Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Family and Fambly

A few random thoughts, as I am too weary to think coherently and use good transitions and all...

The St. Philip's Pastoral Care team provided lunch for our family prior to daddy's funeral yesterday. When they asked for a head count, I think they were expecting us to say something like 12, which would have been daddy's four children, our spouses, and our kids. Maybe even another half dozen to include daddy's sister and the folks who came up from Georgia... Instead, we told them something like 35, because it's hard to tell where to draw the line when you talk about family.

See, we have always had a big FAMILY - plenty of Harts and Hewetts out there - but we have also always had an even bigger FAMBLY - you know, the people who are not genetically yours but who belong at your Sunday dinner table and who live in your hearts in the same way (or a more favorable way) than lots of the people with whom you share blood. So when the time came to welcome the mourning family, we knew that included our FAMBLY, too.

My momma's uncles are just as much my daddy's brothers as his own brothers were. Our friends the Reiberts have known and loved us and been part of us for 30 years. Monty Ashby has been a better friend to my daddy than most people will ever have. These and so many who have gone before them are people who my family call fambly - the ones God chose for you but didn't put on your family tree so that you would be all the more grateful for having found them.

I think about "Aunt" Geneva and "Uncle" Tom Floyd and how much they were fambly to my momma and to us kids. So many St. Philippians raised us as part of that fambly. There were folks like the Hugheses and the Mills/Dions whose friendships were like fambly, even though they faded over time. But even family is like that - important for a season, then not as much...
but always part of your experience.

As I go through this adult-ish life, I find myself putting as much time and energy into fambly-building as into family relationships, but I think that's okay. I know that friendships wax and wane with proximity, purpose, and commitment, but I am fascinated by the prospect that each new friend could become fambly for my kids, my husband, and me. In another 30 years, I wonder which relationships I have today will have become permanent fambly for us all. After reconnecting with my cousin and his kids this weekend, I feel like they'll be part of a relationship we want to foster for a while - kids need cousins!! People whose phone numbers are in my cell phone or in my brain - those are fambly.

And most likely, if you're reading this, you're my fambly, too.

Anyone know which comedian(s) have done bits about fambly? I want ot say Jerry Clower did, back in the day... probably the redneck guy or the cable guy...


Monday, April 21, 2008

Gene Ashford Hart

Great to be the "writer" in the family. Here's Pokey's obituary that I had the true pleasure of writing this morning. It was easy, in that I just used the same format as I had for momma's last year - thank you, Lord, for word processing!

Anyway, how do you capture a person's life, their "themness", in a few short paragraphs without sounding like a bragadocious cheeseball? It ain't easy. I think my siblings and I have done a decent job of balancing our love for him with the things that made him most proud while sounding sufficiently newspaper-like.

My Daddy:

Gene Ashford Hart of Southport, NC died Sunday, April 20 at his home. He
was born in Pitts, Georgia on August 18, 1933 to the late Jasper and Melissa
Hart, and was the sixth of their seven children.

Gene was a tank commander in the Georgia Army National Guard and later transferred to the U.S. Army, serving in their field hospital in Verdun, France in the early 60’s. There he received his phlebotomy training through the University of Maryland. After his tour and discharge as an NCO, he returned to Georgia where he began a career as a laboratory technician, culminating in over 30 years of working at
Southport’s Pfizer/ADM Citric Acid plant.

His community involvement over the years includes service to the Dosher Hospital Board of Trustees, the Brunswick County Democratic Party, the Jaycees, Cub Scouts, South Brunswick High School Boosters, the St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Men’s Club, and several terms on the church’s vestry as a member and Junior Warden. His time as a volunteer at Dosher Nursing Center and his presence at the waterfront swings
have been among his greatest pleasures.

He is preceded in death by his wife of 41 years, Marie Hewett Hart. He is survived by four children, Geno Hart of Schofield Barracks, HI, Millie Hart of Southport, Tina Rice of Southport, and MeShelle Hays of Irmo, SC; and Beth Strickland of Southport, his oldest grandchild, who is responsible for naming him “Pokey.” He is also
survived by four other grandchildren, Austin Hays, Korianna Hays, Hope Marie
Copeland, and Finnegan Hart.

Burial and Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church on Moore Street in Southport at 1:00 PM on Monday, April 28. Immediately following the service, the family will greet friends in the Chapel of the Cross at St. Philip’s, and a reception will continue in the parish hall.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Dosher Nursing Center or Chapel of the Cross at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.

Well, dammit.

too tired to say much, too tired to edit or use the shift key.

my daddy died. just like that.

i was contemplating taking an extra lexapro this morning since i was crummy and unpleasant and not of good spirit yesterday, when millie called to tell me she found daddy dead.


my daddy died.

he's not alive, that is.

needless to say, i took that extra pill. thinking i'll do it again tomorrow.

much to say about how i think it all went down (involves his recurring dreams about momma), about how fabulous my niece is and how this must be for her, about how blessed i am to have the best job, the best friends, the best husband, the best children.

but i am tired, and i recall from momma's death that we must sleep when our bodies will allow it.

stay tuned. it could get comically ugly.

prayers for my daddy.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The apples and the trees

Reading over that last post before I begin, I'm inspired to write about my little apples and the trees whence they came.

KORIANNA is definitely MINE because...
...she is always right, and when she isn't, she will continue to try to convince you that she is.
...she loves critters - we saw a momma duck sitting on her ducklings this afternoon, and we both had to tear ourselves away.
...that girl has got her some drama, and she can move that booty with no shame.
...she can go from raging tomboy to flamboyant girlie-girl in a flash.
...she loves to be held.
...she is fully Kori, no matter the situation.

AUSTIN is MINE because...
...let's just say it: the boy knows an unbelievable amount of trivial information that is not necessary for survival, but stuck in his head nonetheless.
...he has such a soft spot for the downtrodden.
...he takes everything to heart, particularly his own shortcomings and failures.
...he lives in the zone between distracted and hyper-focused.
...he loves snuggle time.
...he is fully Austin, no matter the situation.

KORIANNA is JIMMY's because...
...she has never met an animal that she didn't want to take home.
...she's freaky creative.
...she sees the line, and jumps right across it.
...she snores and jerks in her sleep.
...she can put away some food.
...she loves ME! (HA!)

AUSTIN is JIMMY's because...
...he can sit in front of a video game all day and not come out the least but bored of it.
...his brain is always spinning about something.
...he loves him some rock and roll.
...he does not have any clue how to sort clothes.
...he is so freaking adorable and I want to kiss his precious face!

I'm glad every day that my beloved and I found each other, because these two people we have are such a gift to us! We are trying to remind ourselves that the things they do that most annoy us are often the things we do that we're least pleased about doing. The very traits that make us Meesh and Jimmy are generally the ones we are least equipped to deal with! Sometimes, though, when we see ourselves in them, we are so amused at these little mini-mes that we have to laugh. I love them! LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE them! Did I mention that I love them?

Off I go to try to raise these people to be fully themselves while recognizing they are, to their delight or chagrin, OURS!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Way with words?

So, I'm cleaning out my Outlook inbox clutter (yes, I have over 5000 messages still in my inbox - which doesn't account for the thousands I've deleted over the two years it's been operating) and I came across a letter I sent out to my peeps around this time last year. Thought I'd post it for your review. Sometimes I am sooooo pleased with the words I've chosen that I can't believe I wrote them.

As you read it, bear in mind that I am reading a book right now about religious tolerance and how we can all be right without everyone else being wrong. It's by this rabbi with an amazing way with words that is feeding my spirit lately. Reading my word choices here makes me feel pretty good about my spiritual health, although my religious health currently has the sniffles.

Also, know that I went to church this morning for the third time since Christmas Eve. VERY unlike me to go so long away from public worship - and to have missed Easter was a first - but I feel her loss the strongest when I am there, and of course, it hit me again this morning. Usually it's a song that I hear her singing, but this morning it was the freaking flowers. I signed up months ago to provide the flowers for Mothers' Day (or is it Mother's Day? I think it belongs to ALL mothers, so...), knowing that this year it will coincide with Momma's yahrzeit (Jewish acknowledgement of the anniversary-of-death - thanks, Bonnie!). Well, I started thinking about what kind of flowers I would want the flower ladies to do, and the waterworks turned on, sure enough. Once I allow myself to weep, it is really hard to stop! I miss miss miss my momma, but I am so glad for her that she is not suffering. I hurt for her that she can no longer hug my boy or hold my Kori's hand. I hurt for me that I can't call her or crawl in bed with her when I visit. I hurt for Daddy that he is in the hospital for the first time in his life and doesn't have her there to sit with him. I hurt. BUT, I believe she lives eternally within me, within mine, and I choose to believe that that is enough to make up for any lack of religious passion I have had lately.

Despite the hurt, or perhaps because of it, I REMEMBER. I remember my beloved Momma with this replay of an old email that honors other traditions of faith pretty well, if I may say so myself. I particularly like my strategic capitalization of Right and Good and True and Love.

God be praised!

Hey, beloved people of faith-

I hate to take you all on our
continual roller coaster of parental health and illness, but strap on your seat
belts, because here we go again.

As you know, my momma is ticking
away the days at the nursing center at Southport’s hospital. The necrosis
in her leg causes her great pain and limits her mobility significantly.
Her osteoporosis has her down to about 4’9” from her original 5’4”. Her plethora
of other medical anomalies that she’s been dealing with lo these many years –
steroid dependence, sarcoidosis, cardiac disease, small vessel disease, and so
on and on… - keep her on more meds than most of us can ever imagine needing
(that is, the few she isn’t allergic to!).

So here’s what’s up
right now: She’s been rolled down the hall to the ER with a temp of 103 (unheard
of with the quantity of cortisone in her system). She has been near
catatonia this week because of treatment for an allergic reaction to a
beta-blocker (I think) and her usual level of anxiety from the pain she
endures. She is barely responsive and is struggling. My sister
reminded me that momma has always said that she’d rather die on her birthday
than any other day so that her kids only have to be upset once a year
(whatever!) – and she’ll be 67 tomorrow. We’re all a little anxious,
because those of you who know my bullheaded momma (the apple and the tree…) know
that she does what she sets out to do.

All of that said, I
need you all to talk with your Being/Almighty/Lord/Power about this for
me. She needs comfort, healing, strength, courage. Her existence is little
more than that, but she does not seem ready to die… most of the time.
There is so little that can be done for her to improve her quality of life –
total amputation of her leg from the hip MIGHT offer her a small chance to lead
a more full life with less pain, but her surgeons agree that she is not even
remotely a candidate for general anesthesia, even on her best days. (Remember
the episode a few years ago when they couldn’t get her off the ventilator?
Seems so long ago…) So, in a sick sense, I see every trip to the ER as a
chance for her to end her fight. Pray for her heart, her soul, her mind to
be clear enough to make her choice of how to be healed.

As for me,
I’m stable. I’m not rushing there unless she calls for me. I’ve got
my closure tucked away in a little box in my heart, and I can’t function in the
world of panic every time she has a downturn. I know that as long as this
roller coaster keeps moving, I won’t fall out (thank you Sir Isaac
Newton!). When the Momma ride finally stops, I’m sure there will be
another for me to ride!

Spread the word about old Marie.
Stick her on your prayer lists, light a candle for her, do whatever you do to
invoke the Being that gives us Love to hold her close. I am not asking you
to pray for her to survive or to get well soon or for her to pull through.
Just hold her name in your heart for me and pray for what is Right and Good and
True. She will feel your Love.

And so will I.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Pokey update

Hey- FYI, Pokey had half of his kneecap removed yesterday - here's hoping this is his last surgery on that knee. He appears to be recovering well enough. If they can get his other new knee taken care of this summer, he'll be a hap hap happy chappy.