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

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Semper Fi: Help Send My Nephew to Arlington Cemetery for his Grandma’s Funeral


If you can spare $5, I have a FundRazr campaign up here: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/cXcEe.

I am trying to raise money for my nephew to buy an airline ticket from Wyoming to Washington D.C. It is last minute flight arrangements as we recently found out the date of the funeral. And my nephew just was able to get the time off of work.  His boss has been a veteran for 25 years, so that helped.

My Nephew and Me when he was eight years old

My Nephew and Me when he was eight years old

My Nephew and Me at my mom's nursing home August 2012 (the last time I saw her)

My nephew and me at my mom’s nursing home August 2012 (the last time I saw her)

My mom is being inurned with my father at Arlington Cemetery. My father was a member of the Frozen Chosin that served in the Korean War (Marines). My father died in 2003 and his ashes are waiting to be reunited with my mom’s ashes.

My Nephew and My Mom

My nephew and my Mom

“It’s not gonna be easy but I know Betty would cross the world for our funerals. So I’ll cross the United States for her.”
– John, my nephew (regarding making it to his grandma’s funeral at Arlington Cemetery).

My mom died Christmas Eve, but it takes a long time to schedule the date of the funeral at Arlington. I want my nephew to be able to go to the funeral, but we just found out the date and my nephew also just got the time off from work, so it is last minute. Can you spare $5 to help pay for the airline ticket? The funeral is July 1. We are covering hotel and food expenses. I think it is important for my nephew to be able to go to his grandma’s funeral and honor both his grandparents at Arlington Cemetery. They were very close.
Thank you for your help and passing this on.  Here is the link to the FundRazr page: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/cXcEe

Semper Fi

Today is my parents’ anniversary (June 21). I am preparing to reunite them together (at least their ashes) when my mother gets inurned with my father’s ashes at Arlington Cemetery. He was a member of the Frozen Chosin in the Korean War. Help my nephew be a part of this funeral. He has to fly last minute from Wyoming to DC. Thank you for your help and passing this on. 

Semper Fi

My Mom and Dad

My Mom and Dad

I will be posting photos from Arlington Cemetery on my blog, www.memomuse.wordpress.com, if you would like to follow us on this journey.

American Flag

American Flag

Semper Fi

Here are some posts about my mom :

The Red Rose of St. Therese

Magic Mama

Christmas Eve Angel

Build the Castle

Garden Muse: Seeds and Sorrow; Fruits and Joy

The Red Rose of St. Therese

and my dad:

The Dress and the Snake

My Father — My Thoreau

A Tribute to My Father

Photos from my wedding

Photos from my wedding (Top left – my dad and me;; top right – me; bottom left — my husband, me and nephew; bottom right — my mom and me)

Angel Light "Every moment of light and dark is a miracle." - Walt Whitman

Angel Light
“Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” – Walt Whitman

Garden Muse: Seeds and Sorrow; Fruits and Joy


Garden

Garden

I am excited for summer. I love the bounty of summer crops. Right now we are growing radishes, spinach, lettuce, corn, carrots, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, pumpkins, potatoes, oregano, basal, zucchini, and peas. I have a flower garden growing as well. We planted everything from seed so it is exciting to see it come to life. Trusting in a seed to feed you is a leap of faith. It provides me with such a sense of peace to know that I am capable of growing my own food. We had a salad tonight which had spinach, salad greens, and radishes from our garden.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Radish

Radish

“Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

My mother and father were avid gardeners. If you look at this photo closely, you will see just a glimpse of the garden of my childhood home. I am the child to the far right on the edge of the pool. If you walk around the pool to the left, you would find a vegetable plot filled with raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, plum trees, apple trees, grape vines, boysenberry trees, vegetables, and many other flowers and garden goodies. In fact, my father made us dandelion soup once. My mother got mad at him for serving it to us as kids. It is very good for you.

Refresh -- Childhood Garden

Refresh — Childhood Garden

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

“In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own.” – Alice Walker

Beauty Bee -- Blackberry Bush

Beauty Bee — Blackberry Bush

I found out recently that my mother’s funeral will finally be scheduled. We have been waiting in limbo since January. She passed away on Christmas Eve (Read this if you want to know the details). I have had a hard time with this loss.  I will have to allow myself to feel it. It is a different kind of pain now, as it is obtuse, reaching its giant ocean size arms around me as if orbiting into space. The pain was acute in the beginning when she first passed away. Each acknowledgement of it was an arrow in my heart, made of thousands of acute angles — stabbed straight into my heart. Now the tiny arrows have opened into a more giant obtuse pain, something that expands and retracts — expands and retracts — expands and retracts.

My mom, Betty with her beautiful red hair and amazing smile

My mom, Betty with her beautiful red hair and amazing smile

This photo was taken in 2003 on Christmas Eve. My father passed away in December of 2003. This photo was taken at my best friend's house.

This photo was taken in 2003 on Christmas Eve. My father passed away in December of 2003. This photo was taken at my best friend’s house.

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

Now I am a mother and as I grieve the loss of my own, I am in the full blossom of being a mother to a three-year old.

My Beautiful Benjamin dancing to the garden muse

My Beautiful Benjamin dancing to the garden muse

“All love stories are tales of beginnings. When we talk about falling in love, we go to the beginning, to pinpoint the moment of freefall.” – Meghan O’Rourke

Sitting on a bridge in my childhood garden. My parents created this beautiful garden from scratch.

Sitting on a bridge in my childhood garden. My parents created this beautiful garden from scratch.

My mother’s ashes are on my mantle. Click here to read more about that and how I finally took down the Christmas lights to clear some space for my own healing and mourning process. I can not put into words just yet what is swirling inside me about finally having to let go by burying her ashes at Arlington. Her final wishes were to be buried with my father at Arlington National Cemetery. He passed away in 2003 and was cremated. My mother made arrangements for them to be buried together in the same plot. Her name will be on one side of the tombstone and my father’s will be on the other. They will be laid to rest together. My father was a veteran of the Korean War. Read this to learn more about my father, Inchon, and his gardens. He was a member of the Frozen Chosen.  Read this to learn more about why I miss him (this essay is one of my favorite things I have ever written, as it honors who he was as a man, husband, father, and veteran).

My dad stopping to smell the roses on my wedding day

My dad stopping to smell the roses on my wedding day

Read this if you want to read an essay about having to say goodbye to my father and get married to my soulmate.

I have to assume that burying my parents will be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it also has the power to be one of the most beautiful ceremonies of my life. I can only imagine the fertile soil this experience will provide in the garden of my life. I should think about the seeds I want to plant in it. Love, Respect, Hope, Joy, and of course sorrow. You can not get around sorrow. It is the fertilizer in life.

Garden Angel

Garden Angel

Just as Kahlil Gibran said, “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked…”

On Joy and Sorrow

By: 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.

So, I plant the seed and water this fertile soil with my tears and allow God’s love and my love for my parents to be the sunshine.

Lively Lettuce Leaf

Lively Lettuce Leaf

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece” ― Claude Monet

Read this if you want to learn more about my mom and how magical she was to me as a child and how deeply I loved her — how deeply I love (present tense) her.

Stars

Stars

Life goes on, but grief stands still. I have learned that I am moving through the process of grief and accept it is on my own time. I accept that I have to feel everything and allow the moisture from this pain to provide the rain for my inner garden to grow.

The Red Rose of St. Therese is in blossom in my garden.

The Red Rose of St. Therese is in blossom in my garden.

In May of 2011, I had a close call with losing my mother. She had a serious bladder infection. She ultimately overcame it, but my heart felt giant as I was so close to her death and the anticipation of losing her. Read this if you want to read about that experience. When she did pass away, it was a bladder infection that was the cause of death.

3 Stars

3 Stars

“Even hundredfold grief is divisible by love.” ~Terri Guillemets

“Sorrow makes us all children again — destroys all differences of intellect. The wisest know nothing.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

My son makes me whole.

My son makes me whole.