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Unfinished

Unfinished

I am sorry for missing the blog posting one week ago. That missed opportunity was a result of a number of things, mostly time. Time ran out on me. I had a vacation planned to attend my family picnic which started in 1924. Afterwards, I stayed with my Uncle Charlie to catch up on the history of our family since my last visit a year ago.

During my time in Detroit, I visited my recently deceased Aunt Flora's home. I have never been in a family member's home after they have died. Lisa, my wife who passed in 2009, lived here in my home before she died. It was a different feeling, living in a home where your loved one died. As many of us do, I created an alter and shrine to her hoping to never forget her. I grieved every day. I wrote poetry, painted pictures of her and sculpted two major works to settle my soul. I worked every day in the office which helped ease the sorrow I felt. Visiting my Aunt's home was different.

Humans are feeling machines that think. I am not sure what label to put on my feelings as I entered her home. For some strange reason, I thought she would greet me at the door, give me a hug and tell her Golden Labrador to get down. Her dog was named Jolie. My Aunt always dressed Jolie up in a bow.

As I walked around the home, I felt the presence of my Aunt. I sent her orchids on Mother's Day for years and every single one I sent her was still in their pots. They were well attended. Some had blooms on them. She had pictures of people she loved everywhere. And photos of her when she was young, on vacation in Florida wearing a swim suit. I saw photos of her friends, most of whom I did not know. My Uncle did not know them either.

On the walls of her home were her water color paintings. She had probably 20 or more. They were amazing. I never knew she was so talented. She berated her paintings all the time, but great artists are never satisfied with what they produce. It always falls short somewhere, somehow. She painted horses, flowers, fat people on the beach and many other scenes or objects. My favorite was a hummingbird on a tree branch. She had many paintings left unfinished. I do not know why she stopped painting. Maybe she was consumed with caring for her decrepit husband for so many years. And perhaps she could not find the joy in it that she once had in the past. Her husband died a year ago or so. She married him when she was forty, and my Aunt died at eighty-seven years-old. I think she still considered herself married when she died. Forty-seven years is a long time to be with just one husband. She was a devoted wife.

As I went from room to room, looking at things I had never seen before, I thought about her last days. She did not have the strength to clean her house or wash her clothes. Her yard had been cleaned up by my Uncle and a few of his friends. The guest beds were made and the rooms were clean. Mice had eaten through her fine dining linen and it had to be thrown away. She had a simple life. She did simple things. And cared deeply for those things and people she loved. I could feel the sadness she had when she looked around her house and thought that nothing meant anything to her anymore except the orchids I sent her and her dog. It came down to a simple gesture of love that made her smile. I had no idea of the profundity those orchids had.

My Aunt was on my card list. For you who do not know, I send out a hand painted card and poem each solstice and equinox. Nakedness is usually on the painted card in one form or another. The poems are mysterious and complex. My Uncle told me she kept every one of my cards in a sacred place. She called my Uncle from time to time to discuss the meaning of the poems. I wish I could have heard those conversations.

My Aunt and her husband had no children. Her brother Uncle Henry had two kids, Tina and Chris. Her husband had a niece named Dorian. In the future, I am sure the usual bickering about what is left of her estate will emerge as an unexpected vulture will swoop in to collect most of the material remains. There is always one from somewhere. My Uncle is in charge. So my thoughts are with him as he tries to unfold what has been folded, and plants the seeds of love, kindness and respect where ever he can.

It feels as if her spirit is next to me as I write this short note. She seems proud that I would even consider writing about her because she was a humble kind servant to all. All I can say from here is that the past is over. The future may never be. The present is all that exists. Everyone should live each moment to the fullest.

And like some of her paintings, some things are best left unfinished.

Doc
Posted by Amanda Sanders at 8:53 AM
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