Spring Break has come and gone. We didn’t go anywhere, and truth be told, I didn’t do anything productive. Well, I did write a paper for one of my grad school classes, but that had to be done anyway. I’m just trying to get through this semester. I wanted to quit after that awful February, but like Joel says, just get keep plugging on. We did binge both seasons of A Discovery of Witches, but I don’t think that counts as productive. I don’t know, I’m just tired all of the time. Aren’t we all though? Anyway, here are some photos from the last few weeks.
I simultaneously love this photo and hate this photo. I love this photo because it is a photo of friends who are puppy raisers and it was also the cover photo for a local magazine. I hate this photo because the shoot took place the day before my mom died and in my brain, it marks “before”. Rationally, one doesn’t have anything to do with the other, but my psyche has tied this photoshoot with me not being in Louisiana when my mom died, which is ridiculous, because with the information that I had at the time, I don’t think I would have done things any differently.
A little backstory. My mom was diagnosed in April 2019 (I forget the exact date, but for some reason I want to say the 4th.) with pancreatic cancer. At the time of diagnosis, she was 66 years old. After various scans, and tests, we discovered that it stage 4 and it had spread to her liver and her lung. I had planned to spend all summer with her, and skip TSA Nationals. (I’m one of three advisors for out TSA Chapter at my school. Our National competition is at the end of June every year.)
The plan was for me to drive to Louisiana around June 7th and stay until I had to return to Florida for the 2019-20 school year. Mom ended up in the hospital for blood clots in late May. She called and asked if I could come home earlier and I said sure, I’d be there the 28th as she was feeling better, was scheduled to go home as she didn’t want to be in the hospital any more and she was going to forego treatment. Wednesday, May 22nd, she was discharged home to hospice care. At that time she was stable and was having friends come over to see her on Friday like it wasn’t a big deal. I had the photoshoot scheduled on Sunday, I would pick up the rental car on Monday the 27th, spend the night about half way and drive the rest of the way on Tuesday. There was no indication that anything was imminent, or if it was, it wasn’t information that I had.
Sunday afternoon, as I was leaving Chip and Chris’s, I got a call from my sister asking me if I could manage to get there on Monday, as Mom had taken a turn and she was afraid she would be unconscious by the time I got there. I called the rental car company to see if I could pick the car up early, and on Sunday evening, picked up the rental, hurriedly packed some clothes, called my principal to let her know that I had to leave and give instructions on how to give my final exam, (we still had a week of school left) and around 4 am on Monday, started driving from my home home in Manatee County Florida to Dry Prong, La, a solid fourteen to fifteen hour drive. Detours for road construction on I-75 and a delay near Mobile due to heavy Memorial Day traffic, made the drive all the more nerve wracking and anxiety inducing. Somewhere on Hwy 190 in Louisiana, northwest of Baton Rouge, I got a phone call from my brother. Mom was having trouble. He tried to reassure me that I would make it, but I was still about two hours, maybe less, away. I hung up, started sobbing, and then about ten minutes later, called my brother back told him to take the phone to Mom. I told her that I loved her and that if she was ready to go, she could, she didn’t have to wait for me, but I was on my way. She was unconscious at that point, and on morphine, but I was at least able to tell her I loved her. For the next hour and a half, I drove and sobbed. At some point, my husband called me and started talking to me about nothing and everything. At the time I thought he was just trying to keep my mind off the rest of the drive.
I finally drove into the driveway around 7pm, I think. It’s all a blur. My youngest brother was waiting for me in the driveway, and I took one look at him and knew. Mom was gone, and I didn’t make it. She passed away about 15 minutes after I had called. That hour and a half that Joel kept me on the phone? He and Amanda knew that Mom had passed as Kevin (my other brother) called them. They made the decision to not tell me as I was still driving. At the time I was so mad at them for not telling me, but looking back it was the right decision.
Meanwhile, the week after the funeral, I edited this session in order to have it ready for the deadline that the magazine needed. No biggie, I didn’t have a lot to do as my sister and one brother had returned to work, and my other brother andI were hanging out with my dad and writing thank you notes , and tying up loose sends from the funeral. I ended up staying two weeks before driving back to Florida.
I was home about a week then turned around and took 30 kids and adults to Washington DC for that National Conference that I planned on skipping.
Two days after we returned home from the conference, I photographed my best friend’s wedding on July 4, 2019 and then basically put down my cameras except for a handful of times.
Over the last 22 months, my love for photography and anything creative has taken a nose dive. Prior to May 27, 2019, in addition to my regular job, I also did photo shoots, and was a volunteer photographer for Southeastern Guide Dogs. I have had little to no desire to photograph anything beyond the occasional shots on my phone. I have photographed maybe two families and then a handful of puppy raiser days and in-for training days for SEGD, but beyond that, I have no desire. Of course, 2020 and the pandemic was it’s own thing, and unlike a lot people, took away my creativity instead of stoking it.
I guess it’s just been one thing after another since 2019 and finally I feel like the creativity has started to creep back in. The desire to knit has slowly returned, as has the desire to write. I am also slowly beginning to think about a photo challenge that DOESN’T use my phone to force me to take Big and Little Mama (my cameras) out for a spin.
It took me a while to figure out why I had this block, and I think it’s been just sheer overload of everything. Work, mom’s diagnosis and death, starting grad school, my dad’s illness, and his passing last month, pandemic, the crazy election, serving on a Board of Directors (I’ve since resigned to give myself my breathing room) and just daily life. I am hoping that I am finally chipping away at that block and maybe some of my creative self returns. I have missed her.
Glynn K. Maxwell June 21, 1943- February 15, 2021
Once upon a time there was a dog named Peewee. And Peewee had some dog friends and they were Blackie, Brownie, Spot and sometimes Rex……
Thus began many a bed time story from my dad. As many of you know, our dad was a storyteller. Spend any time with him, or in his office, and the majority of the time you would would come away with a story about something. A lot of the time, you would get a quick lesson about the Civil War, the cold war, World War 2, or even a story or two about Grant Parish. So, in the spirit of my dad, I’m going to tell you a story.
Glynn Keith Maxwell was born on June 21, 1943 at the crossroads of Hwy 123 and Hwy 8. At some point, Papaw Bill and Mamaw Chloe moved dad and his brothers,Larry and Billy to Dry Prong where his adventures with Peewee, a chihuahua mix, were born. He attended school in Dry Prong, and as he liked to say, he gave his teachers some grief. I have a feeling he got in trouble for too much talking. As a teacher myself, that does not surprise me one bit. Dad played basketball for Dry Prong High School, and loved to regale us with the tales of playing on the court at the Dry Prong gym. He loved to tell the stories of how the Dry Prong Wildcats were the best in the state and how they would run opponents ragged because the Dry Prong court was longer than regulation high school courts at that time.
After graduation, Dad would go on to attend Northwestern State University and then enlisted in the US Air Force where over his four years, his time would include a very close encounter with JFK and Jackie at Carswell AFB about an hour or so before JFK was assassinated. When I asked him what stuck out to him the most, he said, JFK had on the most beautiful pin striped suit and a country boy, I thought it was the most beautiful suit that I had seen.” After a posting in Pakistan at a base ‘that was there, but wasnt’, Dad returned home and would eventually marry the girl next door, our mom, Robbie Creed and have four children.
During the 80s, dad served as Mayor of Dry Prong for two terms, with one of the highlights being the invitation to the White House to meet then President Reagan and VP Bush after he and the entire town council switched to the Repulican Party. Something that got Dry Prong quite a bit of press at the time. It was also during this time that he co-founded KVDP, Dry Prong’s radio station.
Dad’s storytelling and writing abilities would serve him well throughout the years. It made people feel at ease no matter if they were in his office at Southern Funding, or if he was interviewing them for the Dry Prong Village Voice or the Colfax Chronicle. He loved to write about the Civil War, as many of you know. He wrote and spoke extensively about the Civil War as it related to Central Louisiana.
He could talk your ear off about the Red River Campaign, and as kids, we can attest to reading pretty much every single historical marker that we came across. I attribute my knowledge of seemingly useless information from some of our ‘rides’ that are a family tradition. Sometimes those “Maxwell shortcuts” would lead to an adventure that we would tell stories about years later.
I am sure that all of you have stories to tell about my dad, and I’m sure that we have heard stories (all good, don’t worry!) about ya’ll. We would love for you to tell us those stories.
In the spirit of dad, I will ask you to do something. Tell your stories to your kids and grandkids and your great grand kids. Ask your relatives to tell stories. My students love when I tell them stories of how I grew up in Louisiana.When our loved ones are gone, these stories become treasured memories.
As for Dad, I’m sure he’s up there talking Mom’s ear off and telling stories to Uncle Bob, Uncle Larry and Pawpaw Bill and Mamaw Chloe.
Can you do me a favor? If you see a little redheaded Clark that looks like me, running around up there, can you tell them a Peewee story for me? Love you.
Last week was Homecoming Week at work,which was a sad state of affairs given all the measures that we have had to use this year in order to be able to even be in school. One thing that has remained constant are the War Drums that are played from 7:30 am until kickoff at 7:30 pm on Friday. With Covid-19 protocols in place, Homecoming Week was a sad state of affairs. With only a third of the students on campus due to e-learning, Hybrid pans and five day a week plans, there just wasn’t the same spark. No face painting, no pep rally, no dance, it was nearly disheartening. We lost, mind you, so that didn’t help. I wanted the game from home via our school’s TV broadcast. It was a fairly relaxing evening with the dogs.
Saturday morning, Amanda had to be back at school to film something for the Florida Wrestling Hall of Fame and after that, we went to our local county’s Democratic HQ and managed to get our yard sign! Amanda has been volunteering for the Biden Harris campaign by texting voters and is working with Vote Forward to write letters to undecided voters. I’m so proud of her!
In pursuit of some relaxation, I pulled out yarn for the first time in forever and found a pattern for a pair of ankle socks. I now remember why I used to love knitting. I instantly relaxed. I have made it a point to try and knit a bit every evening in an effort to try and do a little relaxing. The yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sock that Rock in Halloween Town–Mediumweight. and the pattern is Rose City Rollers,
And finally to cap of Sunday, I was out at Southeastern Guide Dogs and after the early morning showers, I saw this:
Have a great week everyone and I’ll post something soon!
Now more than ever it is important to get your annual flu shot. CVS (and other places) offer free flu shots and often gives you a shopping reward. Publix gives you a $10 gift card with your flu shot. I was in and out in less than 20 minute. I was picking up a prescription anyway so I just got mine while I was there anyway.