The Wacom drawing tablet I ordered for F arrived a day earlier than expected. So, she’ll be able to use it for most of her weeklong Zoom class on video game character creation. Now that she creates most of her art digitally, I’m excited to see what she does with this new tool.

Obit finally posted to Mom’s memorial website. Probably will post it separately on the blog at some point.

Reconstructing Mom, one photo at a time

Been getting to bed by 2 or 3 a.m. the past few nights. Working on photo scanning, editing, and uploads to Mom’s memorial site. I still have a full obituary to write and a slideshow that I need to figure out how to create — all, ideally, by Friday. And I still have a job to tend to during the day.

Not complaining. All of this is the least I could do. My siblings have borne the far greater burden of our mother’s slow decline. And shuffling through hundreds of photos is helping me rebuild memories of someone I have been grieving over the past five years.

ICAD 6: Mom’s hipster spectacles

ICAD 6/61; no prompt. Gel pens, metallic Sharpies, printer paper, and repurposed cardboard.

Spending much of my weekend scanning family photos for an online tribute and slideshow for Mom’s visitation. This seemed kind of appropriate.

(I’m also finding she really rocked the hipster spectacle frames back in the day.)

Pro tip: Take as much time off as possible after the death of a close loved one. Returning to work too soon is a terrible idea.

ICAD 1: Still life with Mom

ICAD 1/61; no prompt. (Most will be no prompt.) Paint markers, Sharpies, acrylic paint, gel pen, laser printer, and repurposed cardboard.

Produced a makeshift title card this afternoon. I was testing some old markers on a card to see if they were still usable, and opted to do something with that card.

I’ve made Mom my patron saint, as it were, for this maiden voyage into the ICAD world. So, here she is (with me behind her, age 5), joining me in this venture.

(Also, I’ve created a second Instagram account for my art experiments: @gratuitous.art. Unlike my personal account, @gratuitous.art is public.)

Spending time today to search for and scan old photos for Mom’s visitation in a couple of weeks. I am finding great joy in this, as well as some incredibly terrible hair and wardrobe choices.

A good omen would be a nice thing right now

The small dot on my wedding dress, next to my brother’s disembodied limb, is a ladybug. Mom was completely giddy, as ladybugs are supposed to be good luck. Few things excited Mom more than good omens, and to have one at our wedding reception had delighted her no end.

(Not the greatest photo in the world, I know, but I still love it.)

And with this, I need a break. Two ballgames in the past four days, combined with a lot of emotional churn and a lot of photos and stories to sift through, left me spent. Maybe I leaned too hard into … into something over the past week.

Starting to remember why bereavement leave requires a good chunk of time.

Another day, another ballgame. I finally got to wear my A.J. Pierzynski jersey to a Sox game. But Mom’s namesake player went 0-for-4 today. And I saw a Titan’s son (Tyler Nevin, son of Phil) go 0-for-3 with the Orioles.

The good guys won, as Hawk Harrelson would say. And the fact that the Padres lost – just as they did Thursday – makes me worry that maybe my attending ballgames jinxes my hometown team.

It was still a beautiful day for baseball. And there was joy today.

Pressing into grief at the ballpark

One of the first things my sister told me Tuesday after she broke the news of our mom’s passing: Go ahead and go to your ballgame on Thursday. It wasn’t exactly what I was thinking about at the time.

But she reiterated the point during another phone call that night. “Daddy would want you to go,” she said. “Mams would want you to go.” Even my boss – who signed off on my day off for the game weeks ago – said the next morning, unprompted, I needed to go.

Finally, one of my wisest friends wrote me in an email this morning: “Don’t be shy about enjoying life (like ice cream and baseball) as you also press into waves of grief.”

So, we’re in Milwaukee today to watch my Padres. Mom wasn’t much of a baseball fan, but I’m still thinking of her anyway.

An obituary for Mom

Mercedes Vinluan Garcia died peacefully Tuesday afternoon in Bonita, California, slightly more than three months after celebrating her 90th birthday. Her oldest daughter and youngest sister were at her bedside.

It is awkward and deeply frustrating to have to grieve from afar. It is even more awkward to grieve when, in many respects, we lost our mother years ago. She was diagnosed with dementia around the time Frannie was born, so my daughter never knew her grandmother at her liveliest, most lucid self. But Mom’s illness never got in the way of her fierce devotion and love for all of us, and she delighted in her only grandchild – especially given that we named her after the husband she lost nearly 30 years ago.

It doesn’t help that COVID-19 concerns will likely limit arrangements to grieve together in California, even as many pandemic restrictions are being eased. It may be weeks before my sister and brother and I can lay her to rest.

I don’t really have it in me to weave the kind of lengthy, heartfelt tribute my mother deserves, so I won’t even try right now. The memories – her sardonic, surprisingly goofy sense of humor; her generosity of spirit; her almost comical worry about the tiniest things that might befall us – will arise here and there and at the weirdest times, as grief does. Just know that our hearts are broken, and we will miss her deeply.