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A wonderful week spent honoring all those yesterdays

It's been a strange and wonderful week as my life continues a dance between the past and the present. There have been reminders about the importance of kindness and the gifts of creativity. Oh, and I've also added a giant pink flamingo to the menagerie.

The Pasadena time machine I wrote about last week is still rolling along on Facebook. Have you checked yet to see whether your old-town pals are holding a cyber party without you? You should. Or, better yet, start your own page. Internet memory sites are cropping up like mushrooms after the rain. There are already a few local sites featuring Grants Pass and Ashland, or so I am told.

My hometown site has been an addictive e-ticket ride. (That's an old-school Disneyland reference for those who don't remember "the most magical place on Earth" before it became a one-ticket-fits-all amusement park.)

The memory threads continue to be light-hearted fun for the most part. This week's meet 'n' greet at a favored Pasadena fast-food joint had this Rogue River gal doing spit-takes onto the screen of her brand-new laptop, especially the ones about AARP-lookin' flashmobs. Some of us have gone from svelte to spherical. Others have gone from long hair to no hair. But we're still standin' — in line at Rick's.

There is a flip side to even the most halcyon childhood. Ours included. Where were you when John F. Kennedy was shot? Who survived in the Vietnam war? A memorial thread honoring those who died along the way is way too long. Yet full of loving tributes.

Teasing, taunting or worse is also a painful reality in children's lives. So it has been throughout the generations. And continues to this day. School is about to start, and a lot of us are wishing we'd made an extra effort to be kind to the kid who, for whatever reason, ended up on the low end of the social totem pole.

An apology was posted by a former neighbor. He asked forgiveness for past misdeeds and brought us together. Looking back with adult eyes at whom we hurt, whom we failed to protect, and the long-lasting consequences, tugs at our consciences. A few were brave enough to offer insights into personal struggles at home or within. One friend spoke candidly about being relentlessly taunted and how that pain caused him to become angry and act out. Others who suffered verbal or physical sticks and stones offered the soothing balm of forgiveness.

While noting we were grateful we didn't have to endure cyber bullying, we agreed it isn't enough to simply do no harm. Take the extra step and share a smile, or a lunch table.

Back in Rogue River, I remembered how one particular kid channeled her childhood pain into creativity and changed my world.

I attended the estate sale of artist, author and activist Medora Nankervis, who died in February at age 85. In one of our many heart-to-hearts, Medora confided she had been an overweight child who was teased mercilessly. Painting provided both solace and escape to a sensitive, bright, but lonely girl, she said.

We met just months after I moved here in 1999 following the death of my husband. In those early days, I exhaled sorrow with every breath. Medora was also widowed. But further along her grieving path. She'd learned a trick or two about coping with heartbreak.

Before I could draw another sad sigh, Medora had me signed up to exhibit my paintings at her new art gallery in Grants Pass. She also pushed me to pursue writing.

"You're still here. And life goes on. Turn that pain into something positive," Medora said.

One fine day a wonderful stained-glass piece came into Medora's gallery. The 4-foot-diameter window depicted a glorious pink flamingo.

Because I am a total bird nerd, it was lust at first sight. Once I knew the back story of the piece, lust turned into love.

The artist, Teresa Madison, was battling cancer. It was a battle she, like Medora's husband and mine, would not survive.

I don't know whether the flamingo was the first or last piece Teresa created. But it is clear she poured her heart into it. After she died, the beautiful piece became a part of Medora's collection.

Over the years, Medora and I would sit and admire Teresa's piece together over tea.

Someday, she'd say with a smile. Some fine day.

Today the joyful pink flamingo hangs in my front window. I've named her Clarice. I have no idea why. But she reminds me of love. And to live for today, while honoring all my yesterdays.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.