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the buzz

March 5, 2011

The week after my grandmother passed away, we all spent a lot of time in her house—going through photo albums, having dinner together, keeping my grandfather company (or, truth be told, finding comfort in being with him). Since she was, as Grandpa says, the home engineer, there was never much need for the rest of us to know where she kept everything. We spent a lot of time opening the wrong drawers and cabinets, trying to find table cloths or wine glasses or serving spoons. Wondering how she always made entertaining look so easy.

Once we’d find something we’d been looking for, however, it was easy to imagine her using it. Rather than a lonely stillness throughout the house, I sensed her presence.

In her high school yearbook, Grandma Joyce’s photo appeared beside her words, “Of all things I love nature most, and after nature, art.” This was evident to anyone who knew her. Sitting on her back porch, she’d hear things no one else paid attention to, like the sound of a hummingbird or a little animal. A lot of us think of those sounds as the noise of work…mothers feeding babies, building shelter, gathering supplies. But that’s not what she heard. To her, it was the buzz of life. That buzz is what I felt in her house that week.

Maybe that was Grandma’s secret gift, her love of nature. It kept her from racing to finish things for the sake of finishing them. I waste a lot of time and energy rushing myself to complete the undone things in my apartment, simply because I can’t stand seeing them undone. I get stressed just trying to decide what to take care of first.

My goal with each Bardsley project is to appreciate the process as much as the finished product. This can make you feel very connected to your work, and you’ll have a  better story to tell when it’s done.

I think this approach will also make me feel more connected to Grandma. I can think of her as the calm presence in the buzz of my daily tasks.

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