Rest in Peace Will, everyone else slow down

We have been going to the same Publix every week for about seven years now. In that time, we have gotten to know at least half of the employees there, some fairly well, some even coming to our wedding next month. We lost one a couple of nights ago to a motorcycle accident that could have been avoided. All so a woman could save herself five seconds getting onto the interstate.

How much time is a life worth to you?

In the whole scheme of things, is your lack of time management skills worth taking someone else’s life?

He was someone’s grandson. He was someone’s friend. He was only 26.

If it were your friend on the motorcycle, would you crowd them or would you give them a wide berth? Does that five extra seconds you save cutting someone off to get on the interstate ramp really matter?

He was wearing his helmet. He was riding responsibly. And, from what we know, it was quick. A fact that I am thankful for. He is survived by his grandfather, his last living blood relative, and my heart goes out to him as he is not doing well at all.

And all so someone could get to where they were going a little faster.

So, today and every day, please be aware. If you see a motorcycle, give them some space and slow down. No destination is worth hurting someone else over.

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When Past is Present

Updates below post.

This July I have the opportunity to meet my father’s family. I am going to tell his/our story and then ask for help because this means a great deal to me and I have no other way to make it happen. Bear with me.

To most people this is commonplace: Your dad is your dad. You know his family, you see them on holidays and during family gatherings for birthdays and other special events. You tell stories about Uncle Joey and his bad jokes, about the time your cousin added salt instead of sugar to a cake recipe and you couldn’t stand the smell of the ocean for a month. Pretty normal family stuff, right? Not for me.

My parents split up before I was 18 months old, irreconcilable differences though they remained friends, something I have always been very thankful for. As soon as I was old enough to know the difference and ask for him, I think I was 3 or 4, my mother invited him over for dinner. Instant love. I remember images of what kind of dining room table we had, or where the windows were in the kitchen, of the feel of the tile and carpet under my feet, those little tactile details. I remember the sound of his voice though not what he said. I remember his laughter, and my mother’s, at my antics. I remember his hugs and how sad I was that he had to go later that evening. We remained best friends until his sudden passing. He was 57.

I was living in southern New Jersey at the time, ten minutes over the bridge from Philly which is where my first husband was stationed with the US Navy. We had gotten married a couple years before, both 18, no kids. We had lived outside Richmond for a year before he enlisted and we moved to Jersey. All of my family and friends were still here in Florida so I was without my normal support group. I had made a few friends, no one close, and was very much on my own.

At the end of our second year, things were not going well and my husband’s indiscretions had me packing and leaving for my own sanity. A family friend flew up, rented a U-Haul, drug my husband up five flights of stairs (literally, still makes me smile LOL) and forced him to help me pack. Within 48 hours I was driving back home to Florida, tail tucked neatly between my legs. My father’s death happened in the middle of this.

December 26th, 1989 I received a phone call from the woman (who shall remain nameless other than JD) that my father had been seeing and living with for several years. Though we were friends, she never had occasion to call me since my father and I spoke often enough. As soon as my husband told me who it was I knew something was wrong. Taking the phone all I could say was “…when?”.

I had been feeling off-balance for a few days that Christmas but I had no clue why. My intuition has always been something I have listened to but, then, I couldn’t put a finger on exactly what was wrong. I just knew that something was coming and that I wasn’t going to like it. My father had gone with his girlfriend to her mother’s; she had cancer and was not doing well so they went to her instead. I had spoken to him the week before since I knew I wouldn’t be able to get hold of him over the holidays. At the time, with everything that had been going on with my husband, I had actually been rude to my father. I didn’t have long distance on my phone at the time so my father had told me to call him collect which I had to do from the lobby of our apartment building.

While I was on the phone with my father, my husband’s superior officer had walked past me so I excused myself a moment to find out when my husband had been released from duty that day. My husband had been cheating on me, something I had not planned on telling my father until I had proof (did two months later). My father clearing his throat on the other end of the phone made me realize I’d taken longer than I should have. He chided me for being inconsiderate, something he had never had to do my entire life. I felt like crap and we started talking again. I don’t remember if I apologized, I am sure I did, but that was the last time I ever got to speak to him. I carried that guilt around for years, always wishing I’d had some way to make it up to him.

The phone call on the 26th was JD calling me to tell me that my father had died on the 23rd. She said she didn’t want to ruin my Christmas. She told me that my father had choked on a piece of food, asphyxiated, and had a heart attack. That she tried everything she could but they couldn’t save him. I think I handed the phone back to my husband or he took it, I am not sure looking back. Then I remember sitting on the floor in the corner of the kitchen and I didn’t stop crying for six years.

I called JD a few days later after the fog lifted to get the rest of the details. In the meantime, she had, admittedly, given away or thrown away all of his belongings. Everything except for a necklace my father used to wear and a black ceramic panther desk lamp; I got those in the mail. All of his books, all of the things he loved, all of the things that he shared with me. Gone. Including him. Other than him the letters he had kept hurt the worst.

I have a half-brother named Mark (Heriff) that my father had been looking for since he was seven years old; unlike my mother, Mark’s mother had not wanted to remain friends, remarried, and returned all of my father’s letters to Mark. My father had kept every single one. He had shown me the stack of letters on several occasions, lovingly tied with a bit of dingy green ribbon, waiting for the day he could hand them to Mark in person. My father never spoke ill of anyone, even when he had cause to, so I know that he wanted only to stay in contact with his son. It hurt to see those letters, to know that Mark was out there and wasn’t a part of our lives. My father kept hope though and kept searching for him.

I found Mark two months after my father died and I had no stack of letters to give him. JD had thrown them out.

When I said “including him” earlier, I meant it literally. She had no idea, or care, where my father’s body was. There are no words to describe the shock but I can tell you that the rage sets in fast. None of my questions were answered except with “it doesn’t matter, that’s not him anymore”. It did matter.

My father died two days before Christmas in 1989. After almost two months, and $200 worth of long distance phone calls, I finally had some answers. I did some research and got hold of the county coroner’s office here in Florida, which led me to a couple of other places, and finally to a funeral home where his remains were being kept. He had wanted it that way, thankfully, but they’d had to cremate him because there was no one to claim him.

Every phone call, every mention of my father’s name, was met with shocked surprise, elation, scrambling to get someone, and another phone call. They had all been trying to get hold of JD for months. She had told everyone, despite once calling me friend and knowing of Mark, that my father had no children or next of kin. Then she disappeared.

I flew down Valentine’s weekend to prove that I was my father’s daughter and take him home.

From the airport, as I couldn’t stand the thought of waiting, my mother drove me two to three hours to the funeral home where the Director met with me personally. I think if he could have scooped me up and hugged me for an hour he would have. I had told him the story leading up to that day over the phone and he was silent, there were no words. I could see it in his face when I introduced myself. He handed me a small, square box with an envelope attached to it. My father. In the envelope was his death certificate. He also handed me a file with the name of my father’s first cousin, the one who is having the reunion in July; since then we have become both family and friend.

I still have my father’s remains. I kept it safe, knowing that someday I would find where he needed to be. I am hoping to take him to his family on this trip. I hadn’t realized that until I wrote this, but I need to do it. It is the least I can do.

I know things are tough for everyone right now, they are for us as well which is why I am doing this (and part of me can’t believe I am). I work freelance which means I do not get a regular check each week. I don’t want to miss this and, as it is, am not going to be able to take my daughter or my boyfriend with me to meet them which is my wish. I am not happy about it but raising almost 500.00 for one ticket is much easier (in my mind) than trying to raise over a thousand for three tickets. The sooner I am able to book it on Priceline the better; two days ago one round trip ticket was 500 with the rental car but that will change.

That in mind, if I can get 100 people to donate just 5.00 or 50 to donate 10.00 I can go. Anything would help though and I would be eternally grateful. In fact, I will happily create small, one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork and mail them to anyone who donates. Add in a note to me with one (1) favorite color and then email me your mailing address. Please send it as a “gift” so that I don’t lose anything to PayPal fees

 





 

Also, as another option, my mailing address is:
Ana Maria Seaton, PO Box 830635, Ocala, Florida 34483-0635

My father’s first cousin is compiling photos, old movies made to DVDs, and other things of or about my father for me. I would like to accept them in person.

As far as JD is concerned, the woman who had been a part of my father’s life for so long, it took me years to stop joking about wanting to deck her if I saw her. In all honesty I didn’t know what I would do though slapping her had been my reaction of choice. Now, I pray for her and wish her well. What you put out into this world comes back to you, I know that well from daily experience.

The whole thing seems surreal to me at times, something I would write in one of my novels, but it did happen and there are even more details that I have not shared that would make it like the epic soap opera it was at the time. This was the heavily abridged version. There was also a court case that he was supposed to have testified in two weeks after his death, JD’s bizarre behavior and renunciation of all she believed in the year before after returning from Tibet with her mother, and the fact that what JD had told me had happened did not correspond with the coroner’s report. She hadn’t helped him…told you, novel. It is part of my past now, though, and I hope to make this trip. I feel it is where I/we need to be.

If you cannot help with a dollar or two, say a prayer that if I am meant to go that it will be provided for. I am grateful either way.

Thank you for listening…

Brightest blessings,
Ria

Moments of sanity

I do believe that things happen for a reason though so, when my daughter wanted to paint something for her father yesterday, there was no surprise when I accidentally pulled out two small canvases instead of one. That was all the incentive I needed.

I have not had time for much more than doodling lately and my sanity from day-to-day is, typically, directly related to whether or not I get moments of creativity. I have been wanting to sit down and make something for weeks now and doodling wasn’t cutting it. I needed to dig into something, get paint on my fingers, a brush and pen in my hand, make a mess.

This year, I have had to do a big push for freelance work. Aside from college, homeschooling, household obligations (that tend to get put on the “do later” list), making food and…what am I forgetting, oh yea…sleeping, I haven’t had time to delve into anything. I have stolen moments here and there to write, much easier than dragging out all my paints, but it isn’t the same.

I was sent several small, 5×7 inch canvases in a thank you package from a friend recently. The package itself has taken up semi-permanent residence on the edge of my desk as I’ve yet to sort through it and put everything away. This week, in between work, school, and everything else, I will be completely reorganizing the largest room of our house; three computers and desks on one end, kitchen on the other, art studio/catchall in the middle. It is my hope to move our writer’s meetings here again as it is much more conducive to conversation, we can do and say what we want, and the kitchen is right there.

For now, I steal snippets of sometimes life-saving time to make memories with my daughter.

We laid newspaper out on the dining room table (the dining “room” being part of the aforementioned space) and pulled a few paints, a couple of brushes and palettes. Half an hour later I was refreshed and feeling human again…at least for another week.

Memory and Reflection

I have always taken photographs, always. Food, insects, flowers, a brick wall, a sign, friends, family. Anything that catches my eye that I want to capture and keep to share or remember I shoot. I love box cameras. I love film and working in a darkroom. I love digital. Digital has me hooked for the instant-gratification-do-I-need-to-retake-the-shot factor. I love the immediacy of it but I also love watching the image form on film in a darkroom as well. No matter how into technology I get, I will always crave my analog time.

One of the most wonderful shots that I was blessed to be able to capture was also my saddest. My grandmother, a redhead, was always very independent. Strong, stubborn, mischievously spiteful, I loved her very much and hope that shows in this shot of her.

Memory

As most of you know, I lost my grandmother in April of last year at the age of 103. She was amazing. I miss her and, though I do not dwell on her absence, there isn’t a day that goes by without a thought of her in it. I owe my mother a great debt because she cared for her for the last 12 years of her life; the thought of putting her into a home, or me my mother, is abhorrent. Though I know that I, as an only child, would/will step up and do the same, I cannot see how my mother did it. I am blessed to have been raised but such wonderful, stubborn, strong-willed women and hope to pass that on to my daughter.

If I am able to win the photo contest, though there are so many entries I just did it to share her, I will be using it toward the rest of my cash agreement for college. One of the few memories that my grandmother repeated to me on occasion was of her first grade teacher. That memory astounded me, she was 103 so it would have been in the early 1900s…!!! It was obvious that her teacher had made quite an impression on her and I wished she could have remembered more of it. I started back to college in early April, a few weeks before she passed, so I got to share that with her thankfully. I will be graduating in September with my BFA in Visual Communications, Digital Design, and then plan to go on to complete a Masters in Education.

If you would, being that my freelance work is my mainstay, I can always use help with college loans so drop in and vote for me. If not, that is ok too. Regardless, this is my favorite, and the last, image of my grandmother and I wanted to share it with everyone.

My daughter and I have been thinking a lot about her lately. Our first Christmas without her and then the new year, her absence has made a lot of changes in our lives. With the grief came relief though and a sense of peace. She was well-loved by everyone who knew her and I know that she led a very full life. I can only hope that I am as lucky. Grandma was always worried my daughter wouldn’t remember her. Sadly, in the end, it was the other way around. I think that it was mercy though, for her, that she didn’t have to say goodbye. It was hard enough on the rest of us, selfish as we were, wanting to keep her forever. I think of her often though, fondly, and got the chance to pass her on to my girl for almost 7 years which was tremendous. I won’t let her be forgotten, she is still very much a part of our lives.

Love you grandma.

Moving forward in her memory

My grandmother passed on April 21st, she was 103 years old. Her funeral was this past Friday. It was a long couple of weeks to wait for closure but we are all well.

Logan picked out the perfect little wooden box for me to decorate for my grandmother. I think it was good for him to be able to help in some way. He loved my grandmother very much and has been watching over all of us. The sentence below the clasp reads: made in loving embrace of our fondest remembrances never to be forgotten.

I painted the wood with a pale leaf green acrylic I know she would have loved. Added line work in black Sharpie marker and gold edging around the top of the lid in metallic gold acrylic to give it definition. The centers of the flowers were punched out of vintage poetry and I painted out some of the words. You can read the flowers from left to right.

Flower Poem

“…the hush there made, that should her bliss lay ere it was still, behold her from afar, the world live free, all earthly matters before its flowers, silence now…”

The whole family and some close family friends tucked things inside for her; Mother’s Day cards, letters, photos. I put in all of Ysa’s drawings that she had taped up on grandma’s wall as well as a deck of cards and three poker chips. My grandmother loved to play cards and could still clean you out at 102. The last year it became a little more difficult but she still wore the lime green poker hat we gave her. My mother gave the hat to Logan and he wears it when we play cards to honor her.

The poker chips I put in were from a set that was originally my grandparents’ when I was growing up. They are very old and very cherished; I put in one of each color/point value. They played every Thursday night for years, as long as I could remember, and she taught me how to play. At first, when I was very little, I would sit at her feet and play with extra chips and another deck of cards. As I grew, I went from floor to lap, throwing chips in for her. She was very patience with me and I loved being included. Most children my age would have been in front of the TV in the other room but I have always preferred the company of older people. I love them. I remember my grandfather’s giggle when I would do well. I miss him too, very much.

After the service I asked everyone to write my grandmother a message on a balloon so that we could send them up to her. I wanted to end things on a positive note, to get everyone’s head out of the grave with my grandmother. Ysa had been crying so I got her to help me (partly to distract her) and asked her if she would release them up to grandma. She wanted to do it and the perfect breeze came as if on cue to help her.

All in all it was a good day. It feels weird to say that when you just lost someone, but the sun was shining and most of the family was together. She would have wanted that.

We all went to Antonio’s afterwards for lunch. Outstanding (read unbelievable) food, lots of conversation of our fondest memories and of the future. Mom and I set a place for my grandmother at the head of the table, a bouquet of gorgeous pale pink roses for her.

She was with us, in some small way, I know she was.

Moving forward in her memory

My grandmother passed on April 21st, she was 103 years old. Her funeral was this past Friday. It was a long couple of weeks to wait for closure but we are all well.

Logan picked out the perfect little wooden box for me to decorate for my grandmother. I think it was good for him to be able to help in some way. He loved my grandmother very much and has been watching over all of us. The sentence below the clasp reads: made in loving embrace of our fondest remembrances never to be forgotten.

I painted the wood with a pale leaf green acrylic I know she would have loved. Added line work in black Sharpie marker and gold edging around the top of the lid in metallic gold acrylic to give it definition. The centers of the flowers were punched out of vintage poetry and I painted out some of the words. You can read the flowers from left to right.

Flower Poem

“…the hush there made, that should her bliss lay ere it was still, behold her from afar, the world live free, all earthly matters before its flowers, silence now…”

The whole family and some close family friends tucked things inside for her; Mother’s Day cards, letters, photos. I put in all of Ysa’s drawings that she had taped up on grandma’s wall as well as a deck of cards and three poker chips. My grandmother loved to play cards and could still clean you out at 102. The last year it became a little more difficult but she still wore the lime green poker hat we gave her. My mother gave the hat to Logan and he wears it when we play cards to honor her.

The poker chips I put in were from a set that was originally my grandparents’ when I was growing up. They are very old and very cherished; I put in one of each color/point value. They played every Thursday night for years, as long as I could remember, and she taught me how to play. At first, when I was very little, I would sit at her feet and play with extra chips and another deck of cards. As I grew, I went from floor to lap, throwing chips in for her. She was very patience with me and I loved being included. Most children my age would have been in front of the TV in the other room but I have always preferred the company of older people. I love them. I remember my grandfather’s giggle when I would do well. I miss him too, very much.

After the service I asked everyone to write my grandmother a message on a balloon so that we could send them up to her. I wanted to end things on a positive note, to get everyone’s head out of the grave with my grandmother. Ysa had been crying so I got her to help me (partly to distract her) and asked her if she would release them up to grandma. She wanted to do it and the perfect breeze came as if on cue to help her.

All in all it was a good day. It feels weird to say that when you just lost someone, but the sun was shining and most of the family was together. She would have wanted that.

We all went to Antonio’s afterwards for lunch. Outstanding (read unbelievable) food, lots of conversation of our fondest memories and of the future. Mom and I set a place for my grandmother at the head of the table, a bouquet of gorgeous pale pink roses for her.

She was with us, in some small way, I know she was.

Jingle Bells…Jingle Bells…

Our new home smells of pine and cranberry. The weather is chilly outside and wonderful. Christmas decorations are strung, lovingly, all over the house. Candles are on the mantle and the cards are hanging from a braided string under the wreath over our entertainment center.

It’s Christmas and Ysa has been helping me wrap the presents waiting in a basket at the foot of the tree. Plans are being made over hot cocoa for Val and I to attend mass on Christmas Eve and to make sure we remember to leave out milk and cookies for Santa.

This will be the first year Ysa has had a real Christmas tree, that she will remember anyway. We had one the first year we had her and after that we spent our holidays away in the mountains somewhere. Tucked away in North Carolina or up visiting Logan’s family in Kentucky. Though we are all dying to go mining in Franklin at Jackson Hole Mining Company again, we are also thankful to be home in our new place.

Oh…and the tree’s name is Reginald according to local sources. hehe I must be part Druid though; I can’t help but want to hug him, thank him for being here (not that he had a choice) and tell him good morning every day. Ysa thinks it’s a hoot and joins in. I think it comes from reading Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” a lot.

So, with all this in mind, we…Ria, Ysa, Val, Logan…oh, and Reginald…would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a very Blessed Yule. Ok, now back to the book project and the last of the decorations! hehe

Namaste…

In the right place at the right time…

Coffeeshops ??????? part networking, part addiction, and not just to caffeine. What is it really? The addiction to the solitude of plugging in your laptop, sipping a chai or macchiato, nibbling a scone and interacting with yourself. The perfect place to hone your ability to write in peace and be productive while being totally distracted.

I went to Starbuck????????s late yesterday afternoon for a meeting. I had planned on getting their earlier but, having a four year old, that doesn????????t always figure into the equation. Instead I arrived on time after having gotten a call from the person I was to meet saying she????????d gotten there early (she doesn????????t have kids) and was waiting outside because it was packed. The packed part came as no shock. Starbuck????????s is the home away from home for so many of us at times. The fact that any place would allow you to partially ???????move in??????? as you unpack all your gear in their shop is always a plus. Goes along with being able to sit on the floor in the aisle of your local Barnes & Noble.

After the meeting, which went well, I decided to go inside and snag one of the three highly coveted, overstuffed comfy chairs in the corner and take up residence for a couple hours of writing. I set up, went to the counter and bought my tall Vanilla latte, eyed the butterfly cookies. I decided my sweet tooth was partially dormant for once so I behaved and, drink in hand, returned to my little nesting area and began to write. Mid-sentence I ran into a friend I????????d not seen in a while, a regular at the local Improv show. We chatted pleasantly a few minutes, discussed her new show she was rehearsing for at Civic Theatre, promised to catch up, exchanged current info and hugged our miss you????????s and goodbyes.

It????????s funny. At home if I am interrupted while I am working I have a hard time getting my focus back. There, in the middle of one of the most active places in the city, I have no problem at all. Is it because I know how to drown it all out? Or is it that I expect to be interrupted so I????????m more flexible. I think it is a little of both.

I settled back in and started writing again. A young woman, with a smile that instantly warms you and draws you in, came over to a table nearby and joined into a conversation about the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (how we couldn????????t believe that someone had never heard of them) without missing a beat. She immediately made me feel comfortable, like I had known her all my life and just hadn????????t seen her in a long time. I heard her mention to a friend that she????????d gotten into doing Mary Kay and I waited expecting the normal sales pitch. I was pleasantly surprised and scolded myself for being so negative as we both sat quietly working at our laptops after the music discussion and laughter had subsided, TSO????????s music still playing in our heads.

You know me, I????????m a ???????motor-mouth??????? and have never been one to let the opportunity to meet someone pass. It????????s how I am, how I network, how I make friends. I struck up a conversation on ??????? I don????????t even remember now on what ??????? and we happily talked for about two hours. As it turns out she is very much a kindred spirit, another artist and someone I have already begun to play muse to as she needs more outlets for her work. She has some amazing black & white contrast pieces that I am hoping to help her get out around town more and online. She and I both enjoy being creative and working with all kinds of media though primarily pen and ink. Neither one of us is afraid of art and like to dig in and get our hands dirty.

An acquaintance of hers came in and she introduced me. After another hour????????s worth of banter between the three of us I wrote down my information for the two of them, we all ended up exchanging numbers, and then finally had to say my goodbyes. She stood and hugged me which, by this time, I had expectedly welcomed and we made promises to get together after our hectic weeks.

Every once in a while, being in the right place at the right time rewards me with a new lifelong friend.