Tag Archives: love

This Isn’t About CATS Is It?

big sunflowers

Sunflowers commission created for Katie. Lyrics by her mother Liz.

I recently had the privilege of creating a custom piece of art for a good friend to give to her daughter who was graduating from the Asheville School. For the occasion Liz wrote a song to Katie that is beyond beautiful and so full of love. As I worked through the design process of the commission I determined that phrases from the song needed to be included so that Katie would always have a visual reminder of such a special gift. And while I pondered I recalled the poem I wrote to daughter Emily when she left for college.

This was before the internet. Computers were for offices or maybe games if you were lucky. But there was no word processing, no casual typing with the ease of back space editing. There certainly was no web, or quick browsing. That would come a year or so later and son Donald would elatedly report via the hall payphone from his world at North Carolina School of Science and Math that there was this new thing called the web and you could search for something and get an answer a mere day later or even twelve hours if you were really lucky.

But I digress be it ever so slightly because Donald does figure into this in his own way. His part is that he too left home the same year that Emily did. But he was always 100% focused on NCSSM, since the 7th grade. He would get in. He would go to this amazing state funded educational paradise for his last two years of high school. There was no other recourse. And he did get in, the second youngest student to ever attend. And he did leave home when he was only thirteen and I was not ready, but he was. Completely.

Emily not quite as much. She wanted to go to UNC-CH. She had applied to no other college. “What if I don’t get in?” she suddenly long into the process realized. I assured her that she would get in. And of course she did. But she was still hesitant about it all. So much change. It was overwhelming and scary.

We were having family dinner one night after all the logistics worked out for both when Emily starts ragging me about our cats. They were getting into her stuff or something like that. I don’t recall exactly what. But I do know that we never fought. We disagreed a lot but we respected each other’s point of view and never ever fought. She even said to me one time, “Mom, we never fight. Almost all of my friends fight with their moms. Why don’t we fight?” I looked at her then and said that if she wanted to fight we could but why when we had nothing to fight about. That’s the way we rolled. But this night she was livid. She stormed off. I looked at Donny. He hadn’t a clue to offer. And then it dawned on me.

emily 2

To Emily

I went to her room and sat down on the bed next to her. “This isn’t about cats is it?”

She sniffled, “No.”

“You’ll be fine,” I hugged her. “Just fine.”

And then they left, the two of them almost simultaneously. Donald still gloats that he left a week earlier than Em. The house was so empty, even with three lively boys remaining. The first thing I did was take the leaf out of the dining room table. It looked so big for just the five of us. The second thing I did was write a poem to Emily. I missed her so much!

I had no reason other than a longing to do something. There would be no blog to post it on. No Facebook to share it with friends. I just needed to write and the poem flowed out.

Several years later when we were deep into home schooling the three boys (we gave it a try that fall since they were going to need to change schools anyway) Cricket Magazine opened up their International Cricket League, a monthly competition for readers worldwide, to all ages. Previously the cut off had been age sixteen. I always had the boys enter as an outlet for their creativity. There was a cycle. One month was prose, one photography, one art, one poetry. They all won many times, not always but a good amount of the time. It validated their work and the prizes were fun.  But sometimes the struggle was real. And so Andrew suggested to me that if they had to enter, then I should too since now I could. I couldn’t argue with that. And on the poetry month I entered, “To Emily”.

It won second prize. And made the judges cry.


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Filed under college, family, Life

Say YES to the Dress

Our wedding day June 7, 1969

Our wedding day June 7, 1969. Still LOVE my flowers especially the beautiful ribbon streams knotted with tiny rose buds that Bucky designed Jane. Perfection!

On June 7, 1969 Donny & I join our lives together to begin what is still the best adventure I have ever been on. It has an abundance of love, twists, turns, surprises, hilarity and, to use my much over used but appropriate on so many occasions word, fun. We have fun!

Before that day I am a working girl in Richmond living alone, dating some nice guys. Nothing significant on my radar. My job as an Advertising layout designer at landmark Miller & Rhoads downtown is a quick walk or bicycle ride from my huge Franklin Street apartment situated across from the exclusive prestigious mens’ only Commonwealth Club. The doorman and I wave to each other as I dash off, always late for work.

It’s June 1968, the store windows are decorated with traditional wedding gowns. Never much for wedding gowns, or diamonds either, I am drawn to a gown in the window by the main doors I access to then scurry up back stairs and hurried slip unnoticed, I hope, into my work cubicle where I pretend I’ve been there all along, only have stepped out for coffee.

But back to the dress. It mesmerizes me. I am in love with a wedding dress. I have no current boyfriend much less wedding plans. I have not even met Donny yet. But I want that dress. The months move on. The window displays change. My dress is forgotten.

Later in the summer my friend, Sherrie Edwards (Oliva), who is getting married in October and also worked in Advertising as a proof runner for a while, comes to town. She is wedding dress hunting. We have become good friends when I get her the job because she wants to live in Richmond but has no means of support. She moves in with me at my turn of the century apartment building on West Franklin Street across from my old dorm 909 West Franklin Street, but she heads home after she gets engaged to plan her wedding.

We start her hunt at Miller & Rhoads Bridal Department of course. She gets her Embassy Book (such a pretty tradition) and we settle in to view dresses. I swear it was the first one out but maybe not. At any rate, yes she does. The sales lady indeed brings out my dress. “That’s my dress!” I exclaim. Sherrie looks at me puzzled. I explain telling her that she can only have it if she promises to let me borrow it on my wedding day. Sherrie loves the dress too. She tries it on. I’m not sure if she even tried on any others. Most likely. But our dress is the one. She gets it. Later she tells me that our dress was custom designed for daughter of the head of the bridal department and is even featured in a Tea Room fashion show. The story of why it is not used is lost in time. It is left hanging almost forgotten in a back corner of the department. The sales clerk must have figured Sherrie for the right customer to buy it.

Her Williamsburg wedding is beautiful. She has secretly arranged for me to catch the bouquet. I am elated and blushing. I still don’t have a committed boyfriend. Lots of boyfriends. And dates. But no let’s spend our life together relationship.

Of course that changes rapidly in November when I meet Donny. We are a match made to be. We get married six months later.

Sherrie and I keep up pretty well for awhile. She & Joe are in our wedding. Later down the road we arrange long distance play dates for our kids. Then things drift to annual Christmas card exchange. We meet at Mom’s house once. The Christmas cards become random.

Social media reconnects us. We are still Piglet and Jett. Along the reconnection way I ask her what became of the dress. In her downsizing phase she tells me that she donates it to Christ Church School for the drama department realizing that her daughter, Cary, will never use it. No one in my family will use it either but I miss my dress. My nephews go to Christ Church. I ask my sister-in-law to see if they will give me the dress in exchange for a donation to the department.

dress buttonsThe department head gives it to Julie saying they rarely use it anyway. Probably because of the 48 tiny covered buttons that close up the back. No zipper for this dress. My sister Suzanne can assure you that every button is real. She has to button each one on my wedding day. True sister love. Julie gives the dress to Suzanne who is dubious it is the right one. She sends a photo. Oh yes, that is my dress. A little aged but still beautiful as ever. Now it hangs next to my closet in full view because it really is just an ornament, a much loved lovely ornament.


Filed under family, wedding