Saturday, July 30, 2011

For Becky

My heart is heavy as I write this, a blog I wish I didn't have to write.  A friend and fellow blogger, Becky Shauberger Turner passed away yesterday.  Becky is survived by her husband Mike and her two wonderful daughters Abbey and Tori.

Where do I even begin to talk about this wonderful lady from Huntsville, Alabama whom I had never met?  Yes, the internet can be a place where you can come across some great people who touch your lives even though you are never destined to meet face to face.  I knew Becky through three different avenues.  I first "met" her on a message board where we are both members.  Then when I joined Facebook and added her to my list of friends, I also began reading her blogs.  Then, in the strangest of coincidences, one of my coworkers actually knew her in person and had met her.  What were the chances of someone living in the Pacific Northwest, who met Becky who is from Huntsville, just happening to get hired into our team at work? 

Becky had such a zest for grabbing life by the horns and hanging on for the ride.  She was a fabulous cook, and then some!  And she was always happy to share her talent.  She posted recipes on her blog.  She sent various homemade goodies to her Secret Santa recipient on our message board.  I will always remember her recipe for Salted Caramel Nutella Brownies.  Just those very words make me drool.  Becky began to write her blog 5 years ago.  She shared this milestone with a giveaway to one of her lucky readers.  She wrote very well, whether it was a recipe, a description of a tablescape or even a medical update.  The thing I loved the most about her writing was that she would spell words the English way, the way her grandma taught her.  Words like "honor" were spelled "honour".  Becky also had a great sense of humor.  Here is one of her posts from our message board: "The Mayan calendar ends on 21 December 2012. People who have come after them have taken that to mean that the world will end then. I'm not sure the Mayans ever said so. Maybe they just got tired of making calendars."  It's posts like that which make me smile through the sadness.

Becky also shared the happy moments in her life with us. The highlight of it was when her daughter Abbey was married in June.  It was a charming and elegant fairytale wedding in Disneyland.  Becky enjoyed every minute of it and was so happy being Mother of the Bride.   She was also so happy when her daughter Tori graduated.  She shared her thoughts of her 32nd Wedding Anniversary in a blog titled "Wedding Anniversary ~ The Guy and I" in which she quoted the song "Still the One" by Orleans, which she dedicated to her husband.  I reread part of that blog today, but couldn't go any further through my misted eyes and the lump in my throat.  I can only imagine the grief that her beloved family must be going through.

My friend and former coworker Rebecca Hudgins Donaldson knew Becky because both of them were interested in Fiesta dishes.  I would be honored if Rebecca would elaborate on that facet of Becky's life by leaving a comment here.

The last blog that Becky wrote was a medical update, on July 20th from the hospital at Vanderbilt.  It had been two years since her bone marrow transplant.  The words with which she ended her blog are now hauntingly ominous. "So this is kind of an update without an end."  She ended every blog with her signature and the word "Namaste", which is an Indian greeting that means both hello and goodbye.  Now there aren't going to be any more Random Musings of a Deco Lady.  I am going to miss those musings I so looked forward to.  I am going to miss this friend I never knew in person, but who touched the lives of so many.  If there's one thing I have learned from Becky, it is that every moment of life is to be cherished and lived well.

Rest in Peace, Becky Shauberger Turner.

PS:  Thank you Rebecca for posting a comment as requested.  If people like me can feel so much pain, your pain must be compounded times ten.  Through your comment we know Becky even better, and it is no suprise that she had one more feather in her cap that the rest of us may not have been as aware of. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dust in the Wind

Yesterday's top news story was that Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment.  Reactions have been mixed, from total shock to a collective shrug of shoulders from many who weren't really surprised.  And why should anyone have been surprised?  Her song "Rehab" made no bones about the fact that she had a dysfunctional relationship with drugs and alcohol.  She was 27.  Although the cause of her death is yet to be determined, one cannot help but wonder if she suffered the same fate as her musician predecessors whose untimely passing also coincidentally happened when they were 27.  Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain will be forever 27.  Sadly, so will Amy Winehouse.

Amy  was by no means the model citizen or celebrity.  While in a drug-induced stupor, she was recorded singing a reprehensible little ditty peppered with racial slurs.  Recorded by her husband no less, it somehow landed in the hands of the now defunct News of the World.  As recently as a month ago, Amy stumbled on stage after showing up late to her own concert in Belgrade, obviously under the influence.  She greeted the crowd with "Hello Athens!" 

I'm sure there are many stories out there to justify why anyone would  need to feel anything other than indifference or, at some deeper level, even satisfaction in her death.  Yes, Amy was a flawed human being.  She made many mistakes.  She may have made the ultimate mistake which may possibly have ended her life.  But who among us is perfect?  Do we feel the need to think thoughts such as "She deserved to die" just so we feel better about ourselves by comparison?  What happened to our compassion?  The empathy, where did it go?  I am not judging anyone, least of all Amy herself.  I am just wondering where we lost our sense of humanity and when our hearts became so hardened.

Amy's untimely death has caused people to be reminded of her songs.  "Rehab", of course, but also "Back to Black".  Then there's "I'm no Good", the one that shot her to fame.  I think of "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas.  It came to mind yesterday when I first heard the news.  It has stayed with me since.  No matter the length of one's life, it is never long enough.  It is fleeting, it can be gone in one breath.  

Rest in Peace, Amy Winehouse.

I close my eyes
Only for a moment and the moment's gone
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes, a curiosity

Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind

Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
And all we do
Crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see

Dust in the Wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Now don't hang on
Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won't another minute buy

Dust in the Wind
Everything is dust in the wind


Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Day In The Life Of A Dog

Hello, wonderful people!  This is JackJack.  It has been almost a year since I took the blog reins from Susanna for a couple of posts.  I thought it was time to write a post again to tell you all about the absolutely wonderful day I had yesterday.

Susanna's family lives up in Snohomish.  Yesterday afternoon I went up there with her.  We got into the car and drove and drove.  I was so excited during the drive up there!   I couldn't keep from yapping happily.  I guess I have a very shrill yap and there is only so much of it that Susanna can take before she yells at me to be quiet.  I try my very best not to bark, but you have no idea how difficult it is for me.  The anticipation of the fun I was going to have was more than I could stand!  It was a long drive to Snohomish, 45 minutes during which Susanna had to endure my happy barking.  

When we arrived, I was put on a leash and walked up to the door of a very nice house.  Susanna rang the doorbell and the door was opened by two little boys.  "Hi," I said to them, "How's life treating you?  I'm here to play with you.  Actually I only know you, Nicholas.  Who's your friend?"  Susanna told me to hush because I was being really loud.  So I stopped talking, at least for the moment.  We walked to the back yard while Nicholas and his friend wore their shoes and then came to meet us there.  Nick was very excited to see me.  I'm not sure why, because I haven't always been very nice to him.  I'll tell you why.

Nick is about a year and a half older than I am.  When I first met him, he was 3.  He moved very fast, and he would grab my face and hug me hard.  That made me nervous.  He would also run his toy cars up and down my back and I didn't like that.  I know he loved me but he had a really strange way of showing it.  Then there was this other little thing.  Susanna seemed to love him very much, more than she likes other people.  If I absolutely have to admit it, I would say I was a little jealous.  That also made me worry that I would be loved less.  In my doggy mind I thought that Susanna had only so much love to give, and that some of the love from her limited capacity that should have been coming to me was going to Nicholas.  Anyway, for all of these reasons, I wasn't always nice to Nicholas.  I would snap at him quite suddenly every once in a while.  I believe he wrote a composition about me where he mentioned that I barked into his face and bit his finger.  Yes, he pretty much got that right.

Back to yesterday, Nick was so happy to see me.  I decided that I would at least attempt to be nice to him this time.  I gave him my favorite soccer ball to throw.  He threw it high and far.  I ran and fetched it and brought it back to him.  He threw the ball for me again and again.  I had such a good time playing fetch.  Then Nick's friend Elliott joined us.  He seemed to know how to handle me.  He even took the ball from my mouth a couple of times.  I was more than happy though, because it was so much fun playing with these two boys who were just a little older than me.  Then I overheard part of a conversation which made sense as to how Elliott knew how to handle me.  He had a dog of his own.  After he went home, Susanna and Nick took me for a walk.

We walked up to the play area near Nicholas' house.  Nick walked me most of the way.  I could have easily tugged and pulled in a different direction.  But since I had decided to be good, I let Nick lead and I followed.  Susanna mentioned over and over again how she wished she had her camera because we looked so cute.  I fail to understand how two boys walking to the park could be a photo opportunity, but what do I know? I'm just a dog.  There were no children around, so Nick walked me up and down the playground equipment.  He even put me on the teeter totter.  That made my stomach feel weird.  Then Nick came up with this game which actually turned out to be a lot of fun.  I had to keep my eyes closed while he hid my treats all over the park, and I had to find them.  Of course when I found them I got to eat them.  I kicked my doggy senses into high gear and sniffed close to the floor.  I found most of the hidden treats without any help.  For the ones I couldn't find, Susanna gave Nick some good directions to help me find the treats.  The more time I spent with Nicholas, the more I was realizing how much of a good time I was having with him.  I also began to realize that Susanna wasn't loving me any less.  She loved me in a different way than she loved Nicholas.  And at the end of the day, I would be going home with her and she would continue being my Mom.  I didn't need to feel insecure.  That thought made me feel all grown up.

We went back to the house and to the back yard.  I was so thirsty and must have had a gallon of water.  Then Susanna's brother Jonathan came out to see us.  I cannot tell you how much I like Jonathan.  I consider him the alpha male in our pack of two.  He is very nice to me.  He bends down to talk to me in this kind, gentle voice.  He plays with me, although not as much as I would like him to, and he ruffles the hair behind my ears.  I greeted Jonathan wholeheartedly and as always he didn't disappoint.  He did mention that I was getting fat, but he couldn't be more wrong.  All the swimming and running is making me develop some solid muscle.  Anyway, Jonathan then opened up the barbecue and began to grill.  I sat around in the grass and took a break.  I sat there chewing my soccer ball, which has a squeaker in it.  Susanna asked me over and over again not to squeak the ball.  I tried really hard but I couldn't resist.  Then the ball got confiscated from me and put into this big blue pot.   The ball was just beyond my reach.  It took me 15 minutes with no help at all, but I managed to get the ball out of there without knocking the pot over.  I had my ball back and I chewed on it happily, squeak and all.  When Jonathan had finished grilling, everyone went inside to have dinner, and I was left outside in the back yard.  Through the glass door, I sat and watched the family have dinner.  Nick finished his dinner before everyone else did.  He then came out and played with me even more.  We played fetch, and while I was playing I could hear everyone talking about how I was good company for Nick, what with him being an only child.  Hearing that made me feel like I had accomplished my mission to be nice to him.  The truth is, it's not difficult.  Nicholas is grown up now, he knows how to handle me.  I don't feel threatened by him anymore.  He still has a few things to learn, but I have also become more patient and caring.  

When it was time to go, I didn't want to.  I wanted to stay there and bask in the love and happiness just a little longer.  But it was time to leave.  I reluctantly said goodbye to Nick and Jonathan.  As I turned around and walked away I hoped I would be brought to this house again soon.  I think I heard Susanna mention that if the weather was good she would bring me back next week.  I am hoping it won't rain next Saturday so I cam go to Snohomish again.  I was so happy and so tired when I got home that I went to straight to bed.  I had had so many treats that I didn't even need any dinner.  

As I drifted off, I heard Nicks voice call out to me as he did all evening, "C'mon boy!"  I fell asleep with a smile on my face.  I had become Nick's boy.