Tag Archives: remembrance

Another Angel

Mom K

“If our family was an airline, Mom was the hub and we were the spokes. You rarely went anywhere nonstop; you went via Mom, who directed the traffic flow and determined the priorities: which family member was cleared for takeoff or landing. Even my father was not immune to Mom’s scheduling, though he was given more leeway than the rest of us.”
― Will Schwalbe, The End of Your Life Book Club

[Lynda’s note: Our hearts are heavy at the loss but ever thankful for the privilege of loving my husband’s mom, my second mom, who passed away last Friday evening. No daughter-in-law was ever more blessed than I was by her love. We will miss her, and her gravy, more than words can ever say. The challenge is made greater by the fact that my husband, now 5 months plus in the hospital, will not be able to travel to the services, though he will be there in spirit and in heart through me.

As we remember her, it’s inevitable that I recall losing my mother, now some 18 years ago. The parable I read at her funeral is no less true of my mother-in-law, so I’ll share this post again today. Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers as we learn our new “routes”.]

In going through some of my mom’s writings and collected notes following her death, I found a notebook where she wrote down some of her favorite quotations and stories. It’s a habit I inherited and continue to this day. The story below was in that notebook, where Mom had copied it over from where ever she read it. At her funeral, we asked family and friends to read a piece or share their thoughts. This is what I read, from her notebook:

A Living Presence (A Parable for Mothers)
By: Temple Bailey

The young mother set her foot on the path of Life. “Is the way long?” she asked. And her Guide said: “Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning.”

But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed with them in the streams, and the sun shone on them, and life was good, and the young mother cried: “Nothing will ever be lovelier than this”.

Then night came, and storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle and the children said: “Oh, Mother, we are not afraid for you are near, and no harm can come.” And the mother said: “This is better than the brightest of days, for I have taught my children courage.”

And the morning came and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary, but at all times she said to the children: “A little patience and we are there.” So the children climbed, and when they reached the top, they said: “We could not have done it without you, Mother.” And the mother, when she lay down that night, looked up at the stars and said: “This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of difficulty. Yesterday I gave them courage, Today I have given them strength.”

And the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth – clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said: “Look up! Lift your eyes to the light.” And the children looked and saw above the clouds an Everlasting Glory, and it guided them beyond the darkness. And that night the mother said: “This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God.”

And the days went on, and the months and the years, and the mother grew old, and she was small and bent. But her children were strong and tall and walked with courage. And when the way was hard, they helped their mother; and when the way was rough they lifted her, for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill, and beyond the hill they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And the mother said: “I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know that the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them.”

And the children said: “You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates.” And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: “We cannot see her, but she is with us. A mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence.”

Mom K and PK

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Monday Moments: Memorial Day

cleaning up cemetery placing flags

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. ~ From a headstone in Ireland

My father was a quiet man. Not just in tone or in spirit, but in nearly everything. In part, I’m sure, this came from spending much of his time by himself, out in the fields or working in the timber. He was far more content to sit and read than to listen to the radio or watch television. He was never one to make a fuss, or to want a fuss made about him.

Our primary piece of farm acreage was old family property. The remains of an old schoolhouse were barely visible under the growing timber and brush. Remnants of the old family cemetery were strewn about one section. Every winter, when he couldn’t be in the fields, he was in the timber. He’d clear out dead trees and provide firewood for the fireplace at home. He’d beat back the ever-encroaching brush from the edges of the fields. And he would work on the cemetery. He’d try to match old, long-broken tombstones with the right bases, and he’d try to set right what weather and the occasional vandals took down each year. One of his quiet actions in life was cleaning up the cemetery, year after year, stone after stone.

He did this as a labor of love, to his family, to the people buried there, and to the families of those who were forever wedded to that piece of land. Without fuss, without caring if anyone knew or noticed or helped. It was his task. His remembrance. His service. He was a young child when the U.S. entered World War I, and by the time World War II rolled around, he was exempt from the draft as a food-producing farmer. He never talked about not going to war, like he never talked about a lot of things, but I always believed that he wanted to do more, give more, for the country whose history he taught me. So he did what he could, quietly. But occasionally someone would notice and say thanks. letter to the editor about my father cleaning up the cemetery He’d stammer and get uncomfortable, but he appreciated the sentiment. And each Decoration Day, as he always called it, he’d help put flags out on the graves of those who served.

Now living near a very active Air Force base, I see people every day who serve quietly, without seeking honor or notice or attention. Because it fills them from the inside out. Because it’s just what they do, oftentimes without notice. So today, as we should do every day, take a moment and express your appreciation to someone who willingly serves, who has lost someone who sacrificed themselves for what they believed. Who lives each moment to make sure we have our freedom.

A friend of ours, Adam White, who happens to be a very talented filmmaker, put together a marvelous tribute to those who volunteer, those who serve. Please take a couple of minutes to watch the clip, and to remember all those who have served and those who now serve.

Today and everyday.

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Rebirth

For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. ~William Penn

As someone who in intrigued by the concept of memory and remembering, it was fascinating to see the diverse commemorations concerning the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedies. Like many people, I remember where I was and what I was doing as the events unfolded, as disbelief stole across the nation.

I purposely tried to avoid the news programs and specials which endlessly replayed the footage. I saw it then, watched it happen, and don’t care to see that part again. But I was taken in by some of the interviews and documentaries that came about because of this particular anniversary year. A decade is, in most respects, a long time, a well-rounded period allowing for the settling and shifting of history and remembrance. Though the losses can never be replaced, holes never filled, ten years provides a distance to see how (or if, I suppose) the remembering changes.

Two documentaries in particular did catch my attention, primarily because of their particular slant. The first was a documentary following Paul McCartney in the days after the attack, The Love We Make. As he explains in the opening sequence, he was on the tarmac at JFK, preparing to return to London to celebrate some family birthdays when the captain announced that they were temporarily delayed due to an accident. McCartney said those on one side of the plane could easily see the first tower smoking. Then they watched the plane go into the second tower. The documentary then shadows him around New York as he worked to help put together the Concert For America in October 2011. Fascinating footage, not only about New York in the first weeks following the attack, but also an inside look at being a celebrity — some of the scenes where he gets inundated with fans were particularly eerie. The clips with celebrities of every ilk – music, political, Hollywood – were engaging. As my husband noted, no matter who came to talk to him, you could tell they were all a little awe-struck at talking to *McCartney* the legend. Having just seen him in concert, I can believe that.

The other documentary I watched was one called Rebirth. Project Rebirth tags itself as “A Living History of the Human Spirit Coping With Disaster.” The project uses time-lapse photography to document the changing landscape at Ground Zero since March 2002. In the film, which premiered on Showtime yesterday, the project team not only captures the continuous changes to the physical landscape, but also sets out to explore the emotional landscape of five individuals. The team interviewed each of these individuals once a year, every year, for the next nine years. The film is intense, no doubt about it, but what emerges is that same sense of hope, of recovery, that dominated the American spirit on November 12, 2001 – the sure sense that America and its people would recover, together.

Personally, I think one of the greatest tragedies was the lost opportunity to build on that sense of unity, to rebuild American spirit as the diversely unified country that existed in those moments, to compromise and come together to build a better world, instead of the insanely divided mentality that dominates these days. It goes beyond politics and red and blue states and politicians to encompass the choices we make, the steps we take.

I just think we could have done so much better with the opportunity. I think those lost deserved better than the decade that followed.

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In Memory Of…

“All men have the stars, but they are not the same things for different people.

For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent.

You–you alone–will have the stars as no one else has them. In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night . . . You–only you–will have stars that can laugh!

And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . . And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always make me laugh!”

~ ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

On this ten-year anniversary, we pause to remember
…. those who were lost
…. those who were saved
…. those who saved others
…. those who lost loved ones

In Memory of those who now live with the stars……

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