If you have tried to send email to my HandyConcepts address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I have not answered you, I apologize. My account is experiencing problems and my tech team is working on it. If you need to contact me please call 717-219-2079 or send email to email@example.com.
Greetings of the day and welcome to my new site. In the coming month I will be transitioning into this as my primary site to showcase my art work. I plan to have more items for sale here and be more active with my blog.
Please be patient with me and my humble new beginnings. I look forward to interacting with you in 2018 and forward.
Here it is the beginning of another year and I am still reeling from the last.
It’s been almost two years since I last posted and another 1-2 years before then. And the trend it seems from my last 4 posts, is that I only put pen to paper when I’ve lost someone special – someone who has had profound effect on my life. Kinda morbid I think sometimes. Perhaps it is the only way I know to grieve. So, yep you guessed it.
2017 laid to rest my mother-in-law in March. She was very dear to me and had been for 38 years. We shared many laughs and secrets and just good times. And her youngest man-child who, without her influence, would not be in my life right now – and what a real tragedy that would be. So now both my mommas are gone but life goes on, except when it doesn’t.
2017 also put to sleep an uncle who was so much more like another one of my big brothers for my entire life. He and I were closer in age than he was to his actual sister, my mother. I know that my mom was his confidant and best friend and I knew when she died that I would step up in a feeble attempt to fill her shoes. But when he called me to say he was going into hospice my already fractured heart broke into so many more pieces. I left home and husband to be by his side for his last 2 months and held his hand when he took his last breath.
He told me not to be sad. He’d say, “Now, don’t you start crying” (excuse me now while I wipe my tears), and I’d tell him that everything was going to be all right. And life goes on, except when it doesn’t.
Every day I try to get better at this thing called life. It’s a real struggle sometimes. I’ve set some goals, anxious to make some changes, ready to move on. I promise to be more in the present and even if I have to write yet another obituary this year I’ll try not to bombard you with my wailing.
I hope you follow me into the new year and help me build what I hope to be the best me in a very long time.
And life goes on, until it doesn’t.
Many of you know that in the last couple of years I lost my two best friends – the best of the best. These were the friends I’ve known since 3rd grade, which translates into 47-49 years. More than friends, they were my closest sisters.
Joni and Velda were an intimate part of all of my childhood secrets, my teenage blunders, my twenties relationships, my marriages, my children, my jobs. For a long time I could imagine us as “old” friends still hanging out in our 70’s and 80’s. Still enjoying each others company, still causing havoc, still laughing, still there to answer the phone at 3 am, to open the door in the middle of the night, to offer a hand, a shoulder, a dollar. And even though they have both gone on, I still imagine.
I hope it’s understandable that for more than a moment I felt really alone after Velda passed. When Joni died, as much as it broke my heart, I still had Velda. And when I thought I couldn’t hurt any more, my mom died, but I still had Velda. But when Velda died…
Jokingly (not really), I told my husband that he would have to step up and be my new best girlfriend. To his credit, he is seriously trying to fill that void and I love him for that. Recently though, I had a revelation. It wasn’t a surprise to me really, just a realization about something I had not looked at in this way before.
I had the pleasure of visiting with some other friends not long ago. Some old friends actually. These are friends that I don’t see often or talk to on a regular like I did with Joni and Velda. But when we got together it was familiar, fun, and special. And I was reminded that these friends watched my children grow up and I theirs. Somehow, it just occurred to me that Angie has been my friend for close to 30 years, and Lori has logged 23, Verona 15, Dietra about 20. There’s Brenda and Rita for at least 36 years and Michelle too, who has been there from the very beginning. I am so blessed to have so many more people who have lasted through the decades. I hope I am as good a friend to them as they are to me.
One thing I know for sure is that my old secrets are forever safe with Joni and Velda. Still, I wish we had more time to ride.
Hubby and I were vacationing in Florida last week and while there I met a white woman who happened to be from my home town. She didn’t live in my neighborhood but she worked there. When I told her the name of the street I grew up on she stated very matter-of-factly, “Oh, youse lived over there, your people had money!” Funny, I don’t remember it that way.
What I remember is growing up with a woman who had strong morals and work ethic and with a heart so big I have nothing to compare it to. I remember a single mother who worked every day to take care of her children and very often one if not all of her five brothers. I remember standing in food lines to get our bag of groceries – you know the one that had that good Government cheese in it. I briefly remember food stamps.
We were, however, “rich” in other ways.
I can remember mom pulling out her sewing machine to make clothes for my Barbie doll and kneeling with her beside the bed to say my prayers. I remember how she twisted her left hand on paper turned sideways when she taught me how to write right-handed. I remember when she was the cook who could make a meal out of anything and I was the baker, making cookies and cakes from scratch, beating the batter by hand. I remember the etiquette lessons as a teenager, how to stand tall, sit like a lady, walk with head held high. I remember how often she told me that I could do anything I wanted to do and be whomever I wanted to be and she made sure I had the education and skillset to accomplish just that.
It’s true my brother and I did attend 12 years in tuition-paid parochial schools. I never remember being hungry. There were always presents under the Christmas tree and always cake and gifts for our birthdays. But what I remember most, money didn’t buy.
My mother was my biggest supporter and my loudest cheering section. I remember all the times she told me, “It’s ok, everything will be all right,” and “You can do it.”
She was my toughest opponent. I remember when I couldn’t take her anymore and I just had to get out, be on my own.
She was my greatest ally. I remember coming home again and again and again… until it was her turn to come and live with me.
It’s been 7 months since mom passed and this will be my first Mother’s Day without her. I haven’t even thought about the gift I would have given her if she were here. Probably something silly since we are long past fancy and elaborate. She wasn’t a fan of flowers in the house so potted plants was the “go to” gift after homemade gifts had run their course. I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to have been able to give her diamonds and furs before returning to homemade when she received original paintings from me, but we’ve since both reached the age where a simple phone call would lift our spirits and warm our hearts because the other stuff wasn’t important anymore.
So, this is it. In the last 7 months I’ve survived Thanksgiving, Christmas and her birthday – November, December, January – all in a row. Then there was Valentine’s Day in February, my birthday in March (thank God for a reprieve in April). But here it is May and yes, I’m a little snot-nosed and red-eyed as I write this but my momma left me rich beyond even my dreams, so I know I’m going to get through this as well. No, my people didn’t have money. We had momma.
I hope you haven’t forgotten Handy Concepts because though we struggle, and despite 2014 being such a dismal year for me, we have yet to give up the ghost.
Kerry’s Green closed unexpectedly on January 1, which meant the gallery also closed (way to start the year) and it took me two months of calling and writing to get the doors open so that I could collect all of the artwork and shop items I had there. All of which I moved and stored in my home studio until most of the artists could come and retrieve their art.
I then made a halfhearted attempt to generate sales and maintain a presence via my website with minimal results. Truthfully, I haven’t updated my website in over a year now. Can’t get much leverage that way…
I started quite a few paintings but finished only one. My annual goal is to complete new 6-8 paintings and I have achieved that goal every year until 2014. I started one painting FOUR times – I’ not talking start, stop, start, stop – I mean I started 4 different canvases, and worked them all to varying degrees of “complete” before deciding that my errors were too far gone to correct. I tried hard to get it done (again) before the New Year but alas, still working on it.
In the spring our house was put on the market as my husband and I struggled to keep afloat but the market being what it is, it’s almost impossible to get back what we’ve put into it. So we push on.
My biggest blow however came mid-year when I became caregiver to my mother, running her to doctor visits, cheering her on through several surgeries, daily visits during hospital stays and sometimes working my job remotely from the hospital. Despite the successes of the surgeries and the promise of recovery and rehab, mom lost her battle on October 2, 2014. I was fully expecting to have her around another 10-12 years, making me laugh, getting on my nerves, imparting words of wisdom, bossing me around. She was 78 years young. I never thought my heart could break into so many pieces.
NOT ALL BAD
The silver lining of 2014 shone through in late June with the birth of grandbaby no. 10. Thank God for the smallest of miracles.
2015? Who knows? Maybe it will turn into a banner year, maybe not. What I do know is that I have a lot to do, a lot I still want to accomplish and no one can make it happen but me. I’ve taken the last week of this year to plan and push myself to get up and get moving. I want to thank all of the artists who started with me in 2009 and hung in there during the lean years and a special thanks to those few who still hung around this past year even though I only managed to sell one painting.
I want to thank all of my clientele who still look forward to new art, who still inquire about my artists, who still encourage me to keep art alive in our community and continue to support our efforts. Thank you to those who have commissioned art and have waited patiently for your finished product.
I hope to see you all in 2015, online and in person. And I have so much more creativity in me that I promise it will blow you away in the coming year. Besides, Mom has been chiding me. I can hear her clearly – “Shouldn’t you be painting?” “What are you working on now?”
So even though you may not have heard from me all year, and just in case you were wondering – I’M STILL HERE.