Remembering Dempsey Aaron Calhoun

As we approach the longest night of the year, my thoughts turn towards my Grandad Dempsey Aaron Calhoun who transitioned 5 years ago today.  I recently found the email I wrote to loved ones to express the profound impact of his life and death on me, and I share it below along with some pictures of Grandad.

I welcome any D.A. memories others wish to share and send you all warm winter solstice blessings full of gratitude and connection to the bigger web.

Love, kim

senior boos

most senior boo boos 11/2007

december 22, 2007
beloveds~

i send you peace and love on this first day of winter and almost-full moon.  after coming through the longest night of the year for our hemisphere, now the sunlight will slowly begin to return as we move towards springtime in this beautiful dance of the seasons (and moon cycles)…birth, growth, death, decay, and rebirth.  i’m sitting in grandaddy d.a.’s bedroom, composing this message from his little armchair with a view of the pine forest out the window and his desk nearby where hundreds of hand-written pages lay from his almost-finished novel about love, connection, healing, and desegregation in the south.

one of my biggest pleasures and comforts in life is walking these woods with my family and over the last several days i’ve had two great rambles around pokeberry creek  with some of my “boo boo clan”, identifying trees and medicinal plants as well as sites of family events through the years, like the big sycamore stump where grandad taught me to split firewood as an amused cousin sarah and grandma observed my laborious swings from the sidelines (this list could run for many pages).

grandma and grandad have lived on this “homestead” in chatham county all my life and it’s hard to believe grandad d.a. will not be coming back here in his familiar physical form. it’s with sadness, and relief, and awe that i share that our beloved d.a. calhoun passed over into the great mystery on thursday night, december 20th surrounded by his loving family at unc hospital. after 86 years of powerful heart-centered living and three weeks of struggling in intensive care to recover from back-to-back surgery then infection, grandad’s body and spirit decided it was time to transition.  the hospital was able to notify our family of grandad’s decline and those who were able, assembled (grandma, aunt bev, uncle john, vanessa and her partner david, dad, susie, and i) to hold sacred space for his journey.

before they took the breathing tube out and increased his pain medication, grandad was very lucid and peaceful.  he was able to look everyone deeply in the eyes and really connect and slowly knod his head “yes” as we wished him a peaceful surrender and release.  as grandad took over breathing on his own, we shared some of what we love about him while honoring and massaging his physical body (“grandad, i appreciate your feet that walked thousands of miles behind a mule & plow and danced the buck dance on the farm”).  for the next 3 hours around his hospital bed, we shared favorite memories, stories, an amateur buck dance by yours truly, laughter, songs, tears and even some wendy’s chili from the fastfood franchise located onsite (yikes!).  we named the family members (including animals) who have gone on before grandad and would be waiting to welcome him.  we watched as grandad took his last breath (and then, the life-long teaser/joker he was, took one more).

after hugging all the family goodnight, i stayed on to pray and sing and wash grandad’s body alone (nurse johnathon was very supportive of our family’s process and gave us all the privacy we needed).  with a warm moist cloth dabbed with essential oils of sage and cedarwood, i asked that any trauma or pain be cleared away as i wiped grandad’s face, head, neck, chest, arms, hands, feet, legs.  i sat and meditated with grandad and observed a movement in his energy field much like the gentle unwinding of a dna helix or ribbon.  a sense of lightness came over me from the awareness that grandad’s spirit was free.  i pinned my “i am loved” button to his hospital gown and slowly removed the last object on our impromptu altar, an angel from the forer family, before hugging the nurses and leaving the i.c.u. where i’ve spent so much time recently.

i feel incredibly blessed to have shared so deeply in my grandaddy’s life and death!  i can’t even begin to tell how grandad has impacted my life and that of thousands of people: on the family farm in rocky mount, as a progressive preacher at mount gilead baptist church in north chatham, as director of a program that found jobs for folks with low-incomes in pittsboro, high school teacher in siler city, compliance specialist investigating discrimination in durham, and more recently as un-official greeter and storyteller on the benches of southpoint mall (an incomplete list by far).

grandad’s wishes were to be cremated and we’ll be organizing a memorial celebration (to which you will be most welcome) to take place out-of-doors in the springtime.  right now, just the immediate family is gathering for continued storytelling, roasting marshmallows in the wood stove, sipping herbal mead, painting each others toe nails, woods walking, and naps at the homestead.  thank you dearly for following this journey with us and sending such love these last 3 weeks.

one big love~
kim

baby kim and grandad chilling on the couch 1972

Grandad loved him some fish; NC coast 1950s

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Pomeroy Opposum Loves Persimmons (and so do I)

Bedtime as a kid meant Pomeroy Opposum Stories that my dad would weave off the top of his head for me and my delighted sister, Vanessa.  These epic tales were sourced in the many hours he had spent exploring the wild, including the woods, fields, and Haw River of Chatham County.

The peace-making hero Pomeroy opposum lived in a persimmon tree along with his parents Big Bertha and Little John, and his nephew Baby Nu Nu who weighed 250 pounds and had a huge hollow in between his shoulder blades which came in handy for storing and carrying all kinds of things, including persimmons :).

All Pomeroy’s animal friends had great names, like Cruiser and Bruiser the bear twins.  They learned to work together to support each other through droughts, floods, and sparse harvests.  Dad’s amazing adventures of the family of woods creatures planted seeds for my life-long love of local flora and my curiousity of our inter-connectedness (thanks Dad!).  I love knowing that some of the same trees Dad camped and hunted under as a teenager, inspired my childhood story time and now nourish me with their beauty and gifts.

Yesterday my friend Leif Diamant and I were scouting out our trail for Friday’s Wild Autumn Walkabout at the Shakori Hills Festival when we discovered freshly-fallen-to-the-ground perfectly ripe persimmons.  As I happily ate my first yummy persimmon of the year, I thought of Pomeroy who loved to lay around all day and feast on the sweet bright orange fruit.

If you’ve tried un-ripe persimmons you know they’ll make your mouth pucker and turn inside out.  Some folks have heard you have to wait till the first frost to enjoy ripe persimmons but I find if you harvest them freshly-fallen off the ground this time of year, they have lost their astringency and are my favorite local fruit, close behind figs and the rare paw paws.

Leif and I also enjoyed hackberries and black haw berries right of the trees.  Come join us as we delight in the fruits of fall and all other kinds of wild wonderment this Friday, October 8th from noon-2pm.  Maybe we’ll even catch a glimpse of Pomeroy :).

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welcome to abunDance

Kathy at PBO Auto wants to know when I am going to write a book about my life.  Adina asks me the same question every few years.  We met as camp counselors back in 1991.  In my 38 years I have been blessed by so much beauty, magic, heartbreak, and healing.  And everyday there is something new to observe, taste, learn, love, dance, share, let go.

Teen Nature DIVAS from CCT!

Celebrating connections with Teen Nature DIVAS

Welcome to my “Journal of the Seasons”.  It’s a blog where I’ll be exploring interconnectedness and abundance.  That really leaves it wide open since I believe everything is connected: you, me, what’s wild and edible growing in the yarden right now, how community dances are revolutionary and fun…

So check back for seasonal recipes on how to prepare yummy healthy food and medicine from “weeds”, reflections on sharing yoga with teenagers, lessons from my Grandma Margie who lives down the road, and yes, stories from my amazing life.  There will also be a lot of themes I can’t even imagine right now, but you will somehow play a part in…since we’re all connected 🙂

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