Saturday, November 7, 2009

imagining grief, a design for my aunt, and 1958

Wednesday night brought news that an uncle of mine had died of a heart attack. Habit had him in bed earlier than my aunt and she found him in such state when she went to bed.
Thursday morning I step into my car and a jazz tune is all I need to take me into sadness. There is no baseball or Twitter or prepping for Zoology. It is me and solo piano playing of Keith Jarrett. Folk say that dying in one's sleep is peaceful, but my uncle had one foot on the floor.

It may have been easier than a painful bout with a disease, but I don't think the moment was one filled with peace and hope. At least when I imagine trying to get out of bed...

But it is my aunt's experience which strikes at my own heart. I try to imagine the horror of finding a loved one dead. I imagine her. I imagine myself in the same situation. Horror seems to be the right word. I imagine trying to revive...

So after 41 days of teaching between Labor Day and now, I finally had the day off which I had desired. I had imagined a bonus day in my studio. Instead, I went to a viewing and then a funeral. But I could not get myself to the luncheon. My studio was calling. Thursday morning while thinking of my aunt, an image came to mind, so I skipped the luncheon, which a part of me feels was a mistake. A crowded house lost out to a not so lonely studio.

In 1958 my parents got married, so when we celebrated their 50th, I put together music from that year. At the party, my aunt, the youngest of all my parents siblings, was the one who seemed to enjoy the music the most... so I played those songs as I entered my studio. The fourth design was the winner. By the time I went to bed it was complete... designed, cut, ground, foiled, soldered, cleaned, and polished. But most importantly, I held it up to the light and mosaic woman said some kind words about my talent to sit with a person in mind, and emerge with a design.

I imagine my aunt and uncle dancing to those songs that were playing in 1958. They married in January of 1960, so it is a possibility. Nearly 50 years of marriage. I imagine 50 years of marriage and music with Mosaic Woman.

The stained glass is hanging in my studio next to the cross inspired by my silent retreat. Soon it and music from 1958 will be traveling north to my aunt. I don't imagine all the songs will be the easiest things to listen to, but I can't imagine much is easy these days.


  1. "Folk say that dying in one's sleep is peaceful, but my uncle had one foot on the floor."

    So much in that one stunning line.

    I am very sorry about your uncle, and very glad for your aunt that she has someone to make stained glass for her.

  2. It saddens me to hear about your uncle, touches me that you have the heart to so share of yourself in such events. I have but one uncle and one aunt left from that generation, have already lost too many within my own plateau, and find myself "going back" with Johnny in that song....

  3. Gannet Girl-- thanks for the visit. thanks for challenging me to imagine. peace be with you.

    Jim--- I got six left. I want to make them and all of their children and grand children some strudel.

  4. It's so good that you found a way - many ways in fact, what with the strudel making, to channel your grief. I'm sorry for your loss and so sad for your aunt. Death is never easy on the living.

  5. I, too, am struck by the same line as Gannet Girl. Wayne, I am sorry for you, sorry for your aunt...and yes, I'm trying to imagine the grief.

    May the music reach what it needs to inside of you, and your aunt.

    peace and grace....

  6. Kris-- how cool for you to show up here at Stratoz ... I see that I signed in at TM with STRATOZ. any which way... cool to reconnect.

    Michelle--- thanks for taking the time to comment. Oasis continues to call our names.

  7. Wayne, I am sorry about your uncle. I think it's wonderful that you were able to have an outlet for grief in your work and that you can share that with your aunt.

    I agree with the others; that line would be a great first line for a novel.



Thanks for visiting Stratoz. I dig comments. Feel free to leave one here.