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Memorial Dedication

IMG_0598As I start writing this entry, Google’s doodle is celebrating Maurice Sendak’s 85th birthday. Sendak was one of Lesa’a favorite authors, and I think she would have enjoyed Google’s tribute. Children’s books and teaching children to read was such an important part of Lesa’s life.

On Lesa’s birthday, May 24, 2013, many members of Team Lesa gathered at John Nowlin Elementary School for a very special occasion. Thanks to the efforts of Linda Glasgow, Jean Hill, Amy McDonald and Herb Webb, John Nowlin now has a special reading area dedicated to Lesa. The funds for this project were provided by Lesa’s Memorial Fund, and I can’t imagine a more fitting way to have honored her memory. Linda, Amy and Jean worked with Nowlin’s principal Kacey Roush to find a place for this Memorial Book Nook. Cory, Bryce and I will always be grateful to the many people whose contributions made this a reality. I hope Team Lesa approves!

Memorial Book Nook

Memorial Book Nook

This plaque memorializes the many ways Lesa touched the lives of the people in her life. The photo was taken when she was honored as Blue Springs School District Employee of the Month.

Plaque

Plaque

A part of Lesa will always be at Nowlin. To symbolize this a piece of art glass by Michelle Kaptur containing some of Lesa’s ashes has been placed in the Memorial Book Nook. Michelle calls these pieces SoulBursts. If you would like to learn more about Michelle and her work visit her SoulBursts website.

SoulBurst by Michelle Kaptur

SoulBurst by Michelle Kaptur

There are more pictures of this event on the Memorial Dedication page. My thanks to Lauren Groom for taking these pictures, and thank you to all who were able to attend!

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A Walk in the Woods

Bryce and Cory by the pond, just after we scattered Lesa’s ashes in the water.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of Lesa’s death. The boys and I took a walk on the Nature Habitat Trail at Burr Oak to scatter some of Lesa’s ashes. I wanted a place close to home we could easily visit, and these woods at Burr Oak have become a kind of church to me over the years. The first place we stopped was the pond. There’s a bench nearby. If you’ve noted my photos on FaceBook you’ve seen a few pictures of this pond. The other place we visited was the “Long Loop, Short Loop” sign that appears on the cover of my book The Long Loop. The boys and I walked the short loop on this trip, remembering Lesa.

Leech Lake, July 14

Sunset on July 14

Lesa, Cory, Bryce and I vacationed at Leech Lake last summer, out last trip together as a family. We have visited almost every year for over three decades, and many of my favorite memories of my life with Lesa are of time spent together there. While we were there Lesa mentioned to me that she would like some of her ashes scattered in the lake. She had never included the lake on her list before.

So many of us who had been there with Lesa gathered on July 14 to scatter some of her ashes at sunset. Joining Cory, Bryce, Lauren Dalton and I were Barb and Gary Noble and Kyla Bates; Lauren, John and Jakob Groom; Ruth Ann Moore and John Stone; Susie Zammar and David Gale; Barb Falconer; and Bob Gross.

Flowers in the water.

Some quiet moments remembering Lesa.

As we scattered Lesa’s ashes we also dropped flowers into the water and they drifted out toward the sunset. (Lauren Groom texted me later in the week to let me know that they had seen the flowers still floating in the center of Walker Bay during a boat trip to Walker.) I’m certainly grateful to everyone who chose to join us to remember Lesa.

We are, of course, approaching the first anniversary of Lesa’s death. I have posted videos of Lesa’s memorial service here. They are on a separate page. To see them click on the “Memorial Service” tab above. I thought they might provide a good way to remember Lesa for those who still find their way to this blog.

I miss her, and if you’re reading this, I imagine you do, too. I’m glad you remember her.

Image

Kaysee Clark, beth webb, Howard Booth, Herb Webb, Chris Barr, and Bonita Booth joined me at Founders Lake to scatter some of Lesa’s ashes. The weekend was cloudy and rainy, but the skies cleared and we enjoyed warm and sunny weather when the time came to gather. Howard read “What I Still Have” from The Long Loop.

Poems

I recently finished the book of poems I mentioned in the previous post. It’s available here. It includes the poem “You Waiting” which was read at Lesa’s memorial service.

Lesa and I were married 27 years ago today, and tonight I’m headed back to the place where our paths first crossed four decades ago to scatter some of her ashes. I know Team Lesa travels with me…

The Long Loop

ImageWhile walking in the woods recently, I came to the point on the trail in this picture. I’ve passed it hundreds of times, but the sign grabbed my attention on this particular walk. Standing there, I thought that although Lesa and I had traveled through life together—including walks on that very trail—our paths have now diverged. Her journey through life was the shorter loop, and mine will be longer. Maybe I’ve started to feel that my life will go on without her. (I understand why the death rate among the widowed is greater than the rest of the population for the six months after the spouse’s death—I have felt at times that the answer to the pain of separation is simply to follow.)

At this place on the trail you turn, left or right, and the metaphor of “turning the corner” after a period of suffering grief might come to mind. However, for me the process resembles emerging from a fog. If you keep moving you get brief glimpses of a way ahead, but then the mist obscures the view again.

I suppose my hope is that the view ahead will get clearer and clearer, and the periods of pain and feeling lost in the fog will get shorter and further apart. I felt that way standing on Crescent Beach in Florida, watching the rising sun break through the clouds. For now, I keep writing. I can imagine a book of poems, The Long Loop, with a picture of that trail sign on the cover…

Dear Mrs. Jones

Of the many tributes to Lesa’s life and work that have been offered since her death, I believe this one would have most touched her heart. From a former student now in 5th grade:

Dear Mrs. Jones,

In 5th grade we read the book Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Palocco. [This book was a particular favorite of Lesa’s.] The book is about a 5 year old girl named Tricia. Tricia finally got the family tradition for reading. When she starts kindergarten all she wants to do is know how to read. Her grandma dies and everything seems harder. In the book she figures out that she has dyslexia. Her teacher teaches her how to read and she never has troubles again. I am writing you a letter to say, “Thank you Mrs. Jones,” you have impacted my life just like Mr. Falker did with Tricia. You took so much time just to help me with words! You helped me when I was frustrated with family or even myself! You cared for me when I was sad and you were there for me when something bad happened. Even when I left your class early in the year you still sent me letters and helped me with all my problems. Because of you I turned into a young girl. I realized I was good at spelling and grammer. I got into the 4th grade spelling bee because of you, you have made a true impact on my life because of you I have become the smartest girl I could ever be. I want to continue being a perfect speller for the rest of my life. Thanks for being a great role model and helping me with my life. I will never be able to repay you.