Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Some last thoughts

Well this snuck up on me. I guess that is not to surprising as it is not something one happily looks forward to.

Today is the day Andee found the strength to realize she needed help and got it. The day Andee's new friend looked at her and then looked at the stairs down from Andee's little house and said something like "there is no way I can get you down from here you are going to have do most of it." Andee pulled together the strength and marched down those stairs even though her body was failing her. Tomorrow is the day she realized that this was the end and she fought to stay in the little hospital and accept that end. This was woman that always found the strength needed when things when it was needed

Yes she could also be a bitch (I am using her word here), headstrong, unwilling to change her mind, bigoted (mainly idiots and Gringos in Mexico). She could hold a grudge like nobodies business. If she thought you where a fool you were cut off till you could prove yourself otherwise. She could say things that would cut you to the bone. She was good at figuring people out, it took time but she would get in there. Then if you pissed her off she could cut you down with just a few words.

She would also open her home to those who needed her. Before me there were many children that she took in because there was no place else for them. I remember stories about them and in way I think of them as the older brothers and sisters that I never met. I have hear from a few since Andee died and hear a few more stories. I believe without her more than a few would not have made it or would have ended up even more messed up. Long before the Farm she helped run a facility for what we would now call developmental disabled kids in Florida. It almost killed how much she gave to those kids. Then she decided to have me, I won't go into detail but it was a very deliberate decision, with a focus that I wish other kids could have had. That same strength came into play and she made a life that surrounded me as I grew up. I think she gave up allot more than I will ever know to try and be the parent she wanted to be. Even in the end a cat found her that needed a home and Andee brought Gracie in.

I say all the above as a reminder to all of us that Andee was a person with her good side and healthy bad side. Without both she would not have been the person I loved, some of you loved, and that pissed off allot of other people.

In Andee's time in Mexico more and more of here cognitive facilities were slipping away. For me having grown up with her it was easy to see what she was losing even if others could not. I would have been sad or angry about this accept for an odd thing. This was Andee are her happiest. I have come to think that this was the childhood that her never really felt she had. There she had no responsibilities that she did not choose, no need for much plans farther than the next part of the day. She was as free there as she had ever been I think. I wish to die so well when it comes.

So remember her as the person that she was. Flawed in many ways. Caring of other with all her heart. Remember the good with the bad. I think that she would hate the memories to be a lie though incompleteness.

I will leave the comments open for those that may wonder by.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A few pictures from the Spring event

These are from the little event we had in Spokane this spring of 08. We snacked on the food other had brought. Someone brought pizza which made me laugh and realize it was the most appropriate thing that anyone could have brought besides the Cokes Those that wanted one had a glass bottle Coke from Mexico. In little groups we told stories about her. People meet each other for the first time and and were amazed at the breadth of the people there. Then we together said a few words of our feelings and memories. We did not dwell to long and thing that would have made here happy. Then we snacked some more. Think that even Andee would have enjoyed it. At least that there was some that she liked to eat.

It went wonderfully. Plenty of people where there. It was a very happy event.

Some of the people and the some of the food

Some of the surviving Farm people

A flower from Russ and Dee's beautiful garden

Photo credits to Russ

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Andee's farewell Saturday June 14th 1:00pm

Well the time has come for those up north to say goodbye to Andee. In
many was this is for you all as I have had my say. What I would like
from this is for people to met up, have few snacks, tell some stories
and have enjoy the company. If others want add something else a I
pretty open to that. Just remember that Andee was a rather informal
person and in her last years came to require the truth from those
around her no rosy stories unless they are read roses.

So here is the deal Russ and Dee, old friends, have volunteered their
house and weather bearing we will meet up at 1:00 for a bit of a

Here is what you can do:
-Well this is a potluck after all. What would Andee want to eat?
-Think if there is something that you would like to say.
-Plants not cut flowers. If you feel the need to bring flowers please
bring something that you can take home with you to plant.

Here is what will be there:
-Some tables and chairs
-A couple of cases of real Mexican Coca Cola for a toast.
-Assorted picnic tableware
-me, Tom and Russ.

Rough schedule:
1:00 People and can show up and snack/eat a bit
1:30 I'll make some introductions of the various areas of Andee's life if needed
I'll say few things and then others can if they wish
2:00 Then people can chat for a while and eat some more.

In the mean time I would ask you all to do something good for the kid,
cat or plant closest to you and have Coke.

All of that said here is why I have not said anything about memorials.
We are each of us memorials for Andee. She effected each of us for
good or bad in many way and changed many of us. So we are each living
memorials of Andee just as those that we effect will be memorials for
us when we are gone, dead or just moved on to the next town or
country. This is a chance for celebrate Andee.

Contact me for the address and if you have any questions

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Monday, April 07, 2008

Memorials and such

There has been some talk floating about the ether about physical memorials for Andee. Things like tree's or trash cans for Chacala been talked about. I have stayed out of these discussion for a couple of reasons. The first is that these are the kinds of things people need to do when they lose someone and I am not going to begrudge them this (although my silence may have done this and for that I am sorry.) When Andee and I talked about this sort of thing of the years she was down in Mexico my basic understanding was that for Andee that once she was gone that was it. I do not think that she could have ever brought herself to understand the good effect that she had on others so she would have been surprised as the reaction her death got from those that knew her.

All of that said here is why, while I am happy that people want to do things, I am not taking part in any of it. We are each of us memorials for Andee. She effected each of us for good or bad in many way and changed many of us. So we are each living memorials of Andee just as those that we effect will be memorials for us when we are gone, dead or just moved on to the next town or country.

So I try to add a little fearlessness in to my day. Trying things that would have hesitated at before for fear of embarrassment or danger. This summer if things go well I will go sailing out of sight of land and this scares me but I did not even blink when given the opportunity. Andee was riding a bus through Mexico when someone said "Hey you should go to Chacala" and look what happened with that. So my memorial is to be better at saying "Yes, why not" when something new comes up. Maybe it is not reaching out for something new but it is a step in that direction. I hope that any one reads that might try to find the something in themselves.

As to the June 14 event what I am things is some thing simple in the park or a back yard. A bit of a potluck (fruit salad is a must), some good Mexican Coke (the carbonated stuff in a bottle)
, some words from whom ever wants to say some (I do), and some interesting conversations and stories about Andee.

thanks for your time

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Just a little update

I have been a bit quite as of late. I had a little accident washing dishes and sliced a finger open. Some stitches and glue fixed that but make typing interesting.

Things that I have said that I will do and have not yet done:
  • print out pictures of Andee for the ladies in Chacala. At this point I think that I will use the Picture Bliss sent me. It is the only in the picture posting that did not note who it was from. Sorry Bliss.
  • Get together more details about the June 14th thing.
  • Reply to a number or messages for people about Andee. Sorry about that you have written. It is odd I can dispassionately deal with all the rental ones with ease but for those that were closer it is hard for me to even read them. I will get back to you.
  • Scan Photos of a younger Andee and post them. I have started looking thought the picture books but she did a good job purging herself from them.
  • Scan the drawing that she did.
Next weekend I am going to one of my step brothers weddings (it is true both ways) so I won't be doing much of the above in the next week but I will get to it all.

Thanks all for your thoughts.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

About Gracie UPDATED

UPDATE: I have heard from Gracies new ownee (as Gracie is of course the owner) and she tells me that Gracie is happily co-existing with two red-footed tortioses and a godson.

Some people have been asking about Gracie, Andee's cat. Until now I did not have good news or really any news . I do now have good news to tell you. But first I need to tell you the full story of why I did not have any news.

When ever I look at my cat (Putty) I think about Gracie. I knew there was noway I could have gotten her home. It was just too overwhelming. It was selfish of me but I had made the decision going in that I was going to try to take care of the people and that Gracie was going to lose. While I was there Tom and I feed Gracie the food that Andee have left and a couple of can of tune that we had picked up on the way up from PVR. We both knew that things were probably going to get bad for her and our unspoken goal was to fatten her up as much as we could. The morning that we left I did something that I felt bad bad about doing but it was all that I could do for Gracie at that point. I put the bag of food at in front of the of the American that had come at Andee's call for help and gotten her to the hospital. She had already done so much for Andee and here I was asking her to do more. I really felt bad about doing that but it was all I could do for Gracie. My little pathetic excuses were that Gracie did not like men very much and would only grudgingly come near me when I was there down there in October and that my cat hates the very concept of other cats existing.

This weekend I got a message from this person with news about Gracie and I want to share it. I am going to quote it here.

A few days after you left to return home, two women moved in next door to me at my room in Aurora's. They were from Denver. I told them all about Andee, her transition, and of course introduced them to Gracie. We were going to walk to town together. "Okay," I said. "But I need to feed Gracie first. Come with me. You cn see where she lives. I only feed her back at her house because I hope it gives her some measure of comfort that at least one thing hasn't changed. She cries every night for Andee." As we walked over to Andee's to feed Gracie, we talked. The women said that they were from Denver. So am I! What a coincidence. Well, now that you have met Gracie, if I could make all the arrangements, would you be willing to take Gracie with you on the plane and deliver her to the woman who runs the Cat Care Society?

"Sure," they said. "The woman who runs it lives down the block from us." Okay, you're it! How long are you here? "We leave Chacala in two days, back to the states in three."

"From Vallarta? What airlines?"


"I'll find you," I said.

I had to spend that night in a different town. I left the women a note on the bag of cat food and said, "Would you please feed Gracie tonight and tomorrow morning?"

When I got back the next afternoon, the women had left me a note of good-bye with the name of the hotel they would be at in Vallarta.

I looked up the policy online for Frontier Airlines - traveling with a pet. They also addressed bringing home a pet from a foreign country. Airline approved pet carrier, health certificate and rabies certificate from a vet, ticket to ride.

I drove to La Penita and found a carrier at a vet's office but he explained that he was not certified to issue a certificate of health. Probably in Vallarta, he said. The day was getting away from me. The women would be flying from Vallarta the next day. Time was getting short.

God bless the internet. It took a few hours but I actually found a woman down in Los Ayalas who does animal rescue. I emailed her, beginning with, "I need help and FAST!" Of the many emails I sent out, she was the only person who responded with, "I can help. Call me ASAP. She called a vet she works with in Bucerias, 12 miles north of Vallarta, who agreed to see Gracie and me at 10 am the next morning, normally his day off. The women's flight was at 3, check in at 1pm.

Gracie had been my constant companion all week so I wasn't worried about catching her. Getting her into the carrier was more challenging.

At 8 the next morning, after two failed attempts at getting her into the carrier, I thought, "I need a strategy."

I walked down to the market and bought a can of tuna. I got Gracie to come into my bathroom in my room at Aurora's with the tuna and a little bowl of milk. I sat on the floor and talked to her and stayed close to her while she ate the tuna and drank her milk. Then I let her walk back outside, purposely ignoring her. I was hoping she would pee and poop. My target time to leave was 9am.

About 5 mins of 9, Gracie wandered back into my room and into the bathroom to see if I had given her any more tuna. Bless you, Gracie, I thought. I shut the bathroom door, picked up Gracie and the carrier. Facing her away from the carrier so she couldn't see it coming, I gently backed her into it as I set it down on the floor. I'll never know if it was the tuna, the milk, facing backwards instead of forward march or just the vibe that this is it, Gracie, your one big shot at a new home so don't blow it, but Gracie was calm and cooperative about being inserted into the carrier. Off we went in the truck to el veterinario in Bucerias.

A half hour of examination, one rabies shot, a little collar with a bell and one leash later, Gracie and I were on our way to the airport. I had not been in contact with the women since they had left Chacala but I had their flight information. When they arrived at the Frontier check-in counter, I was waiting. I held up the carrier with Gracie, who was curled up safely inside, her eyes wide as she watched all the commotion around her in the airport.

"I knew you'd be here," one of the women said.

"You bet," I said, "I brought your cat!"

The women then said that they had talked about it and had decided NOT to take Gracie to the Cat Care Society and my heart just broke. Instead, they explained that they had fallen in love with her during their time at Aurora's and they were SO GLAD I had found them at the airport because they had decided that if I showed up with Gracie, it was meant to be and they would take her home to live with them. I waited in line with them, bought Gracie a ticket to her new home and said, "Bye, sweet Gracie. Andee is very happy for you." I drove back to Chacala and cried when I saw Gracie's little dish on my bathroom floor.

I just thought you'd want to know. Gracie got a good home.



This took a huge load of mind that I had not fully realized was there. I had made plans for what to do with Andee's things when this time came but I just did not know what to do with the Gracie. So I hoped that as with a lot of other things that happened in this process that the universe would provide and something good would happen. This is not my normal way of dealing with things but it was all that I could do.

Gracie had one batch of kitten before Andee got her altered. She was very proud to have found homes for all the kittens. I just want to reach out and rub there little bellies.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The June event plan

Well really not much of a plan but a start. The basics are:
June 14 (a Saturday)
In Spokane, WA
Potluck with a focus on desserts

Actual location (I need to investigate park permits)
What we will do.
There is some talk of dedicating a tree

What I need from you all is some numbers. Send me an email with "Invite" as the subject and the names a count people coming. eriko@jumpsuit.org

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It's about time for some pictures I think

Andee at her finest. Expressing her opinions about pictures of her.
Photo by: Allen Hardman

Photo by: Robert Quallie

Photo by

Roger G. Iverson

"This picture was from Feb. 2005 one evening waiting for the sunset. As she refused to have her picture taken, I had to sneak this shot."

Photo by: Diana & David
Photo by: Diana & David

Taken March 2006
Photo by: Daly Mike

As I have been collecting these pictures of her I frequently hear how many were sneaked or the result of her being cornered and unable to disappear. I do not think she every saw the light and life that shown through these pictures. I have older pictures, I think, of her in the things she gave be when she left for Mexico. Unless she removed her self for those also. I will post what I can fine this week.

Thank you

I would like to publicly thank all those that have helped me in the last week. I will miss some of you that helpd and some of you I will never know that you did help. Some of you I did not know your names or they have disappeared in to the fog. Know that your actions are appreciated.

There is no order to this list. Each and everyone has been important to me getting through this.

Tom for with out a thought on hearing said get us tickets. For doing the hard work of cleaning out Andee's home and distributing her things. I know this must have been hard for because he needs to grieve to. His support made it possible for me to get things done. He is still grieving and one of my great regrets is that I do not really know how to help him do this.

Russ and Dee for there support when I called them. I am sorry to say that I will be leaning on them once again come June.

Bill and family for being to one to call me with the news. That it came from a voice that recognized meant so much. I have always feared getting that call. For picking up and dropping us of at the airport so that there was never a worry about how we were going to get there.

The man at the funeral home that delivered her ashes to me at 11pm when I go to Chacala. For driving me to all the places that I needed to go and get the magic stamps and signatures so that I could get Andee's ashes back out here.

They the man who explained that the town was not used to cremation and that they need some sort physical presence of her. This lead to my spreading some of her ashed in the water off of the beach that she loved. Now they can always she her there.

Kate for keeping me updated on that monday about what was going on down there. For taking it in stride when I asked about funeral issues and understanding what I needed done. Most of all for translating for me so that I could tell those that I could otherwise only communicated with via tears the deepness on my thanks.

Sandy for responding to Andee's call for help and getting her where she needed to be and staying with her a the hospital. It says something about each of them that they had only know each other for 11 days.

Concha and Aurora because of them Andee did not die alone. She died with friends. For this alone I am in their debt. They also helped the town grieve for her by organizing a service for her. This was something that I was worried that I did know how to do.

There are many other's some who lent me a shoulder to cry on, some who helped me take care of electronic details and other things. Those that have written to me about Andee and those that have posted wonderful stories about her. I have only begun to read these as it is hard for me.

After I had got the call and had made the arrangements to get down to Chacala I had to leave the house to get keys made so that someone could come and take care of my cat. I leave the stereo on when I am gone to keep the cat company ( it's warm, she sits on it, it is her friend) a song by an Artist called Piney Gir came on called "Little Doggie". The artists has a link on her site where you can hear the song at Piney Gir. If you click the play link next to the track about half way down the page you can hear the song. I lay on the floor crying with my cat for quite a while after that. Yet another stranger who's kindness carries me though this even now.