We enjoyed an extended weekend of camping in Red Rock Canyon. This is the area where Keith’s great grandfather C.E. Garee found the Caddo Maple tree as he explained in his account:
History of Caddo Maple (Acer saccharum – Sugar Maple) Hard Maple About the late twenties I found in some canyons in Caddo County, some acer saccharum (sugar maple) that did not turn brown in August, but held the sap in the leaves so they could turn brilliant red and yellow at the approach of frost. I soon began selling a few of them, but cannot trace any of them now, except one. About the mid-thirties, Howard Jenson and I spent a Saturday in one of the canyons. Howard was head of the O.U. Landscape Dept. While I was getting small seedlings to plant in the nursery for later sale, he spent the day searching out and digging larger trees to plant on the campus. If you want to see any of the 16 trees resulting from that day’s work, drive over the campus on the approach of frost. You will not need to have them pointed out. Every one will show itself.
Recently, Robert Rucker, head of the Landscape Dept. and his foreman, Joe Peters (now deceased) have planted a lot of them and have grown a small nursery of them near the south edge of the grounds.
I have dubbed it “Caddo Maple” to distinguish it from hard maple from any other source, which up to now, have never failed to brown and lose their beauty in August. — C.E. Garee, Ed Garee’s Stories, page 13
Interestingly, the canyon is the only remaining site of native Caddo maple trees. I think it’s fascinating to retrace the steps of our ancestors.
This canyon area was a stop on the California Road and there are wagon wheel ruts still visible.
We enjoyed visiting a local museum, walking around the canyon, a relaxing campsite and hotdogs cooked on the outdoor grill.
The entrance/exit is quite steep and winding road and our truck did a great job pulling our trailer.
Let me tell you about one of my birthday presents.
My children, Travis and Kelsey, discussed what to give me for my birthday this year and agreed on a necklace that would say a sentiment such as “I love you”. After further thought, Kelsey suggested the phrase “All Is Well” and the two immediately knew that was the perfect choice. Travis, along with my husband’s help, combed through my mother’s handwritten study journals (which she began doing in the early 1970s) and found where she wrote the words “all”, “is” and “well”. They took pictures of those words, sent them to Kelsey who hired an artist to create from my mother’s handwriting a personalized necklace with the phrase “all is well”.
When I opened the box and read the phrase I teared up and then when I learned all that my family did in thinking of this idea and making it happen, my heart melted even more. Travis said to Kelsey after seeing my reaction that it will be hard to top this gift. I agreed but told them it was always worth trying 😉
The significance of the phrase brings even more sentiment to the necklace. On my mother’s blog she wrote: “All is Well. I love the way this song expresses both the message of joy of the arrival of God’s salvation and the sense of peaceful calm that joyful message brings. It was both those aspects that led me to choose this song to be played at my mother’s funeral service. Both these songs are on Michael W. Smith’s “Christmas” album.”
After selecting songs for my grandmother’s funeral, my Mom recognized what a large challenge selecting songs for a loved one can be so she began gathering songs that she wanted me to know were her favorites. She placed copies of the songs in one of two folders on her computer, one labeled “Donna’s Motivational” and the other “Donna’s favorites”. Knowing the day would come when I would be selecting songs for her, she specifically encouraged me to consider All is Well. That time came much sooner that we expected when my mom died November 25, 2014. I spent hours deciding and planning her memorial service and one of the songs I selected was All is Well. It’s beautiful, peaceful and powerful. I hope you take the time to watch, read and listen to it.
The phrase “all is well” represents my mom’s beliefs. My mother often said phrases such as “it’ll be fine”, “I’ll be okay”, “sounds good”, “I’m flexible”, or “things work out”. Once when we were passengers in a vehicle with a poor driver on a snowy mountain she responded to my fears by saying to me “Sweety, it’s okay. If it’s our time to go it’s our time to go.” At the time all I could say was “oh great, that really helps me.” During a different and rough time at work many years ago she made for me a small poster with the quote “You cannot direct the wind but you can adjust your sails”. In time, I began to understand the message she was teaching me was really always the same. So, for you Mom, I believe “All Is Well” and now I can wear it as a reminder of my family’s love and all you taught us.
When I told my Dad about the baked apple pie and a cherry cobbler that Keith made for us to enjoy as part of our July 4 meal he immediately recalled how, as a child, cherry was his favorite pie. Dad said that he must have really loved it because his dad sang “Roly Poly Daddy’s Little Fatty” to him although when he sang it he changed the pie to cherry. Dad told me that my grandpa played the record and had a big stack of other 78rpm records he listened to as well.
“Roly Poly” was first recorded by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys in 1946 when my Dad was 8 years old. All photos of my Dad as a child show that he was stout and healthy but not overweight. While the title of the song isn’t very flattering, the song is actually about a a very active boy who eats continuously to keep his strength up. I’m confident that my Grandpa found the song endearing. Here’s the song with the lyrics below the video.
Roly Poly eatin’ corn and ‘taters
Hungry every minute of the day
Roly Poly gnawin’ on a biscuit
As long as he can chew it, it’s okay.
He can eat an apple pie
And never even bat an eye
He likes everything from soup to hay
Roly Poly daddy’s little fatty
Bet he’s gonna be a man some day.
Roly Poly scrambled eggs for breakfast
Bread and jelly twenty times a day
Roly Poly eats a hearty dinner
It takes lots of strength to run and play.
Pulls up weeds and does the chores
And he runs both ways to all the stores
He works up an appetite that way
Roly Poly daddy’s little fatty
Bet he’s gonna be a man some day
Keith’s cool July 4th apple pie triggered a memory and now I know another tidbit about my Dad and my Grandpa.
Update: My Dad responded to this post by adding “Memories! I can’t tell you how many times that song has played in my mind. I loved my Dad! He taught me so much without me even knowing he was teaching me. I wish for every child to have such a Dad!” And my Aunt said “I remember Daddy singing ‘You Are My Sunshine’.”
My Mom’s headstone was set earlier this week and I finally had the opportunity to visit the cemetery April 11.
In one of her speeches and in a letter for her grandchildren (my kids) on their 18th birthday she said “In this river of life, your mission is to uncover your song (not just discover it, because it’s been there all along) and once you uncover it, sing it for all you’re worth. When the river of life joins with the sea of eternity – the sea will not be complete without my melody and yours.” She hunted, collected, assimilated and wrote words to uncover and share her melody and it remains alive.
My brother bought some chickens and now he and our Dad are building them a chicken coop. The fun part of my day was watching my brother and our Dad work together while I played with my Dad’s new full frame camera.
Wednesday, December 25, 2014
This morning I used my Mom’s snowflake coffee cup and enjoyed a new flavor of coffee (a gift from my son) and an almond biscotti biscuit (a gift from my daughter).
Later as my Dad and I were standing in the hallway, my eyes were drawn to that coffee cup sitting on the kitchen counter. This is photo that captures what I saw. I see an image of a heart formed from the shapes of the cup’s handle and the handle’s shadow. Interestingly, the shadow side looks as if it is someone’s thumb and finger joining the handle so that the two parts (spiritual and physical perhaps) create the image of a heart. “All is Well” my Mom said and continues to say this Christmas Day, which also marks one month ago that she died.
Another point to consider is that earlier that morning my Dad and I were talking about the power & symbolism of numbers, specifically 3 & 7. So, it was amazing that when I was trying to determine which of the photos to use, only photos named 2014Dec25_0003 and 2014Dec_0007 were in focus. The one included above is my overall favorite, number 7.
Saturday, December 27, 2014
I placed an ad on Craigslist 21 days ago to sell my mom’s piano, which was a gift to her from her mother in 1966. I’ve been quite worried about getting it to a good home. Last night I received a text that opened “My name is Charissa and I am looking for a piano for my daughter to play at home…Sincerely Charissa” She made arrangements with me to pick it up today.
When I woke up this morning and saw all the snow I fully expected to hear that she would not be coming, however; I was wrong. Charissa came, in the snow, and bought the piano as a gift for her 10 year daughter.
There’s more back story I want to share so you too may appreciate the significance this has for me and my family.
One day many years ago when my mom was going through some difficult times a beautiful cat came to her door wanting attention. My mom took the cat in and deliberated over what to name her. She ultimately chose to name her Charissa because the meaning of the name is grace (free, unmerited favor of God). Later when my grandma moved in with my mom my grandma and Charissa became quite close. This was fascinating because Grandma didn’t care for cats, however; Charissa won her over. Charissa died in 2009 after having been a comfort in my mom’s home for 17 years.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
This morning I was working on the photos I took Christmas Eve when my family come to my house. One photo in particular interested me because I observed the similarity of the positioning of my dad’s and brother’s hands and the manner in which they held them was similar. As I was looking at the photo I was thinking about the fact that this was my first Christmas without my Mom. It was then that I noticed that I had unknowingly included a photo of my Mom in the photo. Then I started thinking about whether I was reading way more into the possibility of Mom comforting me even though she’s no longer living. I opted to move on to a different task since I wasn’t able to resolve that in my mind just yet.
My next task involved listening to music. After planning my Mom’s memorial service I became keenly aware of how little information I have gathered to help others when I die. So, I decided to open up my iTunes and identify some of my favorite songs. Of course, the songs I’ve listened to recently are those identified in an album labeled “Donna’s Favorites”. The highlighted playlist was “Donna’s Favorites” yet the song playing was “I See The Lord” by Matthew Ward, a song I haven’t listened to in years and not in my Mom’s favorites. I thought it was odd and couldn’t figure out why it was cued up. Regardless, I fully listened to the song.
Here’s a youtube video with Matthew Ward singing this song. For me, the images in this video interfere with the music so I play the video and close my eyes or read along with the lyrics instead. http://youtu.be/r8xmkUhPQQQ
Here are the lyrics:
I see the Lord seated on the throne, exalted
And the train of His robe
Fills the temple with glory
And the whole earth is filled
The whole earth is filled
And the whole earth is filled
With His glory
Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord
Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord
I see the Lord seated on the throne
My takeaway from listening to this song at this time is that God is showing me that He is present and that my Mom is with me as well, helping to comfort me.
Just a few months after my grandmother died in July 2007 my mother took pictures of several items around her house and wrote down a few quick notes about the items. As my brother and I recently went through our Mom’s house after her death, her notes and photos were a useful resource. Here’s the note she said about her memory of these figurines:
I took pictures of Mother’s things so you would know what things might be important to keep. All the figurines were things I played with when we lived in the big house in Gainesville so I assume they were things Mother bought for the house on Hardin Drive, though they could perhaps have been earlier than that. I treated them like dolls and had a storyline to go with them. I also played with her records at the same time period: two of my favorites were “Donkey Serenade” with Alan Jones and “Pistol Packin’ Mama” (totally dissimilar in style).
It was another tough day but it was an important day. Friday, December 5, 2014 was the memorial service for my mother. The words, images, friends, flowers, music, church, Mom’s things, family all came together for my mom.
Thanksgiving 2014 was two days after my Mom died unexpectedly. The funeral home and church were closed so there was little that could be done to plan the next steps. We opted to stay true to our family tradition and count our blessings by enjoying one another’s company and Thanksgiving Day food. My husband posed in the kitchen to attest to the Thanksgiving aftermath.
In my mailbox this week was the November 4, 2014 edition of the The Observer III, which is a local newspaper for the three very small towns of Lexington, Noble, Slaughterville in Cleveland County, Oklahoma. On pages four and five is a big spread in the Echoes From the Past section that highlights content on my blog about my husband’s Garee family. The past is a present from C.E. Garee and Elizabeth Bullard nee Garee.
Here’s a link to some of the Garee blog posts on my Relative Storyboards site.
We met at a Halloween party and this year we spent some time on our anniversary shopping for a costume for a Halloween party we’re planning on attending this year. Our cat was not nearly as thrilled as we were.
To commemorate our 25th anniversary I combed through all of our photos and choose just about every one that had both of us or one or both of us with one or both of our kids. The printed book will be arriving soon and I sure hope I like it.