Lydia May (Gibbs) Gumbs

January 22, 2009 - Leave a Response

willgramsmileDear Lexi,

I don’t know what to say. I am honored to be the path between you and all of these great women. I am humbled by their company. There are so many ways to live in the world, so many ways to be remembered.

I love the ways you remember me. The ways you hold and use my everyday things in ways I never would have used them. The way you designed your whole wardrobe around that one necklace to keep me close to your heart.

I am watching all the time. I am learning. I am proud of your intentions and the company you keep, spiritual and in the world.

I’m glad that you have learned from me to make an impact, to care deeply, to move accordingly. I am glad you have learned to invent and inspire. I am glad that you study me and that my life and my leaving become words that you share with the other grandchildren and with strangers. Thank you for being so proud of me, so curious about me always. Thank you for listening to the deep puppet voices in the bathtub, for wearing the costumes, for filling the dollhouse. I wanted a range of world for you where you could be yourself, and that self could be expansive.

I know, you know, I always wanted to move beyond wherever I was and I do that. I still do that through you. Continue to feel at home with and responsible to the communities you adopt, because life happens in community. But also know that your spirit, intimate with mine, is reaching not only to see, but to create something exciting, something new, something old.

Cherish your own relationship to beauty. Cherish your own space and independence. Grow your affinity with nature, and as raindrops let go and become the sea, I am here.

Your Grandmother,

Lydia

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Octavia Butler

January 22, 2009 - Leave a Response

butlertribute1Alexis,

Ha! Didn’t think I would show up, did you? Here I am, making room for the difficult, the unsatisfied, the restless creator in yourself. She is the one that will make the hard choices and the new worlds to live on. She is the one who will question everything, down to how life appears.

With all this loving you are doing, and which you must do, don’t disdain your opposition. You would call it the queer thing, the part of you that just wont fit into the terms of this world. It deserves to grow and to shatter everything, even your sense of who you thought you were.

I know I came in and messed up the whole coherence of the project, your whole timeline and pretty picture. And I know you trust me less than the others, that you have never been seduced by my narrative voice.  That that is why I showed up here anyway.

What your life and work will be will exceed your expectations, your invitations, your affinity. Life is stranger than anything you would want to imagine, and that’s the good news. Wake up to the reality that survival is a sharp thing, full of edges and decisions and sacrifice. And while you believe in abundance, I will stay here, insisting that everything here is a shell that still needs to be broken through. Acceptance is not what you think it is. Remember me while you learn that

the boundaries will not hold, and whatever safety they provide is strategic at best, but usually false, usually lazy, usually a trick for evading breakthrough.

I do not rest because this world does not warrant it. And it is the restlessness in you that will knock things out of place that should not be set up how they are.

Don’t forget that even your crankiness is bigger than you. And make room for me and for knowing that some things must be destroyed.

Here, watching and waiting, undoing the neat package you thought you had. Remember, gifts are messy.

Octavia