Once again, we send abundant thanks to all who read and took time to write about the last post. This includes family, friends, and those who heard about the subject matter and decided to get involved by sharing personal stories. What seems to be happening is that many who have had communications from their departed loved ones or have wished to have this occur, have few places to go to share these thoughts. Most of us, including me, felt judged and sometimes even ridiculed for what I reported. So your insights mean a great deal.
Now, when I say us, I refer to my husband, who, along with me, cared for my mother, loved her deeply, and shared much with her, during and after her time in the world. Yet, as I said before, the “us” includes my mother. To say I am surprised and mystified by what I am experiencing, is understatement.
At various points, when mom was sending message after message, in quick succession and all so funny and joyous, I sought out the help of spirit communicators. I did not do this lightly. The world of mediums and psychics was not familiar or even welcome territory to me. I was wary, but more about this later…
The few friends who knew what was happening could see that I was struggling to understand and to not feel crazy or weird. A few gave me leads to reliable sources to help. In the course of all of this, one stood out. She told me that when I started to write about my mother and be public about it, my mother would step fully into the process to help me. And she was right! My mother is very present now and has gotten even a little pushy, which was not at all her character in life. She was not controlling or bossy. but, don’t forget, she does not have to go by the sweet, gentle personality she had in the playbook of our life together on earth.
I am still trying to get used to this new concept. My mother is not who I thought she was. Not at all! She has had the singular power to pull me from my reticence to speak my Truth. That is not a small thing. She is powerful beyond measure – but then so are ALL of us, if we understood with clarity.
Now this was to be my writing about the miracle of the moon at the time of Mother’s passing. But it is not. Instead it is about the first Memorial Day after Mom departed. In fact, so many messages and signs came on that holiday weekend, I cannot fit them all into one writing. More will come next week.
I hope you enjoy this, Mom! And that my dear readers find it entertaining and illuminating.
Richard and I knew we would return to the cemetery for Memorial Day, to plant flowers at my parent’s grave. The day Mother’s body was buried, in January, was bleak, cloudy, and dreary. It was not unlike the way I felt. The flowers that would be left in tribute to Mother would soon become crisp and frozen. We filed from the church. My brother, Bill, and sister in law, Judy and Richard and I sat in the back of the limousine, traveling behind the hearse, flags flying to alert all others on the road we would not be stopping for traffic lights or stop signs. We were a part of a solemn cortege, the mourners accompanying the dead in a final funeral procession.
Arriving at Bethlehem Cemetery, once a quiet and rural setting but now surrounded by neighborhoods, a major highway nearby and just past a shopping center, we exited our vehicle with a steady gaze at the minister standing in wait, his robes and scarf ruffled by a breeze. The coffin sat under a newly erected tent with room for only a small group to gather but with little protection against the icy chill of the January winds. On top of the casket was the family farewell spray of white flowers and lilies. The flowers and the white represent everlasting life, like the symbol of Easter, the white lily.
As dismal as I felt, I had no doubt that, despite the death of the physical body, mother’s spirit was still very much alive. But we followed the rituals of my mother’s faith, and, I, the daughter, still in my own body, grieved at not being able to kiss my mother’s warm check or see her smile once again. The actual burial of the coffin would occur later that day and not in our presence, due to the weather conditions. When the pastor, whom I had known for many years, finished speaking and the service was complete, I held to the casket and cried. This time I would be leaving her, as I knew her, within a body. In her casket, she would be left behind covered and buried. No matter my spiritual beliefs, I wanted her back in my world of sights and sounds. Instead, I took some of the white roses and the white silky ribbon inscribed with “Mother” in gold letters. These would be keepsakes, something to hold onto and remember.
After all the guests left the lunch that followed the funeral, Judy, unbeknownst to us, drove back to the cemetery. My mother was buried by now. The pretty white flowers were resting on the snowy ground over her grave. Judy took more roses before they had a chance to freeze solid. She would dry them and bring some to our house for the Connecticut memorial service yet to come.
That night the temperature dropped dramatically, and the winds howled. Lying in bed, I felt desolate at thinking how cold it was in that coffin, my mother alone but for the soft toy Siamese cat we left next to her. I knew she was no longer inhabiting that body, but it was still not easy for me to grasp this concept. A part of me thought she must be cold and lonely. The separation I felt was deep and painful.
The next day, the plan was set to return to the cemetery in the spring. All of us would be together, to plant flowers at her grave for Memorial Day..
Months passed and Memorial Day would soon arrive. Richard and I set out by car to return to Ann Arbor, carrying with us some of Mother’s remembrances to share with the family. We decided that, to pass the time in driving, we would listen to an audio book en route. This had become a tradition during the journey from Ridgefield, Connecticut, through New York, clear across the breadth of Pennsylvania on Route 80, into Ohio and up to Ann Arbor. We had made this trip numerous times after September 11 when my mother grew afraid to fly and the restrictions made it hard for us to be at the airport gate and for her to travel with her Siamese cat under the seat in the passenger compartment. So our only option was to drive back and forth if she was to continue visiting us for several months a year.
On these trips, we felt we needed to entertain Mom and ourselves, so I searched through books on tape at our local library. Knowing that both my mother and Richard like to read mysteries, I found what seemed to be the perfect choice. It was a series of mysteries written by Lillian Jackson Braun. The story line included a quirky writer who had two Siamese cats, one purported to a a messenger of psychic clues. This was just the ticket – both my mother and her Siamese cat would love these stories
Excited to share what we expected to be all of us attentively listening and marveling as the mystery unfolded, we set off for that first trip, with mother and her cat, Dasher, in the back seat of the car. Within minutes when the reader began the tale, Richard and I would be listening intently. In the back seat, Mother and Dasher would immediately doze off. That was how it went for years. We got hooked on the cat stories. The motion of the car lulled mom into sleep and her increasing hearing problems made it impossible for her to enjoy those funny little tales.
So, for old times sake and because,(oh, yes, I did say we got hooked), I picked up at the library the only book we had not heard through the years. As the story emerged, Richard and I began to smile as one coincidental item or event in the book after another startled us. It sometimes seemed that my mother had chosen the storyline. We kept looking at one another, in wonder of the many “pieces” that had something to do with us or with my mother.
These are the primary “coincidences”in the storyline:. The mystery had something to do with a lost handwritten cookbook – didn’t my mother meticulously write out all her Christmas cookie recipes in little books and give them as treasured gifts to family and friends? We all talked about them, especially as mom aged and her beautiful handwriting grew more unsteady. Then, in passing, there was something about an old German Bible. Didn’t I still own the German Bible with all the exquisite artwork that had passed down from my mother’s family? There was mention several times of Columbus, Ohio (where Richard was born) and something about a TV Talk Show that had millions of viewers (hadn’t Richard executive produced the Phil Donahue Show for 18 years? It was seen by millions. And didn’t Richard and I write a book called The Talk Show Book?). Oh, then Poor Richard’s Almanac was cited. There were elaborate descriptions of cheeses that were to be served at a party. One of mom’s favorite lunches was when I made up a cheese and fruit plate for her. On a special occasion in the plot, we learn about a highland clad bagpiper, piping “Amazing Grace,’ a favorite of ours and mother’s and played by the bagpiper at the conclusion of our private Memorial Service in our home.
As we road along the highway, I began taking notes on the various portions of the book on tape that seemed to mean something to Mother and to us. I knew I would not be able to remember all of this. Now we fast forward to the present and Mother’s urging me to tell you about that book. I felt I needed to be sure I was accurate in the details. I googled and searched to find the right book. Finally I discovered the similar plot in Braun’s book, The Cat Who Said Cheese. Without enough time to order a hard copy of the book, Richard ordered it on Kindle, a device he uses but I do not. He volunteered to scan it and look for the parts I gave him in my handwritten notes. One by one, with almost as much disbelief that we felt on the first reading, they emerged. All of them, except for one.
My note said something about frogs. Frogs? I could not remember but had jotted down something about life and death. What was that? Then, in the last chapter of the book, Richard found it. The main character of the book, Qwill, had the habit of reading to his two Siamese cats. This time he was reading The Frogs, a play by Aristophanes, one of the luminaries of Greek literature. This playwright, whom I just happened to have studied in my theater classes in college, was known to bring feelings of both laughter and sadness, all at once. The quotes in the book are “Who knows if death be life and life be death?” and “Who knows whether living is dying and breathing is eating and sleeping is a wool blanket?” These are the kind of expressions that emanate from so much of my teaching of yoga, and I love both the wisdom and the silliness of Aristophanes.. Was Mother showing how her jokes and humor were reflections on what we perceive to be death? Whatever the meaning, Richard and I were touched deeply, both the first time we heard them in the car and again, yesterday.
To put a cap on the completion of this writing, I walked back into the kitchen. And, guess what? There was Dvorak’s Symphony “From the New World.” Could they be playing it so often on the radio and just at the right moments? As I heard the final chords of this magnificent piece, the announcer said,” You have just heard the NBC Orchestra, led by Arturo Toscanini. Well, you outdid yourself, Mom. It could have been any orchestra or conductor, but it was Toscanini, whom my husband met in his youth. It was Toscanini who heard Richard’s boy soprano voice singing, and who invited the twelve year old Richard to attend his farewell party in New York City before the maestro left to summer on his island in Italy. Richard still has the autographed personal photo Toscanini chose to sign to him.
Now, I ask you, could all of this have happened just by chance? No wonder Mother wanted me to tell you about our first Memorial Day. My mother is quite the maestro herself, I would say!