Jodi Hills

So this is who I am – a writer that paints, a painter that writes…

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She’s here!

I was at the New York library last night (in my dream). It is so rare that I have a good dream, I must tell you about it. To put it in perspective, if I don’t wake up screaming, it’s a good night. And those bad dreams, they can linger, not just through the morning, but for days. So this dream — this rare and glorious good dream — I put it to words, with hopes that it will linger.

I could smell the wood. And the paper. For me, libraries have always carried the scent of permanence and possibility. In the library was the perfect place for this dream to occur, amid the realm of all things possible. Dominique and I were donating our old books to the librarian. She was kind and grateful and wanted to visit. I told her of my love for books, and that, humbly, I too, was an author. She smiled and said she knew, and pulled out my most recent book, Pulling Nails. I beamed. She asked if I would mind signing a copy for the library. Of course! And maybe one for a fan, she asked. A fan? And then she stepped into the room — this beautiful woman — my grandma! My Grandma Elsie. And she was holding my book. (Tears of tenderness roll down my face as I type.) I was so happy to see her! Dominique look! It’s my Grandma! She held out my book and said, It’s gorgeous! (It’s gorgeous — you have no idea what those words will forever do to my heart!) And in my dream, I knew it was a dream, and I said out loud, …But she’s here! And she was. I can still feel her smiling.

I don’t know what dreams really are. I’m not sure that anyone does. The so-called experts say it means “this”, or “that”, but perhaps they are only as accurate as our local weather reporters making educated guesses. All I know for sure is that this morning the sun is shining and my heart is full — and it is as real as anything could be. I choose to call that love. Love that fills the air with the scent of permanence and possibility — and it IS gorgeous!

Good morning!

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What remains.

I admit that I was a little envious of the Pertermeier children, Erin and Shawn. They got to spend a lot of time with my grandma. Just the two of them, when she worked for them at Petermeier’s Funeral Home. Alone time with my grandma was hard to come by – she had so many grandchildren! 

I was sick with a bad cold and needed to stay home from school. My mother worked, so I spent the day with grandma at the Funeral Home. It may surprise you, but it was glorious. Despite the location, and my ailments, I was alone with her. She was all mine. 

The attention she gave me was as thick as the red velvet curtains that hung in the parlor. We played cards at the kitchen table. I didn’t know the rules to any of them. She said I’d pick it up as we played. I didn’t. And I’d lose every game. But she’d laugh, and I felt like I was winning. I knew I was winning. I walked beside her, step by step as she vacuumed (I know I was sick, but honestly, she didn’t work at it that hard.) We crossed the street to Jerry’s Jack and Jill and got treats. Hand in hand.  What’s most surprising to me, as quickly as this day passed, it has stayed with me for decades.

Years later, visiting my home town, I saw the empty space where the funeral home stood. For a moment, my heart stopped. Just a building some would say, but not for me. It was a day where I was everything. 

I went home and painted the picture, “What remains may only be in the heart.” Ironically, I guess, I sold that painting almost immediately, and my representation was gone, but just as predicted, the feeling still remained, remains still.

We came home yesterday from traveling. I brought with me a cold. Awake throughout the night, blowing my nose, coughing, it was still there, that feeling. I would be ok. No longer jealous of the Petermeiers, but so grateful! What a gift they gave me. Time alone with my grandmother. An afternoon of red velvet love that I will carry with me forever. The remains of the day.