I spent this evening on the patio in the backyard of my parents’ home, with a glass of local cider, a salmon burger, sweet potato fries, and grilled zucchini. The sun was out all day, and the temperature hovered around 70. It was the quintessential Seattle summer day, the kind that brings people here to stay. The mild winters keep them here.
But, Minnesota is pretty awesome, too. So I’ll head back there tomorrow after a beautiful Labor Day weekend at my childhood home. It’s the second time I’ve been back since I moved. I’m so thankful I was able to be here this weekend to honor my late grandmother, Ruth Moore, who passed away in August at age 90. We held a memorial service for her on Sept. 5 at Bethany Lutheran Church on Greenlake, the church she attended for 60 years, where my parents were married, and where my aunt serves as organist. My dad, aunt, uncle, cousin, and I all contributed musically to the service, a beautiful tribute to her remarkable life.
Death is never an easy thing to deal with, but with my grandma (and in many ways, my grandpa Phil too, in 2008), it was no tragedy, but a gradual and expected end. Both of my Moore grandparents contributed so many gifts to the world. I best remember my grandma for all she did for my grandpa – he was legally blind, so many times she drove him to his late-night jazz gigs in Seattle and his piano-tuning jobs. She also cared for him in his last years of life, and I came to admire her even more then. As a teenager it devastated me to see him struggle, knowing he could no longer play music or tune pianos as he’d done all his life, but I knew Grandma would be at his side no matter what. They were both native to the Midwest, he from Nebraska and she from a farm in Sioux City, Iowa. I spent many evenings as a child at their house in Greenlake, playing with dolls and piano, eating toast, and taking walks around the block looking for alligators. Grandma made a point of reading to me, which I believe helped ensure my academic success. She was a schoolteacher herself for many years, as well as Sunday School at Bethany. She was frugal and preferred to work for others rather than calling attention to herself, up until the very end. And, she took pride in her Swedish heritage, hanging a Swedish flag door decoration up at her room at the Norse Home, where she lived from 2012 until her passing. There’s so much about her to emulate that took me too long to comprehend. I will always hold my memories of the little red house on 77th in love.
My grandma’s passing was only one of the things that happened in August that presented a challenge to my emotional strength. I started some new projects at work, and we’ve been having meetings to discuss some different directions we could go at our company, which overwhelms my brain sometimes – there are so many possibilities, and the trends change every day, it seems. But, I’m excited that our trip to Europe in October is all booked up for the Big Bead Show, with a trip to Italy afterwards. I’m not going there alone this time – my colleague Sara and our UK boss David and his wife Elizabeth are coming too. Needless to say, I’m stoked.
I also learned in August that one of my former housemates was found dead along a trail in Rochester back in June. Somehow I completely missed this news when it happened – another housemate filled me in on the shocking news. I’d actually talked to this person quite a bit when I lived in that house for the first 4 months of 2015 – he was in the kitchen often cooking something delicious. Just thinking about it again makes me shudder. (I won’t link to any of the stories out of respect for the victim’s family.) It’s one thing for someone you know to die of age, as we all hope for ourselves. It’s another for them to be found on a trail, with suspected foul play involved. This only further motivates me not to go out alone after dark. (Except in Decorah.)
Speaking of Decorah, some happier news: I’m going to be in an orchestra down there this fall! It’s called the Oneota Valley Community Orchestra. I’ve got plenty of connections in it, unsurprisingly. We are playing, for one, Dvorak’s New World Symphony, so I’m excited for that! Our concert is on November 1. Sadly I won’t be with the Rochester Pops Orchestra for the first concert, since it falls while I’m in England. But I’ll rejoin in November once I’m back. I’m also still playing for the Bridge worship service at Gloria Dei and will start singing with the Sanctuary Singers choir this Sunday. And I’m up to six cello students at Schmitt Music on Saturdays. This is exhausting – another reason I’m glad to have gotten a break for a few days. I’m already feeling inspired to get back at it when I arrive home tomorrow, with some fresh perspective.
This weekend I spent a great deal of time reading old journal entries from the end of college and shortly thereafter. I’ve gone through a lot since then, and it was reassuring to read these entries and know that most of the worries I had about the future back then have been resolved. I wrote several times that maybe the Midwest was where I belonged – lo and behold, I am there. I’ve learned so much about myself since graduating, things I was in the process of discovering during school but have clarified while living independently. My first trip back to Seattle in May was weird, as I wrote before, and it did not feel like the home it was before. But this time it’s not like that. It is home. Not my forever home, but a place that always will be home. I can stay for however long I like, and then I’m ready to go back to Rochester. Which I was in May, and I am again.
Meanwhile, my parents are taking off tomorrow as well, for London. They are going just a month before me for a vacation. I’ve been doing my best this week to help them prepare, and I’m sure they’ll do great. They are experienced travelers. Plus they will get to meet David & Elizabeth! I’m so excited for them. No need to be jealous, though.
September will bring challenges of its own. As fall approaches, so do the days of darkness, and for me that means my Seasonal Affective Disorder will kick in. I get it worst in September when the shorter days become noticeable, but it actually improves throughout fall and by December I’m happy again. I would say that June, July, and December are my happiest months year over year. My family and friends provided some advice on dealing with the condition. Most of all, I need to reach out to my support system. Sometimes I forget that I have one, no matter which part of the world I’m in, and I direct my negative feelings inward, which of course helps nothing. I’m never too busy to help anyone. I just pray that others aren’t too busy to help me when I need it… and that I’ll accept the help.
It’s 10 pm Pacific, midnight Central… time for some shuteye before I force myself back onto the latter time zone.
Soli Deo Gloria, and go Hawks.