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Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Special A to Z Tribute: Tina Downey



         On this day when many of you celebrate Easter I wish to greet you in your celebration of that important event in our history.   Spring is well underway as is the 6th yearly Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  We are off to a wonderful start and I want to thank all of you for keeping your posts active during this time.   I've been finding some outstanding posts on an array of topics as I'm sure you have been reading as well.  

       There is a beloved member of the A to Z community that I want to acknowledge and she is one that I'm sure that more than a few of us miss greatly.  I also have a story to tell that has inspired this special Sunday post.   I'll let you decide the significance of this story.

Dedicated to Tina Downey



      I've received a number of inquiries as to why the 2015 A to Z badge says "For Tina" on it.  Some thought that they had received the wrong badge that was intended for someone else.   In order to answer this question for any others who might be wondering why Tina's name is on the badge it's because this year's challenge has been dedicated to Tina Downey who passed away last August 23rd.  For several years of the A to Z Challenge Tina had been a strong motivator and the backbone of the April event, working on A to Z throughout the years as her labor of love for A to Z to make each April more successful that the previous one.

      If you'd like to read more about Tina and her A to Z legacy you can read my tribute or the A to Z Team tribute to her.  On September 8th, 2014 there was also a A to Z community wide tribute to Tina on many blogs of those who loved and appreciated her.   My Sunflowers for Tina tribute tells the story of what I did in her honor and that leads up to my story of what happened recently.

A Message from Tina?

     

      A couple days prior to the Sunflowers for Tina tribute I planted 20 to 30 sunflower seeds in a area behind my house.  About half of these were planted in the area shown above.   Sometime in late January--about the time the A to Z list opened-- I noticed a plant sprouting that I initially took to be a weed of some sort, but in hopes that it was one of the sunflowers actually growing I let it be.   Over the next month or so this plant began to grow rapidly until it was over 6 feet high.  I watched daily for a flower to bloom as April approached.  A few days prior to the first of April signs of a impending bloom became evident.


     On April 1st, the opening day of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, the blossom opened.  In the photo above you can see the complete sunflower plant.


   Here is a closer view of the bloom as it appeared on April 1st.


     On April 2nd the flower had opened a bit more.


      By April 3rd the sunflower bloom was becoming more robust.


       Here is how the flower looked on April 4th.   The plant appears to be doing well and I'll be keeping watch over the course of April to monitor its progress.

What Do You Think?

       Is this somewhat miraculous?   Or merely a well-timed coincidence?    I'll leave it to you to decide.  All I know is that out of the over 20 seeds that I planted in drought-stricken California in what is lousy and perhaps even toxic soil and receiving no care other than a few rains, in my backyard one sunflower bloomed for Tina Downey on April 1st as the first day of the A to Z Challenge was underway.

        Let us know in the comments what you think.  What I do know is that right outside my kitchen window is a daily reminder of Tina and A to Z.  Every time I walk into my kitchen and look out the window there is one sunflower standing tall.   When I go into my backyard I take a moment to walk over to that flower and marvel.  Few of the things that I plant in my yard actually grow or remain for long if they do grow.  But there is one sunflower there now.  And at just the right time to watch over the A to Z Challenge.

         If you planted any sunflowers for Tina last fall, did any of yours appear yet?   What do you think about the uniquely timed appearance of my sunflower?



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79 comments:

  1. I'm getting goosebumps, Arlee. When Tina first passed and we planted/photographed sunflowers in her honor, I planted one in the backyard. Overnight, it bloomed - just on time for the day that we plastered the blog with them. Similarly, your sunflower opened for the Challenge. Somethings are too coincidental to be a mere coincidence.

    Thanks for all you do.
    Have a great, blessed Easter.

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    Replies
    1. Your seed bloomed very quickly while my one lay dormant for a few months. Not sure why that would be. Maybe the other seeds are still dormant and will start growing later.
      Thanks, Robin, for sharing your own story.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Tossing It Out

      Delete
  2. What an amazing story! Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Thank you for this tribute to Tina. How lovely that the sunflower bloomed. Yes, I would take it as a timely reminder - Tina saying hello! I think of her from time to time.

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  4. Hi Lee - I'm not surprised you were amazed at the incredible timing - that sunflower knew - Tina was an incredible woman and I so miss her .. but will always remember her and her inspirational ways with life ...

    Great that you succeeded with your Downey Sunflower .. and I sure hope you can get some seeds for next year .. such fun ... and yet so sad ... still I'm sure she's cheering us on ... congratulations on setting this up for us - it's a great meeting place for bloggers from around the world ..

    Cheers Hilary

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  5. It doesn't matter. What matters is that when you watched that flower grow, you thought of your friend. As it matured and became stronger, you thought of your relationship with your friend. Now, as it shines brightly during the challenge, you feel the hope and encouragement that she gave you. Amen.
    Play off the Page

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  6. I think that's a beautiful story. This is my first year with A to Z so I never had the pleasure of 'meeting' Tina. She sounds incredible and a great loss. And her legacy lives on.

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  7. I think it was definitely a sign from Tina. She loved the A to Z Challenge and that sunflower blooming on the day it began is proof. Still really, really miss her.

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    Replies
    1. We all miss her, Alex. She set a great example for all of us and put everything she could into A to Z even when she wasn't feeling so well.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Tossing It Out

      Delete
  8. When you lose people who were close to you, you do have coincidences. Wishful thinking or reality? I lean toward reality. I see redtail hawks all the time. When I feel stressed, there is always one overhead. I think my dad sends them to tell me hello.

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  9. A great way to register the love for what was given by Tina.

    http://imagery77.blogspot.com/2015/04/carefully-wanting-to-fathom-what-is.html


    Hank

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  10. What a wonderful coincidence. Or was it. If it is possible I know Tina would do it. I too miss her very much.

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  11. To me this is a sign to all of you that she is still enjoying the A to Z plus all of you. This is a great tribute

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  12. I have no idea if it's a coincidence or Tina. Either way, I think it's really awesome and a great way to remember Tina.

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  13. I have missed Tina, she is a great person... I am honored to have known her and this tribute to her is special. I am glad we were able to give this challenge to her, she would have told us not to make a fuss... that is what made her special.

    Jeremy

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    Replies
    1. Haha she would have said that! But I think she would have secretly appreciated it :)

      Delete
    2. Sure, AJ, I think you're right and so are you, Jeremy. No matter what though I thought this was worth mentioning since I've been watching that plant since near the beginning of this year. I'd come to figure that none of the seeds were going to grow and what a surprise I got!

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Wrote By Rote

      Delete
  14. I have thought about Tina every day of the last couple prep weeks and the start of the Challenge. I miss her terribly.
    What a lovely coincidence, Lee. Thanks for sharing :)

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    Replies
    1. It's nice to have this reminder outside my window. That sunflower brightens up the spirit of A to Z.

      Lee

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  15. I didn't know Tina as well as a lot of others did, but the few interactions I had with her were very pleasant Beautiful flower! I don't believe in coincidence, but I do believe God ordains. I believe he knew how special she was to so many and allowed the flower to grow and to bloom on schedule with the A/Z challenge. I've had similar such events in my life that I believe God arranged to bring comfort in times of sadness and grief.

    Beautiful tribute to the wonderful lady Tina was.

    betty

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    Replies
    1. God has been good to me in my life so I'll accept this flower as God's reminder of special people in our lives.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Wrote By Rote

      Delete
  16. Well as the old saying goes there are more things in heaven and earth than man has ever dreamed of. So who can say whether her spirit had a little hand in the growing of your Sunflower. But it will always be a reminder for you even in years to come and that is good.

    Cyberspace is a funny old world the way it brings folk together in different ways

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  17. Tina is giving encouragement to the a-z bloggers!

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  18. What a beautiful sight and miraculous story for this Easter Sunday! I think the timing of that sunflower blooming at the start of the challenge and being in full bloom by April 4th could not have been more perfect for motivation to, as Tina would say, keep on swimming...through the challenge and all else. She was great at doing so herself and I believe that the ability for that tall planted sunflower to show it's face in an area where it's been unlikely for most other plants to make it is a testament to Tina's strength as well as her bright and fighting spirit.

    - Nicole

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    Replies
    1. You always find a way to say things well, Nicole. Your statement depicts the Tina that we came to know and love.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Tossing It Out


      Delete
  19. I only posted comments on Tina's blog a couple of times but I did read it frequently and she seemed like such a wonderful lady. Every time I see the A to Z banner with 'For Tina' on it, it makes me smile.

    I like to think that your sunflower is a little sign that even though she's not with us, she's still very enthusiastic about the A to Z Challenge. ;-)

    Cait @ Click's Clan

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  20. She would be so excited about this tribute. My favorite Tina blog is when she tried to teach us Swedish. I did not do well, hard to pronounce some of the words. But her enthusiasm for life is what lingers on when I think of her. Sunflowers suit Tina and her spirit.

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  21. A sunflower in early spring is rare indeed, just as I imagine Tina must have, a rare sunflower.

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    Replies
    1. Tami, Southern California has a fairly year round growing cycle I guess, but couldn't say for sure as I haven't researched it enough and my plant ventures usually don't amount to much. Tina was a rare sunflower though, as you say.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Tossing It Out

      Delete
  22. Someone said coincidence, but I think we each take what we want from that sunflower. Honestly, if my longish time her on Earth, I believe less and less in coincidences.

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    Replies
    1. Susan, I'm with you on the idea that coincidences are not necessarily the case. I too have had too many strange things happen at opportune times.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Tossing It Out

      Delete
  23. All I know is that we are so very fortunate to have known her. I love the sentiment!

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  24. I'm not doing the challenge this year but wanted to say the sunflower growing and flowering now does seem to be more than coincidence. Tina was my Team leader for more than one A-Z Challenge and was such a sunny and bright character who was such an encouragement to us all in her team. The sunflower blooming now would be just like her sending encouragement and brightness as she always did.

    Lovely post, Arlee.

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    Replies
    1. Daydreamer, she was as you describe. There is a dose of encouragement as well as a touch of playful humor in this sunflower appearance. I'll be interested to see how long it manages to flourish in my backyard.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Tossing It Out

      Delete
  25. What a beautiful tribute. I didn't have the privilege of knowing Tina but she sounds like an amazing woman and she was lucky to have so many great, loving blogging friends!

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  26. Your story brought tears to my eyes. I would feel like Tina is looking down on your from heaven on this holiest of days. Happy Easter.

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    Replies
    1. Susan GK, I can understand some tears about this occurrence though it has brought daily smiles to me even before the bloom as I began to know that it was going to bloom on April 1st. The flower was made to give smiles, but the tears are understandable as it would have been nice for Tina to have been with us for another Challenge as well as many more to come.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Tossing It Out

      Delete
  27. I'd just met Tina before her death, so I only had a small taste of her wit and amazing scheduling skills. However, that was enough to make me want to pay homage to her. I was pleased to see the badge with her name on it. Each day in April I remember someone who did a great job and was loved and respected by her colleagues.

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    Replies
    1. C.Lee, she really spread a lot of good will to A to Z participants. I'm glad we dedicated this 2015 Challenge to her.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Tossing It Out

      Delete
  28. Tina's sunflower has become like a symbol creating precious moments which live on in our memories.

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  29. Very touching. Thank you sharing. I too had been wondering about 'For Tina'. Now I know.

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  30. This is my first A-Z so I was one of the wonderers ...thanks for sharing this ....and the flowers are just gorgeous.

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  31. I live in California to, but I think watering plants helps. They say conserve water, but I think we can actually conserve resources by growing plants and flowers in our backyard. People drive to the store to buy fruit and veggies, and we can help the air and the environment by doing a little garden at home. We can grow beautiful flowers to look at rather than drive to the store and buy these. People can even used water from dishes to water plants if they want to cut down on water usage. I think we have to think outside of the box in drought stricken SoCal, but I say we can do a lot of good by having beautiful flowers. There are certain native varieties of sunflowers that are drought resistant, and I am always amazed when I see these blooming in fields.

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  32. I bet you smile every time you look out and see that sunflower, too!

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  33. I think that is a beautiful tribute and that Someone was trying to tell you Tina is okay and cheering the Challenge on. I didn't get to really know her, but I understand what she meant to this effort.
    Everywhere I go, I get the impression she was a warm and vibrant lady I would have loved to have known.
    Life & Faith in Caneyhead
    I am Ensign B ~ One of Tremp's Troops with the
    A to Z Challenge

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  34. What a beautiful story! I did not know Tina, but I can only imagine the hard work and dedication she put forth toward making A-Z a success. I have to believe that your sunflower was definitely touched by Tina, her way of telling you and us (she had to know you would blog about it!) that she is rooting (pun intended) for us!

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  35. That's a really beautiful miracle story! So many things in life happen by Divine design, even if cynics and skeptics may think it's just a coincidence.

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    Replies
    1. Carrie-Anne, I agree with you on this. There are so many unexplained things that I guess one day we'll understand. For now should accept them and be happy miracles happen.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      A Faraway View

      Delete
  36. Thanks for sharing. Lovely tribute.

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  37. I didn't have the pleasure of knowing Tina but this is a lovely tribute.

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  38. A wonderful reminder of Tina's legacy to the A to Z Challenge. I have reminders of her pluck and consideration on my Facebook page. Sue’s Trifles

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  39. This is a beautiful tribute, Lee. Thanks for sharing.

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  40. Lovely, Arlee. I imagine Tina must be smiling!

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  41. I've been looking for sunflowers ever since I read this.
    None here yet, its still too cold.
    But, I'll keep looking.
    Thinking of you, Tina.
    Heather

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    Replies
    1. Now I'm wondering if any of my other seeds will sprout later. Hope you get a garden full.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      A Faraway View

      Delete
  42. Lovely! Thanks for sharing - this is beautiful :)

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  43. Perfect tribute!
    A wonderful way to honor Tina.
    Thank you!

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  44. Beautiful sunflower and wonderful tribute to Tina. The A-Z badge on my blog now takes on special meaning.

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    Replies
    1. This is what I was hoping since so many did not know Tina from the previous Challenge years.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      A Faraway View

      Delete
  45. I definitely think it was Tina's way of communicating with you.

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  46. Wow, what a story! I believe in signs and this definitely is one!

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    Replies
    1. Sure seems like one!

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      A Faraway View

      Delete
  47. I'm late getting to this post. But what a wonderful post it is. Thank you Lee for putting this together! Well done.

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  48. I'm late getting to this post. But what a wonderful post it is. Thank you Lee for putting this together! Well done.

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  49. I wondered what it was a bout as Tina's G+ account is still there. She was one of the people who encuraged me when I did my first A to Z. Sorry to hear she passed away. Nice touch with the sunflower and maybe Tina had something to do with it.
    http://spudsdailyphoto.blogspot.co.uk/

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  50. thank you for letting us know about Tina, may he soul rest in peace. As for the flowers, i do believe, that flowers are a way of communicating between the world of those living and those who have passed. I have a plant in front of our window, where we had poured my mother in laws the ashes in to the soil and the plant has for years has flowered profusely on special days and birthdays in the family.

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    Replies
    1. You might be right about that!

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Tossing It Out

      Delete
  51. Wednesday 8th April 2015

    Dear Arlee Bird,

    What a beautiful sunflower!

    I have spring and summer ahead of me. I could plant sunflowers for Tina too. But they won't don't bloom until late summer in Sweden.

    Best wishes,
    Anna

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  52. I am sure Tina was pushing up that sunflower!

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  53. I didn't know Tina Downey but it is quite a coincidence that my English teacher was a Mrs. Downey ( I assume no relation of course to Tina since Mrs. Downey was a Burmese woman married to an Englishman surnamed Downey. But Mrs. Downey was a teacher who taught English in a very unconventional way and encouraged us to think out of the box long before it was labelled that way. I'm sure she'd be happy to know I've shaken my lethargy and decided to write every day ( something which she insisted we do and which we obviously didn't).

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    Replies
    1. Before I lived where I live now I lived in the city of Downey and my kids all graduated from Downey H.S. even though we'd moved to the next town over. Even now my wife and I go to church in Downey and do much of our commerce in Downey.

      Teachers can make a big difference in our lives. You were fortunate to have Mrs. Downey for your English teacher.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      A Faraway View

      Delete
  54. Wow Arlee, what a beautiful post. Tina was definitely making herself known to you. I miss her so much. Thank you for sharing. Hugs.

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  55. I LOVE this story and the sunflowers that will keep blooming. Its amazing how we are often shown signs from people that have passed. I believe they manifest just when we need them.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I kept watching this plant even before I knew it was one of the sunflower seeds I had planted. As April 1st approached I began to sense what would happen in relation to A to Z. If not miraculous, it is a pretty cool story nonetheless.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Tossing It Out

      Delete
  56. I believe this is is what one can refer to as a Godincidence - a very special coincidence indeed.

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    Replies
    1. Whatever it was, that flower was nice to see and gave me a smile or more each day.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Tossing It Out

      Delete

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