the sippy spoons

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in
and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep,
leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can.
Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better
hour because it is dead.
Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones,
while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”

Beryl Markham


(my grandmother’s silver sippy spoons / Julie Cook /2017)

Our trip to West Palm Beach was long, short, sad and wrenching.
653 miles spent driving down on a Friday…
only to then turn around and drive it all back again on a Monday.

It took about 10 hours, with only one quick stop for gas.
Coupled by a constant flow of bumper to bumper traffic hurling itself,
as if lemmings on some odd unknown mission, to an unforeseen southward destination.

We drove and we drove to what seemed to be the ends of the earth…
but that would have been Key West and that would have required more time with
more stops than our backsides would allow.

The color of the sky changes when one is traveling so far south—
It goes from the more familiar north Georgia’s typical hazy blue sky,
to a faint veiled gauzy cloudy azure blue…
Maybe it’s because the land lays so flat, punctuated only by pencil thin palms
as the soil is more white sand than dirt…
and with the sun so intense, light easily reflects back upon itself.

The heat of day does not dissipate with the waning of a day as it does at home.
It doesn’t back off when the sun finally sets, providing that long awaited
respite of comfort.
There is actually a tremendous heaviness that engulfs one’s whole being…
this being due to the overtly high humidity which makes breathing nearly
impossible.
And I thought our humidity was bad.

Moving from air conditioned buildings, which is essential to survival,
out to the oppressive heat and unrelenting sun leaves glasses fogged over
and skin and clothing feeling sticky and oddly wet even before one has had
proper chance to sufficiently break a true sweat.

This is the place Martha called home for the past 30 years.
A far cry from the years spent in Alexandria, Virginia during the early years of
her marriage.

I now understood why…for despite the apparently tropical beauty,
Martha would always protest…
“no no, let me just come up there”…
And because of that one fact, of her always wanting to come to us as she
would always prefer to venture north,
this was our first visit to West Palm Beach.

Martha would drive or fly up several times during the
year, staying for a couple of weeks at a time,
back to state she still considered home…
or more specifically near the city of her birth and raising….
Atlanta.

I can’t really say all that I should or would like to at this point
about all of this…not yet.
Having lost three of the most important people in my life in the past six months
has simply taken its toll…
As processing the emotions, memories and feelings of such emptiness
will take some time.

One by one… the supports and shorings are now gone…
Those that helped to hold up the life I had always known…
This is part of the transition where I become the shoring to others…
a transition that denotes change, loss, growth and new…
all rolled uncomfortably into one.

My cousin, Martha’s adopted daughter,
had asked that I come to the house the day following the funeral
to see what if anything I would like to carry back home with me.

Martha was an avid antique collector…
and her collections were eclectic at best…
old antique Papier-mâché halloween decorations with a proclivity for pumpkins.
North Carolina’s famous family of folk art pottery, the Meader’s ugly jugs,
along with the primitive pottery of Georgia’s Marie Rogers.
The Ohio Longaberger baskets numbering in the hundreds…
to early vintage RCA radio dogs..
all the way down to antique turkeys of every size and shape.

I was really overwhelmed when we walked into the house and actually saw
the level to which some of the “collecting” had spiraled.
Her house not equipped for the excessive spillover.

My cousin immediately asked if I would like Martha’s sterling silver
flatware set.

Once was a time, long long ago, when every young bride
looked to building her proper entertaining set of silverware.
Receiving the coveted wedding gifts of silver pieces was as common
as the throwing of rice…
That being a particular pattern of sterling silver complete with
utensils and serving pieces.
Everything from teaspoons to seafood forks to butter knives….
As that now all seems to be for a time that was more civilized than
our own today.

But already having my mother’s and great aunt’s sets…and truth be told,
as my world shrinks, entertaining and cooking is now not nearly what it once was,
I tried to instill the importance of her keeping the monogramed set for both her
and her own daughter.

But when she opened the dusty old silver chest, my eyes locked immediately on the
well tarnished bundle of silver drink spoons / straws…
or what we had always referred to as sippy straws or spoons, depending on who
was using them.

While growing up, whenever we visited my grandmother,
we were always served a tall glass of icy cold
Coca Cola complete with a silver sippy straw.

Coke never tasted so good as when sipped through an elegant silver straw.
It provided a seemingly civilized air of savoring verses gulping and quaffing.
Probably Mimi’s way of getting us to slow down, enjoying and not wasting…
as she was a woman who lived during a time when waste was indeed considered sinful.

The straws were always kept in a certain drawer in my grandmother’s kitchen…
inside the 1920s small Atlanta Buckhead home.
A pale wooden light green kitchen cabinet, I can still see clearly in my mind’s eye,
was where the straws, always shiny and polished to perfection, were stored.

In 1989, when my grandmother passed away, Martha and I were the only two left to
the task of sorting and emptying the house for market.
She got the straws.
I had always wanted just one…
just one to remember.

Over the years I’d see other straws at various antique markets and silver stores,
always thinking I’d buy myself just one,
but in the end deciding it just wouldn’t be the same…

It wouldn’t be one of the straws I’d gleefully
retrieve out of the pale green drawer, delightfully anticipating plunging
it into my frosty glass of brown fizzy liquid…
as I’d gently clench the straw between my front teeth,
feeling the cold drawn liquid being pulled up into a parched waiting mouth…
So refreshing because Mimi’s house, back in those days, was not air conditioned…
an icy cold Coke, on a hot Georgia summer’s afternoon,
seemed like the greatest treat a child could have been given…

I asked my cousin if I could have the straws.

She was 10 years younger than I was and did not have the same fond memories
from time spent with our grandmother.
Being so much younger and living so far away, never afforded her much time to
bond with the long widowed woman with the poodles there in Atlanta as I had.

I had been the only grandchild for many years and we only lived 10 minutes away.
Plus Mimi was not a warm and fuzzy grandmother like others and what warmness
there was, faded with her mind as the dementia grew more and more.

My grandmother had lived a hard life.
A life that she had forged alone for herself and her two daughters during
a depression and a World War as a widowed woman…
long before it was common for women to own a business and work outside of
the home.
Both of which she did very successfully for most of her adult life.

My cousin was more than happy to give me the straws and seemed almost
sad that I really didn’t want to take much more as her task is now daunting
as she figures out what to do with years of accumulated treasured stuff.

This as I still have my own years of stuff to sort through at Dad’s.
As both cousins are now left to the task of picking through,
as well as picking up, the pieces—
all of what stays and all of what goes.

My cousin tells me that she wants to sell the house, eventually moving northward
where there are actually seasons, hills and trees…
verses living where the sky meets the ocean coupled by the
oppressive heat, humidity, and an azure blue sky….

I think I’ll polish my straws and then do something I haven’t done in years…
I’ll pour myself a Coke, a real Coke…bottle only mind you,
over a tall glass of ice…and I’ll plunge a straw deep down into the glass of
cold fizzy liquid as I draw up the memories of lives once known but always loved.

Martha Watson Pasley…aunt maaathaaaa

Martha Watson Pasley
February 2, 1939–July 12, 2017

Aunt Martha went home today at 12:40.

And for those of you who don’t understand why Christians always talk about
“going home” it is because we know that both life and death are transitory…
for our hearts, our longings, our souls belong at home,
with God the Father
Christ the Son
and the Holy Spirit

Martha knew about home and often talked about seeing my mom, her sister.
And in keeping with the humor that she and I would and could find
when our hearts were sad and heavy–

I’m left wondering how mom is feeling about
this sudden rash of company.

First Dad in March, who had to explain, no doubt, this business with Gloria…
and now Martha who was mother’s little sister…
and as sisters, there were always those moments…

There will be more on Aunt Maaathhhhaaaa later but for now,
my heart felt thanks to all of you who have prayed and offered thoughts of hope
since she first had the kidney surgery three years ago to this latest
reoccurrence and treatment….


(on our last big trip outside of Ashford Castle, County Galway, Ireland 2015
note the turned down collar to the vest—she always wore it like that, which drove me
crazy but it itched her neck)


(the two of us prior to my son’s wedding, her great nephew, in Savannah, Ga. at
Forsyth Square 2014 –she’d cut her hair all off because she wanted to look like
Judi Dench…I liked the style better on Dame Dench)

life is truly a mixed bag of nuts

I’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes,
a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt,
and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.

John Steinbeck

mixed-nuts

Life is truly a mixed bag of nuts…
Despite our best preparations, plots and plans…
most of the time we have no clue as to what we’re going to get.

The tasty or the succulent, the salty or the sweet,
the crunchy or the sour or even the stale and the rotten…

But as it is life, we take what we can get, and get when we can…

Aunt Mothaaaa, aka Martha, met with the oncologist yesterday.
I was sitting with Dad when she called with her news.

Now you need to know that we’ve been living under a huge dark cloud.
Dad is dad and sadly rapidly declining.

Martha’s news of a spreading cancer hit like a rock.
She told me Sunday that she refused to turn the lights on her christmas tree
and wondered if she’d ever see those precious heirloom ornaments of hers ever again…
as she had begun expressing how she wanted her things to be “divvied up”…

Funny what we think about when faced with our own mortality…

Heaviness had wrapped its suffocating arms tightly around my small family.

When Martha called, I stepped out of dad’s room as I had not yet told
him about Martha.

There was a light joy in her voice.

The Oncologist told her that the cancer had indeed come from the
removed diseased kidney.
Chemotherapy wouldn’t touch it.
And there was no way to radiate three organs
And there was no cure for the cancer…

But….

He told her that she can take a pill, four times a day, for the rest of her life
and that will keep the cancer at bay, keeping it from spreading.

She was elated.

I finally exhaled…something I don’t think I’ve done in three weeks.

So whereas things are tragically racing down hill faster than I like for Dad,
we will stop momentarily this day, in order to rejoice for this moment
for Aunt Mothaaaaaaaa!

Who by the way has asked that I thank all “my blogging peeps”, my friends, for their
prayers…
because for next to being told she was cancer free, yesterday’s news was
about as good as it could get…

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.

Psalm 5:11

biopsies and updates

If I could give you information of my life,
it would be to show how a woman of very ordinary ability has been led by God
in strange and unaccustomed paths to do In His service what He has done in her.
And if I could tell you all, you would see how God has done all, and I nothing.

Florence Nightingale

dscn1477
(berries of the Chinese Mountain Ash along the grounds of Klyemore Abbey / Connemara, County Galway, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Update on Aunt “Mothaaa”, aka Martha, and the liver biopsy.

Well, the doctor called her in yesterday afternoon and the news was not encouraging…
but it was what had pretty much been expected.

In her words… “it’s not good”

“Unusual” is what the doctor had to say as he would not have guessed this
to have happened this far out from the original surgery and kidney removal
of three years ago…
but it is what it is.

The next step is a visit, the first of the week, to the oncologist to hear the game plan.

So now it is prayer time for a strategic game plan!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

Shadows, Groundhogs, badgers, Candlemas and a birthday

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

Old English song

If Candlemas day be dry and fair,
The half o’ winter to come and mair,
If Candlemas day be wet and foul,
The half of winter’s gone at Yule.

Old Scottish song

Groundhog%20Munchies
(image taken from the web)

February 2nd marks, for Christians, the holy day of Candlemas, otherwise known as the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple

Jesus Presented in the Temple
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

Luke 2:22-40

In both the US and Canada February 2nd is also known as Groundhog Day.
A hopeful day designated for anticipation and decision making. . .the pivotal marking of whether or not Winter is to linger for 6 more weeks or if Spring is to make a long awaited early arrival.
Either the groundhog sees his shadow or not—-The importance of shadows and clouds suddenly fills the air with expectancy. The signposts of legend and lore pointing either toward or away from Spring.
In Germany it was first a hedgehog–later in England it was a badger–and now, in North America, it’s a groundhog which is to take top honors bearing the responsibility of forecasting.

February 2nd is also Aunt Martha’s birthday and we certainly can’t let that monumental event be overshadowed by a groundhog, a hedgehog or a badger now can we. . .

So on this new day to this new month, early on in this new year, may we actually hope for clouds, shadows and Spring. . .may we be mindful of the significance of a wee child being presented in a Temple so very long ago and may we, much like Mary, ponder in our hearts as to how that single event has changed our lives as we are to never be the same. . .Also. . .may we think of wishing those we know and love, like Aunt Martha, a very happy birthday. . .
now. . .where are those clouds and did anyone think to bring the cake???

Patient Update

CIMG0460
The journey up the hill in Cortona, Itlay to the snactuary of Santa Margherita

And speaking of journeys and gratitude, as in the main posting for today, I want to offer thanksgiving as well as thanks—-my aunt, my partner in crime, is now home from the hospital. Many of you may remember last week my request for prayers as Martha was having to undergo a very serious surgery to remove her left kidney. A mass had been detected within the left kidney. This had all come about very suddenly as there had been no symptoms…just the result of a routine visit to her doctor—which in turn set in motion a chain of sudden life altering events.

I am happy to report that the patient is indeed now home, hurting, but resting and recovering. The surgeon reports that it appears all that was bad is now gone and life should resume as normally as possible just as soon as the healing takes its course.

So on this Monday morning, I exhale a loud sigh of relief and offer my gratitude to you who offered prayers, words of support and strength for my aunt and my tiny family. May the healing begin so the new adventures may be plotted………..

DSC00734
(Martha in Vienna, Austria 2012–Hotel König Von Ungarn)

Here’s to prayer , here’s to gratitude, here’s to Martha…..

Update on Martha: Soon to be making those big decisions–Which Glass ?!?

DSC00457

We’ve waited all day for word. Surgery ran later than expected, but she’s finally out, in ICU and seems to be as ornery as ever—-probably more so than usual—here is to Martha, recovering rapidly and getting back to the big decisions of life— as in choosing which glass for which wine at De Florentijnen in Bruges, Belgium….

Thank you to all who have offered prayers and good wishes, for not only Martha, her surgery and recovery but for those who have offered me and my small family support and prayers…for those of you who have tiny families such as ours— you understand the importance of the greater community of “family”….prayers will continue these next few days of initial recovery and for rapid healing….Blessings and Peace