More than 100 years ago, a young man brought a young woman a begonia on their first date. It was a humble gift, but a successful one. They would be married for many years, and have five children.
Those two were my great grandparents. Clippings from the plant were passed along to friends and family with the story; some 60 years later, my Grandmother Maxine nursed the plant to amazonian proportions on her shady Tucson patio.
Today, my mother is the plant’s keeper. Big bouquets of it grow in my parents’ home, as only plants do under the care of my mom’s green thumb. Friends in San Antonio have been given small, flowering pots. One day, I hope to include a few leaves in my wedding bouquet.
My grandmother’s legacy will always be one of love and authentic sentimentality. Handwritten notes. Birthday calls. Sincere thoughtfulness. She never asked how you were without expecting you to sit down and tell her, until she was satisfied with enough detail.
Like the heirloom begonia, her spirit will live on far past the Pennsylvania farm soil she first called home.
My grandmother passed away yesterday, peacefully. She was not in pain. This has been left to those who survived her. We struggle to find grace, knowing she is with her parents, and the four siblings and many friends who went before her.
I’ve long chronicled the beautiful friendship we shared. Her surprise 80th birthday was one of my favorite memories. Also, I will always cherish the postcard she sent me from Morocco a few years ago; her first trip to Europe and she was sure to cross the sea to see Africa too. She knew I’d appreciate her adventurous spirit. I will carry it with me always.
I love you Grandma Max. Thank you for everything you taught us. May your legacy live on in us.
I had a conversation with a coworker the other day that left my face burning with shame. I realized, quite suddenly, how comfortable I’ve become. I was caught complaining about the mundane — tasks I didn’t like. Clients who were too difficult. Other coworkers and their duplicitous ways.
He didn’t bother stopping my rant, but also didn’t fan the flames. Instead, he told me what was on his plate. By comparison, I realized my woes were entirely unimportant. I was creating my own unhappiness.
Sometimes I do this: I manifest problems. I make relationships more difficult than they need to be. I go on a subconscious hunt for something that isn’t acceptable so I can fulfill my juvenile need for drama and conflict. I pick fights.
Don’t ask why; I just have to hope realization is the first step to change. Other than my grandparents’ health, my life has never been better. I’ve got a job I secretly love. It isn’t public health, but it is so challenging I can barely keep up. I live in a place that takes my breath away when I arrive from the natural beauty. I’m loved by a tiny furry pooch who makes me feel like the best thing since squirrels.
Life is really good.
Today I’m thankful for those tasks, clients and coworkers. The burning embarrassment of realizing I have nothing to complain about. Knowing being comfortable means it’s time to shake things up.
My friends Bill and Amanda will be married later this year. I adore this couple. Bill is by far the smartest person I’ve ever met; our group has a running joke about the ONE TIME someone was able to show him his encyclopedic memory was wrong. And Amanda has as sweet, gentle kindness that almost seems fake. She’s that nice.
We were recently out for breakfast. The waitress brought Amanda’s quesadilla and she looked at us like a kid at Christmas.
“Guys! How awesome is this?” Smiling ear to ear, we all looked at her tortilla and eggs, wondering if she saw a magical unicorn trotting by we were missing. “It looks so good!”
It was, simply, the best breakfast she’d ever had. She’s that excited about life. Her world view is rather refreshing.
So, when Bill and Amanda got engaged, I threw myself in the middle of their plans saying I’d make the chuppah. Of course I’d make the chuppah. I’ve made so many others before (zero) and totally know what is involved (not at all.) Fast forward six months and my mother’s visit to Denver, when my chuppah inspiration and pile of fabrics magically transformed (my mother travels via Unicorn. And damn, can that horse quilt.)
The entire photo set can be seen here. This baby was created over 3 weeks, with 32 leaves (the bride’s lucky number), and handful of tiny silk and pearl flowers, some embroidery thread, and two pieces of fabric the bride’s mother sent me to incorporate in the project. A chuppah represents the home the couple will build together; my mother had the artistic sense to arrange these two pieces of fabric on the back to represent a home.
See that amazing quilting? The leaves? All my mama.
I’m thrilled to hand it off to Banda (yeah, they created their own contraction) and to attend their lovely ceremony next month.
Also? Thanks Mom!
There are certainly days it is harder to see the glass half full. Days I’m moving, ever more so. That said, how lucky am I to have a brother and best friend willing to pitch in? A house full of new (to me) furniture to arrange? A guest room ready for friends? A greenhouse? The potential for chickens and a summer full of warm-off-the-vine tomatoes with pesto?
Today the glass is more than half full.