Wednesday, January 30, 2008

One week.....

It has been one week since my last entry. I was talking to someone today and we kept asking each other 'where did January go?'

January 1st-4th were spent getting ready for Kayleigh's visit and the 12th night feast for 30 guest.

January 4th-6th were spent visiting with my friends and family.

January 7th was my last semi-normal day for a long time.

January 8th I spent the whole day starting at 7 am with my mom on and off the phone with nurses trying to control the nausea and pain. At 6:00pm we called EMS and they took her to the hospital.

January 9th was spent talking to medical staff for my mom who wouldn't--could talk for herself ad was still in quite a bit of pain, until about noon....then she was finally given something strong enough to knock her out.

January 10th I heard, "your mom has a few months" a couple hours later "well, maybe it is closer to a few weeks" a couple hours later "just a few day"..... I spent the entire day in uncontrollable tears.... I was there for her last rites service and when they moved her to the Hospice Inpatient Care Center..... I finally went to bed for the first time in over 60 hours.

January 11th-13th I was saying goodbye to my mom, bonding with family and friends, sharing grief through tears and laughter.

January 14th-19th I visited with more family and friends, I put together a scrapbook of photos of my mom's life, my sister and I planned Mom's memorial service, I tried to sleep, I tried to get started on the mountain of paper work that goes with a death.

January 20th, I spent with friends and family with a great breakfast, then the beautiful service, then more quiet time with special friends.

January 21st I baked and baked and baked then delivered the baked goods to the hospital and hospice center.

January 22nd more important visiting and grieving.

January 23rd-25th I started back with my 'normal schedule'. It felt odd in a way, but so right in another. Slowly, the kids have talked about mom, the way we miss her and things are different without her here.

January 26th was all about paperwork, paperwork, paperwork!!!!

January 27th I was very sick, still more paperwork, and then spent the evening at a dance exhibition.

January 28th back in the groove with the kids, we were so busy it was hard to keep up.

January 29th a few students, but mostly paperwork, phone calls, searching for lost papers, trying to schedule dad came over and took me to dinner and let me just ramble.

January 'normal' day......for the most part that is what I think tomorrow will be like, and the day after that and so on and so on....

It has been a full life changing month, but it has only been a month...actually only 17 days since she feels like it didn't really happen, that it just happened, and that it happened a lifetime ago...all at the same time. I am SO ready for Lent!

I guess that is where January went......I wonder if linear time will ever make sense to me!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mom's Memorial service

The service itself was based on the Burial of the Dead: Rite Two service from 1979 BCP. My sister and I however, tweaked it to fit our needs and feelings about our mom. We wanted a service that not only expressed what she was about, but also help comfort and bring together those who were mourning her.

First my sister and I asked for a full Communion Service, it was great that the Bishop who presided over her service thought it was a good idea too. In his homily he told everyone there that by coming to the communion rail they would be as close to Mom as possible since all time is eternal during Communion, we celebrate with all the company of heaven.

The first two readings were common enough for a typical funeral. The first being:

The First Lesson Isaiah 61:1-3

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion – to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory.

The second being the 23rd Psalm in the King James Version. The next two readings, however, were very unusual for a memorial service and the Bishop wasn't sure at first, but after the service he told us how powerful they were in combination and for a Memorial especially so.

The Epistle 1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Gospel Luke 12:22-31

He said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his* kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

The music was perfect too. The organist played her Celtic selections before and after, Amazing Grace jut before the Gospel, What Child Is This (music only) during the preparing of Communion, Let us Break Bread Together after Communion, and Lord of the Dance (there is a link to the lyrics if you don't know the song) as the Recessional.

Since there was no grave site to go visit, we had a reception in the Parish Hall of the church. More than 2/3's of the over 175 people who attended, stayed to eat, drink, hug, cry, laugh, look at pictures and just be with each other. I felt so much love, peace and support it was amazing. The reception was a gift from a 40 yr plus friend of the family and her daughters. The set-up was simple, but condusive to mingling and sitting down for more serious conversations. There were people there from all the different areas of my mom's life and all the different times in her life. People who often fought with her, but loved her just as passionately, were the ones I think that will miss her the most.

As I was talking to a friend after it was all over, the thought came to me that in her brief 60 years she did live a full life. I find comfort in the Trinity of the Goddess (maiden, mother, crone) my mom spent almost exactly 20 years in each 'phase'. She completed the cycle, for me that more than anything brought comfort, peace, and closure. She left nothing undone.

My sister Susan and 'other' sister Jennifer.
My sister and long time family friend Michelle.
My step-dad and my mom's adpoted mom, Ginny.
Athena with her dance teachers (these are also the wonderful women-minus one- who prepared and cleaned up the reception!)
Bishop Reed and other member of our old parish St. John's.
Athena with many of her friends who all called Mom grandma or Aunt Barb.
Me with a very close friend that I don't get to see very often anymore.
Jennifer and her kiddos.
Nathan, his girlfriend and his grandpa on his father's side.

Kayleigh, George, and Dirk's Dad, Papaw.
Amber, Kayleigh, Brandon, MaryRose, P't...all of whom called Mom, Grandma.

Current (and one former) students... I think it was good for them to see how many people, and different types of people, loved Mom and wanted to say goodbye.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Who was my mom?

Barbara Ann Sexton Bannister Ross

November 16, 1946 - January 14, 2008

Barbara was born in Bethesda, MD. She was the third child of five (John, Katherine, Marie, Hope) after the death of their father they moved, with their mother, into the Veterans of Foreign Wars Homes (VFW) in Eaton Rapids, MI. There she met and grew up with Ken Bannister. She graduated from Eaton Rapids High School in 1964. Barb and Ken were married in January 1965. They moved to Oshkosh, WI where their first child Sandie was born later that year. In 1967, they lost a child, Michael, when he was born with polycystic kidneys. For a fresh start and to be close to Ken’s family they moved to Louisville, KY. Soon after arriving in Louisville, they found St. John’s Episcopal Church. That church became the cornerstone of their support system when they lost a daughter, Terri, also to polycystic kidneys. In 1971, Barb and Ken’s youngest daughter Susan was born. St. John’s continued to be an important part of the family’s life for the next 40 years.

The other group of people that changed Barb’s life forever belonged to The Charles L. Shedd Association. With them, she learned specific multi-sensory techniques for tutoring children with learning disabilities. Since she and both the girls were dyslexic, this association provided guidance, support, and education for many years. During this time in her life, she worked for both Spalding and Bellarmine Universities. She continuously availed herself of the opportunity to pursue Liberal Arts Studies course work. She tutored and mentored young college students far from home. She wanted to make their transition into adulthood as smooth as possible.

In 1984, Barb and Ken divorced. In 1986, Barb married SFC Steven Ross, who was employed by the US Army. She moved to Germany with him while he finished his current assignment. They came home to Louisville for a couple years before being sent to Canada for Steve’s final station assignment. Since the couple lived off base, both assignments made many special friends in each country. These friends have been a constant and continuing source of joy and support.

The new century brought many changes. She, Steve, Sandie and Dirk decided to purchase a home for the purpose of providing a special place for home-schooled students to learn and grow together. For the last eight years of her life, Barb was able to work daily with her three grandchildren and other students sharing her love of books and mathematics. She not only educated students in reading, writing and arithmetic, but also in life lessons of wisdom, and manners with much love.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Broken Reflections

I posted a version of this picture on my 365 blog, it seems like months ago, but it really was just a little more than a week ago. It was last Monday to be exact. I took it the day my mom admitted her memories were all mixed up. She had called me quite a few times in a panic not knowing what day it was, what time it was, or what had just happened. I think it was the first day I really and truly admitted to myself that the cancer was in her brain and that her tiredness and confusion wasn't just the chemo side effects.

It looks like a brain trying to remember to me. In the first version the reflections are even harder to see, in this version, while the memories are still broken they are beautiful and clear. The water looks calm, beautiful and deep. The colors are rich and peaceful. As I have been working on building a scrapbook of my mom's life today, stories are pouring in through emails about how Mom changed lives, I realized this photograph also represents my memories of my mom. I will never see her full reflection, it will be constantly broken because she lived a full life outside my awareness, but the memories people are sharing are deep and beautiful.

How did I get from one vision to the other?... Friendship. A friend knew I wasn't totally happy with the first version so she tweaked' and deepened the image for me. My mom's friends are tweaking and deepening my memories of her too. I am realizing a clean, clear simple reflection is broken with rough spots, twists, turns, and twigs is much more fascinating.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Caught in the middle

This weekend just brought home even more how the roles and relationships we have within our family change when we aren't looking. No one ever told me that before I was 43 I would be the middle man between one life just beginning and one life coming to a close, both of them looking to me to smooth the transistion. As strange as it sounds I want it all to slow down, so that I can enjoy and savor each moment.

I am joyful and even a touch envious for the wonderful wedding Kayleigh (and I guess George too) will have. I hate that my mom is in both mental and physical pain, but at the same time I really enjoy her company and dry humor. Somedays I do feel literally ripped in two, but other days, more days, I feel made whole and completed by these two amazing women..without whom I would not be who I am. Most of the time I really like that person.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Yesterday, I pondered light and water

yard 020
Exposure: 0.033 sec (1/30)
Aperture: f/16
Focal Length: 35 mm
Focal Length: 210mm

yard 018

Exposure: 0.022 sec (1/45)
Aperture: f/4.5
Focal Length: 35 mm
Focal Length: 110mm

yard 010

Exposure: 0.022 sec (1/45)
Aperture: f/11
Focal Length: 35 mm
Focal Length: 70mm

I have lots of thoughts, but all of them metaphorical and no time to explain them. General themes of light/ shadow; moving water/still water; and rocks were all on my mine. Today it is enough to know I was still and pondered even if for just a little while.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Today, I pondered Histograms

When I first got my camera I accidentally hit the button that showed the histogram every time I took a shot. I wasn't even sure what I was looking at so I was glad when I figured out how to turn it off.

Then while reading the DPS forum, I learned what it was for and how to use it. Today, I went for a walk in my yard and used the histogram to get proper lighting and exposures over the whole shot. After looking at the histogram I would adjust the shutter speeds up or down. Usually, I had the 'proper' exposure within 3-5 shots. Here is an article that was linked at DPS that really helped.

Since I finally got these three to upload, I will use them as my example. It was MUCH easier to see the differences in the histograms than it was to see the differences in on the LCD screen. I am super excited to keep learning how to use this new tool.

yard 032
Exposure: 0.004 sec (1/250)
Aperture: f/16
Focal Length: 35 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Exposure Bias: 0/10 EV

yard 034
Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/500)
Aperture: f/16
Focal Length: 35 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Exposure Bias: 0/10 EV

yard 036
Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/1000)
Aperture: f/16
Focal Length: 35 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Exposure Bias: 0/10 EV