Tag Archives: Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden

The Long Goodbye

Four months after my mother’s passing, we finally held her memorial service.

Yesterday was a very long and hard day but we all made it through to the end. It had some highs such as seeing the friends of my parents from when I had been a child – many of whom I haven’t seen in a good 30 years but I still knew them when I saw them. The funniest thing to me was how I was now taller than all of them – even the ones I remembered as being such tall men and women.  (I guess I grew a few inches and they shrank a few?)  The day also had some lows such as hearing my father eulogize my mother’s life, his voice shaky and cracking at times.  I found if I looked down at my purse instead of directly at my dad I could listen to his words instead of his heart and that helped me make it through without totally falling apart.

My father will soon be traveling to David, California to have yet another service for my mom where the friends who knew her for the past 30 years can say their goodbyes. I am glad I cannot make that trip; it was hard enough to hear him eulogize my mom the first time around.

The bonus to my weekend was that I got to see my nephew – so much like my brother, Johnny, that it was like getting to spend time with him again. He has my brother’s mannerisms and most of his personality, although he is his own distinct and wonderful person.  My heart lifted and lit up from the inside every time I saw his face.  It went a long way to easing the grief over my mom and brother.

Thank you to all of you for the strength and prayers yesterday. Several of us went down to the Kauffman Garden after the service and spent an hour walking among the flowers – my mom loved it there. Hundreds of tulips were open and dancing in the breeze and it left us all feeling renewed.

Last night we celebrated her life at 54th Street Grill and Bar – something that has become a new family tradition. I thank those who contributed to the gift certificate that helped pay for our meal – it was a beautiful and thoughtful thing to do.  Our friends and family took up most of their tables but we did our best to run up a decent tab to make up for it.

Today, we woke early to have breakfast together before putting my Uncle back on a plane and sending my sister back to St. Louis.  My nephew and sister-in-law took off very early to drive back to their home in Houston as well.  I came home and went back to bed, will do a little laundry this afternoon, and then plan to take it easy the rest of the day. Monday, I will put my best foot forward and “keep on keepin’ on” – just as my mom did every day of her life.

If there is one thing I have learned from all these years of photographing nature, it is that no matter what (or who) dies away, evidence of their being here on earth is always present in the new life that continues to flourish. I will do my best to represent my mother’s life on this world in the days, weeks, and years to come.

We will remember her often and miss her deeply.

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Kansas City’s Own Garden of Eden

I first found the garden in the fall of 2012.  I had been photographing the same old places for five years and was looking to add some new destinations that were close to home to my rotation of places to photograph.  I happened to come across a write up about the garden online one day and decided to go looking for it that next weekend.

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Many of the people I know who have lived in Kansas City most (or all) of their lives don’t even know it exists. When I mention that it is only two blocks south of the Nelson-Atkins Museum and directly across from the Kauffman Conference Center they look at me with a puzzled expression.  “It’s on Rockhill Road, you say?  Between the Nelson and UMKC?  But I’ve driven by there a hundred times and I’ve never seen a garden there.”

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If you were in a hurry, you could probably walk through the entire place in 10 minutes – but I’ve never managed to get out of the garden in under three hours.  Everywhere you turn, there’s something new growing for you to look at, study (and photograph).  It’s not nearly as large as it’s counterpart, Powell Gardens, but then it’s not a 45 minute drive to get there, either.  I can be out of my home in the Northland area and be pulling into the garden’s driveway in 15 minutes.

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And, although I love walking through the garden at any time of year, spring is THE time to visit.  Between the thousands of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and pansies stand two rows of flowering Crabapple trees that will literally take your breath away when you first see/smell them.  It is an intoxicating place to sit and just “be” for a while.

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Once you’ve seen the garden in the spring, you’ll be back to see what the other seasons hold as well – everything from lilacs, hydrangeas, roses, clematis, magnolias, flowering quince and dahlias…it is an endless parade of what grows well in Kansas City.

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And every time I make the trip there I walk out feeling renewed, refreshed and at peace.  To some, it is just a garden, but to me – it’s become a sanctuary.

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When life deals the hard blows or work becomes overwhelming, I know its time to pull out the camera bag and head south to the Kauffman Garden on an early Saturday morning.

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If I get there early enough, I’ll have the whole place to myself (well, except for the feline protector of the garden – she’s always there to greet me when I come.)

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If you live in the greater Kansas City area, stop in for a peek sometime.  There’s never a bad time to be there. If you go in the next week or so you’ll get the added bonus of seeing the Crabapple trees in bloom beneath the clear blue Kansas City sky.

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(Now don’t you feel better already?)

The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden is located at 4800 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO 64110 and is open every morning at 8 am year round.  Although professional photo sessions are no longer allowed, you are always welcome to photograph the beauty of the garden.

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Whether you take your camera or not, you’re sure to walk away with a special place in your heart for this wonderful attraction that lies in the heart of Kansas City.