That was Easter Sunday
Ram and I made a big ham and brought it to my Mother’s around noon. She was having trouble breathing, her breath kept catching in her throat but she just ignored it, “I’m fine,” she said when I asked her, “Are you ok?”
I know she enjoyed looking at the huge ham we brought down…it was over the range of normal, it could have fed twenty and we were a small group. It was delicious with the thick brown sugar glaze on top.
Kitty, as we called her, and Ram and I hung out after dinner. She said, “Do you have a minute. I just want to show you something, this is the quilt I made that won an award in 1980.” (small section pictured above)
She stood in the dining room and displayed it for us…she was smiling. It is a quilt I had seen before, and a story I had heard before, but I paid particular attention.
And that was the last best moment with my Mother. That is how I can remember her smiling as if she just won the prize, as if there really was something to be proud of in this thing we call life…something we can touch, feel and gaze on and leave for others. As if to say, I know I’m near the end, please don’t forget.
September 10th is my Mother’s birthday…she would have been 87. I want to believe she is somewhere helping others make beautiful quilts.
Today I walked into Sage Chapel at Cornell to pray. I thought it might be nice. As I arrived, a brief walk from my office, I soaked in the quiet of this beautiful building with no one around.
I remember the first time I walked into this chapel in the winter of December 1984. At the time, there was a road in front of it and parking. I was with my parents and we were attending a wedding. I don’t think I ever saw the bride again and the couples we sat with, maybe once or twice.
1984 was 34 years ago. It struck me as peacefully odd that I ended up here all these years later. I prayed for my parents and everyone I know. Then I thought how many beautiful pictures and angles one could take of this chapel.
It is like life…angles…one snapshot here, another there, people coming and going.
I asked my husband how I would ever get over my Mother’s death. You do and you will…you will remember her but she will seem so far away he said, not verbatim but in essence.
My Mother feels so far far away and she is only 39 days into the either. She told me once I would miss her someday and she was right. It seems at this moment like she was never here, as if it was a dream.
That life is swifter still
It moves on wave after wave, storm after storm
The Lord does giveth and the Lord does take us away
I hope that the eagles wings have brought you high high up above the earth
I pray that you are in the arms of the angels
That the pearly gates with their creamy effervecence sparkled as they opened
And that when I need a hand you will lift the veil and reach for me.
My wish and my prayer.
Are you kidding me grief, are you really back again. .my goodness, I just barely left you seven months ago when our dear friend Joe passed.
And here you come again . Great! Sucker punch me again and again only to exhaust me, put me to sleep, and then force me to rise again to another round of blows.
The thing is grief there is nothing I can do about you…I can’t just kick you out, I can’t just fast forward to the next best day I am going to have so I have to tolerate you.
I have to accept that you, my most unwelcome visitor, is here again and much too soon . I have to do stuff even though you try with all your might to drag me to the ground.
So what to do…today I thought I better do it all…for example, plan my next vacation, dump all my old books and old bank statements, clean the kitchen, but by noon I was shot. I was moving through a hot humid day and I felt stuck in jello that was fast solidifying.
I have to slow down and let my body and mind adjust to one of the greatest loses of a lifetime. The passing of my last parent.
So I decided I am going to weed slowly…slowly through the purselane taking over our garden and slowly through my bank statements.
And grief I am even going to slow you down, take my foot off the accelator a bit, find out what you are trying to help me do…listen to your wisdom and feel the closeness I feel to all that I have lost.
I am hoping for a good grief.
This is a photograph I took the other night, outside. The colors this year are hitting me like fireworks. Probably because I looked out and saw grey and brown for so long. What also strikes me is how fleeting the whole spring is…these beautiful colors only last a few days. One night last week I walked around the place, the place that my husband has nurtured for 40 years and I wanted to take the most magnificent picture of every single flowering tree. I wanted to hold the trees and their brilliance forever.
As I started shooting with my newish camera, I realized that even if I could capture the over 20 colorful flowering trees in a one-hour photo shoot, my learning curve with the camera is slow and it takes many photos to get a good shot.
So the next night, I decided, I can’t own this beauty, I can’t hold it except in my eye and my mind, for more than a moment, and I took a walk without the camera. I counted the trees to keep me focused… I looked at their changes, and I thought about how much work and love goes into a place like this. Every year, placing a fence around each tree so it won’t be eaten alive by winter critters. Fertilizing the trees, cutting a little bit off here and a little bit there when needed, mowing around them, saving them when a visiting gardener thought the shoot was a weed and should be yanked out.
A place like this, with many moments, many times, of nature’s beauty, can not be bought, it has to be created by love. Similar to most things of value in this world.
In a few days, this green plant, front and to the left in this post, will become a mound of snowballs, and that is where its name comes from, we call it the snowball bush. In reality, it is a viburnum. Several years ago, a bug tried to kill it off. The bug affected and threatened viburnums across our area. Our snowball bush disappeared.
As time passed, the viburnum would reappear a little bit more each year: at first a branch with 5 snowballs on it and now this moment when I realize it needs containment or shaping or something. While not in its full glory, the snowball bush is almost back.
I think its a metaphor. As long as a little strand of something remains, as long as it is still rooted in the ground somewhere, it stands a chance of rebirth, regrowth. Kind of like love that is almost killed by neglect, but with a little nurturing it flourishes again, or tyranny which seems in one epoch to be wiped out and reemerges in another until it starts to hang heavy over everything.
I scanned the photograph above into my computer and then I doctored it up on the right with a camera raw filter and a black and white filter…all of these on Adobe Photoshop.
The photos are of my Grandmother and her friends, Mrs. Spiegel and Mrs. Irvine (sp?). This was back in the day when a nice evening might be hanging out with friends and a ball of yarn.
Collage scanned and filtered in Adobe Photoshop with Poster Filter
pictures from New York in September
And the guy who made it possible: Rammyyyyyyy
“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass