After my mom's death, I considered the role everyday objects play in a good death.
Photographs. I think particularly of when my dear foster,father was dying and I found a photo of his long dead mother . I slipped it to him and looking at the image just whispered “mother, mother,” over and over again. It was a kind of meeting for him in a place where they now both reside.
OK, Jane. You got me with this one. I felt I got to touch the light your mother shared while she was here. “Every person must be loved...” I won’t forget that for a long while. I want to follow her example and be crusading for love right until the very end.
Your words show me whole landscapes I might have missed though I travel their terrain every day. Your writing makes visible and honors so much love in the fabric of it all. xo
“and she released all blockages to her love for us, all inhibitors, all insecurities, all filters. She became love.”
I cared for my dying father years ago, he also became committed to love. I teared up when I read this line having experienced something similar, with a man I still miss.
You do have the ability to make hard angry old men weep at dawn...but in a good way. 🥲👵🏻
Lovely. When my mother died we discovered a half-used bottle of decaf nescafe in the cupboard from one of her visits. I keep it there to remind me of her. Such is the power of objects,
A loving and lovely tribute to you and your family, so thoughtful, reflective and beautifully written.
It is a deep and meaningful piece that touches our souls where dying and death are no longer to be feared but to be embraced along with the rest of life. Thanks, Jane. I am passing along a post to you by a guest on my blog:
Thank you for this beautiful gift, so beautifully written. I promise you that it is beautifully and gratefully received, too. Thank you, Jane.
When my sculptor husband was dying, he kept two special rocks on his person. In his right hand, he gripped a small, almost-black wave-flattened cobble from a beach on the Pacific Ocean where we had lived years before. In a fold of his night-shirt over his heart lay a two-spirit rock, part the kind of granite that made up the high peaks visible above our house, and part quartz injected into a fracture in that granite. He worked with native rocks as "ambassadors of the earth," sculpting them into basins and vessels that revealed their inner beauty, every day objects which brought that beauty into our ordinary lives. The rocks he held as he passed into whatever comes after this life were his connection to the earth he was leaving.
As I read this I realized I was wearing the soft plaid flannel pajama pants my dad wore almost daily in the months before he died. I am also wearing a red fleece pullover that his wife used later to wrap around a book of his she knew I wanted. I reach for these soft "house" clothes a lot and feel comfort when I wear them but also, I see him for a little bit.
This was a very beautiful essay. Thank you so much for writing it and for sharing it.
So sweet. Truly. Well done and even better mixing all the Buddhist thought within. But the most touching is the crisp, clear and laser sharp prose.
This is so beautifully written and deeply moving. I love the idea that viewing our everyday objects through this lens can bring the awareness of death closer, and through that, deepen our appreciation of life 💛
Beautifully written in the eyes of someone with an odd fascination with death, but my brain was swept irreverently aside by your mention of your first going to the University of Michigan. I went to Ann Arbor much earlier than you, I would imagine (1959-63). IN those days there was no sex in dorms as they were single sex with occasional 'visiting days' when there was a firm rule of 'four feet on the floor at all times'. I avoided the problem by doing a junior year abroad (to London) and having a small flat of my own in my last year.
I loved that nearing the end of her life, your mother "became love." As my beloved mother died, 365 days after my father to whom she was married 65 years, my sisters and I sang all the songs she and my father had taught us growing up, old spirituals and folk and labor-union songs. During her final days, I wrote that Mom became "concentrated sweetness," because like your mom, that's who mine was. The other detail that struck me was how her spirit passed through you right as she died. With Mom, I read "Meditations of an Old Woman" by Theodore Roethke, and she stopped her active dying, opened her eyes, and gazed into mine, as a child does. My sister, who was holding her, said, "I could feel the poem in her head." It had been one of our favorites. When other close people died, and I wasn't physically present, I did feel their spirits pass through me. Thanks for writing in such a way that makes all that real, Jane.
I do believe objects are powerful placeholders for the ones we have lost. At the thrift shops I patronize I see the many collections on the shelves and speculate on their past lives and past owners. I harbor no fantasies about where my own will end up and only hope that when the time comes my children will each take at least one thing from my home that reminds them of me.