reverse threading

the path back is the path forward

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“beak-y” [flawed cartoon wednesday]

idonothaveabignose jpegBIG copy 2

my sweet momma had a sweet nose.  but somewhere along the line my poppo, using a derivative of her first name ‘beatrice’ nicknamed her “beak” and, for a time, all hell broke loose.  she railed against his perceived slamming of her nose (which was actually a perky little nose) and was questioning of his continued use of his (now) beloved nickname when it irritated (“irked”) her.  “beak” morphed into “beaky” – the name by which everyone under the sun knows and loves her.  eventually, she even grew to love her nickname and proudly wore a gold necklace my dad had specially made for her (no, surprisingly, “beak” necklaces are not mass-produced!)  our sweet beaky-beaky.  ohmygosh, how i miss her.

if you'd like to see FLAWED CARTOON


read DAVID’S thoughts on this FLAWED CARTOON

i do not have a big nose! i have an unusually small head!  ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

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wear the crystals

today is my sweet momma’s birthday. she would be 94 today if she were still on this earth. i suppose she is 94 anyway, only this time i can’t celebrate with her in a traditional way. i know that i have been writing a lot about her these days. i am filled with memories, surprised in a moment by tears, and i can hear her voice in my head. i’ve been so lucky. i had the privilege of her on this good earth for 56 years. but i truly miss her. jen wrote, “that relationship with our mom is so grounding and when it’s gone or changed, life feels so different.” yes.

yellowdragonss2 copyon april 11 the first of momma’s books was released, the first of The Shayne Trilogy. her joy at that reading and signing was a pinnacle moment for us – watching her, at almost-94, surrounded by people, sharing her writing. today, at would-be-94, we announce the release of the second in the trilogy. we thought it would be finished a bit sooner, but we kind of fell off the pony for a bit, so to speak. all of a sudden last week though, we felt infused with energy to get back to work on it. it is one of my greatest honors in life to make these children’s books happen. despite everything amazing she was in this world, i cannot think of something more important than to have given momma something she valued after-the-comma-after-her-name. someday, after a millionzillion of The Shayne Trilogy have sold to children and schools far and wide, i would love to set up a beakybeaky foundation to help other women, later in life, late in life, do exactly this-find what’s after-the-comma-after-their-name, the thing that they have wished for, the thing that they value for themselves and have put off, delayed for reasons that are valid and important and what women do. but for now, i wish i could see her face the first time she held Shayne & The Yellow Dragon, the first time she read through it.

today i am wearing a crystal necklace of hers. when i put it on this morning, i wondered, in my crabmeadowbeach kind of way, if it were too fancy. i decided to wear it regardless of its appropriateness. it’s her birthday and so, it’s perfect.

“live life,” she said. i keep remembering that. i can hear her saying it. i know she could see i used one of her favorite big stainless steel bowls for a huge salad for guests yesterday. she could see us slow-dancing on the patio early in the day. she was there at the fabulous fireworks last night, which she adored. she was there this morning when ptom told everyone to “slow down.” my sister said, “i kind of thought that for once mom could actually see me riding my bike today.” yes, my beeg seester. i’m quite sure she was riding along.

wear the crystals.  photo

itunes: kerri sherwood

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“live life, my sweet potato”

“butts are in!” she said, as i walked out of the fitting room and pirouetted in front of the three-way mirror, studying my reflection and the new jeans i had tried on. “good thing,” i said, off on a rant, bemoaning menopause catching up to me. sitting on one of those man-benches outside the fitting room, david laughed and rolled his eyes. buying jeans is one of the worst undertakings for a girl, i told him. it just isn’t easy. nothing about it is easy. no matter what age you are. there is so much to think about, so much to worry about. david said it seems much more complicated than “boysbuyingjeans.” ha! the understatement of the century, eh?

momma looked at me many times, straight in the eye, and worriedly said, “i looked in the mirror today and i was shocked to seephoto-1 an old woman! i look like an old woman!” goodness gracious, momma, you were 93! momma had every single right to look like an old woman. matter of fact, she was the most beautiful old woman i have ever seen. all those amazing wrinkles she earned through life, those eyes that have seen so much, the laugh lines around her mouth, the easy smile, that look that could stop all motion, the little scars- the one she got from playing field hockey, the one she got from a golf outing. beautiful. beautiful. beautiful.

recently scordskiii wrote to me that he is “always slightly baffled by the extreme nip/tuck stuff going on with 50-something women.” the pressure of looking “good”, the worry of not looking “old”. he continued, “there is something to be said for growing old gracefully…hell, it’s a gift when growing old is an option…bring on the wrinkles!”

every time we walk past linda’s house she stops us and cuts flowers for us, sending us home with armfuls of stunning blooms. we protest, saying that she is cutting too many, that she should save them for herself or not cut them. she always shoos away our protest, hugs us and sends us on our way. they are there to cut, she says. to be enjoyed. she is not worried about what she has cut or what she has left in her flower garden. she is embracing the beauty of the flowers she can share. we are grateful. for the flowers and the hugs. she doesn’t worry about the wrinkles it leaves in her garden.

photo-3the other night we sat on the edge of the deck. it was twilight. the air was still. little sun was left in the sky. we could hear the birds readying for the night. in the distance we could hear the foghorn. we held hands. and sat. quietly. then we let dogdog out. he ran rampant around the backyard, his joyful smile leading the way through the hostas. at first i cringed, thinking about all the hours this backyard has taken and how quickly his aussie body can make it look – well – pretty wrinkled. but what would life be like without his exuberance? what would it be like perfectly perfect? the trade-off would be huge…like botox for life, not just cosmetic. shaving off the highs and lows, the spectrum would narrow, maybe even to a point of comfortable predictability. but who wants that anyway?

last december, at some random moment, momma called. after saying hello she said she called to tell me something. i waited, held my breath and listened. “live life, my sweet potato,” she said. “live life.” i exhaled.

photo-4with these wrinkles, this butt, this backyard, all the messiness, the highs, the lows, worries or not, i will, my sweet momma, try my best – to live life.

on sunday he said, “do not worry about life. instead, drink it in.”



itunes: kerri sherwood

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swimming upstream

photo-4about a half hour before momma’s book-signing party, she taught david how to put on blush and lipstick.  she used her walker to get to her dresser and, ever so carefully, let go of it so that she might lean into the dresser.  with a free hand she carefully picked up her blusher and blush-brush and applied just a bit of to the apples of her cheeks, saying that “i was taught you have to smile when you put on blush.  that way it is applied to the right part of your cheek.”  she then carefully selected a lipstick and demonstrated step-by-step how to apply this lovely shade to her pink lips.  david asked her questions; i love that about him.  he engaged with momma at all moments, from the simplest to the most intensely profound.  i carefully tucked this memory away, guessing i would draw on it in the future.

a few minutes before momma’s book-signing party for Shayne, she asked if we had the sharpies she needed.  we did.  she had been practicing her signature for the signing, carefully forming each letter, wanting to “be unique”.  we watched as she practiced on paper with lines, on graph paper, on scrap paper, in a little blue notebook she kept in a basket in her assisted living facility apartment.  she pointed out that she wanted to use a “big B, little e and little a, a big K and a y without a tail.”  she carefully practiced signing this very special and very unique way to sign her name.  i carefully tucked this memory away, guessing i would draw on it in the future.

the night before momma fell she sent me a text message.  it was a screenshot of a saying she had seen:  “every so often your loved ones will open the door from heaven, and visit you in a dream.  just to say ‘hello’ and to remind you that they are still with you, just in a different way.”  i responded with how beautiful that was and carefully screenshotted her message so that i might tuck that memory away, guessing that i would draw on it in the future.  photo-5

that was the last text message i received from momma.

the future is now.

and i find myself swimming upstream. the loss of my sweet momma is huge.  we have always been so connected. i keep drawing on my memory bank of moments, on all the sweet momma-isms i can remember, all the times spent together.  i am trying to not let little things get in the way.  today i find myself spending the day nursing an unexpected back injury (well, that’s silly…what back injury is expected??)  perhaps we drove too many miles over the past weeks; perhaps stress and sadness have taken a bit of a toll on my resistance…i don’t know.  i’m trying to weigh in on that and not bite the temptation to get consumed by things i shouldn’t get upset about.  it all balances out in the end, yes?  i mean, what really matters?

so the upstream swim is punctuated with these downstream currents that threaten to pull me into parts of the river i don’t want to go.  and yet, it is all important…to feel all of it…not skip any of it.  when heidi and i were performing regularly for cancer survivor events we had this piece about a lazy river woven into our performance.  there are many places to get in and out of a lazy river at a waterpark; you can stop and get out and rest and then get back into it, in a new floating tube.  the lazy river carries you along; you don’t have to do anything.  no resistance needed.  no work.  there is an ease about it.  it’s actually harder to get out than to continue on your merry way.  but sometimes, you have to get out of the stream.  you have to step out and look at it.  you actually have to resist the currents.  you have to work.  it is not easy.  you have to look at it all and take with you all the stuff that matters, discarding what doesn’t.  you have to linger in the memories that you tucked away, so that you might celebrate and not be consumed by that which throws you off balance, that which doesn’t really matter. each of us is a riverstone, after all.  sometimes, swimming upstream is necessary.

oh….and, by the way, if you want to know how to put on lipstick or blush, let david know.  he can help you.


in the pause with momma

photo-1sixteen days ago we celebrated with momma the release of her first published book. she is beautiful and fiercely independent at almost-94 and she was full of joy as she practiced ahead of time with a sharpie and then signed copies of books for all sorts of people who showed up at the signing of ‘shayne’ – the first in a trilogy of children’s books. at the end of this enormous day, we sipped martini & rossi asti spumante (momma and poppo’s favorite from days gone by) and we ate chocolate-covered strawberries in exultant glee.

fourteen days ago my almost-94 momma sent me a text message with her iphone that said she had mastered powering her electric wheelchair all the way downstairs to breakfast and again to dinner. she was amazed she did it and i know she was beautiful and fiercely independent as she made her way through the halls of her assisted living facility.

thirteen days ago my almost-94 momma was not having a good morning, but she was elated to see the diary notebook we brought her – we had searched for it and found it in a random bin in her garage. she gently stroked the notebook titled ‘europe 1971’ and i knew she would sit and read all the details, study all the maps, look at all the brochures and hold my dad’s hand and these cherished memories in her mind’s eye for hours and hours. she would envision her beautiful self and my handsome poppo in 1971 and their fierce independence to tour around europe for six weeks in the new vw bug they had purchased there.

nine days ago my almost-94 momma called to tell me that kelly had introduced her to new potential residents as “our newly published author” and momma was humbled and oh-so-excited to report this. i am positive she rose up in her wheelchair, beautiful and fiercely independent.

four days ago my almost-94 momma was found on the floor of her assisted living facility apartment and was rushed to the hospital. i am quite sure she was beautiful to the caring people who rushed to her aid, but maybe not so fiercely independent.

yesterday my almost-94 momma was just conscious enough in her hospital bed to look through my niece’s iphone to see me. tears were coursing down her cheeks and my sister wiped them away. she looked beautiful to me. her fiercely independent spirit is fighting seriously devastating infections. she is in a precarious place. i know she reaches in her mind to my dad in another plane of existence and yet, for now, she clings to this life here.

photo-2one day ago my almost-25 daughter was briefly in chicago and i had a wonderful opportunity to see her for a precious bit of time. she is beautiful and fiercely independent; she celebrates life on mountaintops and snowboard slopes and on hiking trails. yesterday i celebrated her life with her, a couple margaritas and a gluten-free pizza. life marches on. beauty and fierce independence are passed to the next and the next.

today my almost-94 momma continues to fight.   she is tired and her fierce independence is challenged. but i do know that inside of this beautiful woman is a person who will make the decisions that she wants to make. joan wrote, “…one of those times when there is no way around. only through….a transition each makes alone in the end.”

as tears ran down my face this morning after another difficult call with my sister about my momma and her prognosis, david read to me a paragraph written by pema chodron called ‘the power of the pause’ – “a momentary contrast between being completely self-absorbed and being awake and present.” he read another quote as well…this one by martha beck, “real power is usually unspectacular, a simple setting aside of fear that allows the free flow of love. but it changes everything.”

and so i hold in this pause my beautiful and fiercely independent momma.   i listen for her voice, i hold her in my arms and wait to feel her arms around me. i am awake and present and hyper-sensitive in my vigil with her. i do not know what the outcome of this huge physical trial will be. i try not to have fear. i am holding on and letting go. what i do know? before the pause, in the pause and after the pause i will always love her. her beautiful-ness and fierce independence. my sweet