Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

In Memoriam

One year ago today, my aunt, Waunita Bernice Jane Wilhelm Gregory, passed away from complications of a stroke. She was 80 years old. The daughter of Ira J. and Bernice Iverna (Lang) Richmond, she was born in Knoxville, Iowa on September 7, 1930.

She was my biggest cheerleader and my first listener. Blind from complications from diabetes, she would listen to my works in progress. – a children’s non-fiction manuscript, a picture book or a short story. It didn’t matter what I read to her. She encouraged me and liked everything I wrote. She believed in me. Every writer needs someone like her in their life.

I cherish the time I knew her. Growing up, I spent every summer until I was 13 on her farm in Mountain View, Missouri. Every August, for my birthday, my family would load up the car and we’d go for a two-week visit. Those were a grand two weeks – visiting family, bunking down in sleeping bags and blankets in the living room, playing outside from sunup to sundown, trips into town, canoe trips on the Jack’s Fork and Current Rivers, tick checks.

I would spend my days on the wide front porch pecking away on my portable typewriter while my siblings and cousins played. While they created imaginary games, I created imaginary worlds – words unspinning beneath my fingertips.

The carefree days of youth give way to age and time. I lost connections with my aunt and my family in Missouri. While we would occasionally see each other, the times were brief and fleeting. It was only sheer chance that I re-connected with her in 2009, after more than 30 years.

During a rough patch in my life in 2009, I took an extended trip to visit family and ended up on my aunt’s doorstep. She had buried two husbands during that time and moved to town. During the week I spent with her, she and I re-connected as adults. I was her eyes, and together we traveled – to see family, to Arkansas to her friends. I met an aunt Nita I never knew and our time together was special and healing.

I would call her on the phone late at night and read to her. Our conversation would start with general chitchat and I’d work up to the real reason I was calling her. I’d ask her if she wanted to hear what I was working on, and she’s say, “Of course.” When I was done, she’d say, “Go on. Finish it.” She always wanted to know what happened next.

At the time of her death, I was working on a horror novel. I would read her chunks of the novel, which was always in a state of flux. I don’t know how many beginnings I read to her. I need to finish it, for her and myself. She has a small role in the book, and it will, of course, be dedicated to her.

A poet in her own right, she would often share her poems with me. I only wish I had some to share here. Her second husband, Glydus Gregory, was also a poet and published a book of poetry. They belonged to the Mountain View Poetry Society, and my aunt’s poetry was included in the group’s 2005 chapbook, Dandelion Seeds.

I miss having her as my sounding board. Sassy ignores me when I read to her and my mother tries, but it isn’t the same. I know my aunt is watching over me and is celebrating my small triumphs with me. She would be so proud to know that I am now writing for the Springfield Business Journal.

I did not go to her funeral. I chose to remember her as she was – a vibrant woman full of love, laughter and life. At her funeral, a slide show of photos from a one-day trip my cousin Trisha, myself, my aunt and one of my aunt’s friends took while I was there in 2009 played. It is among the last memories I have of my aunt.

Rest in peace, aunt Nita. You are missed now and for always.

Image

I am stage right (or left) and my aunt Nita is in the center. I don’t remember who is stage left (or right). This photo was taken at Elephant Rock State Park.

The Supermoon, Spiders and Ice Cream Trucks

Last night, I sat outside on the front step of my apartment building with my Pomeranian, Sassy, and watched the supermoon rise over the apartment building across the street. The sky slowly lightened, the early evening darkness overshot with a white glow, as the moon ascended the sky. I waited in anticipation for my first glimpse of the full moon as it peeked over the top of the building.

There was a slight breeze, turning the night deliciously pleasant after another hot, humid afternoon. Sassy stretched out on the grass and I sat cross-legged on the step, watching a small black spider enjoying its evening meal of a flying insect several times its size that had had the misfortune to get caught in its web.

As I waited for the moon to make its appearance, I heard the tinny familiar strains of the ice cream truck coming from down the street. I checked my watch: 9:07 p.m. I wondered what an ice cream truck was doing out at that hour plying its trade when nary a child was about to witness its passage.

And a story idea was born, As I watched the moon tentatively peek over the apartment building across the street, its brilliant white light spilling forth and washing across the yard, I began thinking about demented ice cream truck drivers, the tinny strains of their musical trucks luring children from their midnight beds.

The moon slowly rose, its light softening the edges of the darkness. I waited, hoping the rabbit family I’ve seen nibbling grasses in our yard would come out and play. It seemed that kind of night where anything would, or could, happen.

After a while, Sassy grew restless and we went inside but, even then, I felt the siren call of the moon. It lured me out twice more, until it became tangled in the trees and I lost sight of it amid a haze of clouds.

Late in the night, I woke. My bed overlooks a window, and as I lay there, I saw the moon shining through my window. I woke with visions of demented ice cream truck drivers in my head. I sense a story developing here.