In Memory–Aleta

A dear ceramics class friend died this week, and a large group of teachers and students at the Visual Arts Center of NJ are devastated. In a year of compromised health, Aleta contracted Covid-19. Amazingly she recovered and, at a recent ceramics class social distance picnic, she declared herself, “The luckiest girl in the world!” We were beyond thrilled she had beaten the virus. Was her heart attack related to the illness? Research shows it may have been.

Aleta was incredibly smart, becoming a lawyer and professor of law at time when women were just making inroads into those professions. She was funny, curious, creative, talented, encouraging, kind, and a joy to be around. When I tell friends that I love my ceramics class because of the people in it, and because I can make a thimble and it’s still celebrated, I think of Aleta showering us all with, “It’s beautiful! Just beautiful!”

She loved her dog Gracie, had a thing for owls, always wore a Mets baseball hat, was ecstatic about the recent purchase of a dream vacation home, asked for and received an anniversary gift of a home pottery studio, loved to travel and, after a trip to Amsterdam, created hand-built tilting houses. She dispensed jokes and funny stories, shared family lore, talked politics and policies, and always expressed how much she loved her family. Her openness to learning, studying, and practicing was an inspiration. There will be an imprint in the atmosphere surrounding her favorite wheel.

I will always remember Aleta’s smile, laugh, and how she called all of us, “Honey.” My heart is heavy and my mind swirls with memories.

Sources: The Harvard Gazette, Oregon State University’s Jack Dymond

Late Summer Sun, A Memory and Poem

Me, my mom and sister at my brother’s wedding.

Hon, my goal on this blog is to share many of the things that bring me joy. But, today is a sad day. It’s been three years since my mom died and her presence is a shadow behind my eyes.

A memory comes to mind. My mom, dad, brother and I (my sister isn’t born yet) are at a farm where we’re picking either apples or pumpkins or both. I am about four years old which would make my brother almost two. We are running in a field of bright yellow sunflowers and my mother is running with us, young and beautiful and laughing. My dad watches and smiles. We have a wonderful day, even when we come home and check for ticks, tweezers and matches in hand. When my mom puts me to bed, she sings an “I love you” song.

That memory played in the air as if on an invisible screen after Lucy and I ran in a field last week. Lucy caught her breath as a I wept and wrote this:

Late Summer Sun

Late summer sun

Lights the leaves

That carry its warmth

While waiting to transform.

Late summer honeysuckle

Scents the air

That carries a hint

Of cool crispness.

Late summer monarch

Alights on blooms

To drinks in nectar

still left In the late summer sun.

I Held Her Hand

Robert, Barbara, Ruth, Andrew, Naomi

My mom died two years ago today. One of the most profound things I’ve ever done and, probably, will ever do, was to walk with my mom to the liminal line between here on Earth and not. I told her it was okay to step off. Into the unknown. Alone. Maybe to be greeted by her parents. Who really knows? But cancer free. I stepped back and watched her go. I kissed her. I told her she was my rock.  I told her the shining light of her soul was separate from her wasted body. She told me she was afraid. So afraid. I held her hand.

My mother’s brother, Robert, passed away suddenly less than a year after she did. Maybe they met again in a place language has no words for.


(The same images are in the slideshow and collage.)

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Beautiful Girl

"Clara" by Jean Philippe Richard
“Clara” by Jean Philippe Richard.

Recognizing art I’d seen in Soho, I was drawn into the BelAirFineArt gallery in Venice. Then I discovered “Clara.” This life-sized bronze sculptor by  Jean Philippe Richard struck me as beautiful and mysterious.

"Clara" by Jean Philippe Richard.
“Clara” by Jean Philippe Richard.

Beautiful is my mom. Mysterious is our time on earth. 

Barbara Ellen, my mom as a toddler.
Barbara Ellen, my mom as a toddler.

Me, my son and my mom.
Me, my son and my mom.