I Want to Call My Mom: What is the Area Code in Heaven?


I Want to Call My Mom: What is the Area Code in Heaven?.

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Memomuse Update: July Joy and Sorrow


Hello friends.  I am sorry I have not been keeping you in the loop of what is going on. Although I have been active on Facebook and Twitter, I have been somewhat dormant.  I am working on learning how to use Photoshop so I can upload photos with watermarks and protect my work.  But really all I want to do is share and tell.  I have so many images I want to share but since I have had to deal with photo piracy and I have the tools to watermark them, I feel I should use the tools to watermark images. Except the whole watermarking process puts out my fire and it always feels laborious.

open the door

I am not the most technical person and struggle with left brain waves. I prefer the open ended ocean of the right brain world.

Ocean photo by Megan Oteri Copyright 2011

Ocean photo by Megan Oteri Copyright 2011

I am working on some new posts for all three of my blogs: The Original Journal, The Community Kitchen, and Memomuse.  I have compartmentalized to try to target potential readers better.  I am a bit exhausted from social media though.  I am putting my energy into writing (in Microsoft Word). I get very distracted when I am on the internet.

But here is the 411 for July. We went to Washington D.C. to inurn my mother at Arlington National Cemetery.  She was placed in the same shelf like box (for lack of a better description) in the Columbarium (where people are placed when they are cremated).

My mother and I on my wedding day.

My mother and I on my wedding day.

I will post a detailed post about that as Arlington was very moving.

Columbarium

Columbarium: My parents’ grave

I climbed the ladder and placed my mother’s ashes in the box like shelf, or think of as an ash cubby in a way. I know morbid, but I am just writing, or rather blogging so I am not going to struggle with finding the perfect word/description. The marine who was the pall bearer or ash box holder, was very serious and he marched in typical Arlington fashion. He was very serious.  I guess I am dismissing the seriousness of death, but my mom died Christmas Eve and her inurnment was scheduled in July.  It was a serious affair and very moving, so I am not being flip — just trying to be funny.

The Pastor and Marine who were at my mom's funeral

The Pastor and Marine who were at my mom’s funeral

The marine had the most beautiful blue eyes.  They sparkled even.  As he handed me the urn box with my mom’s heart and ashes in it, I said “Semper Fi.” It was awkward.  I sometimes can be so strange even to myself.

Well, anyway, he handed off Betty and I placed her urn box in with my father’s, making sure they were back to back and their boxes touched.  I dusted off my father’s ten-year old death dust from the top of his box.  That was intense.  Dust to dust.  Anyway, it was moving.  I wrote a descriptive piece about this experience for the SAMLA conference.  I am the chair of the creative nonfiction panel this year. SAMLA will be held in Atlanta this November.

This was taken walking back from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which we went to after my mom's funeral

This was taken walking back from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which we went to after my mom’s funeral

See, even when I try to write a little update, it turns into a whole lot of words. 

I went to Evanston, Illinois at the end of July for a research trip on a book I am working on: The Community Kitchen. That was amazing.

Another view of this beautiful house.  You can go on tours of the Dawes House.  The Dawes House is the home of the Evanston History Center, where I conducted my research primarily.

Another view of this beautiful house. You can go on tours of the Dawes House. The Dawes House is the home of the Evanston History Center, where I conducted my research primarily.

My mom grew up in New York City, but moved back to Evanston in 1947 with her mom after her parents divorced. I went to Evanston a lot as a child with my parents. Mom took us to visit our grandma and great-aunt often.   A post will be coming soon about my trip to Evanston, either on The Community Kitchen blog or here.  The compartmentalizing is taking its toll on me.  Managing three blogs is a lot of work.  And I take my blog posts serious.  Probably too serious.

The Original Journal had several signings in Evanston. One was a man I met on the airplane.  He likes redheads.  Another signing was a Northwestern chemistry student taking a break in the Shakespeare Garden at Northwestern.  That is the signing I am going to feature on The Original Journal blog.  She wrote a great journal signing.  A couple more journal signatures were done on Northwestern campus.  So, there will be some posts on that blog.

Got to run. I am writing a book after all, so chop chop to it I go.

I will leave you with my mother’s favorite poem by Kahlil Gibran — “On Joy and Sorrow”

On Joy and Sorrow
 Kahlil Gibran

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.

Source: http://www.katsandogz.com/onjoy.html

I Want to Call My Mom: What is the Area Code in Heaven?


I want to call my mom. Better yet, I would like to have a cup of coffee with her and sit with her in the breakfast nook of our house on Maxwell (in Cheyenne).

I miss her. It is an ache I can not explain nor put into words. All I know is hearing her voice on this earth made everything okay. I did save phone messages from her that I replay often. But it isn’t the same.

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Arlington National Cemetery Arlington Virginia

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Backside of Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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Front side of Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I galloped into this area with typical Meg enthusiasm and shouted to a tourist with a camera, “Is this the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?”  He gave me a stern look and the universal shush signal with a finger over his lips. Suddenly, I realized this was a sacred place in terms of being silent.  Not sure if I described that well. But I knew suddenly that you are not supposed to make noise in this area. I guess coming right from my mom’s funeral/inurnment, I was in a noise making way since the funeral was a quiet exercise in introspection and reflection.

I took some photos  here and then walked back towards the path to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. I saw a rain print of a bird on the stone path. It rained heavily before my mom’s funeral as we sat in the Arlington National Cemetery parking lot. The rain stopped and the sun came out for my mom’s funeral. I almost expected to see a rainbow. Instead, I felt one in my heart. So many colors inside my soul, bright and buoyant.

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This is a stone in my neighborhood, far from Arlington. I pass it on my daily walk. It is located in an overgrown garden of a giant Southern house desperately in need of a paint job.  An old black lady stands on the porch with her broom and sweeps the dust off in summer. She waves to me and my son. The stone says, ” If tears could build a stairway and thoughts a memory lane, I’d walk right up to heaven and bring you home again.”

This line is from a longer poem:

If Tears Could Build a Stairway

If tears could build a stairway
and thoughts a memory lane
I’d walk right up to heaven
and bring you home again.

No Farewell words were spoken
No time to say good-bye
You were gone before I knew it
And only God knows why.

My heart’s still active in sadness
And secret tears still flow
What it meant to lose you
No one can ever know.

But now I know you want us
To mourn for you no more
To remember all the happy times
Life still has much in store.

Since you’ll never be forgotten
I pledge to you today
A hallowed place within my heart
Is where you’ll always stay.

– Author Unknown

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Sign near Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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In courtyard near the Columbarium at Arlington national Cemetery after my mom’s funeral.

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In front of my parents’ grave-site although it is not exactly a grave. I call it ash cubby).

When we drove into Arlington it was raining. We had to use umbrellas as we got out of the car. My nephew smoked a cigarette outside the car while we waited for the rain to pass. it was pouring, pellets dropping on our forest green jeep. We were parked in the lot for funerals. We were far from tourists. In drizzled on us after the hard rain passed. We went inside.

We followed the black government plated sedan to the funeral site.

The rest was a series of acute blurs that drift into memory thick — unannounced.

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I believe in angels; I have to.