs. Not like stop signs ( I do try to come to a complete stop, but there’s a reason they call them “Hollywood stops”, and I’ve lived here more than ten years), but signs from God, or Mohammed, or Buddha, or to whomever it is you give your prayers to. My Mom prayed to Our Lady Of Perpetual Help. Swore by her. My Dad was out of work when we were young and my Mom prayed a particular prayer that was answered. We put the photo on her mass card when she passed away. I’ve been praying my Mom’s prayer, I actually have the ratty old cardboard one that she had for years. I’ve been praying for a year. Honestly I’ve been questioning why my prayer hasn’t been answered, but I haven’t given up. I did my prayers this morning, even cried a bit asking for help. After looking at business locations we stopped at Walmart. We rarely go there. (We don’t like their politics or how they treat their employees, but that’s a story for another time.) As we walked to the back of the store we saw a display of religious candles. The kind that I see many Hispanic people buy. There are usually photos of Jesus or Our Lady Of Guadalupe on them. There She was, Our Lady Of Perpetual Help looking right at me. I’ve never seen that photo on one of those candles before, and I worked at a grocery store for eighteen and a half years. I bought it, She is sitting next to my bed with my Mom’s mass card, and my Mom’s Prayer card. Dan isn’t religious, he is too practical, too scientific, but not completely closed to it. I am choosing to believe, I need to. I’ll be lighting the candle tonight.

One more day, one more box for the show. I’ve had this box, an unfinished wooden one, for years. Grabbed it out of the studio the other day and thought, “Suitcase!” Searched Google images for copyright free luggage stickers. Added some faux ribbon straps, a chain, and lined the inside with decoupaged paper. I’m rather fond of it, but it needs to go, hopefully Saturday.

Off to bed now, wondering if maybe just possibly I will dream something not so odd tonight, or that maybe my Mom and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are cooking up a plan to get us out of this mess with a little help from a particular Lady.

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The Hand Of God

Several months ago I wrote a post about my feelings of hopelessness due to our situation here. I received quite a bit of religious advice from people who read that post. At the time I said I appreciated the thoughts,prayers and support, and of course I still do. I bring it up because of some thoughts I had today. We spent most of the day in the car. We drove out into the desert to a place named Pioneer Town. It’s east of Palm Springs. Old westerns were filmed there in the 30’s and 40’s and the structures still stand. The scenery was starkly beautiful, pale sands, sage brush, and rocks and boulders changing color with the sun. Later we drove back to Temecula through a mountain back road, and again I marveled at beautiful skies and lush greenery. Finally we headed to dinner towards an incredibly beautiful setting sun. I do consider myself a spiritual person, it is just that like almost every other place in my life I am quiet. There are so many people who want to share their faith, or their version of faith with others. I am happy for anyone who has spirituality in their life, but I find that for me my spirituality is in the world around me and within me. I can sit in a church obeying laws of holy obligation, but my mind wanders. It is out in the world where I see, and hear God that I feel my faith. I have written quite a bit about feelings of poor self-worth, or lack of self-confidence in my artistic life. Tonight as I looked through photos I took today, and as I marveled at the magnificent sunset, the thought occurred to me that there is one way that my work will always be inadequate, but it isn’t because of lack of self-esteem. I just know that despite my talent, and no matter how hard I work, there are strokes of greatness that exist in nature that are beyond this world.

I didn’t have much time to work on art today. I worked a little bit on Mia’s portrait from last night, and a very small watercolor. I do however have a few photos from today’s beautiful drive.

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Thank You

Before I begin my post tonight I think I need to clear something up. I think there was an awful lot of misinterpretation of my blog last night. It was after midnight when I wrote that piece. I was tired,and yes suffering from a little melancholia, but I had just finished a wonderful meal, shared with good friends, in my beautiful garden with my amazing husband. I am concerned and worried because my husband lost his job, or as he puts it, “his job lost him”, but I am not a lost sheep. When I spoke of not hearing the voice inside me I was speaking of my own voice. I was kidding when I spoke of my monkey-esque brain getting in the way of prayer, thus the use of the word monkey-esque. When I spoke of being impatient and my prayers not being answered it was in a humorous moment with Dan. I do find myself searching and wondering, but it is not because I find something lacking in my soul. I’m human, I’m worried, and despite the postings of a wife who is concerned for her husband, I have not lost faith. While I truly appreciate the thoughts and prayers sent my way, those of you who know me know that I am rather fond of finding humor in my life, particularly when talking about myself. My faith life is and always has been a private and personal relationship. I can be a bit of a loner, and it suits me to be that way in my spiritual life as well. Yes, we are going through hard times, but that is out in the world, at home I have no empty space to fill. I am a very loved woman, and in that luckier than most.

I decided tonight to post something I wrote several months ago with the intention of sending it to my local paper. Shame on me, I didn’t send it, but maybe this is better, this platform that reaches far beyond my local community. If you want to know where I live my spirituality then you need to read this.

                                                                                                                                                  MY FRIEND
I am an immigrant. No, not the kind that seems to be of great concern to everyone, the other kind, a pasty white Canadian with parents straight off the boat from Ireland. No one seems to care if I am legal (I am), but that really isn’t the point. For those of you who live in the Temecula area we suffered a significant loss recently. Most of you aren’t aware of it, particularly those who don’t attend our marvelous Saturday Farmer’s Market in Old Town. There amongst the fruits, vegetables, and restaurant fare was a man selling flowers. He wasn’t the only flower vendor, there are two or three others, but he was a gentle man with a lovely smile, and he was an immigrant. He was the immigrant you are all so concerned about, the Mexican kind. My husband and I attend the market weekly. There are many vendors there that recognize us on sight, and with those vendors we exchange pleasant greetings. The flower vendor was different. Week after week we would buy flowers from him and exchange a smile and a “Thank you”. His English was poor, our Spanish is nonexistent. The language barrier didn’t matter, or that we didn’t know his name, and he didn’t know ours, that gentle smile on that weathered face said everything. We became friends. Eventually he began to give me an extra bouquet, something he chose to add to whatever my husband was buying for me. In return I began to bring him a little something I baked, and the gift of a watercolor painting I had done of one of his sunflowers. He disappeared for a while and there was a great deal of concern for him from the people who attend the market every week. I knew this because when we asked about him, his niece told us that her uncle was recovering from surgery, and that it meant so much to her that so many people cared for him. A few months ago he returned. He looked older and a little feeble, but the smile was still there. I know that there is so much anger and even some hatred for immigrants in this country, but there are also those of us who understand who and what they are. My dad came here with a pregnant wife and two daughters because he wanted a better life. I don’t condone illegal immigration, but I wish everyone in this world could have the opportunity that we all have. I don’t know if the flower vendor was legal, I do know that by looking at his rough hands that he probably worked hard all of his life. Maybe we can all set aside a little of our hostility and stop and really look at one another. Many of you couldn’t or wouldn’t do the kind of work that would give a man hands like that. There has to be a better solution than anger. There needs to be compassion and understanding. Two weeks ago when we attended the Farmer’s Market we saw a picture of him surrounded with flowers. The flower vendor has passed away. For those of us who saw him weekly we will miss that smile. I will miss my friend.

For those of you that were lovely enough to offer the gift of your faith, your church, I thank you, but I have found mine in the face of humanity.

Tonight I am working on the last of the three portraits that I’m doing, but instead of posting the work in progress, I am posting the sunflower I painted for my friend, it’s brilliance could never match his smile. God bless you my friend.May 2011 199