Taken from a canoe in 2012.
Ms. Boa looks the way I have felt this week. And hearing that Aretha Franklin died, I think this expresses my mood.
This is for the Ragtag Daily Prompt: respect. Respect for loss, grief, and cat knowledge too.
Princess Mittens, the cat on the left, is gone. One day she was in the living room, sitting under the vent and staring up at it. I finally paid attention and realized why.
There was a bat in the vent. I could see claws. Ms. Boa became very interested too.
We did get the bat out, by opening the windows upstairs and the vent. Keeping the cats downstairs.
Ms. Boa was sad when our other cat was killed by a car.
Thank you so much for the music, Aretha Franklin.
I am thinking of the songs that comfort me in grief.
And thinking about the stages of grief. Five, right? Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Grief and Acceptance. My sister said, “They left out Revenge and Acting Out. ” She died of cancer in 2012 at age 49. Six days after her birthday and the day after mine.
Anger songs for grief. But denial is first, right? Not necessarily. These are not stages you move through in a certain order. This is more like a spiral, where you go from one to the next and back to the start, from day to day or even hour to hour.
I’ve already written about My Name is Samuel Hall. That is an angry song, unrepentant, that my sister wanted the last time that I visited her. I knew that she was furious about dying and leaving her husband and daughter. And me and her friends.
My mother sang:
“Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I think I’ll go eat worms. Big fat slimy ones, little tiny wiggly ones, see them wiggle and squirm. Bite their heads off, suck their guts out, throw the skins away. I don’t see how anyone can live on three meals of worms a day… without dessert….”
She also taught us this:
“I don’t want to play in your back yard
I don’t like you any more
You’ll be sorry when you see me
Sliding down my cellar door”
My parents had songs for every mood I can imagine. There were moods they would not speak about but they sang them.
My favorite angry groups are The Devil Makes Three, Hank Williams III, The Offspring, and Sweet Honey in the Rock.
Sweet Honey in the Rock? Yes. They sing about death a lot. This song is not about death: it’s about a “bad” woman, wanted dead or alive. But listen to the song: they are singing about a real event and a woman who fought back against a rape. On the thirty year album of Sweet Honey in the Rock, the group says that their first “hit” was this song, played by news stations. “It was a hint that we were not going to be top 40.” The song is Joanne Little.
So here are three songs by the others:
The Offspring: Why don’t you get a job?
The Devil Makes Three: All Hail
Hank Williams III: My Drinking Problem
And how do families show anger? They fight. They fight with each other. They fight about how someone should die, what should be done about mom, whether dad can live alone any more, about the right way to grieve. They fight about small things or big things and they even sue each other. Before you wade into the fray, step back. Remember, families grieving are always a little bit insane, very stressed and it’s all grief.
Hank Williams III: Country heroes
Blessings on the people I know in hospice right now and on their families and loved ones. Third one today. Sending love.
For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: monsoon.
Today’s prompt of monsoon makes me think both of the fires burning all over, California, eastern Washington, and of the floods in other places.
I took this on a vacation, two days on Herron Island. In the morning we were relaxed on the porch when I spotted smoke on the other side of the cabin. A lot of smoke. My friend explained that sometimes people burn slash, including tires. I was unreassured and insisted on going to look.
It was a house burning down.
The firetrucks must come from the mainland by ferry.
It was terrifying. I took this within 5 minutes of getting there, within 10 minutes of seeing smoke. There were oxygen tanks, live ammunition and propane, exploding.
At first we didn’t know if there was anyone inside. It was clear that we were not getting to them and that they were gone. The only person home had escaped, with the help of a neighbor on the other side. The house burned to the ground very quickly. I had our things loaded back in the car as soon as it was clear that the island responders were waiting for the fire trucks. This house was across the street and one door down.
Prayers for the flooded and the fires. Prayers for us to care for the earth and the earth to be gentle with us.
My experience with adjudicators has been musical.
Did you play an instrument in school? Did you go to the yearly contest where you played in front of a judge? That judge is an adjudicator. I still have my little box of medals, mostly blue ribbbons, from playing my flute at the yearly contest.
When I search on ajudicator, I find a field manual. It’s not about music: https://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/AFM/HTML/AFM/0-0-0-1.html. I am having a really hard time with the children separated from parents. Death separates enough parents and children. I feel deeply ashamed of my country.
Centrum’s Voiceworks is a musical and healing week for me. Singing for a week and jamming on my flute and now I have a list of local people who love to sing….
Dawn Pemberton is one of our instructors and wonderful. She is a choral adjudicator, judging choruses across Canada. And one of my choral directors here, Rebecca Rottsolk, is also an adjudicator. For Mirinesse and for Rainshadow Chorale.
My son plays a violin piece as a senior for ajudication in Port Angeles. He is accompanied by Dr. Beatus Meier. The adjudicator is shy and nearly stands up when Beatus enters the room. Dr. Meier, it turns out, was the adjudicator’s professor at Washington State University. Dr. Meier is frail at that point and is now gone.
Blessings on the adjudicators and may we all be judged with love.
Rainshadow Chorale: http://rainshadowchorale.org/
Dawn Pemberton: http://dawnpemberton.ca/
Dr. Martin Beattus Meier: http://www.ptleader.com/communityrecord/dr-martin-beatus-meier/article_eca9a1ea-69c0-11e8-889a-67013a9fdf88.html
The photograph is from the 2011 Solo and Ensemble in Port Angeles, the chamber orchestra that my son was in.
There will be a memorial tomorrow for Dr. Meier at QUUF from 11-12:30.
This is one of the most beautiful and saddest photographs I have taken. It is my sister, about a month before she died of cancer. And her daughter, who was 13.
On the last visit to my sister, she was in kidney failure, dying. We had conversations that were surreal. All I wanted was to stay with her.
One day a friend of hers, another mother and I, were working to make her more comfortable.
“I am sad!” my sister said, and started crying.
“Why are you sad?” I said, “What are you sad about?”
“I won’t be there! I won’t be there when she graduates from high school! I won’t be there for her first date! I won’t be there when she gets married! I don’t want to die!”
By now we are all crying. “You will be there!” I say. I am certain. “You won’t be in this form. You will be in another form!”
“I will?” my sister said, crying.
“Yes.” I said, crying too. “You have to go. You have to transform. You can’t stay. But you will be there for her.”
We cried and held her.
And I know for certain that she is there, she is here, she is with her daughter as her daughter graduates from high school, goes on a date, does all the things that daughters do.
Now and forever.
And the living children must be returned to the living parents. We cannot do otherwise and call ourselves humans.