this is the first moment, quite literally, that i've had enough time to sit down, catch my weary breath, and tap out a catch up post in well over a month. on march 1, i loaded my suitcase, walter, and a few jewelry supplies into the car and headed down to spend around ten days with my mother. my uncle's health had been steadily, then rapidly, failing ever since he moved to alabama from his long-time home in atlanta back at the end of last year, and i could sense that i might be of some help to my mother, if not to Uncle Bob. when first i was here (i'm still here, in alabama), i was able to post the little spring charms that i finished just after my arrival; from that point onward, i wasn't able to do anything except to address the vital necessities that were demanding our attention right here at hand. orders didn't get shipped for a couple of weeks. there were a mere two inquiries, both from the same customer, asking if things had shipped; her patience in waiting had worn thin, and when i read her second terse email, i was sitting in the emergency room at 6:30 in the morning with my mother, waiting for my uncle to be admitted. that next week, in between visits to the hospital and to my uncle's home to pick up things that he had requested, i packaged and shipped nearly thirty orders of the little charms of hope and life and new beginnings, all things that come with spring. i love my readers, and my customers; they have written the kindest responses upon receiving those belated packages, with words of encouragement and understanding; to those of you who have taken the time to write and check in to see if all is/was alright, i thank you from the bottom of my heart...
it was downhill from there, a rapid descent into long evenings, phone calls in the middle of the night, trips back and forth to the hospital, and then to a nursing home, where we made twice-daily trips for the next two weeks. uncle bob continued to decline, quickly, oh so quickly, losing something like 50 pounds in a matter of two weeks. my dearest pal julie came down to alabama from ohio, an eleven hour trip one way, and met my uncle on the evening before he passed away. we loaded her truck with the patio chairs and a chest of drawers that uncle bob had told me he wanted me to have; then last sunday afternoon, julie followed me back to north carolina, and before we had crossed the georgia-north carolina state lines, i received a call that my uncle had just passed away, minutes before.
it was at that golden, magic hour just before the sun sinks down behind the western hills, and everything was washed with a deep and honey colored light. i picked a few bluets while talking with my mother, as i listened to her try to clear her throat and gather her composure. i hated that i had not been able to be right there for her, in the very end. our plans had been for me to go home for two days, gather warm weather clothing and jewelry supplies, unload furniture, check on the cabin, and be back on my way south again. it was another exhausting flurry of activity, for which i will forever be grateful to julie for her unending love and support. she has now achieved sainthood, in my eyes, and in those of my mother. she was here when i needed her to be, no questions asked, at her own insistence. i don't even know how to thank her anymore.
so, right back to alabama i came two days later, and we buried my uncle's ashes in a lovely graveside service yesterday morning. the surrounding trees were full of earnest birdsong, flowers were blooming, and a soft breeze stirred those tree branches that were harboring the warbling birds. we broke out in song ourselves, singing Amazing Grace a capella, not caring that our voices were shaky and that we were singing through smiles and through tears. i held my mother's hand throughout, without once letting go. it was lovely and sad and affirming and relieving, all at once. i feel like this is becoming a pattern and a rhythm for me - the driving home and receiving a call that a loved one has died, the turning around and driving right back down again... the primping of a gravesite, pulling weeds and brushing dead grass aside, rearranging the rock hearts that have been moved by those who come in summer to cut the grass and trim the edges along iron fences. the gazing up into the trees as words are recited, the tossing of a handful of red dirt into the little square hole in the ground that now hold the fine ashes of the man who was my uncle Bob.
(can you see my mother in the twilight there, tending to her wilted pansies? can you see the new moon overhead? this was last evening, after a long and full and exhausting day)
i'll be staying on indefinitely in alabama, here at my mother's, to help with all the things that follow the death of a loved one who had no other family - no children, no spouse - to handle these affairs. i've brought some pieces of jewelry that i'll be listing in a few days if there is time: eight blue/green prologue watch chain prologue necklaces, and eight that are a soft green. there are three or four larger necklaces in blues the color of the sky, teal green the color of the deepest sea. i can't recall. it's been that long since i tucked them away into their protective envelopes.
thanks again to all of you who write me such lovely, caring notes of appreciation. your words, as ever, mean the world to me. i hate that my time has been so full of necessary tasks that i've not had time to check in here with you; at the turn of winter to spring, it had been my intention to swing back into a more regular schedule of sharing with you the thoughts i've had about the uplifting showing of green in the trees, the return of birdsong, the blue skies at sunset, even the sweet dark moments in the rain. i'll be here, as soon as i can. you are all mighty dear. xox
ps. walter sends his regards, as well.