Friday, January 25, 2013

Catherine Violet Hubbard

The events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on December 14, 2012 were so overwhelmingly tragic and unbelievable that it tended to make things somewhat abstract.  I found myself thinking in numbers, 20 children, 6 adults, all dead - there was no individuality in the numbers.  No searing sense of any one specific hole in the universe.

Then came the pictures of each 6 and 7 year old but somehow it continued to be this massive collage of the more "safely" viewed overall group.  I know I'm not explaining this well but for some reason, at least in my experience, large numbers are easier to deal with than focusing on one.  10 million killed in the holocaust.  A horrible thing, but too big to really grasp or even, in some ways, mourn.  But meet one individual with a tattoo on her arm and listen to her stories and, BAM, it all hits home, becomes personal, becomes something that will haunt your waking and sleeping hours.

That's what happened to me when I saw the photo of Catherine Hubbard.
Catherine Violet Hubbard
The eyes and the smile, and what I saw behind them, were mesmerizing.  I could actually "see" the life that lay before her.  And what a good life that was going to be.  There's so much humor in that face.  And an openness that says "Got a challenge for me?  Bring it on!"

She would have been the kind of child/young girl/woman I always envied.

Cathy as a child, rambunctious, curious, leader, Katie as a tomboy-ish, but feminine, young teen and Catherine, the take-no prisoners and don't-waste-my- time-with-stupidity proud and lovely woman.

I found out what I could about Catherine (I can't assume that she was called Cathy) but it wasn't much.  Initially, all I knew was that she was 6 years old and would remain 6 years old forever.

Then came an amazing connection.  In her obituary, her parents asked for donations to a Newtown Animal Shelter in lieu of flowers, due to Catherine's enormous love of animals.  Animals have been my great love, almost my religion, ever since I can remember.

 “Catherine loved all animals,” say the Hubbards. “She would chase down strangers just to pet their dogs, squeal with delight as butterflies landed on her arm and sit for hours watching baby birds in a nest. We would overhear her whispering to insects and animals…her words: tell all your friends that I’m kind.”

I instantly made a contribution to the shelter in Catherine's name and vowed to make that an annual thing to do.  It was all I could do to try to "cement" a relationship between me and that darling girl.

Just recently I received a letter from the shelter, which said in part:  Many of you asked how donations in Catherine’s memory would be used. Today, it is our great pleasure to announce plans to build the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, a place where all creatures, great and small, can know the touch of a kind hand and be safe from harm.  

I totally lost it.  "All creatures, great and small, can know the touch of a kind hand and be safe from harm."  Before Catherine entering my heart, that alone would have brought me to tears.  But to know that that wonderous goal was going to be carried out in her name was too much to bear.

All I wanted at that point to be as I was in my 20s, 30s or even 40s.  That Marianne would have instantly quit her job and moved to Newtown to say "How can I help bring this sanctuary to fruition?" 

Unfortunately, my life at this point doesn't allow me to spontaneously drop everything and follow my instincts any more.

So, money, prayers and perhaps an occasional visit to Newtown to see the progress is all I can do.  It won't be enough.  There is nothing that can ever be "enough."

She is 6 years old and she is dead.  I am not a formally religious person, but I have to believe she is somewhere where she is "safe from harm" and where she feels nothing other than the "touch of kind hands."

If anyone reading this wants to blow a kiss to Catherine, send whatever you can to:

  Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary
The Animal Shelter

P. O Box 475
Newtown, CT 06470



Monday, January 21, 2013

Thoughts on Inauguration Day, 2013

Quite a day. 

Images and thoughts (in random order as they come to me) -----

John Lewis, who 50 years ago joined MLK in jail cells and marches, including the March on Washington (which I claim as one of my most valued memories), now watched an African-American elected to a second term.

The fact that this event took place on the day we honor MLK - it would seem too staged if it appeared in a fictional work, but was so moving in reality.  Add to that, the fact that at Obama's last inauguration the statue of MLK was not on the Mall, but today it was, directly in the President's direct line of site.

Myrlie Evers speaking, again 50 years after the murder of her husband, Medgar.  Mostly I remembered what had me sobbing for a long time after Obama's initial election --- upon the news that Obama had been elected she went to Medgar's grave and told him "You did not die in vain."

JT singing "America the Beautiful."  (Could have done without Kelly Clarkson or Beyonce, but that's just me.)

Richard Blanco's poem which I thought wtas quite good (but I'll always remember Maya Angelou's and compare all to that!).  I wish I'd known beforehand that he was gay - it would have added even more poignancy to his line - "days giving thanks for a love that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother who knew how to give, or forgiving a father who couldn’t give what you wanted."

Bubba looking so hale and hearty - there have been pictures of him in the press looking haggard, with captions insinuating he was close to death.  He still looks pretty good to me.  I hope Hillary runs in 2016, 'cause I'd sure love to have Bill back in the White House.

The seeming (and hopefully REAL) normalness of Barack, Michelle and the two girls.  They look like the family I always wanted.  Openly loving, warm and caring.  Now that I think about it, that's not "normal," it's special.

Biden giving about 20 secret service men heart attacks by running to the side of the road to schmooz and hug.

News that a statue of Rosa Parks will be put into Statuary Hall sometime this year.  Not sure who said it, but the comment "From the back of the bus to Statuary Hall!" was made.

Obama referencing "Stonewall" in his speech.  (Look it up if you don't know what the reference is to.)

His grin as he walked down Pennsylvania Avenue - he almost looked young again.

I'm sure there are more things that will stick in my mind, but for now this seems to be what I recall most.

Friday, January 18, 2013

RIP, Showing Up For The Muse

After 1637 posts, covering 6 years and 2 months, my niece/godchild has shut down her blog, for various good (at least from her perspective) reasons.  But it leaves a hole in the blog world (not to mention in my life) which my blog can't fill, but which my blog will at least balance out - one gone, one revived.

I doubt this blog will mean to any what Tilly's blog meant to so many - so many different things to so many different people.  For me it was a way to keep track of her and to view her life vicariously.  The only plus for me is that in order to keep track now, I'll have to do it one on one with her which will be great.  But unless she takes notes on a daily basis and makes sure to fill me in on everything, be it via snail mail, email or telephone, I won't know her daily ups and downs, challenges, victories, doubts, insights, fears, struggles  - or see her daily artistic uploads, and photographs (how will I know the next time she takes her two grown sons deep into the swamps of Southern Miami, hip deep searching for rare tiny blue orchids?).

So, while I will undoubtedly have more "direct" contact with my beloved girl, I am sad that I will lose so many on-going details of her daily life.  So, my Tilly, if you're reading this, start making daily (DETAILED) journal entries today (and you can call me weekly just to read them to me) -- and try to bang out a painting or two a week just to send me, as well as a roll of film of every adventure you have (be it a bicycle jaunt with Michael through land that should belong ONLY to allligators or art show openings or the doings of the HMAA).

Now that I've totally depressed myself about the loss of her blog, I will sign off promising to continue my own blog on a regular basis (hoping I can find something to write about ----- ).

So as I bid farewell to "Showing Up for the Muse," I bid hello again to "What if, I Wonder and Pet Peeves," (why did I name it so badly?)