My mom would have been 90 today. She almost made it, but her path ended three months short of that goal. Last March she found the answer to a question we all have: What comes next? It would be nice to think her lifetime of faith brought the ultimate reward. She surely earned it a million times over.
In any event, she’s at peace now. Those last years were hard — constant pain and a body that no longer served her well or, sometimes, at all. She bore it as gracefully as she did all of life’s travails — always positive, always upbeat. She was the epitome of a wife, of a mother, of a person.
Today, for (what would have been) her 90th birthday, some remembrances.
Seven billion flames flicker in the night. Some burn bright and fierce, some soft and steady, some jump and dance. Every turn of the world, 350,000 tiny new flames begin to shine.
And 150,000 go out.
A flame that always lit my world, always warmed me, always guided me, no longer illuminates my dark.
My mom. 1924-2014.
“And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.“
Death Watch. A vigil over a dying person. Waiting. Not knowing which tick of the clock brings change. Tick. This one? Tock. This one?
There are other watches. Surgery watch. That one often brings good news. One can be hopeful. The doctor approaches with a smile; tension releases in a flood of relief.
The only relief here is that someone else, someone you love, is finally free from pain. For the rest there is only loss.
The other side of a life. Birth watch. The watch that brings joy. And cigars and balloons.
Birth. Tick. Death. Tock.
Grains of sand passing through the hourglass of life. Each of us having that brief quick ride through the throat of reality.
And having gone from there to there, at last, coming to rest.
The strange attractor that centers my universe for now is the growing certainty my parents won’t see another winter. Even the fullness of summer may outdistance them. The spectre came as slowly as time and a well life permits, but a thousand similes paint its implacable gait. Ages turn into years become months, then weeks, days, finally hours and minutes. All clocks stop eventually.
That they shall likely walk off into the Great Unknown almost simultaneously describes in the final act the entire arc of their life. In a word: together. Happily — no, joyfully — married for nearly seven decades. Never cursed with wealth, but ever blessed with love, they were rich beyond measure. They are why, even still, I believe in love.
To the extent I am a good person, look no further than my mother and my father.
Yesterday I managed to avoid turning on the A/C, although it was borderline most of the day. At one point I looked at the thermometer, and it was 82. “One more degree,” I thought, “And the A/C comes on.” In fact, it did hit 83, but either I’d acclimated to the humidity or it had dried out a little, so I resisted the temptation.
Today, not even noon, and it’s already 81, so I’ve given in completely to sweet temptation. (Fortunately, I have considerable experience giving in to temptation. I am, in fact, a certified professional with special safety equipment and am operating on a closed course. Do not try this at home or without expert support.)
For your Sunday enjoyment, I have a few last items from my cache…