Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Picnic Eternal (4.21.10)

Our mother loved picnics.  Especially all day picnics.  Her picnic basket was organized, her  picnics planned and executed without a hitch - we kids only aware of days of total freedom at the beach or park.  Picnics involved rising at the crack of dawn, early Mass if it was Sunday, ideally a stop for fresh-made donuts on the drive, and selecting the best spot before others even got up. 

Picnic days were rare times when dad cooked breakfast.  Outdoors.  While mom laid out the treats she had prepared.  Breakfast treats.  Lunch treats.  All-day-long - as much as you could eat - treats.  Days of heavenly indulgence and freedom:  Did they remind her of childhood camping trips, her parents' cabin by the lake?

How she loved picnics!  She must have prepared meticulously - for days.
Just as meticulous - those wonderful surprises we kids came to take for granted - creatively-wrapped gifts, amazing Birthday cakes, Easter baskets hidden in surprising places.  She didn't spoil us in general.  But picnics, holidays, birthdays:  How she loved surprises!  

Those were happy times.  And she had her sad times too.  But so much of what was difficult in her life has now been altered by the transformation of her dying.

When it came her time to die, it seemed she met that willingly, indeed at times impatiently.  She knew it long before it came.  And tried to tell us, was frustrated we seemed not to understand, frustrated too at her inability to formulate sentences, find words she longed to say.  Till the last.  When finally we knew.  When we could let her know it was OK to go.  When she could manage words like:  "dying... good."  She wanted to go home and earth no longer held her.

Yet she saved her best surprises for the last.

Those peaceful final days, when her eyes no longer opened and words no longer came, her Spirit bloomed:  Till we were touching - soul to soul.  Her earthly body, so like a birdcage, her Spirit - longing to fly free.

I was moved by that.  The transformation happening.  A woman never overtly religious, whose soul began to shine as she was dying.  Welcoming communion - saintly, even angelic - those last times.

She looked beautiful in death.

In dying, she had given me her soul.  Yet death held more:  In death, I felt her spirit.  Drawing me into that resurrection space - of her abiding:  An eternal picnic.  Communing with the saints.

And now we celebrate that:  Mother, we celebrate your birthday - not as we had wished, but as you surprised us.  May your picnic be eternal.

[Words prepared for her funeral - her 88th birthday:   4.21.2010]



Did you find all the answers
are you waiting to share them
Do you know how respected you are

Do you swim in the ocean
look down on the earth
and shine with the brightest of stars

Have you:
talked peace with Gandhi
had tea with kings
been to Atlantis
built Stonehenge again

Replayed time just to see the big bang
Played God only to hand over the reins

Are you currently sailing to far off lands
or sitting here silently holding my hand

I like to think that you're with me right now
I like to believe that you see me somehow
and know that you're missed and respected and loved
I like to picture you smiling above

I wrote this shortly after my father passed away, and read it aloud at his memorial service. It's my hope that those who didn't know my dad can still manage to glean from this poem just how odd and quirky and eccentric and – most of all – curious about everything he was.
He wasn't religious – at all – but I like to think of his spirit looking down on me from...somewhere...all the same.
Thank you for this very comforting post, Thera. Thank you for helping me believe.
Bless you, LisB!
Oh dear Thera, this is lovely. It inspires great admiration in me for both your mother and her family. You remind us of gifts which we may well take for granted, and it may be perfectly alright to do so with some of them. But we ought never to take joy for granted. Or peace.
I hold you in my heart today.
Thank you.
Eonia i mnimi
Amen! :-)
if there are any heavens my mother will (all by herself) have
one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses
my father will be(deep like a rose
tall like a rose)
standing near my
(swaying over her
with eyes which are really petals and see
nothing with the face of a poet really which
is a flower and not a face with
which whisper
This is my beloved my
(suddenly in sunlight
he will bow,
& the whole garden will bow)

ee cummings

Beautiful! Thank you.
Hmmmm.... second time a blog does not show up on the rec'd list... Ok, I wrote it a few days back. As a draft. With a publish date of today. Oh, well... Karma, I guess. ;)
Lovely, Thera. My mother died a year ago yesterday, and this tribute to yours brought back memories of my childhood when we would spend a special day at Overhill Lake, where we just ate, swam and played all day long. Thanks
Bless you, my dear. Memories... thanks for yours.
Very moving, heartfelt sentiments in a time of supreme stress and trial. Pax Vobiscum TheraP.
Et cum spiri tu tuo.
I wonder if I will meet my end with grace or grasping onto the impossible.
Quite a story TheraP.
It moves me deeply. Surprises at the picnic.
Cold mornings. Sky still purple. Mom and my sisters and I quietly pack the car. Hushing ourselves so we don't wake the neighbors. Get the dog in the backseat. My sister and I fight over it. Draw a line.
We forget about fighting after Massachusetts. She nods off, and I gleefully look out the window as she sleeps. The mountains loom and then grow smaller, as we climb them.
The people loom larger as we near Spaulding. They await us on the front, shaded porch, sitting in their rockers. Nana waves, Poppie smiles. Then Poppie waves us away from the main hotel, towards our little cabin away from it all.
We unpack, we belong.
The future is ours for a week.
The mornings are cold and purple again, but we have this bathroom with a hot spa light that we can switch on. We have putting greens and swimming pools and tennis courts, for a week.
We have this golden time to ourselves, and with our family, and the future doesn't matter much, right now. Because we have traversed mountains, and the olden golden memories of the past are meeting our future, here.
And, for now, we are happy.
This is so beautiful, LisB! You are tapping into a place of such poignancy, such beauty, and your words hold that for us. Stay in this place and give us blogs like this comment.
Peace be with you, my dear.
I hope we all can meet death with such acceptance and peace. And that our deaths can be moving to those who witness them.
Peace be with you, dd. I am so glad this moved you - as it moved those who heard it in person.
After my mother died, it seemed part of her spirit entered my auntie, her sister, and manifested through expressions, both verbal and facial.
When auntie died, it seemed as though her spirit entered one of her daughters, and me, to a lesser degree. Odd how that might be, really.
It's interesting. Somebody yesterday told me I had my mother's eyes. Never heard that till yesterday! Even as she was dying my dad told me: I can see the love pouring out of you. I think when we rise to an occasion, it ennobles us. Lux did that!
Posted by TheraP in reply to a comment from wendy davis
April 22, 2010 10:57 AM | Reply | Permalink 

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