Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Family and Greers Ferry Lake, Arkansas

Dear Mom,

It's been a busy few weeks with two of my out-of-town children in for a visit. Not that I was with them 24/7, but having people in and out of the house somehow makes it feel busier.  Casey, my son in from LA, California and Jessica, my middle daughter, in from Boston, Massachusetts and I went to Rita's work (Rita's the baby) to do a little writing/drawing/reading. We all were trying to put on our serious face... that's usually not hard for me because I never have a natural smiley face, but that doesn't mean I'm not happy.

Last weekend we took a road trip to Arkansas to see Casey, Jessica, and Rita's older sister, Jennifer and her family. We stayed at their lake house.
Here's a view of part of the lake

Just to help clarify things--Jennifer, Casey, Jessica, Rita, Eric and Ethan all have the same father. Jennifer is from his first marriage. Casey, Jessica and Rita are from his second marriage (with me), and Erik and Ethan are from his third marriage. Erik is in Afghanistan. Here is Jennifer (driving the boat) and Ethan.

Jennifer started things off with a handstand off the pontoon boat.

Later, John (Jennifer's husband) took Alex (Jenn's daughter), Emmy, Abby (John's daughters - he also has another daughter, Livvy who wasn't able to make it due to a tournament), Casey, Jessica and Ethan out tubing. Rita was the smart one and stayed with Jennifer and me on the pontoon boat.

The boats were anchored near some cliffs. Throughout the day some of the braver ones climbed up and jumped off.  I'm not much of a water person, so needless to say I didn't do any jumping. But here are all the siblings jumping off the cliff.
Rita, Casey, Jessica and Jennifer

Ethan was a bit shy to jump, but eventually jumped from a lower cliff.

Here are a few other shots:
Alex and Abby, although it could be Emmy as Abby and Emmy are twins... and yes, they look exactly alike.






 John, Rita and me

We had a great time and it will be one of those vacations planted in the memory garden that will only blossom.
 Another view from their lake house during sunset.

Thanks Jenn, John, Alex, Abby and Emmy.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday Dad!

Dear Mom,

7/20/1912 - 3/30/2002

I'm sure you know it's dad's birthday today. Had he lived, he would have been 100!  That's hard to believe. It's also hard to believe that he's been gone for 10 years.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Here are a few pictures:

A professional shot from Olin Mills, but I can't remember what year. I'm kind of thinking it was shortly after you died, when he was dating Clara or soon after he remarried. But I'm not really sure, mid to late 70s.  He really didn't change that much from the one above which had to be early 90s.

Here's one of him holding Casey as a toddler. Casey will be 29 soon, so that photo is over 25 years old.

And then here's one of Jessica sitting on his lap. That picture is from 1989 or 1990 because that's when I was living in Susan's house.

I'm not sure why I don't have one with Rita (sorry stinker). I probably do, just can't put my fingers on it now.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Uncle Joe

Dear Mom,

I had something else in mind to write to you, but then unexpectedly, sort of, something else came up. Your brother, Joe died. Today was the burial. I wasn't able to make it to the wake, but arrived at the funeral parlor early this morning to pay my respects, go to mass, and the grave site.

While sitting in the funeral parlor, your two sisters, Edna and Electa sat in front of me. They are the only two siblings left from the nine of you. As I sat there wondering what it might be like if you were sitting there, Aunt Electa turned to Aunt Edna and said, "Well, you're 80 and I'm 90, who do you think will be next?"

It's hard to explain the kind of delivery Aunt Electa has that makes what she says even more adorable.

You had to be there.

She giggled.

It touched my heart to the core because of its innocence, honesty, and humor.

You know she has Alzheimer's?

I wanted to bawl like a baby, but held it together... just like all of your sisters have done, and the two left, still do.

Because your brother Joe served in the war, a seven gun salute, the folding of the flag, and the playing of Taps by a lone bugler didn't allow for a dry eye at the cemetery. Losing a loved one tugs at your heart, but there is something about the added military ceremony that pulls you... speechless.

Sending love to Aunt Electa and Aunt Edna, and especially to my cousins, Steve, Paula and Burt.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Writer, Right?

Dear Mom,

There are days when the inner critic is so strong that in order not to have to listen to it any longer I decide that I'm no longer going to be a writer. That's it! I shout to myself. No More! I hear it chuckle because the inner critic knows it has its claws dug in. The wounds will be so deep once I remove said claws, the scars will be felt almost with the same intensity... I whimper, does it ever go away?

I then proclaim, I'm a writer! I can't not write. Even if it's a handwritten letter, I will write. I will write for the JOY of writing. Whatever brings me joy, then that's what I will write about. Forget who might like it. Forget if it will be published. Forget all the things that spin around in my head that keep me from experiencing the pure joy of writing.

My kids - your grandkids - are always encouraging me. Hey, I'm their mother. But who knows, there could be kids out there that don't encourage their parents to pursue their dream. They push me to be a better writer.

I'm not sure why, but Rita feels I'm a better memoir writer than any other kind. My inner critic wants to shout - Who Cares?

I think about you and how I would love to read your words about your life, how you felt, what you did at different stages in your life, who was your first love, how many times your heart was broken, your dreams, what you were passionate about, you name it... I would then know a piece of you that I've never had the opportunity to experience. Even though my kids are experiencing me and know much more about me then I ever knew about you, I'm sure they would find out things they either forgot to ask or I didn't want to tell... then.

I picked up the pen and started writing memoir. I have less than 8 hours in and I'm at 19,000 plus words. Maybe I do have something to share. Maybe I am a writer.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Maison Des Rêveurs" at the Tivoli

Dear Mom,

I told you about your granddaughter, Rita and the movie, "Maison Des Rêveurs" that she created. I just got the information from Rita about her movie being shown at the Tivoli, part of the 12th Annual Whitaker St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase.

It's on Sunday, July 8 at Noon - in the Shorts 1 - Citygarden (83 min.) program. General admission tickets are $12, students and CSL members are $10. Tickets are on sale now. You can purchase tickets at the door or https://tickets.landmarktheatres.com/Ticketing.aspx?TheatreID=258

The Bippen family reunion is on this day, but I'll be late because of course you know I wouldn't miss seeing Rita's movie on the big screen.  If anyone is interested, let me know...


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