My own mother died at age 72, certainly not a short-lived life. But she was not well for 15 years before she died and when she did go, there were so many things I still was wondering about, things we never got the chance to talk about because she wasn't well enough.
She died from a form of dementia that is not easily explained and so I just say she died of Alzheimer's, because people can understand that and because her illness belongs to that same class of afflictions as Alzheimer's Disease. She became moody and unpredictable, she became unreasonable and vitriolic, she lapsed into prolonged funks, then she lost her way mentally and physically, then she required skilled nursing. She died in my arms on a beautiful late summer morning; we both sat in the sun in my garden as she flew to her reward, legions of angels taking her away from me. I took petals from the roses around us and closed her hands around them as the undertaker came to take her away again. Quite a day. Quite a memory.
All that time we spent together but never enough time to ask her about the things that were really important to me. Like how do you fix it when you are really, really tired? How do you stay patient? What are some surefire hints that the Darkness is near? How do you say goodbye? Things like that. To this day, I still have the boxes of her craft stuff in the middle of the garage; all her wonderful projects never finished. She didn't know what was happening to her. She had no idea how sick she was. Neither did I. So I keep her yarn and her tole paints and her patterns in the neatly labeled bins that I took out of the house my father built for her when she came to Idaho in 1945. I keep the stuff that gave her such great joy for reasons that are completely unknown to me. I keep it close, where I pass it at least 4 times each day. When my children were home, I passed it even more, because I put it right by where I get in the car. Maybe somehow, I wanted a piece of her heart to go with us still? I dunno, but it's still there and I'm thinking about emptying the bins and moving it all out, only now. Ten years later.
So there was a lot of stuff that I didn't know about and I didn't know what to do with. In addition to the craft stuff. I want my kids to get more, more than craft stuff to go with them when I die. I want them not to have to try so hard to remember what I said or how I felt about things. I want them to be able to hear me in their sweetest ear always, if they want. I want them to remember me smiling, laughing, joyful, thoughtful, firm, resolute, grateful, forward-looking. I want them to easily remember how crazy I was about them. How much fun they were for me.
And so I blog. I am writing it all down just for them. Is this the only blog ever written exclusively for an audience of three? Could be. If so, that's just right. Notes From The 'Kan EWA should really be Love Letters From The 'Kan EWA, written for those Loves of My Life, so they can remember. It's my intent to write of the things that matter to me, matter in life, that give me joy and that give me hope. I want to give them more than pictures, more than sterling, china and crystal, more than just a piece of my heart for always. I want them to know what I was thinking and where I came from. Maybe it will help.
I was thinking today about my great-great-great grandmother who immigrated here from Prussia. I have a copy of the letter that she wrote to her sister, explaining why they were leaving. She said she did not want her five sons to be fodder for the czar's war; so she was leaving her home and her family, leaving her country and everything she knew to protect them and give them a better life. She begged her sister for understanding. They never saw each other again.
160 years later, her courage gives me courage. How blessed I am to know how it is that we became Americans. How blessed I am to know the things people in my family saw with their own eyes so long ago. To have their memory now be my memory. It's my intent now to teach my children and their children--never to forget, but to remember always the things that are really important and to build muscle, sustaining and ever limber, that will leap with sickness and separation. And finally, it's my intent to give me rose petals for my own journey, when I go on my way to find Mom.
The 'Kan EWA
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Love Letters from The 'Kan EWA
Rose Petals from Bellemaison
“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard
not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen,
nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live,
but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.’