Learning from Laughter and the Trees: Loved by the Generations

IMG_1945By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

I was terrified for Isaac’s first day of school. Terrified he wouldn’t go. That we would see his tremendous stubbornness arise. Somehow, we made it. The thrill of the newness got him there. I woke up on Day 2 even more worried. The newness had passed. The daily reality would start setting in and the idea of staying home all day to play with me and Cedar would be hard to leave. Erinn had gotten an attachment to her bike so that they could ride the 3 miles to school each day. We hoped that the excitement of biking would help and that the exercise would help him with the long days of sitting and focus. But by Day 2, the excitement of the bike wasn’t enough. We started hearing “I won’t go.” I kept a smile on my face and a calm, upbeat attitude as my heart raced. I had been on the opposite side of his stubbornness and there had been times I had lost. It is a powerful force that only joy seems to be able to crack. We went downstairs with him kicking and screaming, stepped outside, and there…..was Grandpa. On his bike, helmet on, ready for a race. Continue reading

Learning from Laughter and the Trees: The Gift in Their Voices

IMG_2589.JPGBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

My mom died New Year’s Eve when I was 19. We knew it was coming so that Advent as we sang “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” each night before dinner, I paid attention to the voices. I knew them so intimately- the tones and harmonies that our four voices made together. It was the sound of home and I ached to imagine how our singing would change with just three voices. So each night I zeroed in on the sound of my mom’s voice- desperate to not let it be forgotten. Memorizing deep within, in hopes that whenever I sang “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” that I would always hear her voice within it.

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Learning from Laughter and the Trees: What do these stones mean?

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Stone tower on Block Island

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

I’ve started an altar of stones beside my desk. With each death, birth, or marriage that passes, I write the name upon the rock and let the rock hold the memory and the prayer.

This fall, our family went to Block Island for the first time in many years. We used to stay in Dan Berrigan’s little cottage beside the ocean every summer. Stepping back on that ferry with my kids felt like introducing them to a piece of my heart- a piece nourished by beauty, where my mom’s hair blew fiercely in the wind, where my imagination learned to soar climbing on rocks and pulling clay from the cliff. Continue reading

Learning from Laughter and the Trees: Under the Apple Tree Again

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Grandpa, Cedar, and Isaac digging the hole for Scatters under the apple tree.

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

The rain is pouring down with periodic rumbles of thunder. It is cold and the sun has set, but we can tell that there is a need in Isaac’s heart to make this trek. We put on hats and shoes and give into the rain as we walk down the street and into the backyard of my dad’s house.

It’s too dark to see the loosened soil, but we bend down low and Isaac says, “This is where we buried Scatters.” Cedar, who is almost two, bends down too and after a minute looks up at Erinn and says “Meow” and points to the dirt. Erinn says, “Is this where Scatters is? Did he die?” Cedar responds, “Meow die.” Continue reading

Learning from Laughter and the Trees: Even Donald Trump

photo(1)By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

We were sitting in the car and I had somehow managed to have NPR on rather than some song about trains on repeat. I have to start being careful, because Isaac is listening and understanding what he is hearing. I don’t remember the context, but on the radio it says “She loves people.”

“Mommy, it said she loves people.” Continue reading

Learning from Laughter and the Trees: Yogurt and Blueberries

kiddos-2By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann. Written on January 11, 2017.

11 years ago today, I was heading back to school, to community two weeks after my mom died.
9 years ago today, I was getting off a plane from France having just met the love of my life.
8 years ago today, I was in Washington DC protesting Guantanamo as Obama prepared to take office.
2 years ago today, I was working on a Word and World school in Detroit on Environmental Justice.
1 year ago today, after a labor that was cooped by the medical industry, I gave birth to Cedar.
And today?….

Today I lost the battle to get Isaac to school. I couldn’t get him out the door. Knowing that I couldn’t let him just stay home and have fun if I wanted him to go next week, I told him that I could not play or engage. That this was my working time. I set a timer for when school would end. Told him I loved him and I would talk to him when the timer went off (a mantra I would repeat a hundred times over the next two hours). I handed him a yogurt stick and a box of blueberries and left him alone. After some protesting, he got quiet…so I peaked in. There he was in the living room, using his yogurt stick to make twenty yogurt circles on the floor and carefully putting one blueberry on top of each pile. When his work was finished, he yelled “Mommy!” He was good at this game. He wasn’t going to let us not engage for two whole hours. He was ready to destroy the house if need be. I took a deep breath and told him I would talk to him after the timer. Continue reading

Learning from Laughter and the Trees: Tell Me About Easter, Mommy.

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Photo credit: Erinn Fahey

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

“Tell me about Easter, Mommy.” Oh, Shit. Has that time come already? How to explain resurrection to a three year old? How do I tell my kid that Jesus died and came back to life? How do I explain our most sacred story?

We’ve spent the last year and a half learning about death, holding it sacred, singing songs, holding fish funerals, burying my Grandma Bea, and visiting my mom’s grave. We’ve tried to hold the tension of telling him the truth and also being gentle with his heart paying close attention to any moments of confusion or fear. We made a decision to be honest with him about the very earthly reality of death, something that even adults in our culture try to ignore. Death is a beautiful, ordinary, and hard part of life. Continue reading