Saturday, May 30, 2015

Take 10... again: Sweet sunshine on a rainy morning

Memorial Day sunflowers from a friend
I've very much enjoyed a beautiful bouquet of brilliant sunflowers in the center of my breakfast nook these past few days. As the Texas drought finally has been broken (with record-breaking rainfall), they certainly have brightened some gloomy days... Each quick glance given in my comings-and-goings rejuvenates me with a full-body smile as some wonderful memory serendipitously swells to fill the break ~ like making time to smell the roses!

It's fun to see folks 'switching gears' now that school is out for most everyone. Pulling together a few notes on how parents might help reduce the 'summer slide', I took the liberty of 'pushing' a positive side-effect of our technology-obsessed society. The dynamic nature of the web is a good thing when it catalyzes creativity; it can take learners anywhere, anytime. Summer break affords each of us the opportunity to chase our own individual curiosity - and one can't help but learn plenty along the way! Yet it's a virtual tight-rope for me still. Time is always of the essence in my view. As Joanna Macy frames it in Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy, "In agricultural societies, the year’s rhythm is counted in seasons. In the days before clocks, the sun moving across the sky gave shape to the day. Compare these natural cycles with the time intervals of modern technology, now measured in fractions of a microsecond. Life has become a race in a way that is historically unprecedented."

Regarding the distribution of my mother's earthly treasures, the best advice that I (her executrix) can recall consciously taking to heart was to 'take your time'. That's not how I typically attack practical problems once tasked, but 'slo-mo' has been plenty fast enough - and turned out to be the best way for me to 'deal' with so much more than Mom's 'things'. (Fortunately, we had a suitable storage option.) After several 'sales' and various 'settlings' of family and friends, the last lot of estate items has been turned over to the caring and capable hands of the pros. And I have reclaimed my workspace to sort out my own busy-ness of late! A quiet morning of backing-up my laptop - finally - led to a heart-warming break that puts so much into even clearer perspective with hind-sight and the burgeoning beginning of my own next 'chapter'.

After all of the necessary arrangements were handled following my Mom's unexpected - but thankfully brief - illness, I had a lot more time on my hands to do whatever I decided to do next. Oh there's still plenty to tend to, but I am glad I took the time to put together my own personal 'website' to organize the special bits and bytes that I had collected from both my mother's and my father's services. That's the nice surprise I re-discovered one rainy Saturday morning... during a first-ever 'stay-cation' to catch up with dear friends (who automatically took up the slack of my preoccupation with an intense learning curve of family business matters) - and myself. For several reasons, the sentiment of the page (copied below), in particular, seemed as fitting today as it did when read at my Mom's funeral service (18 May 2009) - so I am honored to share it again.

Rebekah and Carla Nix - just chillin' together, again
Today’s tribute to my mom, Carla Sue Rucker Nix ~ by Rebekah K Nix

For the next 10 seconds, please think quietly about how you came to know my best friend, Carla Nix.

<silent pause>

No matter how you came to know her - whether through an indirect benefit of her service, a quick phone call from the engraving studio, a handwritten note on stationery saved for that very special occasion, a token remembrance ‘just because’ it made her think of you, or a mutually-heartfelt hug that spontaneously seemed like the right thing to do - you surely treasure that uniquely personalized connection… A brief ten seconds likely overwhelmed you with thoughts of laughter, enlightenment, and love.

I was blessed beyond belief to have shared some of the very best life has to offer with my mother as my friend. Not discounting her varied artistic abilities, educational insights, musical interests, or social graces, her appreciation for and love of nature is perhaps the greatest gift she gave to me. After supervising my daily discovery as a toddler in New York City parks and, as a youth in Highland Park, teaching me how to plant the oak sapling I grew from an acorn, Mom and I flew over erupting volcanoes in Hawaii and trekked into dormant cones across New Mexico; we snorkeled around islands in the Sea of Cortez and at the tip of the Great Barrier Reef; we marveled at sand dollars on the Gulf shore and collected ammonites in north Texas; we gazed at the stars in the middle of the Australian outback and reached out to touch them in Colorado. Regardless of the marvelous adventure, we genuinely enjoyed life to its fullest by simply and quietly touching the earth, together.

It’s an awe-inspiring task to outline the details of her seemingly complicated life and it would be impossible to draw the infinitely criss-crossing links that made her life so special. But, even after 10 seconds, you probably could grab hold of a sweet motto or short moral that does indeed capture the essence of her rich experience on this earth. Indelibly written on my heart, she surrounded herself with these select truths that sustain me everyday.

On a card in a tramp art frame found along some Texas backroad:
The earth has music for those who listen.

On perforated paper stitched for her mother’s 75th birthday celebration:
Age is mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter!

On a stoneware plaque from a local artists’ co-op in Manitou Springs, CO:
In the mountains, we count not the days.

On a favorite piece of antique Torquay pottery from Devon, England:
Never say die; up man and try!

On a needlepoint sampler she designed at home in Dallas just for me:
Love the Lord and choose to be happy.

On a coffee mug in her new Richardson kitchen cupboard:
Life is good.

Carla and Sundance Nix - just enjoying 'the view'
As the ‘glue’ that held a variety of diverse teams together, I know for a fact that my mom’s contagious charisma has changed many other lives for the better too. Technicolor personified, she was the epitome of all that is good and just and right on this planet even with her final breath – ‘inspirational’ as the majority of folks would say. 

In closing, these select statements from friends who helped celebrate Carla’s 70th birthday remind us of just how clearly she could see what really matters in each of her varied areas of interest and the far-reaching effects of the caring ways she invested her energies.

As one of the Future AARPers (aka FAARPs) said:
“She is the songbird of our group; the most tireless; never complains.”

One Second Sunday Socialite put it perfectly:
“Carla is a treasure in my life! She sparkles like a very big diamond – lots of color in a perfect cut. She is always a perfect lady (well, almost always), gracious host, and dear friend.”

A member of The Sewing Club she established noted that:
“Carla always has time for you regardless of her busy schedule – a true friend.”

One of her Yadda Yadda Sisters described their time together as including:
“… deep conversations, great adventures, giggles, hugs, and the promise of the unexpected.”

In Carla’s own words, she offered this prayer to God:
“ ‘Thank you for all your gifts – today and tomorrow. Bless us and keep us. Watch over our children and grandchildren, Joe and me, our family and friends. Amen.’ What more could you want on turning 70!!??”

Lately, when I look at the millions of stars in the familiar night sky, I glimpse rare views of Dad’s enduring wisdom. Now, Mom, each time I see the predictably changing moon, I’ll feel your faith, hope, and love shining onto all ~ especially your amazing friends, your adoring family, and me in these ever-changing times. You will always be the ‘aw-aw-awesome’ one.

There are many ways of expressing and acknowledging such magical moments. I think the point I hope to reiterate with this post is that every minute matters... regardless of whether or not, in the midst of our busy routines, we choose to take pause to empathize with a friend, to admire a beautiful sight, or to simply just be fully present in the moment... so dare to make the most of your time - as you choose fit.
A favorite saying in the sampler Carla designed and stitched for Rebekah:
The Earth has Music for Those who Listen.

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