Friday, November 10, 2017


After an absence nearing a year it seems obvious I cannot just slip back into what I've been ignoring... with sadness & to my disappointment. the year is being its own kind of animal... giving a bit of a wild ride!

Winter poured our total annual average of rainfall by April. Inside grey moods, weeding would only make mud wallows. Slip & sigh...

A significant mud-slide immediately to the south of us honed our awareness of our fabulous fragility...

We found some respite in our annual visit to help Mother-in-Love Helen travel to or from her condo on the gulf coast of Florida, Long Boat Key, near Sarasota.

This year we brought her back home to Minnesota. Needing ever more help... after 98 years of vibrant life... she is gradually gracefully slowing down.

The always momentous month of May brings our Vashon Island Art Studio Tour for the first two weekends. 'Twas the usual scramble to prep both studio & garden for show-time. Mother Nature reliably saves me with her generosity!

So... the year is being good.. It certainly is being very rich... & mostly happy.

Traditionally we visit my mother during May. She lives comfortably in her own apartment, part of our youngest brother's home in Fort Morgan, Colorado. Much of my family lives along the I-25 corridor, from Rye to Loveland/Longmont.

My Bro-Jon, who lives in Kansas City impulsively flew to join us for a fine bit of family time. We also have other deep friends whom we love to visit in both Boulder & Denver.

We drove a triangle which included time with Brother David, Love-Sis Michelle plus Niece Lisa & her family. A rare feast.

We returned to a summer which brought another record-breaking period... months without any rainfall!

We were planning & prepping to set-up GRB Bells' canopied booth for the Island's Strawberry Festival... one of the few out-of-studio shows I do. But, only a few days before that event, it became evident that we were needed in MN. We flew to help Helen by spelling sister Alice & Bro-in-Love John, who because they live close to her, have taken the yeoman's share of her daily care.

I stayed a month. Learning & loving ever more to care for Helen. She & I developed & honed more deeply useful communication inside our decades of a familial lovingly unique relationship.

We chose each other for this journey.

She blessed our long-laid plans to travel in September & October... even as such "plans" necessarily became more truly improvisations as I replaced our friend Orlando with whom Stephen had planned to travel for the first leg... but who had to cancel because of undeniable back difficulties.

Originally I planned join Stephen in Venice... after their tour of the Dalmatian Coast, Croatia. With only days to change tickets... with a stretch & a splurge ... I danced into taking Orlando's place. We had a wonderful time together.

Now I am working to edit the 1700 photos I made & & stitching & quilting them together with amplifying the few snatches of journal I managed to write along the way into what will become several posts about the trip...

Only days upon our return we repacked to fly to be with Helen again... relieving Sis-Alice & Bro-in-Love John, who have been such reliable... constant & essential caretakers. Now they were scheduled for a week of babysitting their grandchildren...

Helen's strength had faded to the point it taxed the two people required to help her move inside the the ever smaller radius of her world. We were concerned about safety for us all & she agreed it was time for her to move to the hospice only blocks away from her condo. This small facility takes wonderful care for the whole family. We were gifted richer time to spend together with her as she lived the last few days of her long life.

Stephen & I were with her in the quiet moments of her passing... Stephen sweetly singing hymns to her. They had such an intensely close relationship. I was honored to be where I wanted... holding them both in that beauty.


Love is reflected in love
-- Mary Baker Eddy

Helen Fitch Silha passed away peacefully October 21 
of natural causes, surrounded by loving family.
Helen was born May 21, 1919 in Manhattan, Kansas, the third child of James Burgess Fitch and Alice Rakestraw Fitch. She had an older brother, Dr. William Fitch, 
and an older sister, Marjorie Fitch Shaffer.
Her father later became head of the dairy division of Kansas State University in Manhattan. In 1935, Mr. Fitch came to the University of Minnesota as head of the dairy division there and Helen finished high school at Marshall High in Minneapolis.
A lifelong learner, Helen attended Principia College in Elsah, Illinois for two years, then returned to the University of Minnesota where she received her degree in education in 1941. She taught social studies and English in Tracy, Minnesota schools. She also worked in the Student Activities Bureau at the University of Minnesota.
Helen married Air Force Corporal Otto A. Silha at the Fitch home on September 4, 1942. Their long marriage was enriched by Otto’s media career as publisher and CEO of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune / Cowles Media Company. Together they founded the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law, which conducts research and presents lectures. Otto died in 1999. 

I have long respected & loved my Mother-in-Love.