In July of 1994, my two sisters and I sifted through the belongings in our widowed mother’s home. She lay in a hospital nearby, unconscious and dying of a massive stroke at the age of 78. She lingered in that condition for nearly three weeks before she finally passed.
During those weeks, we hunted through the disarray of her home for documents, policies, and other papers that might be helpful for the disposition of her estate. It was grim and devastating work.
One trip to the dumpster behind her apartment complex allowed me (at last) to get rid of the embarrassingly poor plaster sculpture I’d made in high school two decades previously. I had never liked it, but my mom kept it in a place of honor. While there was a frisson of relief to see that thing go, my knees buckled with wordless grief when a set of Mom’s dentures tumbled with other “trash” into the dumpster, too. That she would never need them, never speak again, was more than I could fathom. My being the only Mormon in the family didn’t make my grief any easier to bear right in the midst of our loss.
My sisters Susan and Holly meanwhile had discovered Mom’s car insurance policy tucked into the 50th Rockford High School reunion program; stock certificates for companies long since defunct in one stack of papers; and boxes of old family photos – few of them labeled.
Holly pulled a small metal lock box out from one pile. Among the papers inside was one that baffled us all. Continue reading
When I told people that I was taking my children to Hawaii for the week of Christmas, reactions ranged from admiration to disbelief to jealousy. I generally tried to temper things with the caveat that my children’s father grew up in Hawaii, so we would be visiting family and friends, and that trips to Hawaii have always been a somewhat regular part of our family life. We hadn’t been over there for three years, and a trip to Hawaii seemed like a better family Christmas gift than more physical objects that would just clutter up the house. I spent a year saving and planning, but still felt a bit of guilt at the extravagance of such a vacation up until the moment our plane landed in Honolulu and we walked out into the warm, tropical air. Continue reading
View from the unwashed passenger window on the night of our last drive.
Last night realizing time was short we quickly piled the kids and an impromptu picnic into our eighteen year old sun-bleached blue Honda civic. Never turn in a car with extra fuel in the tank, we thought. So Sunday evening drive we must. We drive west in near silence, chasing the sunset through miles of fields and orchards. Unidentifiable greens erupt from the soil phasing in, bare walnut tree silhouettes fading out. The end of one era and the necessary beginning of another. Funny, I thought we hoped we could drive the car figuratively into the ground; it will be literal instead.
The car coughs, rattles, clanks and vibrates, straining to go and go and go as it always has. Perhaps this inanimate object of a family member is somehow imbued with the knowledge that this really the end; its replacement has already taken over the garage. It’s just a car, and not even a fancy one, but it’s feels like a loss letting it go. Continue reading
Lapis Lazuli ring of love
I am a proponent of having friends and family of all ages, faiths and “worthiness-es” join to support and celebrate marriages on the wedding day. There is something moving and profound in answering “We will!” when an officiator asks the gathered crowd, “Will all of you witnessing these vows do all in your power to support these two and their marriage?” Regardless of what you send the couple off their registry, this communal commitment to support and sustain their marriage with them is the best wedding present of all.
That feels absolutely right to me.
A recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune mentioned the prospect that soon LDS couples in North America may not have to wait a year between having a civil wedding and their temple sealing. This is standard in most other areas of the international church.
Hallelujah, I say. This adds a dimension of honor to the couple’s promises for this life – and their covenants beyond time.
So with all this joy, hope and love in the air, I offer you a little literary frolic. It’s a non-rhyming poetic puzzle which provides the answer to the question:
When Did Vincent Finally Commit?
Vincent vanished into the vault, vowing to return with valuables.
Amanda, annoyed at his absence, altered her attitude when, at
Last, laden with lapis lazuli, he lavishly locked lip to lip with her.
Encircling his enamorata with embraces, he exclaimed while
Nestling a nice nugget over her knuckle, “En-
Twine with me th’eternal tendrils of your timelessness,
In integrity, ingenuity and imagination – both in illness and inoculation – in perpetuity
Never to nick off to nether lands, nor nag nor niggle nor canoodle with another.
Sighing, she said,
“Darling, I DO!”
“Yes! Yes! Yes!”
When my mother died in 1994 I inherited her stash of quilting fabrics. Since she lived by the premise, “She who dies with the most fabric, wins,” this was quite a substantial treasure. My two sisters and I – and our children – were the lucky recipients of her quilting and sewing projects over the years.
Not long after her death I had a dream in which my sisters and I were tense, still grief stricken and frantically scurrying about her house trying to get the chaos tamed before trucks came to remove all her belongings. I kept opening closets and bureaus and cedar chests and from each of them flounced out quilt after quilt she’d made for us. I hollered to my sisters, “It’s going to be okay! Look! She left us so many comforters!”
That word “comforters” was so blissfully layered with immediate meaning. Her warmth, her love, her creativity, her spirit – as well as the Spirit was overflowing and consoling at a much-needed time. Continue reading