Sunday, August 31, 2008

Our Empty Nest

click here for Full Size image of this abandoned birds nest in our backyard -- see the trampoline in the background?The long-awaited empty nest has finally arrived … though it's odd to say that because it seems more like something has left than that something has arrived. During the last 2 weeks in August we helped one daughter move across the NEU campus, to start her year as a "Middler", and we moved our youngest daughter off to RWU where we took part in this most elegant convocation — a traditional RWU has that neither of us had ever heard of before. And all that has left us with what we've long known was coming but are only just beginning to fathom: our very own Empty Nest !!     I am struck by the juxtaposition of profound saddness, for the loss, and giddy excitment for what's yet to come for my sweetie and I. YMMV as in my friend Simonne's "Empty Nest" article.

This morning, as I sat pondering this tantalizing new chapter in our lives, I opened up this month's UU World (check out my Unitarian Universalist connection) and decided to share the following quote from it:
Douglas Steere, a Quaker teacher, says that the ancient question,"Who am I?" inevitably leads to a deeper one — "Whose am I?" — because there is no identity outside of relationship. You can't be a person by yourself. To ask this deeper question is to extend the context far beyond the little self-absorbed self, and wonder:

  • "Who needs you?"

  • "Who loves you?"

  • "To whom are you accountable?"

  • "To whom do you answer?"

  • "Whose life is altered by your choices?"

  • "With whose life — whose lives — is your own all bound up, inextricably, in obvious or invisible ways?"
  • —The Rev. Victoria Safford

    See what happens to empty nesters ? — They start thinking too much !!

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    Jean Audrey Pammett — Feeling Your Presence

    click here for Full Size image of Jean Audrey Pammett's Snow Osprey hooking masterpiece from 1981I cannot let this day pass without writing a tribute to my Mom, Jean Audrey Pammett, who died on this day in the year 2000. After a few short months of her final battle with cancer, and having exhausted every option the doctors came up with, she was ready to give us her blessing and entrust to us her warm spirit — whose presence I always feel… but especially on this day.

    So how am I going to mark this day of remembrance?

    My first thought was "Amazing Grace" — the song we sung at Mom's memorial service in Belleville, Ontario. So I scanned YouTube for what I hoped would be a fitting rendition. But alas none of the many versions I found felt right to me. So then I resolved to sing my own version "for Mom" and post that to YouTube… but just when I went outside — on this beautiful day in August — to do that… it started to rain !!    So I took the proverbial hint and came up with the above photo of one of my favorite works of art that my Mom left us: her hooking of the majestic "Snow Osprey" that she created in 1981. A close second to that was Mom's Red Rose, 1982 which I've always loved for its intense color and depth; and the Eagle, Bison, and Pacific North-West Indian hooking that she created after her trip to Vancouver back in the early 90s.

    All of Mom's art — mostly hookings and quilting — is extremely well documented in the fabulous "Tribute Book" that Nanci published after Mom's passing. But alas that was before we could post stuff so freely to the internet so you'll have to see Nanci or I to appreciate that book in print.    I sure miss you, Mom !!

    Sunday, August 10, 2008

    Lucky, in the Autumn of her Years

    Recently I've been taking "Lucky", my aging 15-year-old black lab, with me more and more — in the car, "riding shotgun". She loves getting out — being with me in the car — and I have been taking every excuse to bring her along. Who knows if she has any idea where we're going? She gets excited and knows as soon as I begin planning our weekly trip to "the dump"; it's a perfectly fine destination as far as she's concerned. It's a noble pursuit; worthy of her dutiful attention.

    click here for Full Size image of Lucky, who continues to live every day as though it were her last, determined to teach us all to do the same.This weekend when I took Lucky with me "off on an errand", I noticed that (again) I had to lift her up to help her get into the car. Her legs just aren't strong enough to make that jump up any more. But once she was in her seat she took her stand, held her ground firmly as the car swerved, and resolved to keep herself as much as she could at the top of her game — watching out over everything that passes, making sure that the world is as it should be.

    Even though we both know that's not true.

    Lucky is failing. Sometimes, it seems she's failing fast. She is still eating, though not as much these days. Her keen sense of hearing has long gone, though she still comes if you call her persistently and loudly enough. And she's been losing weight for about 18 months, though only very gradually. She is pretty much capable of getting up the steps from the garage into the house, though she doesn't come up the stairs inside the house — up into the computer room where I am — except when she's been lonely long enough downstairs alone that she figures it'll be worth the trek. But either way, she doesn't seem to be in any pain, and I like to think she's happy… though I've noticed that her tail's not wagging when she comes into the house in the morning, unlike always in the past.

    I guess I have to admit that it seems like Lucky knows her days bound to this Earth are numbered… though she's not about to allow that to make any difference to her presence — the vivacious spirit that she always brings. Lucky continues to live every day as though it were her last, determined to teach us all to do the same.