Author Archives: Coco Ihle

About Coco Ihle

I am the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, a mystery about two long lost sisters who reunite and nearly lose their lives searching for an ancient treasure and a murderer in a castle in Scotland. I am a member of MWA, FWA, SinC, Alma,a family search organization, Clan Buchanan of Scotland, and Linkedin. My website is www.cocoihle.com

Pets in Mysteries

Mystery books are the genre I enjoy reading and writing the most. Lately, I’ve noticed my stack of cozy mysteries has grown, many of which involve pets in some way. Cats and dogs, specifically. In pondering why this has been a factor in my reading, I’ve come to the conclusion I’ve been seeking somewhat lighter fare. Books with a good puzzle to solve, but that are considered more “comfort” reads, with a good resolution and happy ending.

The pets in recent and current readings have such attributes as being affectionate, loyal, curious, obedient or not, cute and even humorous. Some have that instinctive sense of good and evil and/or use their scent abilities. Some even help describe their owners’ traits or personalities.

Sometimes, animals in books are more family members than pets and as such, are involved in the plot more like actual characters. They often set the scene with their own cute antics to which readers can endearingly relate. Pets with acute instincts or sense of smell are more to my personal liking when it comes to animals involved in the mystery’s solution. I’m not really fond of talking animals in stories, but that’s just my preference.

In my own book, SHE HAD TO KNOW, I introduce Pippi, a black cat who seems to think she is the mother of Scotti, a white West Highland Terrier. They are both family members who appear just a few times being the animals they are, chasing one another, sleeping together, or just being nosy. But, since they have such small roles, they are not featured on the cover.

There are authors who have animals based on their protagonist’s vocation, for instance, veterinarians or pet sitters, or protagonists who have more exotic animals, like birds, turtles or potbellied pigs. If a reader sees a book on a bookstore shelf with a domestic animal on the cover, I think they automatically are inclined to assume the book is not going to be hard boiled and quite possibly, cozy. I may be wrong, but it seems to me there has been an upsurgence of these kinds of books lately. Is it me? Could it be a reflection of readers’ desires to escape the challenges of today’s world? What do you think? Do you have any animals in your stories? If so, how did you use them? Or, if you are a reader and not a writer, are these among the kind of books you enjoy reading? I’d love to learn your viewpoint.

8 Comments

Filed under blogging, books, Coco Ihle, musings, writing

Mose T’s Jick Jack Suzy to Tico Bird

I have a mini gallery in my breakfast room devoted to a special folk-artist friend from Alabama. His name was Mose Tolliver, or Mose T, as he was known, and although he’s no longer with us, his memory lives on, as “they” say. Mose was born on July forth somewhere between 1920 and 1925 (nobody really knows for sure), and he was one of twelve children. His schooling went as far as the third grade with dyslexia hampering his ability to read and write.

P1020316

In the 1940s, he married his childhood friend Willie Mae Thomas and they had 13 children, 11 of whom survived. He worked with plants and designed creative yard plans with an unusual flair and became a respected gardener.

He worked from time to time for McLendon Furniture Company (sweeping out the shipping and delivery area early each morning) and during the late 1960s he was severely injured when his legs were crushed by a load of shifting marble which fell from a forklift. The accident left him unable to walk without assistance. He was encouraged to try oil painting by his former employer, who offered to pay for lessons, but Mose decided to explore this idea on his own. Little did he know that his life was about to change, forever, again.

First, he painted birds, flowers and trees and later added people and animals, all the while developing his own unique style and sense of humor. Even the titles of his paintings were unique, as was his signature with a backward “s.” He used any surface he could find: wood scraps, metal trays, Masonite, furniture, cigar boxes, even a piano, and items that were given to him. He’d display his paintings in his yard and later on his front porch and in his living room and eventually they started selling.

Mitchell Kahan, a former curator at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Montgomery, AL, admired Mose’s work and set up a one-man exhibition for him in 1981. After that, Mose shared an exhibition entitled, Black Folk Art in America 1930-1980, with another folk artist at the prestigious Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. First Lady Nancy Regan visited this exhibition and met Mose.

mosenancyreagan

A friend took me on my first visit to Mose’s home on Sayre Street back in the early 1980s. After that, I used to go often. I was fascinated listening to him tell stories and show me his current paintings on the walls and his “pure paint” in its cabinet at the foot of his bed, also there in the living room. I found out that “pure paint” was gallon cans of exterior house paint, first oil-based, then later, water-based latex, which dried faster. He was so prolific, he needed faster drying paint, and whatever colors were in the cabinet were the colors of his latest art pieces. He painted them while seated on his bed, his walker close at hand.

mose & coco

As time passed, I started taking him pieces of wood left over from my neighborhood construction sites and he seemed pleased to have some unusual shapes to use. In the early 1990s, I redecorated my kitchen and asked Mose if he’d create a painting for me of strawberries to hang in that room. I brought a bowl full for him to use as a guide, but he was more interested in eating them. Several weeks later, I visited again and there was my strawberry painting. I think it may be one of a kind. I really cherish it. But, more than that, I cherish my times visiting with this gentle man, hearing his stories and witnessing his love of life. He was truly inspirational. I was saddened to hear of his passing in 2006 at the age of 82.

Mose Tolliver’s work has appeared at such renowned institutions as the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, The American Folk Art Museum in New York, The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, The New Orleans Museum of Art, The Milwaukee Art Museum and many more throughout the world.

12 Comments

Filed under Art, blogging, Coco Ihle, musings

Rediscovering a Treasure of Youth

When you were twelve, did you know what you wanted to become when grown? A few days ago, I started going through a closet full of photos and old papers from years ago with the idea of getting rid of some of it and organizing the rest.

After days of sorting and tossing, I discovered an autobiography I had written. It was an assignment which my seventh grade teacher, Miss Galbraith, gave us students several months to complete, and told us our success or failure carried with it a large part of our overall grade for the year and was due in the spring. No pressure there!

I remember being perplexed about how to begin, since my life had started out so different from the other children in my class. A large part of my early years were spent in foster care and later being adopted, so I didn’t have the usual baby pictures and mother and father photos for Illustration. I had to start somewhere, however, so I began with explaining I was adopted and I wrote about my last foster home, adoption, and a couple foster children who came to live with us later.

I wrote about my church and singing in the various choirs through the years, and about my friends, and about school. In sixth grade, a couple of my poems were published in the school newspaper. It’s strange to me that I still remember writing them and I can still recite them at the age of seventy-two. I mean, gads, that was a loooong time ago! Why do we remember such things? Here’s one:

        Snow Fairy

     I am a little flake of snow,

     Falling from the sky;

     I bounce and toss and whirl away.

     Such fun – oh me! oh my!

 

     I gently touch the treetops tall,

     And scamper here and there;

     I rustle on the window pane,

     With not a thought or care.

 

     And when at last I reach the ground,

     And join the other flakes of snow;

     We play a game of hide and seek

     With piercing winter winds that blow.

I wrote about how my leisure time was spent and about vacation trips to the western states, Canada and Florida that I’d taken with my parents and suddenly, it was spring and my autobiography was soon due.

In trying to write the last chapter, I found myself in a real quandary. I originally wanted to title it, “My Future,” but I had no idea what that would be. What I did write is as follows:

“…I do think putting down a lot of facts and reading them over has helped me to realize that there really is to be a future and what it is like will depend a lot on how I shape it. My mother and father say there are many things I might do and have explained to me that most of the professional fields require a lot of work and training. They have suggested I might want to do something in dramatics or music, because I like to entertain people. I think maybe I may want to be a writer, because that would be another way to make people happy.”

As I ponder the words of my autobiography, written so many years ago, I’m surprised. Dumbfounded, actually. I don’t remember them. I thought my desire to write came from the search and subsequent discovery of my sister’s whereabouts much later in my life. What a revelation! That writing seed was planted when I was twelve, not during my fifty year search.

How about you? Have you discovered something really significant about yourself many years later that was buried in your subconscious? I’d love to hear about it.

9 Comments

Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, life, musings, writing

What Do Sod and MS Word Have in Common?

The most amazing experience happened to me yesterday and I must tell you about it! But first, a tiny bit of background. I wrote my first book using Microsoft Word versions 2000 and 2003, but when I ran into formatting issues trying to send my manuscript to my agent who had a more advanced version, I decided I needed to upgrade. A couple of years ago I purchased a new computer and had MS Word 2010 installed. I thought it would just be a fancier version of a system I already knew so well. Wrong! It has been almost like working with a foreign entity―a nightmare I have complained about to this day. I even bought a print book to help me learn how to do things I used to do almost automatically.

Well, yesterday, MS Word redeemed itself in one particular way. My ninety-nine year old next-door neighbor, Nellie, and I ordered lawn sod to be laid in both our yards. Since she is hard of hearing and confined to a walker, my task was to make sure she understood everything that would occur and to assure her all was going according to plan. From time to time, we wanted to verify procedural steps and to ask the men a few questions.

When the men and equipment arrived, it immediately became apparent we had a stumbling block. The men spoke only Spanish and, naturally, my language studies had been in French. Since I had lived for several years in Germany, I figured I could use the charade skills I had learned there. Ummm. All I can say is that if there had been a video of me cavorting around trying to make myself understood, and of the poor soul who was trying desperately to understand me, the video would have gone viral as a comedy of errors on YouTube!

Luckily, I was able to get the men started. The yards had been sprayed to kill the old grass and now the men would dig that up, fill any holes with new soil, and clean and smooth out the areas while we waited for the new sod to arrive. Then I came inside to ponder what to do next.

I remembered I have been able to use a translation method on Facebook, which made me wonder if I could translate from one language to another in Word. I got out my instruction book on Word 2010 and lo and behold it seemed possible. The instructions told me to go to the “Review” tab and under “language” in the upper left of the screen, it says, “translate” with an arrow below it. I selected the English question I had written, clicked on the arrow and then selected Spanish in the list of languages. Then I inserted the Spanish translation of my question below that and voila! The English was above and the Spanish was below. I printed that out and rushed outside to show the foreman. There was only one Spanish choice in the list of languages and I wasn’t sure if it would be understood because I know there are differences in Spain and Mexican Spanish and probably other Spanish speaking countries, but I hoped my version would at least be better than my cavorting. It worked. Hallelujah!

Here’s an example: I was asking one fellow to set the sprinkler timers thus:

English:

Start sprinkling Nellie’s at 2:00 AM, 30 minutes for each of 5 zones = 2 ½ hours and at 5:00 AM start sprinkling my lawn, 30 minutes for each of 5 zones = 2 ½ hours.

Spanish:

Empezar por aspersión de Nellie en 2:00, 30 minutos para cada uno de 5 zonas = 2 ½ horas a 5:00 iniciar aspersión mi césped, 30 minutos para cada uno de 5 zonas = 2 ½ horas.

Can you imagine me trying to pantomime those instructions? Ha! It’s quite possible you readers already knew how to do this, but it was wonderful news to me and certainly simplified my day. Now Nellie and I have beautiful new lawns, the sprinkler timers are set, and the workmen really appreciated my extra effort to help us all understand. I haven’t seen so many smiling faces and raised thumbs in quite a while. Thanks to Microsoft Word. (I imagine Mac machines have something similar.)

Have any of you had an experience using writing software that has helped you in a seemingly unrelated practical circumstance? I’d love to hear about it.

12 Comments

Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, How To, writing

Life in Havre, Montana (Final Chapter)

The long cold winter wound down and spring announced itself abruptly. Montana was always windy and I remember having to adjust matchbook covers to quell the howling from our front door frame, but when a dreaded dust storm loomed in our direction, the Havre Air Force Station operator would call each house to give us an estimated time before it would hit. We knew to get inside. Close and lock any open windows and doors.

As the storm approached, a huge brown cloud could be seen on the horizon and as it got closer, like the song, tumbling tumbleweeds leapt and danced across the road until visibility became zero. Within minutes, all was quiet and still again and the sun would bear down on us once more. The only indication a storm had even passed through was the color of the walls and furniture in our homes. Everything was brownish-beige. Time to get out the vacuum cleaner. I couldn’t remember ever having to vacuum walls before. All surfaces were covered with a fine layer of gritty dust, even though I had “battened down the hatches.”

Every day, my son, Rob, and I would play a game. It involved flash cards and actually taught him how to read. When people expressed their amazement as he looked at me with excitement and pointed to a box of cereal or a sign and spoke the words he saw, I felt so rewarded and proud. Sometimes, being inquisitive, though, can be frightening.

One day, I was playing the piano and Rob asked to go outside to ride his tricycle. With his little red jacket on I let him out the front, and continued playing, checking on him every few minutes. It was one of those days that makes one glad to be alive, gloriously warm and sunny. I never had to worry about traffic, because all the husbands were working up at the radar site and the street was deserted. Rob rode up and down the road, around in circles and then, suddenly, I didn’t see him.

I walked outside and still didn’t see him, or his trike. I walked up and down the street. No luck. I walked all the way around the housing circle. No Rob! Now I was beginning to worry. Where could he have gone this time? I alerted several neighbors and we set up a search party. We contacted base security and they checked the radar site area. We checked the fields behind our homes. An hour passed. Two. Still, no sign of Rob.

I was “frantic” personified! All the mixed feelings of fear, frustration and aggravation, had turned to worry, even terror. Where was my baby? We were on a secure military station with a guard gate at the entrance. How could my child have just disappeared? Neighbors were checking in with me regularly, either to report places they’d searched or to give me comfort. All of us were totally perplexed.

In the fourth hour, a car pulled up in my driveway. It belonged to my neighbor, Sgt. Knight, across the street. His wife, Shirley, got out with a tearful Rob in her arms. She approached with a knowing expression that said, “It’s okay now.” I practically screamed, “Where and how did you find him?” They explained they had gone thirty-eight miles into Havre for groceries and spotted Rob and his red jacket in a pasture on their return trip, a couple of miles from home. They were familiar with Rob’s adventurous disappearances since this wasn’t the first time he had gone missing. Their daughter was his babysitter and probably has stories to tell about him to this day.

Between Rob and Shirley, I found out why we couldn’t find him. He had ridden his trike up to the base gate and because the window in the phone booth shaped guard house was up so high, Rob had slipped under the guard arm and out onto the main road, unseen. He was playing, Daniel Boone, explorer. After riding a while, he noticed some cows grazing off the side of the road in open range and decided to get a closer look. He left his trike and scampered down an embankment into the field. These animals resembled highland cattle from Scotland, since they hadn’t yet shed their long winter coats, but as Rob got closer, he realized they were bigger than he thought they’d be. He got scared as he wandered among the beasts, and started crying. This was when he was spotted and rescued by Cliff and Shirley Knight. Bless them always!

That night, there was a celebration at Havre Air Force Station and Rob was the center of attention. I didn’t have to scold him at all. His fear had taught him not to ever do that again. Forty-nine years later, Cliff and Shirley and I still exchange Christmas cards each year and I am eternally grateful to them both.

6 Comments

Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, life, musings

Life in Havre, Montana (Part II)

Last month, I told you about moving to Havre Air Force Station, thirty-eight miles north of Havre, Montana and six miles from the Canadian border. By the way, that’s pronounced HAV-ER, rather than the pronunciation one would imagine, since it was named after a city in France.

Life there was pretty basic. On the station, we had no doctor, dentist or minister. A trip into the town of Havre was necessary to fulfill those needs. We did have a small commissary that supplied milk, bread, cereals, canned goods and occasional fruit. But since we were all in the same boat, those hardships didn’t seem too bad. We shared the good and the bad, like family.

In the winter, that part of Montana typically had several feet of snow each year. Often, early in the morning, we wives were out shoveling our single-car driveways so our husbands could get up to the radar site to go to work, and we knew it was important to keep those driveways clear in case of emergencies. I’ll always remember my next door neighbor, Toni Spaconi. She was a little shorter than my 5 feet 4 inches, and one day we were both out shoveling. After about thirty minutes, as I looked next door, all I could see of her was the bobbing pompom on the top of her ski hat and phantom shovel-fulls of snow flying up on either side of her driveway. It was such a funny sight, I had to laugh.

Later, the wives would all congregate at one house for morning coffee and all the children would play together in one of the bedrooms. We rotated for a change of scenery. Since the winters were so cold, the base telephone operator would call us each morning to tell us how long it was safe to allow our children outside to play in the snow. All the moms would bundle their kids up in boots, snowsuits, gloves and scarves and we’d let the herd out, and sometimes only five minutes later, we’d call them all in again, unbundle each one, throw their clothes in the dryer and start all over again after an allowable time period. I remember, the winter I was there, we had a low of 54 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

Because of the frigid winters, plug-in headbolt heaters were required to keep our cars from freezing up. To save money, my family’s car’s engine was treated at night to a quilt, a heating pad set to “medium”, and a blanket placed on the hood, inside our garage. It’s probably a miracle we never had a problem. But then, we spent only one winter there.

At the time we were stationed in Montana, there was a law that when temperatures plummeted, if you came across a stranded driver on the highway, one had to pick him up and take him to safety, and there was a steep fine for noncompliance. The possibility of someone freezing to death was very real there. That was long before cell phones. I imagine that law is no longer on the books these days. Luckily, we never ran into that situation in winter at least, but I’m sure it happened from time to time.

Even though it was difficult dealing with hardships, they were offset by wonderful people who became lifelong friends. Next month, I’ll tell you just how wonderful, especially after two particularly harrowing experiences!

9 Comments

Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, life, musings

Life in Havre, Montana (Part I)

Many years ago, forty-nine to be exact, my three-year old son, his father and I moved near Havre, Montana on assignment for the United States Air Force. Havre, located in the north-central part of the state, was once called Bull Hook Crossing, I was told. Quaint sounding, huh? No one seems to know how it got the new name, but it is said to be the namesake of Le Havre in France. At the time we were there, Havre’s population was somewhere around ten-thousand inhabitants, approximately half of which were Blackfeet Indians, so one would certainly not call it a city. But, we were going to a remote radar site, even smaller, thirty-eight miles north of Havre and six miles from the Canadian border as the crow flies.

As we drove the only road north, we stopped on a plateau and looked down below the bluff. Havre lay below all bunched up in a tight grid and beyond, the land stretched out into vast plains where we could see for miles and miles. Farms checkered the landscape and we had to skirt them to reach Havre Air Force Station. It seemed like the end of the earth; bleak and beautifully majestic, all at the same time.

We turned right off the main road, drove a few miles and turned right again, this time for six miles. At this spot, was an old Buffalo run, a cliff the Indians herded buffalo to and drove them off the edge instead of shooting each animal for their food, garments and for whatever it was they used the rest of the animal. Then, from here we turned right again and three miles in was Havre Air Force Station set on a rise. A tiny one-man gate house with a mechanism housing a wooden arm that moved up and down, blocked the road in.

We were met by our sponsor who showed us to our new home, a three-bedroom house with a one-car garage and a six foot high fenced-in back yard. It was pretty nice for a young lieutenant and his family. Little did we know there would be hardships ahead.

Our son, Rob was not interested in seeing a house, so I let him out to play in the back yard while we looked and learned about living here. Twenty-eight houses sat on both sides of the road in a loop which led up to the operations part of the Air Force Station and front gate. Four belonged to officers and the rest were for non-commissioned officers, so we were to become part of one big happy family. We would camp out in the house the first night and our moving van would arrive the next day.

After our sponsor left, I went out to bring in our three-year-old and ask him if he was excited about our new home. I stepped down from the kitchen into the garage, turned and opened the door to the back yard and leaned out. I didn’t see him. I looked left and right and everywhere in between. He wasn’t there. He was gone. The yard was only twenty feet wide by 15 feet deep. Where could he be? How could he have gone anywhere with a six foot fence surrounding him? Needless to say, I panicked and called out for my husband. He came out and we both looked and looked. The only thing in the yard was a clothesline mounted between two poles. Where was our son? I was so upset by this time, I was shaking.

It was then that my husband scanned the horizon and spotted a dark blue dot bobbing up and down way out in the fields behind our housing area, maybe a hundred yards or more away. He cupped his hands and shouted Rob’s name and sure enough, it was him. He’d managed to climb the fence and take off to explore. When we got him back home, I didn’t know whether to hug him or scold him, but from that day forward, I always dressed him in red!

15 Comments

Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, life, musings

Christmas With Bob Hope

The last few days I’ve been putting up my Christmas decorations with the sound of carols playing in the background. This time of year is always a time for reminiscing for me, and while unpacking, one storage box held memories from 1966. Inside was a garland of realistic holly, boxwood and pine intertwined with miniature old world lanterns that light up. I remember splurging on it at a department store Christmas boutique that year. The Vietnam War was on and my husband was stationed with the USAF in northeast Thailand at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base. The amazing thing about that garland is that it still works! I’ve never replaced anything on it, and it’s been lighting a wall or fireplace mantle every Christmas since, for 48 years!

As I stepped back to admire the garland, memories flooded back of that time my husband was gone. In those days there was no R&R (Rest and Recuperation Leave) for our troops overseas at the half-way mark and no phone calls for the entire year. The Internet and Skype didn’t exist. Only letters. How the men looked forward to letters from home and an occasional gift package.

Probably the most exciting time for them that year was a visit from Bob Hope. Stars accompanying Mr. Hope were Vic Damone, Phyllis Diller, Joey Heatherton, and Miss World, Anita Bryant, plus some minor acts. The men at the Nakhon Phanom base talked about it for weeks ahead of time and families at home were eager to see the Bob Hope Christmas Special when it came out in January to see if they could catch a glimpse of their son, brother, uncle, husband, or father.

I remember my son and I sat on the living room floor as close as we could get to my parents-in-law’s TV without blocking anyone else’s view, to see if we could find my husband in the crowd. He had written to say he was in front sitting on the ground only about ten feet away from the stage. During the special, everything happened so fast and there were so many faces to search, I couldn’t be sure we actually saw him or not, but the important thing was that the troops were able to see Bob Hope and company. What a thrill it was to them! I wish there were DVRs then!

Not all the memories of that time were good ones. Last month was Veteran’s Day and many Americans thought of all the sacrifices our soldiers have made for their country. I’d like to mention the sacrifices of the families of those soldiers as well. That year my husband and I missed sharing the celebration of our birthdays, our anniversary, several extended family events and a year of our 4 year old son’s life in a country that wasn’t very supportive. My husband’s paycheck documents got lost and for several months, we had no money coming in at all. It was a difficult time sometimes, but we persevered until his return. We considered ourselves really blessed that he was able to come back to us!

Ninteen sixty-six was a different time and military families have some advantages since then, but they also have more challenges and difficulties than ever before. I just hope that as we celebrate this holiday season, we remember the families, as well as the soldiers and airmen, for the dedicated, selfless people they are. And that those families have something nice to remind them of their sacrifice, like my garland that keeps staying lit.

12 Comments

Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, musings

My New Word for Nostalgia

This is the time of year many of us have musings of a bygone time in our lives and we call it nostalgia. I always thought “nostalgia” was a sad word, because it brought to mind events of the past that we could only relive in our memories, of a time already gone that we could not visit again. The dictionary says nostalgia is a longing or homesickness for something far away or long ago for former happy circumstances. That longing is what gives sadness to the word.

To remedy this, I made up a new word. “Hearthy.” To me, hearthy is a happy sounding word to start with, and it illustrates the mood or moods of this time of year. When I ponder on the word hearthy, I think of brightly-colored falling leaves and shuffling through them on the way to somewhere; bobbing for apples; lounging on a braided rug in front of a fireplace all aglow; watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV; looking up at the stars on a still, crisp night; listening to the carols of the season; catching the first flakes of snow on my tongue. These are not just memories of the past, but things that can be experienced year after year. Now, and in the future. That’s what makes hearthy — happy.

In my office, I have bookshelves on either side of my desk that are filled with photos of my family and friends. When I enter each day I am greeted by them and often I find myself thinking about and remembering favorite times with them. Granted, some of those people have passed away, but I have made peace with that, and only think of them in happy terms now. Although they are part of nostalgia, I prefer to think of them when I am doing something hearthy and they become part of my hearthy life rather than my past nostalgia one. I have no idea if that makes any sense to you, dear reader, but for me, it’s a way to remember without being sad.

So, here it is November. I’m probably one of the few who still sends out Christmas cards to almost a hundred people each year and I’ve got them all ready to address and to write a little note in each. I’ll start putting up Christmas decorations soon and make my power company happy for the next couple of months. As I decorate the tree, hearthy thoughts will fill the room as brightly as the hundreds of lights that sparkle on it.

Hearthy holidays!

15 Comments

Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, musings

Recovering From a Loss

I’m trying to deal with the particularly devastating loss of my friend and neighbor, Marianne, who passed away Tuesday morning after a 29 year battle with cancer. Like sisters, we shared a great deal of each other’s lives and interests. She taught me so much about living fully, I know I will be okay, eventually, but right now I feel a bit lost.

There’s a heavy weight in the pit of my stomach not only for me, but in my sympathy for her family and special friends. Marianne was one of those rare people who was, to use the cliché, larger than life. She inspired everyone she met, with her empathy and understanding and by her accomplishments: award winning watercolorist, stained glass artist, tile artist, skilled gardener. She was humble, helpful, generous, kind and loyal. She made everyone around her happy. How does one recover from losing a friend like that?

I’m in, what people call, my senior years, so loss is not something new to me, but this one has hit me harder than all the rest. I think Marianne would understand that, but she also would want me and the other people who are having a difficult time right now, to carry on, be strong and strive to be the best we can be. She was passionate and determined like that.

For me, it’s been helpful to have some time alone to mourn and regather my priorities. But not too much time. Keeping busy is the next step. Particularly with something useful and helpful to others. I do have a volunteer job I love. Marianne taught me the importance of doing something nice for myself, as well. I love to read and I’m saving up for a Kindle. I’m probably one of the few authors who have never seen their own book on an e-reader.

I have a couple painting projects waiting. One is enhancing a mural I did several years ago of a rock wall in my sunroom, and another is a portrait of a Grecian statue for my new bathroom. I’d like to go back to stained  glass class and make some projects for my family. I just finished a jigsaw puzzle and I’m ready for a new one. And one of Marianne’s friends and I plan to continue doing some of the things we three used to do.

Writing this has helped me form my sense of direction. So Marianne, I pledge to try my best to become a little more like you — to Aspire to Inspire before I Expire. Rest in peace my precious friend.

Marianne

Marianne

13 Comments

Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, musings, writing