Obituary for Darwin Reid Payne

Such a beautiful obituary for my friend of past years. Darwin was just moving into theatre from his art major when I met him. We were in several plays together and toured one spring in the first touring theatre for SIU’s theatre program. One memory stands out when he and I were on stage waiting for the major character to come in and reveal crucial information about the plot. She came on stage but wasn’t really there! Darwin and I kept asking her questions getting no answers. Later he shared with me how he looked at the scenery he designed, painted, carried back and forth as we toured and it all left him blank. I was aware of the various offers in NY and other places, but he returned to his hometown. He was a gentle soul. As I watch our changing Santa Fe clouds daily and our starlit nights, I know he is having fun still designing!

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Dennis Detoye

This obituary written by Dennis’s family really says it all. I would just like to add my endorsement to his teaching life. My son as a freshman, was fortunate to have him as his first art teacher in high school. Dennis, being the excellent teacher and human being he was, spotted my son’s interest in animation and encouraged him throughout his four years culminating in films where younger students were working on those films. Later on visits back home, my son would visit Dennis’s classes and share his work on George Lucas and other directors’ films.   Wow! As I write this, it just dawned on me that Dennis’s leadership as Mayor must also have influenced my son. I remember being shocked that my son living in a small unincorporated California community headed a board and spent time fighting an oil company polluting it.

What I am most grateful for is that Dennis was there as a wonderful role model when my son needed one so desperately.

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The Hibiscus

When and why she became interested in the hibiscus she still doesn’t know. But she did. At first she gave hibiscus plants to her Mother who loved them but admitted that she had difficulty keeping them alive.

On her first trip out of the States, other than brief journeys to Mexico and Canada, a strange attraction developed between this woman and a hired driver in Bali. The group with whom she was traveling had hired this young man to drive them to various locations.

On the final leg of their trip, the group began to load luggage and prepare for the last trip before heading home to the States. As she approached the van, one of her traveling companions stopped her, and with a Cheshire cat smile said, “You’re sitting in front.”

To this she responded with a puzzled look and queries, “What?”

At that moment the young man approached her and guided her to the seat next to him. But before he helped her climb into the van, he presented her with a magnificent hibiscus flower which he placed in her hair.

When she finally decided to stop being a co-dependent to her daughter and moved to the Southwest, one of the first plants she bought for her apartment was a hibiscus. In fact, she purchased two!

She watched as small blooms began to appear, never more than one or two at a time.

The first bloomed slowly, opening its fragile petals. It was so beautiful! It reminded her of the one in Bali.

The next day the flower had shriveled into a broken down has been.

It was then she began to learn that if one loved the Hibiscus, one must also learn to appreciate its growth cycle. And so, she continued to pay heed to what happened on a daily basis with her treasured plants.

Several years later she was watching once again the anticipated opening of the beautiful flower. She planned to take a picture of it and perhaps even try painting from the photograph. Not that she was an artist—far from it! But she had been inspired from the Georgia OKeeffe florals.

The grand opening happened earlier than she expected. She had no film, and because of the day’s schedule purchasing new film would have to wait. She spoke to the flower telling her – and it was a her for this woman – how beautiful she was. She pleaed with the flower to hold out for another day.

Coming home that evening with new film for her camera, she loaded the cartridge and rushed into the bedroom where the hibiscus resided.   The magnificent bloom was now a shriveled mess. Not wanting to dwell on things she could not control, her inward voice said, “There will be more.” And of course there would be. But it was then she was struck with the idea that this flower, this giving birth, this watching the growth process, this, “I can’t wait for when you’re ready.” concept was in fact what life was all about. And like THE LITTLE PRINCE and his rose, she realized her hibiscus was also special.

Special just as each child, each grandchild was special. She did decide however not to call her daughter with a lecture on the “moments” of a child’s life and how her daughter would regret being too busy to see these things. Nor would she reveal the impact that shriveled flower had on herself.

She too had bloomed and now was in that final stage.

 

Not so much laughter……..

Topic assignment: Laughter           Read in Terry Wilson’ writing class 11/13/14

 

george-tateI am not laughing. I’m sad. George Tate passed away, and I did not have time in the last year to contact him. For a year on my “to do list” I have had “write note to Ann and George”. But I didn’t because I didn’t know what to write. All of this stemming from what should have been a good documentary that could be used in teaching. Instead it was a bust.

Most of all I am saddened that over two years I have not had contact with two people with whom I used to be close.

So since the topic is laughter….I will talk about George and his laughter. I have many hours of video which couldn’t be used because they preferred it to be on their intercultural marriage. And so, I obliged.

But, I can still see and hear George as he told his many many stories of his life. So many they are hard to recall. I remember especially the one when Martin Luther King came to the city of Chicago and the infamous Mayor Daley gave him the key to the city. The previous evening Dr. King had gathered a small group of friends who were activists in the community. George Tate was one of them. As George told the story they were all teasing Martin about being so important and would he remember them when. Then Martin got serious and told his small group that he had invited them deliberately for that reason. He said fame does things to people and he wanted each of them to vow that if and when they ever saw him drifting from the mission, he expected them to contact him.

George went on to say with his beautiful teeth showing his big smile, his manner of laughing at himself, “Oh Pat, we were so naïve.” “We thought Martin’s visit meant things were really going to go well for us”. “What we came to find out, the minute Martin left the Mayor’s office, Mayor Daley called in all of his various inspectors telling them that apparently there were a number of local ministers who had too much time on their hands. He ordered all inspectors to go to their churches and find problems with the buildings.

Another story George told was how he and a group of the protestors went to Marshall Field’s in the heart of Chicago. They drank out of the fountains marked “For white only”. They were reprimanded, “Can’t you see the sign?” “Sorry sir, can’t read,” George responded.   George had a PhD.

George was a humble man not one filed with rage and anger. Perhaps it was his age or perhaps because he was raised by and became one, a minister.

No one who has ever known George can not help but remember his soft, gentle, laughter. He was truly a great man. And now, I smile as I think that perhaps he and our mutual friend, George Manner are strolling the heavens together reminiscing over the old times at SFCC.

I can feel the sadness leaving me. I can see that smile.

I love you George….may you rest in peace.

She Gets It Now

Retiring from teaching for the second time in her life, she sat down in her office to survey the many things that needed to be completed before she could return to her old passion, writing.

She viewed the trunks and boxes of “saved” things which she had been meaning to take care of for over ten years. Then she thought of her current projects: Re-write three film scripts, continue with the novel based on fact and the other book of facts about students in her life; develop the three or four other scripts she had put aside for way too long; get back to information on the children’s book and becoming a publisher for it; flesh out the basics for three others in the series.   And then it happened.

 

This feeling from deep inside began to swell and blossom into full bloom. “I don’t want to do it!”   “ I will be 80 in less than a month and why do I feel the need for all the hustle and bustle?” Her thoughts continued trying to analyze this sudden feeling. It should be noted here that she was someone who always had to analyze the whys and wherefores of anything in her life.   Was it because she always spent time with younger people? Was it because currently she was spending so much more time with writers of all types? Was it because this becoming a publisher herself entailed so much research, interviews, planning?   Was it because she was still after the dream of success?  She made the decision. “I don’t want to do it; I won’t do it!”

It was as if the weight of the world fell off of her body…too bad it wasn’t some of those excess pounds falling off. But, no matter, she felt a freedom inside. She knew some would say she was a quitter, but over the years she had grown a great deal when handling the critics.   She also knew that her way was not necessarily their way and that was okay. And so she made decisions.

The film scripts would not be redone nor new ones started. Instead of becoming a publisher, she would get back to those publishers who had been interested in her children’s book. Completing that book and seeing it manifest into the final product was a must. It had been her way of trying to gift her one granddaughter who was complaining that Grandma had never taken her on all the trips her older brothers had been a part of. So what if this granddaughter was not happy with the rough cut she had seen. Well, she is a teenager and while she knew everything Grandma had in the book was true, it was difficult to think you as a toddler were being put out front to the world. She also knew that after she was gone that granddaughter would treasure the book and all the love that went into it.    What else? Well she would complete the one novel based on fact which she started so many years ago when she first moved to Santa Fe. Her search for St.Clare in the Southwest. And yes, the book on students from her past and present, “The Story of My Life” would continue. She did hope Neil Diamond would give her permission to use that title from one of his songs.   But these two books would not be rushed. She would write them on a different time schedule.   She now realized how important it was “to be” and not so important “to do”.

Oh my God. A past memory like a shooting star raced through her mind.

She had been invited to a luncheon at Ellie’s home. It would be a gathering of people who didn’t necessarily know each other, but all knew Ellie who knew that these people would get along.   It was interesting. Ellie bragged about making the hummus herself from scratch. There was a mingling of people and pleasant conversation as each went through the buffet lunch line. She filled her plate and sat next to a younger interesting looking woman. They bonded quickly as she took a big bite of what she thought was a slice of cheese but was in fact a big pat of butter. They laughed and introduced themselves.   Funny how the universe takes over and gives you answers. For years she wondered what had happened to one of her favorite high school drama students. She had heard that this young woman had been on a popular soap opera for years. She had never been able to verify that. Well now she could. This woman who laughed with her about the butter incident turned out to be a half sister to that student, and she said the soap opera career had ended but her sister was now back in St.Louis and provided a phone number.   Ellie then asked the group to settle down, form a circle and introduce themselves.   Making a mental note to call the long lost student the very first chance she had, she along with her new found friend, moved chairs into the semicircle.

To her right sat a much older woman.   As the introductions of self proceeded, she began her litany.   Yes, she was 60 and taking early retirement from her University position. She would help her daughter, now a single parent, raise her two young boys and she would at long last write . She gave the list of film scripts, novels, articles, and oh yes, a script someone she met had written, a sort of science fiction kids thing.  She loved it and planned to make a film from it. On and on she went, getting more excited with each project. She was like a whirlwind. Finally she stopped. Next was the older woman to her right with a demeanor calm and serene in contrast to her. She said, “How wonderful all of the things you have planned. But, perhaps you will discover over time that “being rather than doing” is what it’s all about.” That was all the woman said.

 

And over time….yes, she finally gets it.

She continues to encourage others who are still seeking something but for her it is a new type of living. She will continue writing because she relishes the process and has no need to be concerned about outcome. But she now takes time “to be”.