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Sarah is now in the Johnson City Library’s mural

December 22, 2012 4 comments

Final

I was lucky enough to spend the last hour with the artist, Lee Casbeer of LMC Murals, while he finished painting Sarah. Let me tell you, my jaw fell open when I walked in the front door of the Johnson City Library and saw her. My eyes were drawn straight to hers. Then, I started taking in the rest of her. Having been lucky enough to have visited Italy on a Baylor summer study with Jim, I can easily see the Italian influence on Lee’s painting style. The level of detail is stunning. He actually made Sarah look more like “Sarah” than the photo he was using. I guess Lee saw and noted her unhindered curiosity with his beautiful and sweet cats while we did the photo-shoot in his studio. He absolutely nailed it in her eyes and smile.

Almost Done

“The countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

While doing the painting, Lee had in mind that Sarah was looking back at someone who was telling her not to get too close to the fence.  Personally, I could see Sarah’s thoughts in my mind.  “Is Mom looking because pretty dress from Mimi or not, I’m about to throw my leg over this fencepost and go play with the longhorns…”

Thank you, again, to everyone who made a donation to the Johnson City Library. You made it possible for the Library’s board to be kind enough to offer to honor Jim by painting his daughter into the mural. Honestly, Sarah looks so much like Jim that it’s almost like having him up there too, especially those eyes…

With the real Sarah

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Dedicated to the “mourning child”

March 13, 2012 Leave a comment

I came across a wonderful book full of facts, real desperation and real hope.  It is titled “Why Did Daddy Die?  Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Parent,” written by Linda Alderman in 1989.  My goodness, I could have written much of this book.  I was continually shocked by the similarity of my situation, and thoughts, to the author’s.  Mrs. Alderman validated me throughout the book.  Also, having a book written from the viewpoint of someone with a BA in psychology, and an MA in child development and family relations, really helped me know it was written by a professional in her field.  It really touched my heart in a deep way when I saw she dedicated her book to “the mourning child.”

I’ll be brief about the narrative because it’s basically our life.  The author’s husband died of cancer and they had two children, a six-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl.  The book begins while her husband is still alive taking cancer treatments and continues a couple of years.  It is their struggle, together and apart, to come to terms with what has happened. 

This book finally acknowledges that a very young person can know an important person who they care about is missing – and not forget.  As her mother, I know Sarah is still occasionally sad, or mad, Jim is not here.  It is incredibly frustrating to not be able to fully explain our situation to her.  However, this book shows how she will grow and mature into an understanding of death.  Poor Mrs. Alderman had to explain everything twice, but now I know what potentially odd questions to expect from Sarah. 

Even though quite a few tears were shed while reading this book, I think I’m going to have to buy a copy for myself.  (Yes, I found this exceptional resource at our Johnson City library.)  The striking similarities of our circumstances are no longer going to be surprising, so I just need a copy I can mark up.  There are about two pages of recommended resources at the end of the book.  I will attempt to find each one of these books too.  Most are for children – a few for even Sarah’s age – and there are a couple for me.  I can’t wait.  I already listed them on my Recommended Reading page, and I promise to review each one of them.

 Sarah: A few weeks ago, my wonderful little girl finally really discovered tantrums.  I was so surprised that I floundered for a good week trying all sorts of discipline.  It was very hard not having Jim here to back me up or give ideas or step in.  My mom reminded me how much I liked getting stars on charts.  I found there are a ton of free charts out there for parents.  This chart worked best for us – Multiple Behavior Chart – at http://www.EmpoweringParents.com.  Once I had the chart, I also reaffirmed in my head that I was the mommy, therefore, the one in charge.  I took Sarah to get lots of little toys at Dollar General.  Then, the toys were put in a clear plastic box, so she could see all the goodies.  The first day we used the chart, I pointed at each empty box and explained why she got only one star that day.  On the fourth day using the chart, Sarah got all seven stars and a goodie.  She picked a purple purse that came with a little necklace and two bracelets.  We’ve been using the chart for about a week and a half, and I have found that she cares more about picking out stars and filling in all the boxes than she cares about the prize.  Success!  🙂

There is sometimes a problem getting dressed.

Johnson City Library’s plans for your memorial donations

October 28, 2011 Leave a comment

I spoke with Susan Hamm and Norma Honeycutt, two very nice representatives of the Johnson City Library, about their ideas for what to do with your memorial donations.  Norma and Susan thoroughly expressed to me that they could tell Jim was a very respected and loved person. They did not want your donations to simply disappear into the building fund.  Their ideas centered around Sarah.

First, they are wanting nicer bookshelves for the children’s area.  Jim’s would be a tall, long one along one of the walls.  They would like to put a plaque on it, as a memorial to Jim, and have asked me to think about what it would look like and say.  Also, and the more I think about it the more of an honor I realize this is, they offered to paint Sarah into the library’s beautiful mural.

I realized after telling Helen about the library’s plans, that I had never given any information on the blog about our library – whoops.  First, I joined the Johnson City Woman’s Civic Club the moment I was asked because it’s primary purpose is funding the library – operations, maintenence, programs, building… everything.  I am a huge reader and have worked in the libraries of every school I attended.  Jim and I wanted the same library-type learning opportunities for Sarah and every child in north Blanco County.  That’s why I asked for any memorial donations to go to our library.  Their contact information: www.jclibrarysite.org; PO Box 332, Johnson City, TX 78636; 830/868-4469.

I want to say, with my whole heart, I very much appreciate any donation to any organization, or fund for Sarah, that is made in Jim’s name.  Thank you.