by Merry Rosenfield
Cedar was a gifted child, though she spent little time in the California public school system and was never officially 'labeled.' She began writing stories in the second grade - strange and funny tales like The Case of the Crowing Bird who "sounds kind of weird in the day and in the night it sounds wicked and evil like it belongs to a witch." And the Werewolf at my Window who "had sharp teeth and it was covered with fire." On her second grade report card her teacher wrote "Cedar is becoming a skilled writer and is not hesitant to express herself in writing." I'll say!
My husband and I opted to raise our children free of television. Cedar and her brother David entertained themselves by inventing their own comedy skits and recording them on tape. They also drew a lot. Even before Cedar could write words herself she'd dictate stories to her older brother who recorded them in little homemade books she'd then illustrate. I still have many of these sweet early creations.
In first grade, Cedar was to appear on stage for the first time. Her father and I loved attending the kid's school events and couldn't wait for Cedar's debut. The play was Alice in Wonderland and Cedar was to play the Mad Hatter but when she heard her cue, she refused to go on and promptly burst into tears! To her teacher's great credit, the issue was not forced and whatever set off the drama was allowed to fade and that was the first and only time I witnessed Cedar refusing to perform.
As Cedar grew, her interests expanded way beyond those of most kids her age. By the time she'd reached her teens and her peers were listening to AM radio hits, Cedar had discovered Mendelssohn and the jazz of the 1920's. We bought a TV screen and a VCR so she could watch her favorite movies; silent works by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, classic films starring Tracy & Hepburn, Ethyl Barrymore and Jimmy Stewart.
She'd fallen in love with French Impressionists and began checking out anatomy books from the library to hone her skills as an artist. She began taking ballet and tap lessons, and she wrote her first screenplays. She began to act in local theater productions.
We were living in a small community in the Sierra Foothills in California by this time, midway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. Most of Cedar's cultural activities involved a 3 hour round trip to Sacramento and she was frankly bored in the country, beautiful and somewhat isolated.
When the opportunity arose to relocate across the US in the bustling Tampa Bay area, Cedar was ready to pack her bags.
We arrived in Clearwater in late May of 1998. Shortly thereafter Cedar discovered Wild Heart Studios, changed her last name to Bennett and began her acting career in earnest.
One of the things that gave Cedar the most joy in her last few years was 1950s rockabilly-style dance. I have several photos of Cedar smiling widely with two of her favorite dance partners, their steps and gestures frozen in time.
Whenever I think of my daughter, which is often, I think of her grace, humor and friendship. And I am thankful for her art, because art and the joy it gives can never be extinguished.