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“Stellajoe!” my father used to say, “How would you like to live in a place like this on a day like this?”

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It’s become my mantra. I would like to live in a place like this, especially when the sky is blue, the trees are bursting into green and pink and red, the rhodies are stuffed with pompoms of bloom, water is sparkling, the mountains are still brilliant in their white garb of winter. Pacific Northwesterners are the luckiest people on the planet. (I know, people elsewhere think they are the luckiest, which is a happy thing.)

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I spent last weekend in Seattle. Friday the Littles’ daycare was closed and I had them both, all day, by myself. They were, um, energetic.

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It wasn’t cold, Elliot just likes his new jacket. And I couldn’t find his sweatshirt.

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The bakery.

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Gigi needed a break.

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Grabbed those bananas himself when my back was turned.

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Elliot, budding creative chef, made a pb/jelly/green bean/carrot sandwich for snack (after not eating the pbj sandwich at lunch).

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Beautiful, but he declared it “yucky.” Said the green beans were old.

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Making a Mother’s Day card while the moms went to a spin class.

Saturday was Adrian’s second birthday.

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Another stunning creation by Mama Wynne. It was, by Adrian’s choice, a Dog Party.

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Best ever gift from Aunt Becca and Gigi.

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Sunday was my first motherless Mother’s Day. I had planned this weekend long before I knew last Mother’s Day was to be her last. I was a little anxious, and a little defiant when I put it on the calendar. What if there are no more years after this one to celebrate my mother, and I’m selfishly off wanting to be the mother for a change instead of the daughter? What if she’s having a bad day and I have to cancel my plans at the last minute?

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Last year, one year before she left us.

To have been freed last month of these dilemmas will, I think, continue to cause me wonder for a long time. I can go off on an adventure without planning ahead, without the possibility that I will have to cancel, without having to watch the clock to return in time to visit her or relieve Rebecca of responsibility. I’m not wishing for those days back; don’t make me into some paragon of regret that they are over. (You’ve read my blog, right?)

But to spend days like this in a place like this, I can’t but think of her, and of my father, with gratitude for their quest to move to the corner of the country, to love it, to instill that love in me and my family. I suspect I will hold them with me everywhere I go.

We went to Carkeek Park. I had never been. It is, incredibly, ten minutes from my daughter and daughter-in-love’s home. And it was a sparkling day.

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Teaming with life,

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(sea cucumbers)

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(anemone)

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and love.

 

I’ve been digging through my mother’s scattered collection of favorite poems, quotes, and her own prolific writing looking for ones my sisters and I will use in special tribute at her memorial service next month. I found notes she wrote about me describing what was blooming two or three springs ago, she wishing she could be out in the glory, that she could see it through eyes that had become pale and cloudy. I hope she is in it now, and in her own glory.

Meanwhile, the weeds are growing. And I’m not out there pulling them. Last winter’s blow down (and that from the year before) still hasn’t been picked up. The hawthorn and the apple trees didn’t get pruned again and are now infringing on the view. The out-of-control vinca is climbing into the lilac. Blackberry vines are growing through the rhododendron. I still haven’t planted flowers, squash, and beans in my garden. I miss winter.

The Joy of Life

How sweet is Life, how beautiful!

Go, happy life, and say to Death –
“I gave this woman sufficient joy
To last her for a thousand years.”

Stellajoe Staebler
June 2008

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A place like this, on a day like this. Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. I love you.