Archive for the ‘aging’ Category

Now, at 90, my place in family history
I am the oldest living man or woman in my family. It has been the women living, triumphantly, out living their men and some children. The loss of children is unbearable. Now that I have lost my son, I grieve in silence as my aunt must have. And for those children unborn.

The women on my mother’s side were those who have aged the best. Grancy holds the prize. At 100 plus she survived slavery, segregation, birthing thirteen known children and everything in between. She was born Adeline in NC about 1833. Her mother may have been Portia and her father a Crump. They were slaves of the Crump family. When Adeline was 5, they were transported to a plantation in Holly Springs, MS. 
Her first child, Josephine, was fathered by a Crump when Adeline was 13. A total of 8 children were born before Grancy was loaned to Ephraim Talbot. He and his brother, Francis, had moved to Holly Springs from MA in 1840 to open pharmacies. Ephraim’s wife died leaving him with two young boys.
Grancy was rented, probably to live in and care for the sons. Her daughter Josephine had ben living with the William Strickland family since age 9. He was a prominent lawyer, no relation to my gradfather. There she was the nurse maid to their infant daughter, Perle.
Four children were fathered, born while Grancy lived with the Talbots: Victor (1860),Annie (1862), Adeline and William.
These four youngest children were educated at Rust College paid for by their father? Ephraim. Grancy had big responsibilities as Ephraim also ran a pharmmacy in Memphis, TN. He spent a great deal of time there running Talbot and Yates pharmacy and his slave holdings. Grancy managed the the household and his slaves in Holly Springs.
As the Civil War heated up and Memphis businesses were in danger, Ephraim returned to MS and two of Grancy’s children were born as the war ended.
My grandmother, Annie Talbot, became a school teacher at 18. She married my grandfather when they both graduated from Rust College. Annie took her mother everywhere she lived. In Little Rock, AR, El Paso and Houston, TX, Wilberforce, OH where she taught in colleges, and finally Detroit, MI.
Annie and William Strickland married when they both graduated from Rusr College. While my grandfather studied medicine at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, the family lived in Little Rock, AR where my grandmother taught in high schools and colleges. My mother Velma and Aunt Unita taught school also.

I ssay Grancy lived longer than any other family member because records were not kept at the time to clearly state births. The names of Crump slaves were recorded on arrival in MS. Grancy herself said she remembered 100 years and the presidents who served in her lifetime. 

Unita lived to be 101 as active then as ever. She worked for the government in Detroit. She followed the tradition of caring for her mother until her death. My great aunt, Adeline (Aunt Addie) Morris lived to be 92. She taught at Rust College and was a political powerhouse in KC, KS.

And now it is a puzzle to be resolved in the future. The statistics for me are good. I never was a smoker. I did not drink alcohol until my late forties and I have an active, quirky mind. So, will it be the tortoise or the hare?

Sent from my iPad

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The Chair

The Chair
She sat most days in that chair on the porch. Like everything around, it never really seemed.old. It must have been put there on that porch, in the same place by Grancy. Neither she nor the chair would have been young at the time.
It is placed to catch just enough sun and shade. Sitting there, you never get too hot to stopping shelling peas nor too cold to go inside. Each woman of the house shaped that chair. You could feel the tiny form of Grancy. Each generation a bit larger made its own form, blurring the harder edges under them. It took years to mold the seat to fit each larger bottom.
Sitting in the chair, you can must look up to see the interstate. Its wall dead ends the street so everybody who passes by speaks. Some come to the steps to look toward the chair. These are the gossipers, salesmen, mostly men with eager eyes. Not so often now, when they learn the girls are grown, living on their own.
The chair stays on the porch. It is smooth and dark as are the women who sit there. Enough happens in front of them that the newsboy never stops. All the stories are shared more with chair than either lady. Its like it has been in the same exact spot for over 100 years. One woman sits there as if she has become royalty and the chair is her throne. It will be hers as long as she is able to get up in the morning. 
And the chair now is occupied with the great-grand daughter. She stares over the railing of the porch. A few brown and near brown children play in the hot dusty street. It is summer and they come out early. Their parents are asleep. Most count on someone in the chair will keep them quiet. 
A few sharply dressed women head for the dead end which traps all on this street. A path through one unfenced yard is the only escape to the bus stop. Their stride, more plodding than teetering. Their good heels, carefully wrapped in tissue, lie next to their umbrella in oversize handbags. A few have only a shopping bag. These women work as house cleaners, child and health care workers. The factories closed years ago.
The only real sounds are from the flowing rush hour cars above the wall. It is mid -morning before the gawking eyed men come to the steps with gossip. Who is sleeping with whom? Why the eighteen year old boy at the corner hasn’t been seen? He was in jail for a week before he died. Who is making, selling or using drugs. 
Nothing ruffles the mood in the chair. The rhythm of shelling peas never stops. The stories are always the same. . But yesterday was different. Sirens, banging and speed on top of the wall, just as sunlight faded. It changed everything. 
For once, the chair was empty for something other than chores or church. No one took her place. The siren and flashing lights lit up the air. A huge SUV tumbled side over side, front over back, end over end down the wall into the dead end street. 

Looking up, you could just see the top of a long truck. And parts of cars on top seem caught in the concrete as the car descended the wall. It drew a crowd because no one ever knew what went right or wrong on top where cars raced at rush hour. In the crowd were the children. A few on bikes. A few mothers with toddlers quickly left the bloody scene. “Bedtime”they said gathering them close.

As always the gawking men had started the evening with a few drinks. They ran back and forth as a telegraph service. Women were coming back from work. At first, no one knew what to do. A man, the driver, got out easily. He seemed uneasy facing the crowd and hearing the sirens of police, fire and ambulance. This was going to be a new story.
“Get the chair.” She ordered one of the larger boys. The chair! It had never moved off its spot on the porch for over a hundred years.
Some one was needed to settle the man. Some one to decide what was needed. Others in the car had to be checked until an ambulance could come. It was amazing anyone survived. Then she said to a crowd “Let us pray,” And they did. 
Suddenly the driver got up out of the chair, confessing his sins to her, sharing how it happened he found himself falling in a large SUV over a wall into their very laps. The police came first. The wrecker cleared most of the SUV except what remained on the wall, An ambulance arrived last. It got lost because ever since the interstate came, the street was an alley. All the people in the car rode out in the ambulance.
She took her chair. She put in its place on the porch as near as she could remember. Then she sat down as someone always did, She was royalty and the chair was her throne.

Sent from my iPad

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Ribbon! (Photo credit: Cut To Pieces)

Where are recent posts going? Why Dolls?

When you cannot sleep because your mind is making poetry or music, you might as well get up. The things you wanted to create, fly away like moths drawn to another light. I listened to C-span books for company: a reading by Alice Walker

Note to self: gift book for 60-year-old friends.
My project now is to explain why I have been posting about the dolls.

A search using Bing confirmed that my memory served me well. Using wax on dolls is an old tradition. For a sale, I gathered a small group of dolls made 10 years ago. The baked clay parts were sewn into kente cloth, stuffed with cotton batting. I had a badly broken ankle. This activity helped fill the sedentary hours. Now that I am using wax, it is natural to try the dolls again.

My restless thinking was wanting to explain more. To myself, if not to others. Should I write about my childhood dolls, ramble on about life, forget the point? That can wait.

Tonight it is about life. Define it in blocks of decades, places I have lived, etc. I want a timeline ribbon, smooth with some textured pattern woven in. It needs to be so long that knots will stand for difficult times. The lengths in between, decades noted. Such a ribbon would be like a river in the moonlight. Silvery bright, moving like silk in darkness toward a knot of rocks beyond the curves.

Have you seen preschoolers walk in tandem with large name tags swinging from their necks? Each has a little hand holding a rope, knotted to keep their places. My ribbon will have stories to tell, memories to share. When all senses diminish, the sense of touch remains.

Once I wanted a story quilt but now hope for the ribbon. If and when I move away, my ribbon can br pressed into my hand. It will not matter which end is loose. I will find a knot or smooth space with my fingers like the garbanzo bean rosary or greek worry beads.

My memories are told or untold? Have you heard this story before? Listen….



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Meaning of Friend

It is different to define friend from friendship. My friend would tell me to speak for myself. But, now that I am losing my friend, I speak for the two of us.

We met at an Intercollegiate Student YM-YW summer project. About thirty of us lived in the Hartford Seminary and worked in industry. We worked in different departmets of the Underwood Typewriter Factory. I had been active on campus (Spelman College), had attended regional conferences (my train was the only one going that way!), and had urged three others to attend.

Along the way, I had gained the name Boots. Whit came from an idyllic small town in MA with a waterfall in the yard, a river across the street and private school. She is two years older and had been a Danny Grad (Danforth Fellowship) and worked for the YWCA. Our friendship started with her pulling covers off each morning to get me out to the job. At night the group shared meals, high-jinks and serious seminars about labor.

Her giving nature recommended me for a Danny which had no diversity at that time. The president of my college was the main reference and she declined to support me. She had no knowledge of this program and would have preferred to submit a student of her choice. This was a deep disappointment to my friend. She went to Columbia to study religion and I was the only single woman in the Howard University School of Religion.

Our lives crisscrossed over the next many years. Short visits, quick notes, punctuated lives of marriage, children and family elders. She, the more understanding of her faith, used her quiet resolve to listen and act for justice in ways I never did.

Faced with the death of my in-laws and dissolution of a long marriage, her counsel gave me the ability to shape my days into productive years. When her husband and companion of more than fifty years died, she shared with me her fears. Fortunately, the telephone rates became manageable so that we could talk everyday.. We lived apart connecting through our friendship, concern for health and safety of the other.

There was more. I learned from her to ask myself: what were the skills you used to get through all the bad times in your life? That was like a splash of cold water in the face. She learned from me to use a computer to publish her writings, to be more confident in her art. She had always known about my life and I learned how parallel lives can be.

We both aged as gracefully as possible. Our daughters – and my sons – began to be more parent as we tried to maintain a standard of independence. She tried her best to get me to plan for the unknown future.

Last Tuesday, I had surgery and her every thought and prayer was for my health. I learned she did this for me even though, that same day, she suuddenly was nearing her own death. I protest but cannot, will not, lose my friend of over 64 years.

Please see Changes, a post in
December 2011

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Diary (Photo credit: Barnaby)


Diary (Photo credit: toby___)


Imperfect Impulses liked my post Santa’s Route (thank you.) I checked his blog. This morning activity turns out to be ‘where did the time go?’

In a cartoon, there would be a lady in easy chair surrounded by books, computer or iPad, clock, mug and, of course, words and images swirling around her head. To make it morning-lost, perhaps curlers or scarf on hair, house coat etc.

One of Imperfect’s posts asks what is best to keep: art journals or smash books? I had not heard the term ‘smash books. ”

Swirling about my head are terms evoking memories.


How have I recorded past memories?
The small lined 5 year diary with green cover, gold lock and key was a 10 year olds introduction to the difficulty of writing. I lost interest before I lost the diary. The memory remains of the limitations of lines. I can still recall one entry:

My uncle purchased 52 acres more or less with his war pension.  It had hills, he said. My diary drawing of hills gave no indication of a future career as an artist. Two knockdown. Writer! Artist!

Through the years more memories were started on envelopes and yellow pads. Sketch books have text additions according to my mood. Travel journals include outfits, activities and menus beside pen and ink drawings.

As I approached 80, journals became more important. I prefer blank paper to add sketches and paste programs etc.  The first many were spiral books with colorful covers bought at art stores or online. Small books with black paper are used for gel pen abstract drawings. Each has a thought or poem added.


Now I am using Moleskin thin books for writing and those with Japanese folded paper for sketching.  My friend, who keeps her writing well-organized, gave me a beautiful book to combine my interests. It is a jill bliss Butterfly Fields Eco-Journal published by Chronicle Books in San Francisco.

Who knew?

Journalling, recording audio and video as well as blogging will provide the materials for historians. Usually one family member becomes the keeper of secrets. I hope our online posts will be mechanically retrievable but if not, handwriting on archival paper will preserve the memories we wish to share.

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"In the Beginning"

How’ you doing?

I am feeling just fine, thank you.

"It felt like Sunday"
Birthday Decadence

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This morning leartisteboots by itself hit  2000 on its stat page!

Who knew?

Many, many thanks for all who have made this happen. It has been a pleasant surprise that anyone finds our posts. Even more surprising has been the generosity of sharing from readers around the world.

Some, really few, have commented negatively. BUT they took their time from busy lives to express their feelings. And many of you are now buddies. And special thanks to the many twitter and WordPress followers.

I have learned so much from others. The process is sometimes challenging, stretching my mental abilities! It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.

My mentor knows she opened Pandora’s box when she introduced me to WordPress. What wonders lie ahead?

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