Saturday, February 28, 2009

East of Clovis

As I sat outside late yesterday, I was struck by the sounds. Joan’s mare, Lucy, pushed her hay trough around the pen, just on the other side of my garden. It makes a hollow banging sound. She does this often out of boredom. From inside my barn home, some 50 yards away, I sometimes hear the same racket that travels through the mostly open space separating her pen from the barn. The wind has been constant for most of the time I’ve been back here—gusting at 15-20 mph. Chimes from my garden are joined by chimes that hang from the beams of the carport behind Mother’s house. Mother’s house…when will I stop saying that? Mother’s house is now Joan’s house. I’m traveling. Somewhere else I’ve had this same sense of call to prayer. The feathered cohabitors of this garden busy themselves, as the sun drops, drops in the west, through Post Oaks still bare, the orange disk gone while the sky remains light and tinged with color. Overhead, a passenger jet, heading west from Houston 100-plus miles to the southeast, pierces the sky, too high for me to hear the sound. I suppose that Casey, the blue heeler, can hear it.

I thought I would be lonely here this time, after living in close quarters with ready companions for the last four months, and especially with the absence of friends nearby in this rural county who have chosen life nearer to the big city. Eight years ago I was ripe to leave a job, abandon the city. I thought I needed to escape—something—to solitude. How could I know that the world, my world was on the brink—that peace of mind was about to undergo a measurable redefining? On the eve of Mother’s 84th birthday, we took her to the emergency room 90 miles to the south. She was admitted to the Hospital. Four days later, Tuesday, September 11, 2001, my neighbor Nancy called. Turn on your television. A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. The only guarantee is change. The solitude I so craved is still on my plate. Be wary of answered prayers.

Pay homage to the cellular age. Last night my friend Judy assured me from 175 miles away that I’m accomplishing as much as I should expect of myself—whatever that means and by whoever might be expecting something. Oh, that would be me, of course. “You’ve only been back a couple of days,” she insisted. Well, it had really been a week. As I looked homeward to Texas from Santa Fe over a month ago, dreading the work that lay ahead of me, friend Suzy cautioned me, “Don’t manifest that.” You will be fine. And though the dread became palpable when I smelled the feedlots of Clovis heading east to the Texas Panhandle, I knew I was okay. This morning I will move and stack the old bricks—TEXAS…MEXIA—that I retrieved from the rubble of the demolished tile shower sub floor. Late yesterday I found them partially buried in the debris on the contractor’s trailer. I’ve put out the first batch of mulch in the garden. Fourteen bags equal one yard. One yard fits comfortably into the rear of my Toyota 4Runner. The garden requires at least 20 yards. No mountain high enough.

For today, maybe I’ll clear the top of the credenza in the middle of the kitchen. Its original purpose was as a food preparation space. Maybe I’ll unpack my clothes. I’ve spilled the contents of my vehicle into a space in the bunkhouse living room that was already past capacity—dominoes teetering on the brink. Maybe I’ll read about Louisiana in the 19th century—a novel set in the area called home by the late Clementine Hunter, revered Black folk artist who died 20 years ago at age 101. Maybe I’ll put out a trap for the mouse that darted through the deconstructed bathroom early this morning and out a gaping hole at the bottom of the wall that adjoins the barn hallway. No doubt, he and his friends are having a heyday while my house stands compromised.

Disarray reigns, along with dust from the demolition of the old tile shower. Visitors? How? Last night I cautioned friend Steve, who abhors clutter, who abhors any unnecessary stuff, that I’m hesitant for him to visit from New Mexico. Before Mother died two years ago—Mother of the odd combination of keeper of things long past purpose and dusted, arranged tabletops—we observed that our aunt no longer invites us over. She had reduced her house to paths, her kitchen counters to a patchwork of miniature workspaces. Horrors, I’m working off of the same paradigm. While visiting the other day, sister Sue assured me, “It’s not that bad.” A few days earlier, sister Joan observed over coffee one morning, “At least it’s organized.” Would it be easier to be here, mostly alone—solitary in the garden, upstairs looking out onto the deck and into the cow trap below and the hayfield farther east, in the downstairs bedroom at night, book in hand and occasionally glimpsing the moonlit sky through the door that leads to the outdoor bath—just me and the chimes, and the songbirds, and the Mouse?

East of Clovis—Normangee, Texas (February 28, 2009)
R. Harold Hollis

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Home is Where the Heart Is

Now that I’m back here in Texas, I’m trying not to use the “H” word because I like pretending that I live in Santa Fe New Mexico. Hah! Given my long developing love of sprawl, the one that has evolved into this barn and garden on steroids, I’m hard pressed to explain to anyone who might care to ask, exactly where is your home? Can it possibly be that a postage stamp-sized condo measures up to a home? Is a treasure-filled barn home? Well, I can quote scripture: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21). “Home is where the heart is,” goes an old saying. I’ve just been reminded by someone posting on an Internet website, “…my home is my parents' old house. I've never loved my own…” as much.

Our middle sister, Sue, lives in the house we mostly grew up in. I was already 10 when that house was built, Joan, the oldest, 15. It was moved some 25 miles west back in the early 70s when our parents sold the land on which it sat. It had already been moved once, from one side of the road to the other when the highway was widened my senior year in high school. Even then it hadn’t been home to my sisters for some time. The youngest of three, I lived at this new site for only a few months before heading off to college. In its new place, that house has been the scene of many family gatherings. Sue’s children, now all in their 40s, were in their teens when their Paw Paw died. The house here on this land in Leon County, home to Mother and Daddy for a few years in the late ‘70s—the house where both our Grandma Fuchs and Mother died—is now Joan’s home. The only guarantee we have is change.

My other memories of hearth—the house at 102 Arnold in an old Houston neighborhood, a house built by our maternal grandparents in 1923, and the house built by great Uncle Henry at 105 Reinerman, just around the corner—the house where an historic photograph has recorded great grandmother Louisa Benfer Fuchs laid out for burial in January 1939, the first time she had been in a reclining position in years, having long been crippled by rheumatoid arthritis. We lived in each of those houses in the late ‘40s, early ‘50s. There’s a picture of Sue and me in front of the garage at 102 Arnold, one of us holding the family rat Terrier. Today, through some freak accident, Joan’s rat Terrier, Sadie, fell victim under the wheels of the diesel Ford driven by the contractor remodeling the old bathroom of my barn home. We cried, “the only watchdog on the place,” Joan lamented, and Sadie was buried in my oldest sister’s pet cemetery, just beyond the clothesline, under a cedar tree. There’s Joan, Sue and me, along with Mother and family friend Jim Hulme, shown in a late 1940s Houston Press photo with Lassie our collie and her 13 puppies, alongside the house at 105 Reinerman. What are we to do with all of these changes?

My sisters and I are gathering here on the land in Leon County, both to visit all together for the first time in several months—now that I pretend to live in northern New Mexico—and to conduct our little family business. How keen the memory of Grandma Fuchs, from whom this land was a gift to Mother and Daddy in the early ‘70s, and before her, land to land to land, a gift from Louisa Benfer Fuchs. As our mother and her sister-in-law, our Aunt Edna, did so often in the final years of Mother’s life, last night my sisters and I reminisced a little, gossiped a little. We ate chili and beans over cornbread. Our cousin Mary, Edna’s daughter, is coming for lunch today—chicken and dumplings made by Sue’s daughter, Karen. Food has always been a centerpiece of home, the product of both our German and Scots-Irish heritage.

Recently in Santa Fe, I had lunch with our cousin Donald Hollis, his wife Patsy (Gallegos), whose family has lived in Santa Fe for many generations, and Patsy’s sister, Isabella, who lives in Albuquerque. Donald, the oldest of our generation of Hollises, lived in New Mexico for a relatively short time—from the beginning of his teen years until graduation from university. He returned to his Houston Texas roots four years before I graduated from high school. I loved hearing them talk about growing up in Santa Fe, their family traditions, where they had lived in that sleepy town of the first half of the 20th century. For decades, the Gallegos family compound was near the juncture of Juanita and Agua Fria, not that far from the Plaza. Patsy, of pure New Mexican Hispanic heritage, has now lived most of her life on the Gulf coast of Texas. She and Donald’s children are native Texans, just like their daddy. Their hearts are steeped in Texas.

In New Mexico I am drawn to the persistent call of the ravens that nest in the Pinon pines populating so much of the terrain. Here in Leon County, their crow cousins insist on being heard throughout the day. I associate crows with the pines that dominated the land where I grew up in northwest Harris County, but pines obviously are not requisite to their habitat, as witnessed here in the Post Oak Savannah that lies just a few miles west of the towering pines of East Texas. Studies show that crows and ravens thrive in the woodlands, on the coast, and in the arid west. They migrate to the food. I pay attention to the crows and the ravens, and though I’m not sure of what they tell me, I smile often when I consider what they have on their minds. They are curious by nature, gregarious. They clearly have opinions. So I’m taking their reminder on good faith. Where they are, I find myself smiling as I move toward their presence, feeling very much at home. At the end of the forty days, Noah opened the window of the ark and sent forth a raven. It went to and from until the waters were dried up from the earth. Like the raven and the crow, I make myself at home, wherever I am for a while.

Home is Where the Heart Is—Normangee Texas (February 25, 2009)
R. Harold Hollis

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Don't Forget to Remember

Day broke between six and seven. Here on the land, songbirds of the morning filled the garden with their greetings, while all around my barn home crows caw-caw-cawed the sun’s intent. The eastern sky moved from pink to grey to a pale, pale blue, signaling another gardening day. Oh, if only my aching back were as willing as this February that is eagerly reaching toward spring.

A “norther” made its way through mid morning, bringing brief but welcome rain to a dry landscape, and strong winds, which will quickly rob the ground of the surface moisture that fell for at most 30 minutes. According to some weather readers, we are in a La Nina weather pattern that has settled over the central Pacific Ocean, bringing with it the likelihood of below normal rainfall and above normal temperatures. Over the past few months drought conditions have widened around central Texas. Growing up, I heard the expression, “March, in like a lion, out like a lamb,” or the reverse. The lion has begun stalking February for the last two years.

The roses are pruned. In an effort to simplify this garden, I’ve taken down to the ground most of the vines that have owned much of the wire fencing. Jasmine and honeysuckle are gone—at least for now—revealing inside to outside. While taking a rest from industry a couple of days ago, I noticed a female cardinal making her way into a hedge that I had partially hacked away from near the front gate, and though I winced at the impact of sanctuary undone, my need to make things less complicated—unlike my life—could not yield to the imagined needs of any bird.

The ground is littered heavily with clippings. For now, my complaining back says no to bending over. If I am fortunate, the guy who has hired on to help me clear away the effects of winter and my absenteeism will return. The morning rain forced him back to town, to his wife and two babies. In his mind, maybe today is a wash, as they say. Maybe this cold, March wind in February and the thought of wrestling wet debris has encouraged him to wait for tomorrow, no matter it is Sunday, the day of rest. The only work happening around here now belongs to the wind chimes, suspended from branches and from the rafters of the shed on the far side of the garden. Grace Notes, the big ones are called. Just inside the edge of the open shed, a water feature quietly spills onto itself. “Grace,” it says, “Don’t forget to remember.”

Don’t Forget to Remember—Normangee, Texas (February 21, 2009)
R. Harold Hollis

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Gone to Texas

“Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me…” (Psalm 25:4-5)

I must go again. I must head southeast through the grassy plains of eastern New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, down in the direction of the coast where the land rolls a little, and Post Oak trees heavily populate the Savannah that carries their name—that area between the Pineywoods of East Texas and the Blackland Prairies farther to the west. Texas is big.

I am a southerner, reared within smelling distance of the Gulf, and unlike some who would deny their Texas heritage, I embrace it, in spite of the misbehaving ways of some Texans here in New Mexico—the ones who have made it tough for all whose heritage is the Alamo, both in New Mexico and Colorado—the ones who have big money to spend on second homes that most folks would gladly sacrifice—well, something vitally important—to just call “home”—the ones sporting high end cowboy boots and hats, neither of which has ever seen the likes of a dusty cow lot—the women, some still honoring their hair, adorned in silver and turquoise—the ones driving Cadillac Escalades and other gas hog SUVs, Hummers and Range Rovers—the ones who talk, if not outright, then in such a way as to establish who they are, about their ranches and their “earl” royalties. I’m just a plain, old Texan, from humble but honest roots, the product of a practical German mother and a dreamer Scots-Irish daddy, whose depression upbringing nurtured his generosity. Let me know your ways.

I didn’t know until a couple of years ago that Virgos—of which I am one—have the reputation of just headin’ out, once the scent of already-hatched travel plans takes root in their brains. I guess if I had been paying attention to my habits, I would have recognized my ways long ago. Now, I just laugh with my friend who has named my behavior as familiar. I had planned to remain here on the high desert until the end of February. Instead, I’m pacing myself to keep from loading up and, well, going—going in a maroon Ford crew cab truck with Texas license plates whose appearance doesn’t help my appearance. Apparently, there is something they say about little guys with big trucks.

So this week I’ve given myself permission to just wait out my urge to bolt. I made a trip to Taos, my first in almost three months. There and back I gorged on the mountains, I feasted on the Rio Grande surging its way south. I imagined its taste. Alone, I’ve hiked the arroyo above my condo home, taking in the late-day light, and in the company of a friend—also a native Texan—I’ve tramped the arroyo that runs near Atalaya Mountain Trail, still spotted with blankets of snow, in spite of a mild winter, some remnants crusted to ice, lingering. Needing to imprint this place on my spirit, yesterday I imprinted my hands, as I fought to keep from landing on my butt or my knees. I’ve already taken one fall this winter, in a canyon just north, where it snows more and remains frigid in the dense national forest.

While gardening is but a thought here in the high desert, something for a spring that arrives past the official date, my Texas land is ripe for digging. Threescore rose bushes await pruning, ornamental grasses allowed to emerge for too many years need to be burned, beds and paths want weeding, and what promises to be another Texas summer from hell begs hardwood mulch to save the precious little water that will fall come July-August. Absentee landlord I am—northern cardinals and their friends in flight the overseers as I make my way elsewhere. Let me not rush. Let my mind rest in today.

I’m headed back to the Texas I know for awhile, to take care of my modest interests there. I will celebrate with family and with friends. If I permit myself, I will roam the roads that called me when my free time was a lot less free. I will embrace the garden that was my sanctuary during some tough times not too long ago, on land to which our family’s rights can be traced to the Prussian farmer immigrants who landed at Galveston in 1866. I will give thanks.

Gone to Texas—Santa Fe, New Mexico (February 14, 2009)
R. Harold Hollis

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hands to Work

“Hands to work. Hearts to God.” Mother Ann Lee (1736-1784)

I’m learning to crochet again—after 30 years since my last flurry of interest in the needle arts. I don’t remember what I made back then, but it wouldn’t have been anything of note—maybe a winter scarf, or something as mundane as potholders. I don’t know where this current urge is coming from. Possibly it’s the inspiration that washes over me each Sunday at St. Bede’s when the folks who have been working on prayer shawls come forward for their work to be blessed. Maybe it’s just my jack of many trades, master of none nature willing me to do something with my hands. Or perhaps it’s a need to quiet my mind. Handwork has that reputation.

A couple of weeks ago I made a trip to one of the many boutique yarn shops here in Santa Fe. My mission was to buy yarn to send to my friend Jane in Texas, who had offered to knit a winter cap for me. I have several caps already, but none of them handmade—certainly not handmade by a dear friend—and none of them red. Yes, I selected rich red organic wool. When I called Jane this afternoon, we talked about the organic wool label on the yarn I sent to her, but neither of us had an explanation for what constitutes “organic”. Were the sheep fed only organic grain and grass? As it turns out, that’s pretty much the guideline for certifying wool as organic. While in the yarn shop, my eyes were drawn to sample garments displayed around the place. The yarn of one sweater in particular drew my eye—merino wool from Ireland—and with two skeins of that wool and a hook designated suitable for me by the clerk, I left intent on making myself a scarf.

Last week I joined the group at church for their Tuesday gathering, and someone taught me how to start my scarf. “Create a chain the width of your scarf,” Donna advised, guiding me. Then she taught me how to do a single crochet, ending each row with a single chain, and then starting back the other direction. I was all thumbs at first, unable to get a proper grasp on the yarn with my left hand. “You just have to get comfortable,” Donna assured me, “then it becomes natural.” And so it did, finally, yesterday when I stayed inside most of the day, comforted by the warmth of my little condo casa, watching the snow fall softly from grey skies. My question several days ago to Steve—“What does it mean to be in the moment?”—“How does it feel?” suddenly got answered. Hook, catch, catch, hook, engaged me, as I sat intent, feeling the yarn stay taut better and better. “Hands to work. Hearts to God.”—popped into my head.

Although the scarf, now well underway, is far too primitive to be compared to the beautiful shawls I see presented most Sundays, I marvel at the hundreds of stitches that are resulting in something, well, pleasant, at least. Does it matter that my “hands to work” will serve only me, for now? No, I think not. My heart is searching in the right direction. My friend Jane has offered to teach me how to knit while I am in Texas over the next two months. God willing, I will return eager and sufficiently skilled to put my hands to work for someone who needs, oh so much, to be blessed. And then, of course, I will be blessed once again as well.

Hands to Work—Santa Fe, New Mexico (February 11, 2009)
R. Harold Hollis

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Who Said That?

“…and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’…” (Luke 8:23-25)

Yesterday, my back hurt so bad that I fantasized being able to cut out the mid section or jabbing a syringe filled with numbing substance into the offending area. I had done the exercises assigned to me by the physical therapist. I lay with my spine centered on Styrofoam half cylinders, lent to me by Steve, extending both arms to the sky as I inhaled and then spending the air in my lungs as I brought my arms, straight and pinned to my sides, to the floor. Oh, my spine feels like a bad bruise. With knees bent, I crossed one leg over the over, using the lead appendage to pull the opposing leg to the floor, the companion arm straight and extended above my head, the other arm pointing in the opposite direction. All the while, I am inhaling and exhaling like everything I read these days tells me I should do to relax, find my center, and be in the moment. Now I’m discovering that this breathing regimen is also a path to my Spirit.

So I’ve gotten old—let’s just say, “older”—and this old dog is finally getting around to realizing ideas that have been circulating for, well, I don’t really know how long. When I made this observation last night to my friend Suzi, puzzling over why I am so late to the party, she commented, “You’re ready now.” Is it that simple?

There are no random events, in my humble opinion. Awhile back, someone with whom I spend Friday mornings in Morning Prayer and then in our group’s version of Bible study lent me Marcus Borg’s THE GOD WE NEVER KNEW. I started it, and then as is my custom, I got distracted by other things that I was either already reading or had started subsequently—THE FAITH CLUB, Eckhart Tolle’s A NEW EARTH, a fictional diary of Hildegarde de Bingen, John Grisham’s latest lawyer escapade, and my meanderings around the Internet throughout any given day.

An email asking me to return Borg’s book before I leave for Texas at the end of this month called me to attention. Did I want to finish this book, which lay three deep on my bedside table, or just blow it off? I had already forgotten the substance of what I had been reading, although the title clearly enough suggests that its purpose is to look at God outside the confines of our past experience. In part it is a look at the Creator as a power who is not wrathful, vengeful, jealous and finger pointing. We humans pretty much have the market cornered on these attributes. So, I snapped to yesterday morning and read eagerly and with focus. And as for salvation? What do we pray? Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We pray for the kingdom here, now, not as some distant, hoped-for reward for a life where we have turned away from sin and been saved for eternity. And what about this kingdom? It’s pretty simple. We are to love and take care of one another.

“Unless compassion is translated into action, it is powerless.” Who said that? Oh, I did. I am reminded of the 2000 election, that so-called conservative triumph, a return to morality and family values, to fiscal responsibility, the sequel to a thousand points of light and Ronald Reagan’s ketchup as vegetable in school lunch programs. Prior to the election, a conversation with one of my employees—a 20 something female—revealed textbook attitude of those who have, and who also claim little responsibility towards those who have not. Would that such attitudes could be written off to youth. It’s all about choices, many would say. Get over it.

I have a responsibility to others, even for those who make poor choices. I’ve certainly made enough of my own, and I’m not finished going through the wrong doors. I’m not stupid. I don’t entertain any notions that I can solve the problems of our world. All I can do is work from the simple but complicated notion of doing the next right thing and hoping in the process that my choices somehow have a positive effect on my life and for the next guy. I can hope that somehow I can step outside the drama that is my little life, deny my ego until it willingly stays in the background, suspend judgment, and embrace goodness and mercy.

Could it be that my chronic backache has something to do with chronic ego and lousy breathing? Let me borrow from Eckhart Tolle concerning the human habits that get in the way of living the Creator’s purpose for us—demanding recognition and getting upset when we don’t get it—seeking attention by playing up our personal drama—giving our opinion when no one has asked for it, and worse, it is irrelevant—valuing how others see us, rather than valuing honest relationships with them—seeking to impress others with all sorts of things that in no way are a measure of anything worthwhile—using anger as a tool to control others—taking things personally (translated taking myself way too seriously)—claiming offense in an attempt to put others off balance—needing to be right.

(Paraphrase from Eckhart Tolle, A NEW EARTH, “The Discovery of Inner Space,” p. 255)

Too much of this list says too much about me, I’m afraid. Frankly, I’m not doing so great in my struggle with ego, but I remain hopeful. I keep failing to hear the whisper, and my body is sore from the brunt of the brick. Eventually, I will be healed. I guess I can take comfort that I’m not alone in the boat.

Who Said That?—Santa Fe, New Mexico (February 5, 2009)
R. Harold Hollis

Monday, February 2, 2009

She Will Take Care of You

Today, the life of someone I met only three times will be celebrated. She was 69 years old, just short of three score and ten. She is survived by a daughter and son and a granddaughter and grandson. Only the daughter lives nearby; the others live on two coasts and in a foreign country.

The first time I met Judy, she wore a red bandana to cover her head, robbed of the beautiful grey hair I later saw in photographs taken only last July, when she, along with family here in the states, traveled to Scotland for her son’s wedding. The night of our first meeting, I was in the company of our mutual friend, Steve. We all sipped wine and casually watched the television—shows that had become tradition for Steve and Judy—while we also explored a little of our commonality. The toll of disease was apparent on her face, but not in her demeanor.

A few weeks later, I accompanied Steve on another visit. I brought roses—pink ones. After Steve and I had trimmed the stems and put the blooms in a vase, I sat them on a low table near Judy and commented that I had brought pink because I didn’t know her favorite color. “Yellow,” she replied, smiling. “My favorite rose is yellow—the Yellow Rose of Texas,” I smiled back. “I’ll bring yellow next time.” The day of this visit, knowing in advance from Steve that Judy’s disease had claimed more of her, I told my friend Suzi that I was anxious about going to see Judy. I don’t give myself much credit for having strength in the presence of someone with a death sentence hanging over her head, even though I had plenty of practice with my own mother over a five-year period. What do you say to someone you barely know? This is one time where the elephant in the room doesn’t really deserve much attention. “Don’t worry,” Suzi advised. “She will take care of you.” And Judy did.

The last time I saw Judy, her son had traveled from Scotland to be with his mother, even though he already had plans to be in Santa Fe some time in the next three weeks. We know what we must do. On that Friday evening, Judy didn’t wear the bandanna. Silver down crowned her head. I took yellow roses, the best of the lot from the local supermarket. They were still in their bud stage. Steve, Richard and I had wine. The television was on but muted. I expressed interest in seeing pictures of Richard and John’s wedding last July. Among the images was mother, Judy, smiling and robust, at her son’s special event, only six months before. Where does the time go?
We had good conversation. Richard returned to Scotland on Monday.

Steve told me on Tuesday that Judy was in the hospital, and that she had carried the yellow roses with her. They opened during her three-days there, he told me later. By Thursday, with less than a week passed since our last visit, Judy had finished this part of her journey. Only a week since we had seen Judy and Richard, enjoying one another’s company—only a week since we had made plans for Richard and John’s visit in early February. We would pick them up at the airport. There would be no February trip to Albuquerque to welcome Richard and John. Instead, Steve and another friend traveled to Albuquerque to gather Richard. His mother had died at one that afternoon.

So today I am reminded that there are no random events in our lives. I have been blessed to grow a little more—to learn once again that we all take care of one another in some way, no matter how small it may seem at the time. I have witnessed another son having to say good-bye to his mother. If I am blessed, I will continue to learn about how friend mourns the loss of friend. I won’t be at the celebration of Judy’s life this afternoon. My golden opportunity is a sweet memory of a few hours shared. Yellow roses have become more than symbol and legend in my homeland.

She Will Take Care of You—Santa Fe, New Mexico (February 2, 2009)
R. Harold Hollis