Author ~ Artist ~ Educator

HEART ATTACK A Jacqueline Long Mystery, Nov 2015

Checking in – November 2015 Blog

This is an interesting time.  I am resettling in Madison and have so many details of creating my new life.  Among them is figuring out what direction I want to take my writing.  So, what is happening is I am trying different things.  Last month I put up a draft section of my spiritual consciousness memoir and 500 words of a story of a detective, Jacqueline Long.  This month I have about 2500 words on another novel, also a Jackie Long mystery, but this month I have shortened her name!  And, she doesn’t even show up in this first chapter.

I have put Matisse’s Bathers by a River, (1909, 1913, 1916) print up in my office. (See here.)  He has been a great inspiration to me. In his painting he experimented right on the canvas – erasing, repainting and redoing the painting many times.  His philosophy was to solve the problem on the canvas.  This was revolutionary for art – and, as we know, he and Picasso are considered perhaps the two greatest Modern artists.  So, I am going ahead and putting drafts up here – they may change many times and they all need editing.  Jackie may or may not live for another chapter.   I kind of like her, though, so she has a good chance.  But, I love sharing the process of my beginning experiments with what direction I will choose. Once I have all my new stuff to make my home–I have two more rugs coming, a couch in a box and a bookshelf,  maybe an artist table, also–serious writing will begin.  Of course, I am beginning my teaching also, BEING-LOVE, DEC 5th, Madison.  See Events for more info.



“Candace?” Mother called me from the downstairs hall, pulling on her favorite Fall red coat. I couldn’t see her, but I know just what she would look like doing that, looking at her reflection in the front hall antique mirror and patting her hair.

“Mother?” I was upstairs throwing my shower towels into the hamper.

“Candance?” Edith came out to the bottom of the staircase. ”Did you hear me? Are you coming? We will be late. “

“Yes, coming now,“ I winced with the partial untruth and threw on my jeans and slid on the loafers I least liked, but could most quickly claim. I certainly had not started to come until the moment she called. I thought it wasn’t quite time. She always liked to be early. I whipped my long blonde hair into a pony tail, sitting high like the models wore them and put on a white T-shirt and a favorite simple necklace.

I ran down the stairs and she met me at the door, pulling on her cherished fall gloves and red light wool coat, “Goodness,” she popped her eyes in mock surprise, “Is that what you are wearing to the exhibit? Most high school seniors might want to dress up little more.”

“Yes, but, today, first, I am an artist.  Artists are artistic events themselves,” I explained. “You must think of yourself as creating-art as you dress. This is it for me, today.”

“Well,” ‘she smiled a minuscule smile she thought I did not see. “All right then, I look forward to all the artist’s art works on themselves as well as on the walls.”

We walked out the door of the classic large, comfortable home in our part of the city, past the shrubbery of the front landscaping – deeply diverse and sporting red leaves, yellow fall flowers and rich evergreens. The winding path got us to the driveway and Charley was there with the Mercedes Benz.

“Hello ladies, “ he called. Charley and been the family staff person since I was a child, and we were all good friends – although, of course, he was an employee. But, even with the standard relationship well in place, a lot of the boxes of formality had been dropped over the years. We all knew where the lines were and that knowledge made it possible for us to be good friends, as well.

“Hello Charley, “ Mother responded. “Candace has just informed me she is an art exhibit herself.” She got into the back seat behind Charley, so she and I could see each other if I turned around, and I climbed in next to Charley, where I and sat as soon as I was big enough to not be in the back seat in a car seat.

“Yes, well that does not surprise us, does it? Congratulations to the artist,“ he winked and smiled at me. “What is the name of this piece?”

I looked down, “Late-for-the-art-exhibit-but-cool,” I burst out laughing. And, we all laughed.

“Well, at least you have a fashionable jacket,” Mother admired the periwinkle blue jacket I had grabbed from the front closet, and now had over my lap. “I like that one quite a bit. Maybe you will be a lawyer like Dad and that kind of jacket would always look good.”

I know my Mom put up with my art, but really wanted me to find practical direction for life. I argued with her about it all the time. “Mom, come on, even on the way to my art exhibit? I wish you wouldn’t keep trying to get me to look at law school.” I kept talking with her, arguing how unfair it was of her to keep pressuring me.

I saw the orange truck speeding just feet away from the car, as I turned to look at her over my shoulder.  My mind went into slow motion and I had one thought – This is going to be bad. I knew it would hit directly into my mother in the back seat.  Myself, I went blank.

I woke up with late afternoon sun shining in a hospital window. I was aware that my body was bandaged all over. I felt the stiffness of a cast on one of my arms; I blinked to adjust to the sun coming in the windows. Then I saw a blurry pair of light blue eyes appear in a male face – which were surrounded by a short greying, hair and golden tanned skin… Richard.

“Hello, dear,” he smiled that loving smile he always had and touched my arm where there were no bandages, apparently, as I could feel his touch. “I am right here darling, You are fine.. I am not going anywhere.” My dear godfather touched me soothingly and pulled up his chair.

“I struggled to keep my eyes on him and then to sort out my condition – just beginning to get oriented. “Ouch, I said, “Oh golly – I hurt.” Then, I rapidly remembered, ‘Where is Mother – is she okay? Charley?” The entire scene fell into my mind.

“Your Mother was badly injured, honey, I am sorry.” Richard smiled sadly, ‘She was too hurt by the crash, honey. They couldn’t save her. I am so sorry,” he began to cry.

“No, “ I cried out, “Oh no,” and my chest heaved and tears began. “Oh no.” Richard stood up and lay on the bed next to me. He wrapped his arms round me and held me as I cried and cried – ceaseless grief which ebbed and flowed as we lay there. In between my crying, Richard quietly answered questions and told me what he knew I would want to know. All around us swirled nurses, a doctor came in. Richard stayed there with me, giving direction to the nurses if needed, taking directions from them when needed, never leaving me.

I stayed low under the covers and clung to Richard – crying – resting – asking questions. And then going through the cycle again. The sun set and the darkness at the windows matched the darkness inside of me. Eventually, I fell asleep, still embedded in his arms. I thought they probably gave me a drug for sleeping – I slept and woke to morning light. Richard was still there, next to the bed, back in his chair.

“I was here all night sweetheart. I am right here,” he reassured me like he had the day before.

Then I remembered. “Oh golly, is it really true Richard? “ I asked, hoping a night sleep might have changed things, knowing it hadn’t.

“Yes, sweetheart, she has gone.”

I started crying again. Then, I thought of Charley. “How about Charley? What happened to him?” I braced myself for more horrible news.

“Actually, Charley is fine, “Richard said, “He wants to see you as soon as you want to see him.”

“Right away,” I exclaimed, ”Of course, right away! Can he come now?”

Richard smiled. “He is right, here, too, sweetheart. He hasn’t left either.”

Immediately, I felt him before I saw him and then he spoke, “I am right here Candy. I am right here. I am so sorry.” Charley came around the bed and lay one hand on Richard’s shoulder and took my hand. “I have been here all night , too, as soon as I heard you were awake.”

“Oh Charley, I can’t believe she is gone.”

“I know kitten – it is unbelievable.” He used the old childhood endearment he and my parents had used for me.

“Oh golly, but you are okay?” I looked him over. I was now looking at my whole family – neither of whom, were related to me by blood. I was an only child and my father had died years ago, when I was very young. His sister, her husband and her two children lived-in California, but we had lost touch since my father’s death. My grandparents, had died young, also. There are pictures of my Mother’s parents, but my father’s working class family had only snapshots which had been lost years ago.  Mother had romances since my father’s death, but never settled on one. When I asked her if she ever wanted to marry again, she said, “Your dad was my true love – I doubt there will ever be another.”

Charley answered, “Yes, I am fine – just got some bruises. That truck just went straight for the back seat. I don’t know if your mother even saw it.

Richard had told me she died in the ambulance – which had gotten there in five minutes, but there was a massive blow to her body which took her too fast for anyone to be able to help. I let go of Charley’s hand and felt very tired, again. I fell asleep almost instantly.

The night before I left the hospital, to go home, Richard and I had talked about my Dad and Mom and then about my future. He was my legal guardian now. We made already made the decision for him to move in with me until things got cleared up. That was an easy decision. Charley would be there everyday, also.

The talk about Mom and Dad had been rehashing memories we had shared and adding some new ones I had never heard. Richard and my Dad had gone to college together and were best friends. He knew a lot about my Dad that my Mom had never told me. He told funny stories about their college life and what good friends they were. They had graduated and Richard was excited to be a lawyer and started right away. Dad wanted to be a writer and they has shared an apartment in Boston while Dad wrote, and Richard went to law school.

“You know,” Richard said, “Your Dad had really loved living in Boston when he was a writer…before he met your mother. He had been published in a couple magazines.”

“Really?” I was perplexed. I know my parents had decided for my father to go to law school when they got married, and then to move to the suburbs to start a family. “Mom told me he had realized that he really wanted to be a lawyer.”

“Well, I think more that that, he wanted to make a stable financial future for the family – and, I think your Mom wanted to move out of the city.”

I had never heard that. It made me think differently about wonder about what my Mom had always told me – that Dad wanted to be a lawyer, the most. I wondered which was true?

“Were you there when he died? “I suddenly asked Richard. I had never heard him talk about it. I had heard my Mom tell the story many times that my Dad had a heart attack while riding his bike. Someone had seen him and called the police and they came and got my Mom and taken her to the hospital. Then, they had brought her home. He had lasted many days in the ICU, with a head injury and heart damage, but he never regained consciousness.

“No, I was still living in the city, he said. “Your Mom let me know that same night. They had not expected him to go yet. She was still deciding about taking him off life support, and then he had just went ahead and decided it for her – he had another heart attack and died in the ICU. Winnie and I were just married. She came, too.” Richard’s voice got wistful as he told the story. Winnie had divorced him five years earlier, and moved to Chicago with their three kids. He saw them pretty often, but even I knew, he missed them all. I never quite know what had happened.

“Okay, Candace, “ he changed the topic, “So, what else have you been thinking about?”

I had been lying there for several days and I had come to a decision. “Richard, I want to go to art school. That is what I would most like to do.”

Richard looked a little uneasy. “Yes I am not surprised that is what you are thinking. Your Mom and I discussed this quite a bit. She told me how much you loved art. Do you know what she would say to me?”

“Yes, she wanted me to be a lawyer.”

Richard leaned forward, “Yes, she wanted the best for you. She wanted you to do something practical with your life, and let the art be a second thing – something you could enjoy. But, it cannot be depended on, you know. There is no guarantee with art.”

I didn’t realize they would have talked about this. I guess it made sense. It had just been Richard helping my Mom since my Dad’s death. She probably depended on him a lot to talk things over.

“Well, I know what she thought – but, she was wrong.” I was seventeen, almost an adult, but still young and unformed in terms of knowing I could decide and just go ahead with my choice. I wavered a little in my voice as I asserted myself, with Richard, who was like an uncle.

“Well, okay, “ he said. “There is a lot of time for this decision. It is good for us to be talking about it.” He let the discussion end.

I let the discussion drop, too. Tomorrow would be hard enough , going home to the empty house. I didn’t want to leave an argument between us. But, deep in my heart, I vowed in an even louder voice to myself, “I will follow my heart, I will.”