Another Year

Fall represents a time of coming in. The harvests are in and hopefully, people are celebrating a bounty. The daylight hours shorten. It is a time of coming in, physically inside, inside the heart, inside the mind.

When October arrives I begin to brace myself for the journey through Jim’s birthday, October tenth. Jim (my husband) died in October 2012. The day before his birthday was his last hospital admission. Then my birthday arrives, October sixteenth. October seventeenth in the early evening hours, my husband of twenty-one years died. On November seventeenth we took his ashes to sea on a glorious San Diego morning.

Each year I wonder what this period of time will look like. Will I want to be with others? Will I want to be alone? Will I celebrate my birthday? It took me two years after his death to celebrate my sixtieth birthday. Will I be sad or grateful for this time in my life?

This year I found myself wanting to be alone and settle with my heart. It was a quiet day on Whidbey Island, where I was house sitting. I decided I really did not want to take phone calls. I was in a good and quiet place and I wanted to savor that time and the contentment I felt.

I still have a small amount of Jim’s ashes, ready to be given to the Rocky Mountains, when I get there. Three weeks before my house sitting gig was finished on Whidbey Island, I took two teaspoons of the ashes to Callahan Firehouse Glass in the town of Langley and had a memorial pendant made. I did not want a pendant for my neck, I wanted something larger so he could ride on the mirror in my rig. I gave them my order and told the artist to be creative.

Just before I left Langley I picked up the pendant. The woman who creates this artwork was at the store to give me the pendant. She told me that she does ceremonies around each pendant she creates. She spoke with Jim while blowing the glass. And remembered the stories I had told to the woman who had taken my order.

The pendant is beautiful. The blues in it match his eyes(light blue) and his Modern Morgan Kilt(darker blue). The white that sparkles through are his ashes. Now Jim gets to see my world. When the sun hits it just right there is a diamond flare of light that hits the bottom or top of the glass. I think it is Jim winking at me.

This feels like another step in the continuation of moving forward and embracing my life. This year there was a settling in, a feeling of comfort within myself that has not been there since he left.

And, speaking of Jim…Today is Giving Tuesday. When Jim died, with the help of Grossmont College where he worked most of his adult life, I created a scholarship in his name, the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship. These scholarships help students afford to attend college and create careers for themselves. I have met a few of the students and each semester the college sends me a letter that the student who was awarded the scholarship writes. When I read these essays it gives me hope for the future no matter what the age of the student

If you would like to donate to Jim’s Scholarship today or any time please do so. Here is the link to the Change Makers site. Change Makers are students that achieve if supported. If you donate today the scholarship will receive double the amount of your donation. I already did my yearly donation earlier in the day. In the memo section type in Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship so that the donation will be directed to the appropriate area. It is a good time to donate. Remember that tax season is right around the corner.

I am feeling grateful for another year. I am glad that I allow myself to adventure into my feelings, good or bad. Each year I see my own growth and am thankful. I am thankful for the time I had with Jim. I am thankful that I am still here and growing. Today is a good day.

Scholarships, Dinners & Donating to Good Causes

Two nights ago I attended the Chancellor’s Dinner for  Grossmont & Cuyamaca College. I was invited because, with the help of the college, I created the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship after my husband, Jim died six years ago. I am always a bit hesitant to attend these events. This dinner is held annually to thank organizers of the scholarships.

I usually feel a bit awkward and out of place at events such as this, yet I really wanted to go. What did I do to make myself feel a little more at ease? I invited a friend of mine, Yvonne, to attend with me. Yvonne worked at Grossmont College. She is a bit more outgoing than I am and I figure she would know some of the attendees. I am glad I invited her.

It was a lovely evening. We were greeted by a music trio, all students at Grossmont College. It was a delightful blend of jazz and blues. The lead singer had a strong, steady and good voice. The dinner was prepared and served by students of the Culinary Arts Program. It was a delicious if not over-filling meal. It was fun to see all these students show off their talents.

This time of the year is full of memories of Jim and myself. As I introduced myself to people and let them know I was Jim’s wife, people’s hands would rise to their heart and sigh. I am glad when that stopped, I really did not want tears to flow. It was good to know they all remembered him with such warmth. I know he would be embarrassed by this display, I am not. I feel grateful that people remember him with such kindness and warmth. He was a good human being and it is reflected in these spontaneous demonstrative moments.

As I enjoyed an evening at the college with others who care about student achievement, I couldn’t help but feel that creating the scholarship in Jim’s name was definitely the right thing to do. He cared deeply for the students and the staff at the college. I am glad that I followed through on this idea.

At this time of the year I usually give my readers information on how to donate to the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship. This year the west has been inundated with some horrific wildfires. One of the latest is the Camp Fire. It destroyed the town of Paradise. I decided to forgo the scholarship donation request and ask, instead if you would donate what you can to help these people in CA who have lost everything. They will need to rebuild their lives from the ground up. Below are listed some options to donate financially to help these people.

Often we don’t think small amounts of money help, yet they do. Even a small donation may make such a difference. Please reach out if you can and help those in need. This is all we can do for each other and it makes a difference. It makes a difference in your life and in the lives of those that are in need.

Today I am thankful for the kindness of people.