April 23rd this year was a difficult day for us and we were very grateful for the messages we received from many of you remembering our mom on the first anniversary of her death. We spent the day together doing something that has been on our mind ever since we saw that your gifts would enable us to make some tributes to our mom beyond the bench at the lake.
Many of you know how much our mom loved the Botanic Gardens. We visited there often together for walks, picnics, concerts, or even just tiny brief visits. And she walked there many times a week after work. The library at the Gardens is home to a range of materials, some more basic and some quite rare. In honor of our mom we dedicated two volumes at the library to her, one in general circulation and one in the special collections space (which you can view by appointment).
The first title we dedicated is The Gardens of Venice and the Veneto, by Jenny Condie, which made us think immediately of the trips our mom enjoyed with Amelia in Italy and how much she loved travel, Europe, and gardens. The dedication says:
"In loving memory of Carolyn F. Lorence con amore from her family and friends."
The rare book is called "A History of the Vegetable Kingdom: Embracing the physiology of plants, with their uses to man and the lower animals, and their application in the arts, manufactures, and domestic economy." Phew! We selected this book by William Rhind from 1855 because it is just so beautiful. It is full of illustrations, some hand colored pictures of plants and includes many engravings of lavishly detailed scenes from every kind of landscape imaginable. The Botanic Gardens describe it this way: "The illustrations were completed by some of the best artists and engravers of the time." This book will be fully conserved through our gift to the garden, and that will take a couple of months, we'll keep you posted. When it's complete, the bookplate will say:
"In loving memory of Carolyn F. Lorence, we "“ her family and friends "“ raise a toast:
to the great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen, to the ruddy, brown-face, broad-girthed Spanish Onions, to the pears and apples clustered high in blooming pyramids, to the piles of filberts, mossy and brown: recalling in their fragrance ancient walks among the woods, to the French plums, to the yellow of the oranges and lemons"¦in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner."
The "toast" is a series of quotes from Dickens' A Christmas Carol, a book our mom loved and studied as she prepared her dissertation on food in Dickens.
Your gifts truly have kept on giving for Amelia and me as for our mom, allowing us to make tributes to her throughout this last year. Thank you!
We also wanted to share with you another special gift in honor of our mom that all of your generous gifts to us have made possible. We were very excited to be able to honor our mom in ways that reflected several of her passions. Of course, one of these was her great love of her work as a librarian at Edgewood Middle School. Our mom loved her community at work and the day to day joy of introducing her students to books. The community at Edgewood has been building a tribute of their own to our mom, called Carolyn's Classroom. It is an outdoor classroom connected to the library that will feature a mosaic, a rock garden, perhaps a tea garden, and other delightful surprises. We wanted to be part of this effort and donated two of these benches to the classroom.
Thank you for making this possible! We will attend the opening party for the Classroom in June and will hope to share a picture with you then.
By now you all should have received a card with this lovely watercolor by our mom on it, inviting you to dedicate her bench by the lake on her birthday, June 29. Just in case, here is the invitation again:
Dear fans of Carolyn Lorence,
Please join us for a picnic as we celebrate her birthday by dedicating her bench by the lake!
Evanston Lakefront at Lake St.
Sunday, June 29th, 3-7 pm
Feel free to bring a sweet or savory pie or other goodie to share.
If you think we might have missed someone, please pass along the invitiation.
Please RSVP: elena (at) 1610.org
Elena and Amelia together with Simon, Terry, and Emmett
If you didn't receive a postcard in the mail and would like one, please just email Elena with your address.
Also, we wanted everyone to know that the location for the party is the temporary location for the bench. The Lagoon at Church St. is under construction until September. When that's done, the bench will be moved slightly north to the west side of the Lagoon.
We are so excited to celebrate with all of you! Thank you for making this wonderful tribute possible.
Today we have great news to report! We met with the representative from Evanston's Parks and Forestry Dept. today and confirmed the location where our mom's bench will go. The bench will be a new bench that is called for in the plans for revamping the lagoon at the Church St. beach, which many of you know was a favorite spot of our mom's and one where we spent a lot of time together growing up and also in recent years.
When we were beginning our research into where to place the bench, Elena was going through some papers and out flew a watercolor of our mom's. It was of the lagoon and the view of the lake! We knew we wanted to have the bench there if possible. Today, the location we confirmed is likely the location she was painting from, which is delightful.
As some of you already know, the City of Evanston is renovating the lagoon this fall. This means that we will place and dedicate the bench next summer, ideally for our mom's birthday, June 29th. So, save the date! We'll be sending you more information on that as soon as we have it.
Thank you again for your support! We'll keep you updated on the forthcoming donations for Edgewood Middle School and the Botanic Gardens as well as we put those plans in place.
Our research in bench-land has continued, and we have determined two things so far. We hit a final wall with Northwestern. The bench will not be placed there. Their policy of not taking on anymore memorial benches is quite firm, unfortunately. In happier news, we will be securing a bench by the Evanston lakefront. We are doing reconnaissance over the next couple of weeks to choose the correct spot, and will keep you updated as to where the bench will be, when it will be dedicated, and how we will celebrate that event.
The unhappy news from Northwestern also means happy news for the Botanic Gardens and Edgewood Middle School, both very important places for our mom. Since the benches at the Evanston lakefront are less expensive, we will be able to afford commemorative gifts to both of these wonderful places on behalf of our mom and thanks to your tremendous generosity. We're still in the planning phases for those as well, but we will keep you updated.
Again, thank you for keeping our mom in your hearts and for thinking of us. We've been so touched to share in the different memories people have of her. We love hearing your stories.
We wanted to let everyone know about our discussions with Northwestern regarding the bench. They say they have stopped allowing the purchase of memorial benches, to which we say NO! We've asked them to go to the highest levels in search of permission to sell us a bench and have indicated the incredible level of support this project has from our mom's many communities. If we are rebuffed (and we are digging in our heels as our mom trained us to do), the City of Evanston has a very clear process for the purchase of a memorial bench. As we see it, this can either be a bargaining chip with Northwestern or a secondary option for us in purchasing a bench.
PS: Since this website doesn't allow us to accept gifts without a "goal" we have twice moved our "goal" as our mom's many communities take this opportunity to remember her. We don't want anyone to think there is a fixed point where gifts will be cut off, since they can easily go to the library fund when the bench is secured. Thank you thank you!
Update from Amelia and Elena: The generosity of our mom's many fans is astounding and beautiful to see! Thanks to you all for your love and support! We are still ascertaining the cost of the bench by the lake, so please know that any gifts in memory of our mom that go beyond the cost of the bench will go to a special library fund for one of her schools. We'll be working that out as soon as possible.
Remember the inimitable, extraordinary, and much missed
Carolyn Lorence with her favorite view of Lake Michigan!
Dear Carolyn Lorence Fan Club,
For years, our mom has enjoyed walking by the lake, picnicking and playing on the beach, riding bikes at the lake, painting by the lake, and even just driving by the lake to fill up on its magnificent energy in every season. She has long wanted to be remembered by a bench near the lagoon at Northwestern, one of her favorite spots, and now the time has come for us to make that happen. We're still working on the details with the University, but in the meantime we wanted to open up the opportunity to her many friends and supporters to be a part of remembering our mom in this special way.
On behalf of our mom and other visitors to the lake, thank you very much for helping us provide a resting place for people to drink in the infinite greens, grays, and blues and to feel peaceful in the presence of the Great Lake.
Elena and Amelia, together with Simon, Terry, and Emmett