Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Life is a Journey

Upstate NY, a Magical Place

George White, Yours Truly, and "my Mom" Anna Marie Miazga 
at the cottage in Upstate NY this month

For those of you who might not know, I am a graduate of Syracuse University. I spent a semester abroad in the Fall of 1988 in London, UK. That year, Libya bombed Pan Am Flight 103, the plane exploded over and landed on the wee village of Lockerbie, Scotland, and the rest is history. 

In 1990, I returned to London (one of many times), and visited Lockerbie with Anna Marie Miazga (above) mother of Suzanne, my flatmate and best friend, who died along with my other two flatmates and 32 classmates from Syracuse U. 

Anna Marie Miazga, Yours Truly, and George White by the rosebush

It was in Lockerbie that we bonded, we cried, we laughed, we remembered, we visited the memorial, we saw the crater that was still in the ground, we watched houses being rebuilt. 

We also met George White. George was a paramedic on duty that night. He doesn't talk about the Air Disaster much, because he still has nightmares about it. It was George who found my best friend and Anna Marie's daughter Suzanne Miazga's body from where it fell, just outside the ambulance building. He wrapped her up in a blanket, and never forgot her. He planted a rose bush right where he found her.

George planted the rose bush and installed the plaque in 1989

George and Anna Marie have been friends for 25 years since the crash. They wrote letters and sent Christmas gifts in the early days, then they called and visited--Anna Marie has been to Lockerbie at least 20 times. Over the years they grew closer.

These days George lives in New York State with Anna Marie, they are forever together, found love in the wake of tragedy, Just like I found them. 

While in Penn Yan, NY teaching a workshop for the Art Center of Yates County and competing in the Keuka Lake Triathlon (in honor of Flick who lost his life on his bike last year) (read my article in the Chronicle Express here) Anna Marie and George drove over and stayed at the cottage with me. 

How lucky am I to have been able to coordinate so many wonderful things into one week?

Call it luck, call it good Karma, it's a beautiful thing.

Anna Marie and Yours Truly posing for a photo in the cottage

George is a joker, he's 81 years old and the funniest guy I know

I have been so very lucky to have Anna Marie and George in my life, and they are so lucky to have each other. Our visit in New York reminded me just how much I love them, and what a journey life can be if you let it take you by the hand.

George playing cards or Words with Friends on the iPad 
(and the shark the accompanies me to all triathlons)

Anna Marie checking in (and the shark)

Forever my family, eating home made cookies and drinking NY wine

During the day while I taught class, George and Anna Marie enjoyed the Keuka Lake Wine Trail, and the cottage by the lake. At night we enjoyed each other's company. Trying to figure out the CD player only to learn that George brought mostly Christmas music, joking and laughing that "If it's not Scottish it's CRAP" and trying to keep Anna Marie from cleaning, sweeping, and scrubbing. Always my Mom.

The cottage and the race offered me lots of great miles to bike

Having Anna Marie and George at the cottage was so much like home 
that we even baked cookies.

For the 20-year anniversary of her death, I created a collage of Suzanne Miazga for Anna Marie. I included all kinds of personal ephemera (including a photo of George's rose bush), and called it "End of Innocence" as not only did she die that day, but the curtain closed on my childhood too.

End of Innocence / Portrait of Suzanne / 24x20 / collage on panel
click to enlarge

Shannon Davis, Yours Truly, Suzanne Miazga visiting Scotland
(both deceased)

Thank you for being a part of my art journey,


  1. Fascinating and heartwarming, so glad you posted this bit of life!!!

  2. My son graduated from Syracuse in 1993.

    That story is one of the most remarkable stories I have ever read. I am so glad that you have these wonderful people in your life. The painting you did of her daughter is amazing. I cannot even imagine how therapeutic that must have been and how emotional it must have been for her to receive it. Incredible. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. The painting was joy and sadness all rolled up into one. That year the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 group asked me to speak in front of 300 people at the anniversary dinner. They wanted to hear my story from the SU student point of view, someone they had not considered along with children, parents, siblings, spouses, in the years before. I hope that I did a good job explaining how deeply this experience effected those of us who were just in our early 20's at the time. Being faced with such tragedy, death, and hate was a difficult thing to come to terms with. We all grew up fast. Thank you for commenting Terri

  4. Peggy, I had such a good time in NY with Anna Marie and George that it reminded me of how we came to be together 25 years ago this December. It's part of me, who I am, and I wanted to share it. They will never be forgotten if we keep them alive in our hearts. Thank you for commenting

  5. Oh Elizabeth. WHAT an amazing story.
    I read and re-read it.
    I will have to go back and watch the videos later as I am on a slow connection up here in the north woods of WI in the summer.
    Thank you SO much for sharing this.

  6. That is such a sweet and amazing story. Relationships like the one you share with Anna Maria and George are one of those truly special parts of life. I am so pleased that you all have each other. I really respect and appreciate how candidly you share your experiences. Thank you.

  7. Thank you Sandy, you are so very right, these relationships are the truly special part of life. And being human. :)

  8. Ginny, so nice to hear from you again. I thought of you just the other day, wondering how you were doing. Thank you for taking the time to read. :)

  9. Every time I read your story, I cry. What a life-changing event...So many times we are faced with paths to choose that ultimately affect the rest of our lives, but then there are those that slam us in the face, stop us in our tracks, and forever alter every part of our being. You can look at them and say, "This is where I ceased to be who I was and became who I am now." How wonderful that these two people found love and meaning in such sadness and what a blessing for them to have you (and you to have them) in their lives.

  10. thank you Susan, so well put and yes, this is where I become what I am now...

  11. Thank you for posting this amazing story. With an understanding of your past, it is easy to see why your beautiful artwork exudes such vitality and love of life. Thank you.

  12. Thank you for posting your amazing story. With this understanding of your past, it is easy to understand why your beautiful art exudes such vitality and love for life. Thank you!

  13. great work i love this thanks for this and keep posting like thanks

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