Friday, January 31, 2014

A week of Goodbyes

Melinda Palacio

At the William Stafford Memorial in Santa Barbara

It's been a week of goodbyes.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday, I went to the WilliamStafford Memorial, January 17, 1914--August 28, 1993. On the anniversary of Stafford's 100th birthday, we said goodbye to the prolific U. S. Poet Laureate who had a special connection to Santa Barbara when he was interred at Los Prietos Camp as a conscientious objector during WWII. Stafford lived to be 79 and died while enjoying a slice of his favorite lemon pie.

The beautiful weather and scenery made for a perfect day, except for the scorched, dry ground; and the dryness all around due to the drought. We were fortunate that brave firemen made their stand to preserve the memorial site during the Jesusita Fire in 2009. But there was an eerie feeling at the unusually warm, pleasant January weather. The river was dry and Lake Cachuma a large puddle at twenty percent capacity. The golf course next to the lake was brown, but the alfalfa further down the 154 hwy was green, soaking up sprinkler loads of water. Twenty deer were taking advantage of the sprinklers.

What's most impressive is Stafford's love for the written word. He wrote every day, kept a diary, and wrote over 36, 000 poems, published 6, 000 and kept a daily journal in which he wrote 20, 000 pages.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Tuesday, the world lost Pete Seeger. Only a week before, on a Monday, I participated in the annual Martin Luther King march down State Street and sang many of the songs Seeger made famous, especially We Shall Overcome

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday was a strange day. I started writing new poems and then took a break to answer email and messages and saw that Barry Spacks had transitioned at the same place as my friend Gia, on the same day as Pete Seeger. Barry Spacks was the Santa Barbara Poet Laureate from 2005 to 2007 and a great teacher to all who loved poetry. I have fond memories of taking his weekend poetry workshops. He had a great sense of humor and wasn't at all embarrassed when I wrote a poem about his mismatched socks and read it aloud to our group of poets.
Barry Spacks

Thursday, January 30, 2014

On Thursday, it drizzled for a few hours around noon. How appropriate the sky would turn weepy at the very hour when my friend's ashes were scattered into the ocean.  A week earlier, I said goodbye to my friend Gia at Serenty House in Santa Barbara. She was misdiagnosed in April. Last summer, when doctors finally figured out she had stage 4 lung cancer, she quickly deteriorated and the cancer spread throughout her body. An hour before she died at Serenity House, I went to see her. She said my name when she saw me. Thirty minutes later, she had begun her big journey.

Her friend Joan asked me to make a dessert for the memorial; I made four. Yesterday, as I mixed butter and sugar, I couldn't believe this was the last cake I would make for Gail. And then I realized I was making these desserts for myself, for her friends, for her niece who was so pleased with my efforts. This party was for us, our small remembrance of a great lady.

 Today, January 31, 2014 begins the Chinese New Year.
For those of us still running strong, a toast to swift wings and good luck in the year of the wind horse: Gung Hay Fat Choy.

Saturday, February 1, 2014
I will be reading in Santa Ana at Librería Martinez de Chapman University from 4-6 pm, 216 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for tenderly sharing all your goodbyes Melinda. Good wishes to you to gather all the love and happiness from all these great friends and carry them on in your life.
Blessings and strength,

Diana M. Raab said...

Thanks Melinda. Tough week all around. Lots of sudden losses of important persons whose spirits live on.

May this Chinese New Year be infused with a"ll good things" (one of the ways Barry signed his letters!).

Today my daughter Rachel puts to rest her 12-year old peek-a-poo Rudy, also with cancer ...

So many memories. So much to write and think about.

Good luck with your reading tomorrow. I will be signing about the same time in Santa Ynez at the Outpost Trading Co. for LUST.

Peace and love,

Mary Helen Lagasse said...

Friends are blessings that strengthen our lives.

Best to you, Melinda.
Mary Helen Lagasse