Sunday, January 29, 2012

Third Time's A Charm...

Walt Disney sought out other stories to turn into feature films after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Beauty and the Beast was among the stories he considered. Attempts to develop the Beauty and the Beast story into a film were made in the 1930s and 1950s, but were ultimately given up because it "proved to be a challenge" for the story team.

Decades later, after the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988, the Disney studio resurrected Beauty and the Beast as a project for the satellite animation studio it had set up in London, England to work on Roger Rabbit. At the behest of Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Beauty and the Beast became the first Disney animated film to use a screenwriter. This was an unusual production move for an animated film, which is traditionally developed on storyboards rather than in scripted form. Linda Woolverton wrote the original draft of the story before story-boarding began, and worked with the story team to retool and develop the film.

Upon the theatrical release of the finished version, the film was universally praised, with Roger Ebert giving it four stars out of four and saying that "Beauty and the Beast reaches back to an older and healthier Hollywood tradition in which the best writers, musicians and filmmakers are gathered for a project on the assumption that a family audience deserves great entertainment, too." He ranked the film as the third best film of 1991.

The film was also nominated for Best Sound an Best Picture. It was the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture, and remained the only animated film nominated until 2010, when the Best Picture field was widened to ten nominees. It lost to the critically acclaimed thriller The Silence of the Lambs. Beauty and the Beast was also nominated for several awards, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, with two other awards for its music. Famously, Beauty and the Beast was the first ever animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and was the only animated film to hold this honor until 2009, when the Academy Awards switched from 5 Best Picture nominations to 10, and Pixar’s animated film Up was nominated. Beauty and the Beast received a total of six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Sound, and three nominations for its song. It ended up winning two, for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for the songs “Beauty and The Beast.”

I have watched Beauty and The Beast movie many times over the past several years, but not until it was on the big screen at the theater did I realize several amazing things about this movie. In the opening the story teller is using stained glass to tell the story of how the prince became The Beast. I have no idea if this is where Heather began her love of stained glass or not, but it sure could be. I wonder if this is part of the reason she created a rose stained glass pattern that is still used by many students at Red Mountain High School.

The most significant part of the opening is that the Enchantress made the rose to last till his 21st year. If The Beast could find love before the last petal fell then the spell would be broken, if not he would remain a beast forever. Heather was 21 when she died and the rose lasted till The Beast’s 21st year. Simply amazing the fact that it happened in the 21st year for both Heather and The Beast.

When Belle finds her father locked in the tower she begs The Beast for his life. She offers herself to take his place. She tells The Beast “take me instead.” The Beast replies that she must stay with him forever. She agrees and it is done. In the blink of an eye, Belle takes her father’s place. I would have given my life for Heather. I think every parent feels the same way. I would have taken Heather’s cancer and her pain if I could have traded places with her. Life is not like the movies and I was not able to make a switch as easy and Belle did for her father.

The ballroom scene is the most breath-taking I have ever seen. It begins as Belle and The Beast walk down the stairs to meet each other at the landing. As they go onto the dance floor, Belle’s dress is a stunning gold and Beast is in a brilliant blue. As they move you are memorized at the beauty that is the two of them. Mrs. Potts sings softly the words to “Beauty and The Beast.” It was beautiful in 1991 when I first saw this movie and it still is today.

The most moving movie in the whole movie comes at the end when The Beast “dies.” Belle is crying, The Beast takes his last breath and the final petal form the rose falls to join the other petals. As Belle pleads with The Beast not to go she utters the magical words, “I love you!” How simple the words are and they end up saving The Beast and turning him back into a prince. Those three simple words mean so much and require such little effort to say but could save a life depending on who says them.

Sunday morning I turned on my phone to find a text message that contained a very special photo. It was a letter written by Heather to Emma, who was a 3 month old baby at the time. Heather had recently taught herself how to knit. She had wanted to make a baby blanket for sweet Emma. It was the first baby blanket she had ever made. She actually only managed to make 3 baby blankets in her lifetime. At the time of this very special first blanket she would have just turned 15 years old. As she states in the letter the third time’s a charm…for blankets and movies...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


It seems that I can go weeks with not much to write about and then there are weeks when I could write everyday about something different happening in my life. I am behind in keeping up with all the events that have happened in our family since Thanksgiving. I think I will take some time to write about all the different things going on in my life and mind right now.

1. The act, process, or result of altering or modifying: a change in facial expression.
2. The replacing of one thing for another; substitution: a change of atmosphere; a change of ownership.
3. A transformation or transition from one state, condition, or phase to another: the change of seasons.
4. Something different; variety: ate early for a change.
5. A different or fresh set of clothing.

Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the Phoenix
~Christina Baldwin~

Good parents give their children roots and wings. Roots to know where home is, wings to fly away and exercise what’s been taught them.
~Jonas Salk~

As parents we raise our children with the hope of them someday leaving home and beginning their lives and families. You hope that you trained and taught them enough to be successful adults. You hope that you have instilled your wisdom, values and faith in them to be taught to the next generation.

I have never felt that I really wanted my children to leave. I enjoy having my grown children around and doing things with them. I like the fact that I can see my children every day. Especially when Heather died it was a huge comfort to have my remaining children at home. When a momma bear loses one of her cubs she pulls the other kids closer and will fight to the death to keep them safe.
Wendy's room empty
But with all things changes happen. Wendy and Pea aka Snookie aka Violet, moved into their own apartment with Steven. While these are the wings I have always tried to give to Wendy. It is just hard to see them “fly” away. The most difficult part was not to see my Snookie every morning and night. I am very attached to my Snookie. She is such a joy to my world. Not many Mimi’s get to spend nearly every day of their granddaughter’s life together. I got to enjoy feeding, bathing, seeing her changing, rocking, playing, putting her to bed, getting up with in the night and loving her to death. I got to see her changing every day. It was a true blessing for me.
The stairs to Snookie's New House
All ready for Christmas..Pea by the stockings
Snookie is doing very well in her “new” house. She loves it but still seems to be a bit confused about Mimi and Papa and GiGi not living with her. She still comes into our house and says she will go to her room. Our house will always feel like home to her. She will be very comfortable coming and staying with us when she gets older.

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself
~Andy Warhol~
"Guest" room
Shelf covered with Mouse stuff
The guest room is the room that Wendy lived in for over 17 years. Basically the only room and house she remembers. She moved into her room when she was nearly 4 years old. It has changed several times over the year and the cat mural I painted years ago is covered over by several coats of paint. There are now two twin beds and more Disney stuff in the room. It is weird to call it the guest room; it will be Wendy’s room for as long as we live in this house.
A view of my "office"
My “office” is the room that Heather lived in for 14 years and Snookie lived in for nearly 3 years. It is very difficult to call it my office. I am not sure what to call the room actually. The bunny mural that Heather hated for me to paint over has a couple different coats of pink paint covering it. Pink was one of Heather’s signature colors for sure. I put many of her things back in the room. It is close to the way it was when she died. When I first put everything in the room I was brought to tears as it should be that Heather would walk into her room at any time. I thought I was going to have to take her things down and change the room completely. But with time I have gotten very comfortable with the way it looks. Is it a shrine? I am not sure. In a year it may change again. And I can do that too and move on but for now it is nice to have Heather’s things out so I can see them.
Out with the old and on with the new
What a mess
All the changes over the years
The bathroom that Heather shared with Jenn and Wendy needed to be redone a couple years ago to be honest. When Wendy moved it gave me the opportunity to paint and change the bathroom. The last time I painted the bathroom was in May 2005 for Heather’s graduation. It was bittersweet to peel the wallpaper off the wall and to think about the pink polka dots going away. This proved to be a very long process as I had to steam and scrap the old wallpaper border off the walls. It took me over a month to finish this task that could have been completed in a week. I think it just took me time to say goodbye to the bathroom that Heather used and loved. This was a huge step forward for change.
Still have polka dot...
Feels very good to be a solid color
The final stage of change for the holiday season was to remodel the kitchen. I am not sure why I needed to have a new kitchen. I need new carpeting and several other things probably more but for some reason I needed to do the kitchen. Here again it was saying goodbye to the kitchen where Heather had been. To the kitchen she had cooked in and the kitchen that was here when she was here. To change the rooms, bathroom and kitchen was to move forward without Heather. I purchased all new appliances, got new counter tops and then changed the color from blue to red and added Mickey Mouse accents to it now. I love love love the counter tops. They are laminate but look like granite. Of course I managed to pick the most expensive, top of the line materials. I picked decorative edges to give it a modern feel. I also got a new breakfast nook table and chairs in black and brown. I love the new feel of things in the house now.
Old Kitchen-17 years old
New kitchen

Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me
~Carol Burnett~

Things are moving forward and changing and I cannot do anything to stop it. I can either move with it or I can stay in the past and become a weirdo. It is very difficult to explain how moving forward and making changes are very difficult to do for a grieving mother. All the things that I changed were things that were in the house when Heather was living. To change or get rid of them is to loss a memory of her.  While no one can take my memories away it is moving forward without her. I know that Heather would be thrilled and love all the changes that I have made. She would not want me to get stuck in the past. Hanging onto memories with one hand and then hanging onto Heather with the other hand is beginning to stretch me to the point that I have to begin to let go of something. They both are pulling in the opposite direction and slipping from my fingers. Which is…fine actually…

Becca: Does it ever go away?
Nat: No, I don't think it does. Not for me, it hasn't - has gone on for eleven years. 
But it changes though.
Becca: How?
Nat: I don't know... the weight of it, I guess. At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and... carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you... you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and - there it is. Oh right, that. Which could be aweful - not all the time. It's kinda...
[deep breath]
Nat: not that you'd like it exactly, but it's what you've got instead of your son. So, you carry it around. And uh... it doesn't go away. Which is...
Becca: Which is what?
Nat: Fine, actually.
~Rabbit Hole~

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sisters..the Forgotten Mourners...

“But you went away
How dare you?
I miss you
They say I’ll be ok
But I’m not going to ever get over you…”

Miranda Lambert has never met her brother-in-law Richie Shelton. That’s because her husband Blake Sheldon’s older brother was killed in a car accident in 1990, when Blake was just 14. The fact that Richie has been dead for over 20 years does not stop Lambert from being affected by his death. Lambert says that her husband’s pain is her pain. The late, great Richie Shelton also inspired the song ‘Over You’ from Lambert’s ‘Four the Record.’ Turns out, the couple wrote the song together.

“Blake’s brother was killed instantly in a car accident at 24, when Blake was 14,” Lambert revealed. “And one day he just opened up and was talking to me about it. And then he was playing this pretty little melody and we started adding words. I said, ‘You went away,’ and Blake said, ‘How dare you,’ and we both started crying.”

That was a first for Lambert, who admitted that she has never cried when penning a tune before. But it was her relationship with Shelton that made her so emotional. “Now that I’m so close to him, it’s my pain, too,” she said.

Shelton suggested that Lambert record the song instead of him, because it was just too hard for him. “He said, ‘I think it’s better if you record it. Honestly, I don’t think I can get through singing it every night onstage, so what’s the point?’” Lambert revealed. “I love that song, and I feel like it’s time for me to show I have that side of me that’s vulnerable and hurting for someone else. It’s one of our favorite songs.”*
 “Living alone here in this place
I think of you, and I’m not afraid
Your favorite records make me feel better
Cause you sing along
With every song
I know you didn’t mean to give them to me…”
“SISTERS” was a television drama which aired on NBC for six seasons from 1991 to 1996. “SISTERS” focused on four sisters living in Winnetka, Ill. Having always wanted sons, their father had called the girls by the male version of their full names. (Alexandria, Alex; Theodora, Teddy; Georgiana, Georgie; and Francesca, Frankie)
In one of the first episodes the adult sisters are fighting and the mother steps in and breaks them up. She is outraged that her girls could possibly act that way towards each other. During this moment the mother says the most profound statement that I have ever heard. I used to repeat it to my three girls all the time. It is so very true and makes very good sense. It goes:

“Parents will die, husbands and lovers will leave you, but your sister is the only one who knows and loves you from cradle to grave.”
I realize that this is supposed to be a blog about a grieving mother, but there are other wounded parties when a child dies. It is the siblings that are left behind. The “forgotten mourners.” They are told to be strong for their parents. They have to live with the new parents they are left with as they remember the old parents. They have a hole in their family and their heart that can never be filled again by anyone. For my girls Heather was in the middle, the peanut butter with the two slices of bread. She held the sister together. She could act older and mature like Jenn, but then could get Jenn to loosen up and show her silly side. Heather could turn around and be a cut up and act silly with Wendy, but then get her to be serious and settle down. Heather was Jenn’s little sister, the one she called “dapper-boopers”, and tried to be the big sister even though Heather almost always stood taller than Jenn from about 2 year of age on. Heather was Wendy’s big sister, the one Wendy followed and wanted to be with even though Heather wanted to give Wendy away. They eventually grew to love each other. 
Jenn and Wendy have to fight with each other for attention but now they have a ghost they have to contend with as well. In everyone eyes, both parent’s and sister’s, Heather is now perfect. No one can live up to the ideal person we all now have to remember in our hearts. It isn’t that I tried to put Heather up so high, it just happens. If Jenn and Wendy were honest they would admit that Heather is now the perfect sister and now the other remaining sister will never live up to the memory of Heather. We all did not plan to do this, but it just happens. If I think long and hard I can come up with some issues that Heather and I had, it just isn’t the first thought in my mind. I am sure all the sisterly quarrels are far removed from their minds as well.
I was allowed to grieve for Heather and take my time as I still mourn for her. Siblings are required to take a minimal amount of time and then return to their normal lives. They were told to be strong for your mom, she needs you right now.  Just like I have to answer how many kids do I have, they have to answer how many siblings do you have? To some they may share about their loss and then to others it is just easier to answer and let it drop. It is a fine line of holding onto Heather and learning to let go without your sister beside you to share in all the moments that are supposed to be shared. We all are heading towards the 3 year mark. The years keep coming and I can do nothing to stop them. For me and I am sure for them it is not any easier today than it was April 20, 2009.
"It's odd ... Being this proud but at the same time wishing it never had to be written," he wrote. "I still miss my brother every day. Every single day."…Tweet by Blake Sheldon on “Over You” and his brother. It has been 21 years and it isn’t any easier for him either.* 
If you don't understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child.  ~Linda Sunshine

*(Taste of Country, RTTNews, KILT Radio interviews with Miranda Lambert and Blake Sheldon)

Monday, January 2, 2012

All the Fuss About New Year's Day...

New Year is the time at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's year count is incremented. For many cultures, the event is celebrated in some manner. The New Year of the Gegorgian calendar, today in worldwide use, falls on 1 January, continuing the practice of the Roman calendar. There are numerous calendars that remain in regional use that calculate the New Year differently.

The order of months in the Roman calendar has been January to December since King Numa Pompilius in about 700 BC, according to Plutarch and Macrobius. According to Catholic tradition, 1 January is the day of the circumcision of Jesus (on the eighth day of his birth), when the name of Jesus was given to him (Luke 2:21).

It was only relatively recently that 1 January became the first day of the year in Western culture. Up to 1751 in England and Wales (and all the British dominions) the New Year started on 25 March.
  • The Chinese New Year also known as the Lunar New Year, occurs every year on the new moon of the first lunar month, about four to eight weeks before spring. The exact date can fall anytime between 21 January and 21 February of the Gregorian calendar 
  • Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon after the Vernal Equinox.
  • New Year's Day in the Sikh Nanakshahi calendar is on 14 March.
  • The Assyrian New Year, called Rish Nissanu, occurs on the first day of April.

Everyone speaks of the New Year with such promise and hope to begin again. They made mistakes in the past year and it seems fitting that a brand New Year is the best time to make new resolutions and start all over. I am gonna eat less, exercise more, spend less money, spend more time with family, stop smoking, stop gambling, get a better job, take a vacation and try to greatly improve the old me. While we all look to the  New Year with great expectations, most of the things we promise or swear we are going to do usually fall short about a week into the New Year. They say that anything you do for two solid weeks becomes a habit and you can keep it better. Most resolutions are over before Jan 3 or 4 come around. 

There are many New Year’s Day that come around in your life if you think hard enough. It isn’t just the beginning of the new calendar year; it could be your birthday as you begin the New Year of your new age, your anniversary as you begin the New Year of your marriage or it could be as simple as the New Year since Easter was here. It always begins a New Year for me on April 20. I begin the next 365 days without Heather. Just in case you didn’t know this is a Leap Year, so I get to spend an extra day this year without Heather. It will take me 366 days this year to reach a New Year.

In 2009, I know that Heather’s New Year resolution was she wanted to live. Period! End! Nothing more she just wanted to survive the year with her health. But not long into the year she knew something was wrong and everyone knows how her story ended. Not the ending that anyone wanted or expected in 2009.

With the beginning of a New Year it becomes further and further away that Heather lived. The New Year is approached with dread as it goes from 1 year to 2 years and then 3 years and so on. The end of the current year means I have passed all the days without Heather again. 365 days of Mondays thru Sundays and every holiday of the year have come and gone. 365 days of missing Heather, missing her smile, her eyes, listening to her voice, to her play the piano or be upset about the jerk at Circle K. Her imagine becomes harder to see in my mind and her voice is muffled so I can’t quite hear the way it sounded. I have photos and some video but these in no way replace having her here.

My New Year resolutions don’t match up with the rest of the world’s ideas and expectations as to what they should be. I want to hang onto Heather and her memory with everything I have, but I want to let go so maybe it might not hurt so bad all the time. I want people to be understanding that I am simply not going to get over IT, but I also want people to treat me as if I am just like everyone else that are not a grieving mother. I want everyone who knew Heather to remember her every day and talk about her not just on the death day and her birthday.

With each passing moment of 2012 Heather is with me. Nearly every store I go into, or show I watch there is something to remind me of Heather. I see very few movies that I do not end up shedding a tear because it has touched a chord with my heart. It will be this way for me for as long as I continue to live. The old year or the New Year is not going to make any difference. Most of the time I want to cancel all of the months and holidays of the year and New Year’s Day is no different. Everyone is so happy, they have a clean slate to begin making strides or mistakes in. People ask me if I have any new resolutions…I smile and say not really. Most people will not understand when I say I just want to survive the year. Everyone is surviving from day to day, but I am surviving from one memory to the next, one holiday to the next and one day without Heather to the next…