First, my thanks to everyone for responding to the Mother’s Day Tribute to my Mother. There were so many, it has been impossible for me, at least at this time, to respond to each in a more personal way.
We were deeply touched by the kind, generous, loving words expressed and by the remembrances of those who actually knew my mother. It was moving to have people recall her recipes, her readiness to have fun, her sense of humor. Of course, Mom lived to be 98 years old so she met a lot of people along the way. And my mother and I were very close, so she knew my friends as well.
Please know how grateful I am that you took the time to write to us. And, if you feel you have friends who would want to read about this, by all means, do share it with them.
Did I say us? Yes, I am saying “us.” Just who is the “us” I am referencing? Could it be that it is my mother AND me? Or am I being too audacious in suggesting that we are both aware of your comments? Read on, and you will see why I am making such a claim.
My intention, at the time of writing the first blog, was to forge ahead with the story, telling you more about our lives and how we became so close, describing her last days and the many miracles that began to emerge, and let you know how she set about making her presence manifest and known AFTER she left her body. This is still my intention, but something intervened.
What intervened was my mother, barely letting a beat pass before she showed her glee and approval of my first writing. Really, Mom! You couldn’t contain yourself.
So many times over the years, people have asked (sometimes with a note of skepticism in their voice — but who can blame them?) — how my mother has communicated and how did I know it wasn’t just my imagination or coincidence or my being a little bit too liberal in my interpretations.
Here is what happened:
I finished the writing and posted the words you read last week. Pleased with what I had written, I went to the kitchen to pour myself some green tea. Our Bose radio is always tuned to WMNR, a commercial free classical station that we, including Mother, have listened to every day for over twenty years. As I walked into the room, I could hear the music that was playing. Even though I should be used to this by now, I am always delighted and surprised when one of these “coincidences” occurs.
There it was – Dvorak’s Symphony, From the New World, my mother’s favorite afterlife theme song. I smiled in recognition, then walked to the staircase to call out to my husband, Richard, to tell him what was playing. It figured, this same music was one of my mother’s signature pieces of communication. Still, we are surprised whenever these messages are received.
You may not know this piece of music. It is most recognized as it became associated in gospel form around the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As the train, bearing the body of Roosevelt passed by, a lone black man in uniform,with tears streaming down his face, played it on his accordian. The largo part of the symphony is sometimes called “Goin’ Home.” When it was set to lyrics it includes words like “I’m just going home,” “work all done,” and “there’s no break, there’s no end, just a living on.” I madly searched for this piece, to be played at my mother’s memorial tribute, not realizing it was Dvorak. You would know the music, it was repeatedly played by the lone bagpiper at one service after another for the firemen who passed on September 11. My mother and I wept whenever we heard it during those sad days.
The formal funeral for mother was held in Michigan at the church of her childhood. She was laid to rest in the cemetery next to my father. But this was far from Connecticut where we lived. Richard and I wanted to memorialize her here, in the home where she had lived for many years, where her beloved Siamese cat still resided (with us now) and where she had been included in our parties and our lives. This was our personal tribute to Mom and Richard and I handled every piece of it, including the bagpiper playing “Goin’ Home.” There is more to this story, but my mother’s glee was palpable and I could feel her smiling ear to ear, at having someone “pipe” her home.
Over the months and years to follow, the Dvorak symphony would suddenly be playing on special days or celebrations, or when we did something that made mom happy. On one occasion, we called in a donation to WMNR, the radio station we like, and, though we never asked for it to be played, there was Dvorak. Mother has surprised us with her ingenuity. She managed to make the point that she was still around, particularly if Richard and I were having a disagreement. There it was, Mother dropping by! She “dropped by” so often, we got used to this signature piece of evidence she sent.
The thought of “going home,” as a metaphor for death, was not ever discussed in our household or verbalized during the weeks prior to her departure. Yet, only days before she departed her body, lying in bed, she dreamily spoke those words. “Home soon,” she said, as I sat by her bedside. She seemed to be speaking to some unseen someone in the room. Her sweet face expressed contentment. She knew she was going home.
But Mother was not finished making her presence known, regarding the Mother’s Day Tribute.
Two days after, I was again in the kitchen. Sitting at my desk, I was readying to call a dear friend in Chicago who lived next door to us there and who was as close to her mother as I was to mine. While living in Chicago, we used to take out mothers out to lunch and then drive both of them crazy with our zany humor. They just shook their heads and put up with our loving, though silly comments. “What are you having your mother do to help out?” we would say to each other. “Well, Mom cleaned out all the gutters yesterday,” and we would cackle and laugh at our ludicrous jokes. Mother and I had such happy times with Linda and her mother.
As I started to dial Linda’s number, I noticed something sticking out from under one of the wall hung bookshelves that housed my collection of cookbooks. I pulled at the object and out came a plastic coated insurance card. It belonged to my mother. It was something I carried to all her doctor’s appointments and hospital stays. Mom and I used to laugh about her name on the card. Mother’s first and middle names were Esther Dena. On the card it read E.D. One time while waiting for an appointment for a doctor, the person calling mom into the examination room, said they were ready for Ed. We laughed and laughed, and I took to calling her Ed, from time to time, which always resulted in bales of laughter. Mother and I loved to laugh.
But what was that card doing, over seven years after mom has left the world, sticking out of a bookcase? Not a likely thing, you see. Yet here is something else to know. Mother has taken pleasure in “hiding” flat objects, like cards or photographs in books. A photograph of her famous Christmas cookies, showed up in one book. One day I was planning to give to my yoga students some quotes on love. In my spiritual book collection, I found the book, (one of my favorites now) called Narada’s Way of Divine Love. I hadn’t opened it for years. Tucked inside was a photograph of my mother and me, taken at a surprise birthday party in Chicago many years before. The party was given by the same Linda I mentioned earlier and my other great friend, Alice. There we were, Mom and me, dressed up and smiling happily.
Was all of this a coincidence? Was it by chance that that photograph just happened to be in one of the most powerful books about love known to me? What do you think?
So I have digressed from the unfolding of Mother’s story, but only because she wanted me to tell you about this. Thanks, Mom, I hope they are enjoying our new blog post.
Soon I will tell you about the full moon and what happened the day Mom left her body. There is so much Grace and Beauty to behold!