Snow Angels


An angel found me today.

Angel

Angel

It took me awhile to piece together the meaning. I am a meaning maker.  I use this term from Daniel Pink’s, A Whole New Mind. If you have not read that book, I highly recommend it.

Back to meaning making. I had a snow day today — the third one in a row (I live in North Carolina and it rarely snows). It was splendid — the snow day that is and the snow. I just love snow. I grew up with snow (Chicago) and then we moved to Wyoming when I was fifteen. So I know snow.

"Snow Haiku" Bird looking for seeds Snow beauty, calm layers now Green chair aligned: tree

“Snow Haiku”
Bird looking for seeds
Snow beauty, calm layers now
Green chair aligned: tree

And I know sledding. Oh how I know sledding.  I was on the hunt for a sled on Wednesday. I went to three major stores in town (Wal-mart, Farm & Ranch, and Dunham’s Sports) and no dice. They weren’t sold-out; they didn’t stock them — at all. It snowed throughout the night on Tuesday.  Wednesday morning I awoke to a blanket of fresh white snow. I love how snow makes everything look so pure, so new, so fresh.

"Creature Print Heart Haiku" Some think Valentine's Day Is not a holiday. I I think it is because... (end of haiku) creatures make prints in the snow can you see the heart?

“Creature Print Heart Haiku”
Some think Valentine’s Day
Is not a holiday. I
think it is because…
(end of haiku)
creatures make prints in the snow
can you see the heart?

I read posts on Facebook Wednesday morning about Snow Cream. I capitalize it because apparently it is a proper noun — it is a specific thing. This Chicago native and Wyoming transplant that has lived long enough in Wyoming to be considered a native, has never heard of Snow Cream.

Recipe here.

Anyway, back to snow, back to sledding, back to meaning making.

My son and I started our third snow day with hot oatmeal.  I made Jordan Marsh blueberry muffins. My son melted my heart when he said, “Here you go my lady,” as he handed me blueberries to eat. It was so unexpected and so three and half-year old pure.  We put the muffins in the 375 degree oven. The oven heated up the kitchen and I drank that first awesome cup of coffee.  Ben watched Octonauts and yelled at me for mixing his syrup in his oatmeal.

As I was making the muffins, I realized I forgot to put in the baking powder to the first batch, already in the oven. Oops. I did not freak out. It was an honest mistake.  I rarely bake.  But it is in my blood and bones as my grandmother was a gourmet chef and ran a famous bakery in Evanston, Illinois.   I quickly fixed my mistake for the second batch. I noticed my batter was a little lumpy. Didn’t care. No need for perfection with muffins. Ben helped me put blueberries into the batter. He piled fifteen into one tin. I picked out a few and sprinkled over the other five. The house smelled delicious. I felt wonderful. These moments are so rare now that I am working.  Ben usually wants to be with his dad on weekends. Dad is the popular parent right now. Rightly so. Rich can talk in Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s voice and Major Mongram’s.

The house was quiet except for the two of us, alone in the house. I noticed how the sun streams into the front hallway at 9 am casting a beautiful shadow of the porch pillars.  I miss these little details. I thought about what I am doing at 9 am each day at school.

We made bird feeders with peanut butter, seeds, and pine cones.

"Bird Feeder Haiku" We made these today We made the red ribboned ones Christmas Eve. Mom died (end of haiku) She died on Christmas Eve 2012. Ben and I hung the red ribboned ones 12/24/13. One year anniversary.

“Bird Feeder Haiku”
We made these today
We made the red ribboned ones
Christmas Eve. Mom died
(end of haiku)
She died on Christmas Eve 2012. Ben and I hung the red ribboned ones 12/24/13. One year anniversary.

The day stretched into mid morning. Ben and I bundled up in triple layers of pants, double layers of socks, hiking boots that take forever to lace up, hats, double cloth gloves (two pairs), mufflers, and Carhart coats. I was so stiff from warmth I could barely walk. We hung the bird feeders — one on each Dogwood in our front yard, three total. The snow was so white. I hung the ornament I made but never finished. It is an angel. I made salt dough ornaments on Christmas Eve 2012. I was making them in my in-laws garage when my mother went to the hospital.

"Angel Tree Haiku" I think of my mom when I make bird feeders: love is why I get up (end of haiku) and make oatmeal for my son, just like my mom did for me. My mom taught me how to make bird feeders with pine cones and peanut butter.

“Angel Tree Haiku”
I think of my mom
when I make bird feeders: love
is why I get up
(end of haiku)
and make oatmeal for my son, just like my mom did for me. My mom taught me how to make bird feeders with pine cones and peanut butter.

After we hung the bird feeders, I pulled Ben around in a laundry basket attached to a bungee cord. We fell into the snow and laughed from our bellies. I looked up at the blue sky, startled at it beauty — startled at its calm. Through the buds still tight of the Dogwood, I realized this moment could not be caught on film, nor on camera. It just was. It was magic.

I suddenly thought we have not made snow angels. We tumbled into the snow and swished our arms back and forth. I moved Ben’s feet and arms. He didn’t know how to do it. We made angels of our own.

Snow captured beauty.

I never knew my  heart could flutter so wild, pure with love for this boy

I never knew my
heart could flutter so wild, pure
with love for this boy

Part II coming later… (about the sledding adventure).

No promises. Just story.

Back to angels, back to meaning making. We found sleds at Wilson Hardware. It is an old school mom and pop store downtown Wilson, NC.  So charming too. They carry lunch boxes. Old school lunch boxes.

"Lunch Box Haiku" I had a Pac-man  lunch box. I still love that game. I play it  a lot.

“Lunch Box Haiku”
I had a Pac-man
lunch box. I still love that game.
I play it a lot.

That is where I found the angel. She has fiber-optic wings. She is on my Valentine’s Day mantle now. It used to be the Christmas mantle. It is a shrine.  My mother’s box of ashes used to sit there, last year, right at this time last year.

Now my angel is there, next to photos of my mom and me. Next to photos of my grandma. Next to knickknacks and cards that depict and breath love. My angel is within me. I carry her with me. I carry her heart.

"Mantle Muse Haiku" I am so lucky to have loved so deeply, Mom Thank you. I love you.

“Mantle Muse Haiku”
I am so lucky
to have loved so deeply, Mom
Thank you. I love you.

"Wings Haiku" Wings allow us to  fly and be free from sorrow They don't always work (end of haiku) nut they open when we need them to

“Wings Haiku”
Wings allow us to
fly and be free from sorrow
They don’t always work
(end of haiku)
nut they open when we need them to

Blossom


"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." - Marcel Proust

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love." - Washington Irving

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving

The photo above is the fireplace mantle in my bedroom. The elbow in the orange plaid belongs to my husband. The cards on the mantle are some of the bereavement cards I received after my mother passed away.  I finally (very reluctantly) took down the Christmas lights that were strung across the mantle. I had a hard time letting go of Christmas this year. My mother passed away on Christmas Eve. In some strange way, keeping the lights up somehow made her not dead. But she is.

I knew I had to remove the Christmas lights from the mantles in both my bedroom and our parlor. The parlor is where we eat. It is the center of our 1880 Victorian home. Oak wood floors, curry yellow walls, my husband’s grandfather’s table that has seen generations of family meals, the cherry wood buffet with a pinkish marble counter top flanks the room on the southeast wall. My mother and I bought this buffet together at an antique flea market in Cheyenne called The Avenues. I loved that flea market. I used to go there with my mom all the time. She had a booth there. Betty (my mom) knew how to barter proper. She knew her antiques. I remember marveling at her when she would flip over a china dish or tea saucer and know exactly, right then and there, its value and worth. She would cross reference names and brands in her antique books.

I eyed the beautiful buffet, sliding my palm across the cool marble counter top. My mom smiled at me, aware of my interest. Immediately, without saying a word to her, she said, “Offer them $100 less, that you will pay cash, and that you will pick it up today.”  The buffet was marked down. Betty followed with, “It’s marked down. The vendor wants to unload it.”

Shyly, I went to the counter where the owner of the flea market was sorting tickets — placing vendors’ sales tickets into piles. “Hi Betty,” she said to my mother. They launched into a short conversation about what my mom had sold that week in her booth, doling out names of antiques and flea market treasures like a diner waitress does to a well-known menu.

“$400 cash and I will pick it up,” I said awkwardly. Betty stood next to me, quiet.

My beautiful redheaded mama I adore and love

My beautiful redheaded mama I adore and love

“Let me call the vendor. What is the vendor number on the ticket?” the antique shop owner said. My mom jumped in with a name, as she knew all the flea market vendors at the Avenues. The Avenues was located on a curving turn that arched to a left, right across from the Cheyenne airport. I had taken this curvy turn hundreds of times, as it also is a turn that takes you to Cheyenne Frontier Days Park.

“The owner of the shop verified Betty’s hypothesis — Betty’s gut instinct. Yep, the vendor wanted to unload it. I just got a deal, I thought to myself. How I love a deal. That is one of the charms and alluring pulls of flea market antique shopping. Bartering is where you earn your flea market stripes. I had just earned my first. Don’t get me wrong, I was a garage sale barter champion. Heck, I would barter for a shoelace if I could. It just came natural.

I felt the rush of the bargain. We arranged a time to come pick it up with my husband. He had the truck. He had the muscles.

My mom had a confidence to her that was unmistakable.  Most people felt very comfortable in her presence, unless you crossed her. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” she always said. Although she always gave people the benefit of the doubt. Her heart was large. Her laugh was larger. I miss it. I long for it. I wish I had her laugh recorded.

These lovely artifacts (antique books, trinkets, letters, objects) punctuated her life. They were just things when she was alive. Now that she is gone, they are maps of who she was. It is interesting what we take for granted when we have our loved ones live in the flesh and blood. When they are gone, physical objects sometimes act as sieves for our love for them., filtering the pain of the loss and acting as windows to transport us to memory — to love.

My mother’s ashes are on the mantle in the parlor. We are still waiting to hear from Arlington Cemetery on her funeral arrangements  The mantle in the parlor was flanked by two Santas my mother had given me and that were present at childhood Christmases.  Colored Christmas lights resembling brightly colored sugary balls — twisted, twined, and wrapped in fake garland — snaked along the mantle between the Santas and my mother’s urn. Well actually, the garland and lights rested over her walnut box urn since I was afraid if I put the garland behind the urn box, that somehow it would make the box fall to the floor.

I plugged in the lights every night after her death, sometimes leaving them on all day, well past traditional Christmas light season. It was my ritual. I would plug them in first thing in the morning and say my prayers and send my love to her. Sometimes I would weep at the mantle, longing for my mother’s words, embrace, smile, laugh. I talked to her sitting at our parlor table. I wept at the parlor table. At night, before I went to bed, I would unplug the lights and kiss the wooden box of ashes. I took down the lights last weekend and forced myself to take down the Santas that flanked both sides.

My February Memorial Mantle

My February Memorial Mantle

For some reason I can’t really explain, I knew it was time to take down the Christmas lights and Santas and embrace a new flower that is emerging from this loss. I am not saying I am hurting less, but the pain is less acute and more obtuse — surrounding me with its wide angle, enveloping me in sadness. A bud is emerging and flower petals are wrapped tight around the bud. Creating a cleaning space for my grief will provide the necessary sunshine to get the reluctant bud to open. The process of grief is not linear. I hopscotch back and forth between anger, denial, acceptance. I do realize my mother is somehow (beyond my understanding as a human on earth) with me, within me, and above me watching me grow and blossom.

I just will never be able to explain it nor completely understand it.

april may 2013 004

Azalea blossom in my front yard.

“Grief is the price we pay for love.” – Queen Elizabeth II

Photo Source: Mother Nature Network Angel Wings

Photo Source: Mother Nature Network
Angel Wings

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Mantle in my bedroom after clearing off Christmas lights.

“Grief changes shape, but it never ends.” – Keanu Reeves

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My husband carved the wooden heart as a gift. The angel came with a sympathy card from a childhood friend who knew my mom as a child. My mom was the Girl Scout troop leader. This friend remembered how my mom taught all the Girl Scouts the Girl Scout Promise.

The Girl Scout Promise

On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

The Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

mom's mantle 2013 010

Angel Heart

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“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” – Edith Wharton
My mother was both the  candle and the mirror.

mom's mantle 2013 008

The turquoise turtle was my mom’s. It rested in her bathroom on her two tier bronze circular shelf that also held her Buddhas.

“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” –  Rudyard Kipling

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Mantle in my bedroom

“A mother is beyond any notion of a beginning. That’s what makes her a mother.” – Meghan O’Rourke

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Monet Mantle. One of the things that made me fall in love with my husband was he had a Monet painting. His sensitivity to both my parents’ death has helped me survive these great storms. My father passed away in 2003. My husband held me as I cried myself to sleep through both loses.

“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.”  – Mother Teresa

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Parlor room mantle.

“Never does one feel oneself so utterly helpless as in trying to speak comfort for great bereavement. I will not try it. Time is the only comforter for the loss of a mother.” –  Jane Welsh Carlyle

mom's mantle 2013 004

Buddha Mantle. The two Buddhas next to my mom’s ashes were hers. The rose is from my backyard rose vine.

“The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.” – Buddha

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You can see a little bit of the buffet in this photo that I bought with my mom at the antique flea market.

“Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.” – Khalil Gibran

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Love Mantle. Healing Mantle. I move through the grief and stop when I can not walk anymore.

Mom's mantle 2013 001

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving