Saturday, April 24, 2010

To some, this might be a strange way to start a photo-a-day project. There's a lot more uplifting beginnings. But every beginning is some other beginning's end, right? Or so they sang.

It's an interesting time to be writing this too, as Up is on. Makes me think about what you want your whole life to be about. Love. That's my quick, one word answer. In all forms.

This is the grave of my great-aunt Gene. I know a lot of people aren't close to their great-aunts and uncles, and so I count knowing her as a great, great blessing. She and my grandma, her sister, lived together for quite a few years. I remember how much I looked forward to going over there.

Aunt Gene was amazing. She cooked and baked and had beautiful gardens, and she was an amazing seamstress. I remember the way she used to bake pies and sculpt gorgeous little fruits out of the scraps of dough to lay on top and show what was inside. She had rows and rows of lilacs, vegetable gardens and roses. All of them were gorgeous. And if I can get a good picture sometime, I would post here the wedding dress she made for my grandma. Hand beaded, long train..pretty crazy in an amazing way. She was an artist pure and simple, in whatever she did, but she remained practical. She had the sharpest wit, too. She was someone you wouldn't cross, but who was very loving at the same time. Where Grandma is all around gentle, she had some rough edges, but they made her interesting.

When we went to the cemetery the other day, it struck me that I hadn't thought about all the things she was in a long, long time, and it made me feel a little sad and a little guilty. The grave was grown over and when I was ripping away at the grass and clearing the leaves and pine needles to uncover her name, all I could think was that it needed to be visible. And maybe that's my hangup. I don't have a gravestone to go to and visit my father's grave...and it always bothered me. I think that some people need something to go back to, somewhere to sit and remember the person. It transcends what you believe, whether they're "there" or not's about the remembering. It's about that time and that space being dedicated to them. And what they meant to you. It's important.

And Gene? Sometimes I was afraid of her as a kid, sometimes I couldn't get enough of her, and lots of times I wanted to be just like her. Looking back, now I can see that maybe there was a part of me that was always going to like those things, even though I thought I wouldn't be into the whole "domestic" scene. And she showed me what it was like to make those things a joy and an art.

So here we are, looking back as I start this little project. On an amazing life that should be remembered, at a name that should be bold and remembered (if hard to pronounce). Because her life mattered.

I left my car keys in this picture on purpose. Because life is a journey, and it reminds me sometimes it's about looking back, not going forward.

So here we are, folks. Tune in for more pictures and stories.

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