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...jen o'connor's...Artful Adventures & Daily Inspirations

I Love Art, Adore the Handmade and Treasure the Vintage. I am the Fun Mom, the Silly Friend and the Writer who wants to make more room for beauty in the everyday.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

yo yo Mom & Jude

Do you have that eccentric relative? The one that lives beyond the pale, marching to the disparate tune of a whole different band?
Not just a black sheep who heard a different drummer,
my Aunt Jude had a rare gypsy soul.

She lived her life on her terms, and hers alone. She collected experiences, three husbands and circles of friends that bifurcated every social strata and subgroup. Over time she was an auto-mechanic, a jeweler, a painter, a worker bee for the telephone company, and a barmaid. She was constantly re-inventing herself, not in search of glory, but just perhaps in the hopes of illumination. She lived in posh condos, in trailers and, she drifted... from one side of the country to the other searching and perhaps even sometimes, running from herself.

She laughed loudly, drank her coffee black and ate dessert first. She made bad decisions, broke hearts and had hers broken. She was generous to a fault. She drove an orange "Gremlin", crocheted with lightening speed, rode motorcycles and gave fabulous foot massages...

Strange and sometimes estranged, she always came back to my Mother's door. As a child I knew she was my Mom's favorite of her eight siblings and for this alone I would have held her in deep affection.

Here are the sisters in my back yard last summer one magic afternoon.
My Mom Rosie is in the pink, Jude the black.
We took Rosie's yo-yos out for the fun of it...Jude loved the many hues, the textures and the patterns of the quilts.
How grand we stole the afternoon in full color memory.

With tremendous grace, my cousin Shelley took Jude in four years ago when she could no longer care for herself. We saw more of her than we had in decades. My children got to love her and she them.

Though Alzheimers had already begun its steady theft of her memories, judgement and vitality, she welcome work and liked "a project". I loved that she would sit at my kitchen table, eating cookie after cookie and tying strings to the tags for Debbee Thibault's creations or coloring with the kids while I tapped away on the keyboard as I do now.

She fell down a flight of stairs last week. This seems such a simple end to such a complicated life. But I think a slow surrender of her free spirit to a failing mind and body would have been far worse.

I am so glad that so many of you got to know her... and to see her at Jennifer Lanne's gallery event. She and Shelly were there to take in the colors... to enjoy the afternoon. Jude was having one of her "good" days and we got to share it.

I pain for my Mother who will miss her sister with the dull ache of age and the burdensome gift of wisdom. So steal those afternoons...
and celebrate the free spirited among us.

xxoo Jen


Diane Duda said...

I don't know anyone quite like this, but it did bring back a memory of my Grandma...sitting in her chair...knitting away...cigarette hanging from the dry of her lips going up and down as she inhaled and exhaled. :)
I'm so sorry about your Aunt. I really enjoyed reading about her. HOw lucky you are to have had such a unique woman in you life!


Kingfisher Farm said...

I loved this. Pam

jeanetta said...

very touching. i hope i am looked at as being that cool when i am that old. that soemone will describe me the way you have lovingly described your aunt.

violette said...

What a lovely tribute to such a beautiful spirit! Your aunt was a true maverick. My thoughts are with you.

Love, Violette

Theresa said...

Dearest Jen,

The tribute to your Aunt was amazing and for a moment I did know her through your eyes. What a wonderful lady she must have been.

Big Bear Hugs,


Debbie Baumann said...

Jen, so sorry to hear about your loss. I watched my maternal Grandmother painfully suffer with Alzheimer's for 12 years. I especially remember the sorrow of seeing my mother deal with it. Cherish the beautiful memories of your aunt and remember her amazing spirit.

KSedlak said...

You gave your Aunt a wonderful gift...a beautiful tribute of her life and how she touched yours.
She sounds like she will be missed, but you all have such great memories of time well spent with her.
My thoughts are with you and your mom.

jennifer lanne said...

I was one of the lucky ones who was able to meet your aunt in person...and that smile!
Seems she squeezed as much in her life as she possibly could...
we should all be inspired by her..
thanks Jen for sharing...

Arbutus Hunter said...

Deepest sympathy to your mother and all who knew and loved your aunt.

It's funny, her life story sounds much like mine; must be that wandering gypsy spirit!

Best Regards,


FrostingsNSparkles said...

She sounds like an amazing woman, and a unique and beautiful soul. I'm lucky to have one in my life as well. I'm so sorry for your loss :(

Kathrine said...

Oh Jen...I am so sorry. My prayers are with your family. You all so fortunate to have such a colorful Aunt like yours.


Lana said...

Jen, I'm so sorry about your aunt ~ but it sounds like she lived a full and vibrant life ~ just like those yo-yos of your mom's that she loved so much. Prayers are with you and your family.


Lori Ann said...

What a vibrant life she had . . . this is her legacy.
Sometimes life is cruel to be kind . . . my father had Alzheimers and was "blessed" with a heart attack that took him before the full progression of this terrible disease. They live on in our hearts, and like the yo yo's . . the circle of life goes round and round . . .
Lori Ann

Moon said...

Goodness. This really took me by surprise, your words brought me to tears. I see my mother in your Jude. I have alot of sadness in that area.
Anywho...I will wipe my face now and say, thank you for your wonderful thoughts and words. I think Im going to call my mom this weekend.

diane allison said...

what lovely writing jen, she would be so happy to see that you knew who she really was. i hope to be half of her at best. xoxo diane

oldflowers4me said...

oh - i am so so sorry-

Blackbird Design said...

what a beautiful i am all teary. how lucky we are that the universe shares such wonderful people with us.

Andrea S. said...

That is one of the most beautiful tributes I have ever read. She sounds like an incredible woman who taught many people how to really live. Thank you for sharing her story. I hope her legacy will live on in your family for many mnay generations.

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