“Love liberates.” – Maya Angelou
“Love liberates.” – Maya Angelou
“When you see Santa in the sky tonight, know Betty’s got the reigns tonight. She died while I was on the phone with her 9:58 MST/11:58 EST (the nurse held the phone to her ear).
Believe it or not, it gives me great joy and peace that she passed on Christmas Eve, exactly two minutes before midnight East Coast time. She has always been on EST as a New Yorker at heart. RIP Betty. No star ever shone brighter than you. I love you always.” — My facebook post on Christmas Eve
My mother passed away on Christmas Eve two minutes shy of midnight EST while on the phone with me. She loved Christmas Eve so much.
She died peacefully after a long illness that didn’t stop her in her tracks. She was diagnosed in 2000 with benign brain tumors (one in her cerebellum and one on her brain stem). I have written many posts about her struggle and my struggle with these tumors.
I am peace. because she is at peace.
If you want to follow my grief chronicles I am being very open about my feelings on my facebook page, and most posts are public if you would like to follow them and subscribe to them. I am also pretty active on Twitter too. Betty is the most amazing woman I have ever known. I was lucky to call her Mom, friend, and confidant. She loved us kids with all her heart.
Rest in peace my sweet Betty Anne. You had “It.” You were magical.
Here are some posts about her if you would like to read more about her.
The links below take you chronologically in time when I went to Colorado when my mother was very ill and almost died.
I end this post with my mother’s favorite poem by one of her favorite poets, Kahlil Gibran
I have also included the poem in written form below:
On Joy and Sorrow
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
Photos by Megan Oteri. All photos are copyrighted. Photos in the slideshow are from my recent trip to Wyoming and Colorado.
I recently went out West to visit my mother. It was a very emotional trip, as I prepared myself that this could be the last time I see my mom. I am not ready to write about these feelings. I imagine they will become rooted under the earth of my heart, growing deeper into the deep soil like carrots and potatoes. The leafy green above the soil sprouts up, only to mirror an astonishing growth underneath.
I do have carrots growing in my garden and there is nothing more tasty than a fresh treat, ripe and orange. I love carrots. They are a metaphorical root.
Here are some favorite carrot quotes:
Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) “The day is coming when a single carrot freshly observed will set off a revolution.”
Greek Physician Pedanius Dioscorides (c. 40-c. 90) wrote “Ye root ye thickness of a finger, a span long, sweet-smelling, edible being sodden [boiled]. Of this ye seed being drank…and it is good for ye [painful discharge of urine] in potions, and for ye bitings and strokes of venomous beasts; they say also, that they which take it before hand shall take no wrong of wilde beasts. It co-operates also to conception, and it also being [diuretic], both provoketh [poison], and being applied; but the leaves being beaten small with honey, and laid on, doth cleanse rapidly spreading destructive ulceration of soft tissues.”
A carrot is neither a fruit nor a veggie; it is a root. Wyoming and the West is where my roots are. My family moved to Wyoming when I was 15. I moved there from Chicago so it was quite a cultural shock. I do remember being fascinated with the landscape. I could literally see for miles and I did not see anything. It took me years to truly see Wyoming and recognize the depth and activity in the landscape. It is what you do not see, for which is truly there.
I love how you can see a rainstorm coming in Wyoming. You can also watch it in the distance as you watch an entire area of sky not effected at all by the same storm.
The storm of my mother’s illness (she has brain tumors) has been a long time coming. I have been able to see it in the distance as a slow emerging storm, one that barely sprinkles upon you. I felt the caress of gentle raindrops. When I recently visited her, she was wheelchair bound and she could only move her finger. She was mentally alert and aware. She was able to speak and recall memories. I guess the most difficult thing is that I realized there is no amount of time I can spend with her that will be enough. I want her here with me forever.
I have resolved that I will have to let her go. I think I am in a good place about it. Her love for me is deep like a carrot (enough of the carrot analogy, right). She is a root and her memory will always be in the rich soil of my heart.
Enough of the sad stuff.
I am working now as a Teaching Artist and Writer-in-Residence for the United Arts Council, which serves schools in Wake and Johnston County (Raleigh area schools). I am very excited about this. I am also available to teach workshops and offer residencies throughout the state and country (email me if you are interested). I am offering several workshops, including Memoir, Poetry, Spoken Word, and Photography. I am working with a private school for students with disabilities in March. I am very excited about this three-day workshop which incorporates photography and writing across the curriculum.
If you are interested in bringing me to your school, business, group, and/or community, I can send you materials that outline my residencies and workshops. Just shoot me an email at email@example.com.
To be a Teaching Artist has been a long-term goal of mine. I used to be a public school teacher and I brought many artists to the schools I worked at. I believe in the arts. I believe they are essential and our schools should be centering education around the arts. Genius and imagination are fostered through the arts.
“Whoever neglects the arts when he is young has lost the past and is dead to the future.” - Sophocles
“Involvement in the arts engages kids in their community, improves self-esteem, reclaims at-risk youth, and builds the creative skills that are required of a 21st century workforce.” - Gavin Newsom
I find the landscape of the West and in particular Wyoming to be my muse. I love this landscape for the roots that are there: my family. I met my husband in Cheyenne. I fell in love with him in my home town. My mother loves Wyoming and so did my father.
The thing I like about carrots is you can leave them alone and they will continue to grow underground.