Most of you know that Rae was a board member at Cuyamungue Institute in New Mexico. She was the vice president. The Institute and the land were a part of Rae's life. She loved the land. Rae, Stephanie Stephens and I conducted many workshops at the Institute so we have many fond memories. There was an empty space at the board meeting this year. We all felt the loss of Rae's wisdom....but her deep laughter was missed most.
As a board, we watched Rae's Memorial Service from Park of Roses in Columbus, OH, that I had recorded. Everyone was fascinated but not surprised at the many people who attended. Rae touched so many lives. I won't repeat what I had written in Here Comes the Sun but you can click on the link to read about Rae's activity at Cuyamungue Institute. I just want to tell what we did to honor Rae and what our plans are for her memory.
Monday morning we met at the Labyrinth to greet the sun. Rae was thrilled that one of our members, Julie, offered to build the Labyrinth with stones from the area. Rae was determined to travel to Cuyamungue last June, even though she was weak from chemo treatments. We were having a Centennial Celebration and members from around the world would be at the gathering. the Labyrinth would be finished for all to see. Rae was not going to miss this, and I am so glad she was able to see and walk the Labyrinth.
|Waiting for the sunrise at the Labyrinth.|
|Beginning the walk.|
|Paul and Laura Lee|
There were many tears, but also joy. Each of us had a small pinch of tobacco that Stephanie and I got from the American Spirit brand of cigarettes that Rae smoked.
|Here Comes the Sun!|
|Sunrise at the Labyrinth|
|Sunrise at the Labyrinth|
We walked out of the Labyrinth, following the path, Julie still drumming Rae's drum. The sun was shining reflecting off the dew and making the spring flowers sparkle. The path took us to Thunder Bird Lodge....another one of Rae's favorite places. The huge drum, sitting in the center invited us to beat on it. We each picked up a drum stick and began pounding the drum softly....softly...and slowly the beats were louder and faster. With each beat I was able to release a bit of sadness...a bit of anger...a bit of frustration. And then, the beating began to slow down....became softer....softer....until there was silence.
|Walking the path to Thunderbird Lodge|
|Ceiling at Thunderbird Lodge|
|Paul walking into Thunderbird Lodge|
We stood in a circle, shoulder to shoulder. No one had planned the drumming...no one had planned an ending....what do we do? I heard a raspy voice sing in that low voice...begin..."Mother, make us strong....like a ____________.......Mother, make us strong." This is the song Rae, Stephanie and I sing at the end of our workshops. Each person takes a turn to name something (often and animal) that makes them strong. Everyone sings the whole song...but where the blank is....we take turns and each states what makes us strong. In this case....we each picked animals that Rae often talked about. "Mother, make us strong....like a dolphin.....Mother, make us strong....Mother make us strong." The words of strength were turtle, bear, raven, wolf, sun, wind and others. It was the perfect ending. We held each other and sang and felt Rae was with us.
|Jackie, Stephanie, Julie, Laura Lee and Cynthia|
Later that day, Stephanie and I headed to the three casinos that Rae loved...Cities of Gold, Big Rock, and Buffalo Thunder....and we each played $5 for Rae. We actually won enough money to buy us dinner at the Turquoise Trail Restaurant. Thanks, Rae, for being part of our lives...for touching so many with your love and joy...for your strength when things would look bleak...for your thirst for knowledge, and for encouraging so many people to go beyond their expectations.
We are going to build a permanent shelter for an area that Rae called "The Firefly." This is a table and chairs outside the Student Building where people are allowed to smoke. Every evening it was a gathering spot for everyone...even the non-smokers. Right now there is an umbrella for protection from the sun....but it gets damaged and is often non-functional....so we are building a patio type shelter and naming it "Rae's Firefly."
Since I am unable to get on Rae's memorial page on Facebook, I have made my own for her. I welcome all to follow it and write comments. I am still in the process of creating it, but it will always be a work in progress. I have lost all of the touching comments that so many wrote on her Facebook when you learned Rae had died. I ask you to check out the site and write a short tribute to how she touched your lives. It would mean a lot to me. The Facebook site is Memories of Rae LeCompte . (This is what I have named her memorial page.)
|Jackie, Stephanie and Rae on the Ridge|
|This was taken before Thunderbird Lodge had walls. It is one of my|
favorite pictures of Rae and me.