My father once gave me some very good, simple advice that has always stuck with me, maybe more than anything else he ever said!
He told me that in life, you should make any decision based on the best information you have at a given time, and then you just go forward. You don't look back and second-guess yourself, saying "I should have..." or "Maybe if I'd..." I have many times realized just how right he was. (Daddy below as a young man during WWII:)
Well, I thought about that this morning as I woke up. My 85-year old dad is, as we speak, having open heart surgery, and he is definitely on my mind. I'll be heading down to Georgia to see him next week, to be with him once he's out of the hospital. My older sister and her husband are with him right now. (Daddy below, at 85, agonizing over a critical move he's making in a hot game of Farkle!:)
It's so typical of life, to me, that our family tends to stay very healthy, but right now, two of my family members are having pretty major health concerns, at the exact same time--my dad, and my younger sister, Claudia. (below with her 2 kids:)
Daddy and Claudia,...you' re both definitely such troopers, and I know you are going to do well. You've both had pretty agonizing decisions to make, and I know you're both "moving forward." I love you both... "The family is one of Nature's masterpieces."(-George Santayana)
I remember as a little kid growing up, my parents were both very literate, and my mom at one point evidently had the notion of naming us each after characters in literature. I think it was either my father or a broad stroke of luck that saved any of us from being called something like "Bathsheba" after Thomas Hardy's famous character in Far From the Madding Crowd. My maiden name was "Schmidt." Imagine: Bathsheba Schmidt. Famously, I then went from Schmidt to "Smith" when I married.
I admit that with a name like "Suzanne Smith," I have picked up my share of other peoples' clothes from the dry cleaner, (especially since I usually go by "Sue.") There is a definite anonymity to Sue Smith that I actually kind of enjoy. Let's just say, there are a lot of us out there.
When I first moved South, I lived in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, and I can remember trying to cash checks at the grocery store. A native Elkton-ite would peer over his glasses at me, suspiciously eyeing me across the checkout counter, and say "Sue Smith...I don't think I know you, do I?" Having grown up in the NY metropolitan area, I'd think to myself, "And now, what's wrong with that?" I guess he was mentally castigating me for being not only a Yankee, visiting the South, but since I was now living in the South, a Damn Yankee at that.
I like the name Suzanne, but people often think I'm "Susan," and if they call out to me saying that, I won't turn around, because I don't think they mean me.
Just try checking into hotels: when my then-husband Bob and I would come to the hotel front desk, they'd sort of cast a knowing glance at us, as if to say, "Of course you're Bob and Sue Smith...sure you are!"
Of course, there are some infamous Sue Smiths as well--if you'll recall, there was one Sue Smith who tragically drove her own progeny into a lake.
My son Eric has the same problems with the name Eric Smith. There was an equally notorious story about a very young Eric Smith who bludgeoned another small child to death. When my son first went away to college as an undergrad, my parents would write to him all the time, and my dad would clip stories from the NY Times about other "Eric Smiths" and send them to Eric in letters. On my first visit to see Eric as a freshman on campus, I came to his dorm room door, and cracked up. The entire door was literally covered from top to bottom with articles from newspapers about abominable things that other Eric Smiths had done.
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." (--Willy the Shake)
(sketch after an image on a Victoria magazine cover)
Danny Gregory's wife died this past week: While I never met her, she had a profound impact on me (as well as many people in the art world,) whether she realized it or not. Today, I'm feeling a heavy sadness for the loss of a beautiful woman, and I'm thinking of her husband Danny and his son Jack Tea.
Danny wrote Everyday Matters, a book that has inspired thousands of people to pick up a pencil, and create. He himself wrote it as a result of his own experiences with his wife's tragic accident some years ago. Art helped him to cope with what seemed an unbearable situation, and he shared his experience with the rest of us.
Danny's words of encouragement and passion for art have influenced me, and my condolences go out to him and his family.
Below is Danny and Patti's son, Jack Tea, and his poignant video about his family: Patti's accident impacted their immediate family, and as a result of Danny's book, so many others of us as well...
"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal." (Unknown)
Sure'n begorrah, it's St Paddy's Day! Erin go Bragh!
The sketch above is a page from my Scottish grandmother's autograph book from 1900. She'd be happy that I'm "remembering my British heritage."
Happy St Patrick's Day to you all! After all, we all have a little Irish in us on March 17th, don't we?
And since I'm thinking about my own mother, and remembering her today, here is the wonderful Irish poet Seamus Heany reciting a moving poem about his mother:
It's a poignant recollection of a single, simple moment with her that stayed with him forever...
In Memoriam: M.K.H 1911-1984
When all the others were away at Mass I was all hers as we peeled potatoes. They broke the silence, let fall one by one, Like solder weeping off the soldering iron: Cold comforts set between us, things to share Gleaming in a bucket of clean water. And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes From each other's work would bring us to our senses.
So while the parish priest at her bedside Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying And some were responding and some crying I remembered her head bent towards my head, Her breath in mine, our fluent, dipping knives-- Never closer the whole rest of our lives.
It's Daylight Saving Time, so I'll be jet-lagged all week. I always am.
But I admit, I'm thinking of all that glorious light that will greet me on the way home from work soon. Maybe I won't have to put my headlights on for the commute. That may just compensate for those brain-fogged mornings.
We slept in on Saturday and came downstairs to bake some Williams-Sonoma golden-fresh croissants and marmalade. Our camellias are blooming, so we have them, as well as daffodils, all over the place, in vases.
Today, the land line phone rang, and I heard Joe answer it and listen. Then, he slowly went over to a table, and quietly laid down the receiver, (still on,) and turned on the TV close by. He left the phone there for the telemarketer to listen to while we went on our merry way.
Gotta' love it. Wish I'd thought of that. (Almost makes me not care about our "do not call" status.)
Beware the ides of March...
But do go see Alice in Wonderland if you can! It's wonderful:
Well, if you read my blog at all, you'll know that I have lots of "Eric stories."
My son, like most kids, was a riot when he was a child, and I admit, I thoroughly enjoyed all of his antics. Thanks to the wonders of email, facebook, twitter, flickr and cell phones, I'm able to see, pretty readily on any given day, what he's currently up to, and we invariably jot notes back and forth. Here he is hamming it up in his homage to Dexter:
Now, trust me, none of the stories I share with you all are even remotely new to Eric. I've often shared with him amusing anecdotes about what he was like as a child, because I want him to know how much I enjoyed him as a little guy.
You may remember me telling you in the past that when I lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, my younger brother Eddie came to live with us for a number of years. (L-r: my brother Eddie and Eric):
Eric was just a little guy when Eddie moved in. As Eddie was getting settled, he and I took Eric to the hardware store to purchase some shades for the bedroom that was to become "Eddie's room." And since Eric was quite small at the time, he kept wandering off, away from me, into different aisles in the store, which made me a nervous wreck. After all, who knew what a little toddler could get into in a hardware store!?
Wherever he'd gone, he was tiny, and I couldn't see where he was, so I kept questioning, out loud: "Eric! Where ARE you?" He would invariably reply, from an aisle or two away, in a fairly calm and quiet voice, "I'm right here."
I don't think Eddie, at that age, realized the havoc my son could create if left to his own devices. Eddie and I continued to discuss the exciting shades we'd come to purchase, but I continuously interrupted our discussions and called out to try to determine where Eric was.
After some time, when I still couldn't actually see him, I finally carefully enunciated, in a very firm, loud voice,: "ERIC, WHERE ARE YOU,... AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"
For all the store's patrons to hear, loudly and clearly, Eric replied, (perfectly mimicking the enunciation and tone of my voice): "I'M RIGHT HERE... AND I'M JUST PICKING MY NOSE."
(I had to ask, right?...)
(Eric, below, looking particularly debonnaire, in that "Yearbook Yourself" application):
"Boy, n.: A noise with dirt on it." --(Not your Average Dictionary)