Sunday, December 2, 2007

lily girl

The slender volume of dark maroon leatherette was on the stand next to her bed. The cover said "Senior Memories 1952" in silver debossed lettering. Inside were many casual photographs of her- playing sports, clowning with her best friend , skating in an exhibition.

Her senior portrait showed off a modest smile. She wore her brunette hair not unlike Audrey Hepburn's. A single strand of pearls accented her sweater. Her intense blue eyes stared out into a world full of promise. Each graduate's picture bore a caption, hers was "A lily girl, not meant for this world's pain". It would prove more prophetic than anyone could have imagined at the time.

She endured more than her share of this world's pain. Her years of skating as a teenager, compounded by pregnancies, caused severe back problems in her young adulthood and a premature onset of arthritis. Medical science responded in imperfect ways, including the introduction of pain medications whose presence caused dependency. Her mobility diminished with each passing year but her spirit did not.

There were emotional pains as well. Two miscarriages, including one which would have provided a badly wanted daughter. A failed marriage later in life, the loss of her own mother to whom she was extremely close. And yet her will to live was undeterred.

We spoke briefly on Friday. I had gotten in too late on Thanksgiving to call from California. When I reached her, she seemed sleepy. I told her to rest, and that I would call her later. "I love you, Mom", I said as I hung up the phone.

We found her on her sofa with her hands peacefully clasped, as if she had laid down for a nap and simply did not awaken. Five days short of her seventy fourth birthday, her pain finally ceased.

I've returned to Michigan in the winter for the first time in fifteen years. I always come in the summertime. She's commented before how I've been back for Dad's birthday but not hers. The irony was not lost on me as I boarded the plane on December first- she finally got me to come back on her birthday.

She is laid out in pink, because she loved pink. She was a girly kind of girl at heart. She'll be wearing her Macewen sash, honoring her Scottish heritage. My brother has arranged for a piper to play for her. Following services on Monday, she will be laid to rest alongside her mother. Both my darling girls will be together.

Rest well, lily girl. There will never be another like you.


Doralong said...

I am so very, very sorry for your loss. There are no words that can make it better, or I would surely try to give them to you- I still miss my Mamma terribly so I know how you feel, but time will mellow the blow, eventually.

BigAssBelle said...

oh jeff. i am sitting here crying after reading this. i am so terribly, terribly sorry. there are no words i can say that will make it better for you. what a dreadful shock. i am just heartbroken for you. my god, i had no idea. no platitudes will help, but they're all in my head. you've lost the longest lasting relationship of your life and there is nothing that will make that better. oh sweetie, i am so terribly sorry.

Willym said...

Jeff I know that no words at this time can suffice. Your words have said it all and from your heart - and from mine I embrace you.

Silly as it sounds 13 years after her death I heard my mother two nights ago - she very sternly warned me not to put two burnt out match sticks in the garbabe without running some water over them. It brought a smile to my face

Kanani said...

Beautiful remembrance. Condolences to you and your family.

sageweb said...

Sorry for your loss.

David said...

As my mother is navigating a health crisis, your post pierced my heart. May your mother's memory always be a blessing to you.

Red7Eric said...

Here via a hat tip from Lynette, and am moved to provide what condolences can travel from blogger to blogger in this thing we call the blogosphere.

I can tell from your eloquent tribute how much you loved her and she you ... while all that love hurts like hell now, those memories of nurturing and joy will be invaluable treasures in just a few years' time.

The Milkman said...

I can't imagine a better tribute than what you've written. She was a lucky woman indeed to have been surrounded by that much love. May we all be as fortunate.

My sincere condolences for your loss.

Al said...

Struck by a few things. One, the beauty in your descriptions of your mother is quite the effective contrast for what must have been some very difficult times for her; the passion in what is and isn't said is obvious, and touching.

Secondly, the last thing you said to your mother....really, what more is there to say? I am sure many, many people only wish they could have left things on those terms. Of course that never erases the pain of the loss, but I would imagine knowing she knew how you felt is a nice assurance