A Blending of Gifts
My name is Einen. My parents purchased a 30 acre parcel of land in 1949. They raised a family of three daughters and one son. I was the third child born both as the youngest and the oldest in place. How can that be possible, you ask? My sisters were 5 and 7 years older than me, and I was 2 years older than my brother. So I was both excluded from much of my sister's world and responsible for my brother. This confluence of factors, among many others, made me independent, creative and determined.
My father was an artist, educator and lifelong learner. He taught me to view Nature with awe and respect, and to appreciate the beauty of creation. He would spend hours reading or painting when he was home. I remember sitting beside him on the window seat while he read. He would flick my thumbnail as he held my hand. It is one of my favorite memories! Watching him draw or paint was magical! He would take a simple pencil and in seconds create a person on the beach or trees blowing in the wind. When he painted he would blend his paints with practiced speed and brush them on the canvas creating surreal images that invoked a particular feeling. Although I am not a visual artist I do use lyrics to invoke a particular feeling, a space in time, an image in words. My father built the majority of our house single-handedly, along with the labor of his children of course! I learned the basics of structure and support, design, light and movement. I experienced my childhood in moments of calm reading comics by the old Franklin fireplace and traipsing over our property and properties beyond, learning to find my way back by myself. We had dogs and cats and horses and I had a burro which I rode to visit friends. I imagine I looked somewhat like Mary on her way to Bethlehem!
My mother was always busy - cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, gardening, ironing. The rest of the family would be watching TV in the livingroom and my father would say "Phyl, you gotta see this!" and by the time she scrambled in it would be the commercial. It happened so often that we all remember it! My mother loved to work in the yard. She had a special affinity to birds, and placed bird feeders outside the kitchen window so she could watch them as she washed dishes. In her later years I would take her to Baskett Slough to watch the geese arrive, gather or depart. My mother brought music into our home. She played the piano and sang. She would rub our backs and sing us to sleep at night. I sang the same song to my own children. My sister Merrilee (the oldest) played the mandolin and the balalaika, and my sister Carol played guitar. My parents gave me my first Autoharp when I turned 12. I spent many hours as a teenager in my room teaching myself how to play. Each of us took some piano. Music travels down the generations and our daughters carry on the tradition.
My parents were devoted to each other and had a shared appreciation of many things. They isolated our family in a cocoon of high expectation. For me that translated into high achievement.
I was on honor roll in both junior and senior high school. I graduated 1/2 year early and went to work until I went to Willamette my freshman year. I transferred to Pacific University in Forest Grove for my sophomore year until I graduated, again 1/2 year early. I was awarded the Speech Clinician Student of the Year award, with a GPA of 3.75 I think. I was also a member of Phi Lambda Omicron Sorority, and inducted into the Oak Leaf Honorary Sorority.
I got married the following year and bore my son when I was 24. My sister Merrilee died of cancer the same year. I gave birth to my daughter when I was 28. The following year I was divorced and spent the next 18 years as a single parent. During that time I bought my own house and completed two Masters Degrees as I worked at Western Oregon University for 11 1/2 years. I was a host parent for Japanese and Taiwanese students through the English Language Study Center as well as performed music. I produced my first tape "Friendly Folk" in 1988, "Journeys" in 1994 and my first CD "Phoenix Rising" early in 1996.
My father died in June of 1996 and I was in a serious car accident 6 months later at the age of 41, resulting in a cervical disctectomy and fusion (blown disc replaced with a bone spacer), two shoulder surgeries and a TBI (traumatic brain injury). My daughter and I moved in with my mother while I healed, unable to work more than 5 hours a day. The rest of the day and night I spent in bed. Two years later I moved back into my house having rented it out when we moved in with my mom.
In 2000 I sold my Monmouth house and bought a larger one in Dallas in the hope of being a full time foster mother. Instead I was able to get my first full time job since the car accident (4 years after). I lost my job 1 1/2 years later and subsequently I lost my house; at age 46. My boyfriend and I took refuge at my mother's, back home again. We married a year later and remained there until my mother passed in 2011. During that time I concentrated on making my mind work - writing. I wrote a curriculum with an accompanying novel. I wrote workshops. I wrote children's books. I wrote more music.
My second divorce came a year later. Although a few relationships have passed me by I remained alone in the family home. I have not been able to hold a regular job since 2002. Part time jobs here and there, but nothing consistent. My mother remained a rock in the stream. I was able to get my retirement when I turned 55, and now I have my Social Security as well. I had a horse, a Nigerian dwarf goat, chickens and a cat. Now that I have moved to Eugene, Oregon I only have my cat, Mr. Fuzzy Pants. Now I spend my few hours of productive time on my music, learning and re-writing my novel, and continue writing and illustrating my children's books.
I have written music since I was 5, and played it on my Autoharp since I was 12. I have many more songs ready to be recorded, but I simply don't have the funds to make it happen as swiftly as I want. I completed my third album 22 years after my car accident. One step at a time. Slow and steady. Creative and determined. Oregon and all it has to offer is a place of peace that nurtures me and imbues my music. I am hoping my listeners find my music peaceful as well. I believe we could all use a little more peace.