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Joe Crawford's personal website.

November 2010 Six posts

Thanksgiving Trip Redux

Leah and I went back to California for Thanksgiving. Highlights included Thanksgiving with a turkey roasted in a Hotel room, quality time with the kids, who are now ages 16 to 21 and we are so proud of them; a playoff game for the boys that they unfortunately lost; seeing Tangled, which was good, going to a pub that was pretty good called Ladyface with Devon; visiting with my friend Chris and his great kids Diana and Zac (my godson); including having his tire go flat on the way to Kinokuniya in Costa Mesa; free wifi on Virgin America airlines both ways; reconnecting with my friend Vince and his beautiful family and house on the way from DC to Roanoke.

Lots of love, lots of learning. I’m thankful for safe travels and so much generosity of spirit from everyone we saw and have heard from. Still sending off DVDs to all who ask for them.

Just stepping through life and trying to thrive as Mom would want us to. Glad to be here with my Dad.

First major holiday without Mom. Difficult. Alien. But time passes.

Painful Rebirth

In some ways, I feel as though I’m reborn. Not precisely in the sense that some Christian sects refer to being “born again”–but not entirely dissimilar.

I find myself really missing the fact that my Mom is reading this blog and can send me an email in reply. I miss the fact that occasionally she would print out posts for her own memory and to show my father.

And yes, that habit, of Capitalizing “Mom” is a habit I think I got from her. I think. She would refer to her Dad, when talking about him. She revered her father, and missed him terribly. He died in 1988. And his death and his memory profoundly affected her. She of course lived a vibrant life. She wanted to live life to its’ fullest, and I wonder if some of that was a being so affected by loss. I don’t know and can’t find out now.

But I find myself wanting to improve. To do more with the precious time I have. What can I do? I know that going on as I have, as a flaky and unreliable person to many people–this can’t go on. I’ve been reliable to many, and certainly I’ve been loyal to my family, but I let so much slide in the past few years. I am taking stock and trying to figure out what to do with myself.

It’s a kind of painful rebirth. Birth is.

And so, everything is new. Again.

Ave Maria, a favorite of my Mom

Ave Maria was a favorite song of my Mom’s. It was played at her Wedding on June 15, 1968 at St. Rita’s Catholic Church in San Diego, California. And it was also played at her beautiful Memorial Mass on November 6, 2010 at Our Lady of Nazareth Catholic Church in Roanoke, Virginia.

Below are both versions:

Ave Maria – Lee Eddy (brother-in-law)

Ave Maria – Louella Algarva (mother-in-law to Phyllis’ sister Bea)

Phyllis Crawford: Memorial Mass DVD, Donations

Two Mom related items for today:

For those of you who are friends and family of Phyllis, we have made a DVD of the Memorial Mass for her held at Our Lady of Nazareth Church on November 6, 2010. Just send me your address and we’ll get it out to you.

Also, We have been moved by the outpourings of sympathy that have come our way, and we think Mom would be so pleased at the donations made to Roanoke Area Ministries and Madonna House in her name.


Grief is lightning swift. Appearing at intervals that seem random. Overpowering. Agonizing. Then gone as swiftly as it comes.


Mom playing Words With Friends on her iPod Touch on the front porch

Mom playing Words With Friends on her iPod Touch on the front porch

My Mom played this game with my Sister on a little iPod touch here at the house. When Leah and I arrived here in November of 2009 we introduced more and more technology. Leah taught her to use her cellphone to send text messages. It was a blast to get messages from my Mom with “lol” or “smile” in them. Meanwhile, my Sister has an iPhone and plays the Words With Friends game. It seems like April or so, we installed the free version on an extra iPod Touch my Dad owns. Always a player of games (poker, rummy, Tennis, Scrabble, Yahtzee) she took to it immediately. She also used the “chat” feature to regularly talk to my sister, who lives 4 hours away. It was awesome to see my Mom and Sister pass notes back and forth through this little game. Very quickly we installed the ad-free version for her, and when my Dad bought an iPad with 3G she was able to use it when they traveled. She was so excited to be able to contact my sister in this lightweight, fast way.

Here the nontechnical of you can ignore this paragraph. By “lightweight” I mean simple and plain. A communication medium like a paper letter is very rich, an email likewise can be very rich, even multimedia. A phone call is similarly rich, with emotion. But all of these have time constraints on them that are significant. A letter might take 3 days to get to its destination. A phone call requires both parties to be synced up and in a mindset to talk. An email suffers because email is associated (at this time) with having to sit down to a machine. By being able to communicate with a medium that is fast, simple, and associated with a fun game, my Sister and Mom used the little “chat” feature in a way that enhanced both of their lives significantly. We did not know it at the time, but this communications medium was the one used for some of the final corporeal communications between my Mom and Sister. I’m inspired by this unexpected usage and effect of a simple mobile game. I’ve been a fan of Clay Shirky and danah boyd for a long time, and this simple game exemplifies their messages about how social software changes our lives.

As I write this, again stirred to emotion, I also think about the Gmail and Facebook accounts I set up for her. Leah and I would answer her questions about privacy, about adding photos, about how and why things happen in the Facebook stream. At the time I thought it was just a simple tool I was giving her, but it was a mechanism to reconnect and see what was happening with her family and friends and I’m rather proud that I (gently) pushed her to adopt these things. And I think, I am inspired that a person facing down the barrel of a gun of Stage IV cancer could take to such simple tools so well. I hope my own mind is so nimble and adaptable as I age and, God Forbid, if I become ill.

I’ve always been a moderate and an agnostic about technology. It takes a lot for me to dismiss a technology out of hand. I’m glad I have never dismissed the possibilities of mobile apps and of social software applications such as Facebook. There’s a great deal “there” there. Yes, there’s fart apps and blurry cat photos and whining. But that’s not all there is to it.

That’s all I have. Here I am blogging again. I’m missing a reader though.

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