Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
A brick wall of plaques
shaded by maple, shimmers
with gold green sunlight.
A vase full of red and pink roses, purple spires of Russian sage, and green heads of dill graces my dining table today, a memento of the Celebration of Life we held for my beloved departed mother. The roses scent the rooms around it spiced by the dill. When I smell the fragrance I remember the sun-filled afternoon in the park a few blocks from her home we enjoyed as her friends and family came together to honor her memory.
The dill in the arrangement was so totally appropriate. I can hardly get through a summer without buying a sprig or two of dill to keep in the kitchen for a few weeks. Mom was a master gardener and food preserver. These days with a few classes you can get a certificate from the County Extension office making you official. Mom could have taught the classes. She’d been doing it all her life, probably 80 out of her 83 years as a way of eating and not wasting the abundance of the earth in her way of life. I spent many a summer in my youth in the kitchen canning pickles. You had to do it the day they were picked.
My three siblings, sister- and brother-in-law, and Mom’s youngest brother and his wife met at the cemetery in the morning to inurn her in the Urn Wall Park, a special area designated for cremated remains. My brother-in-law’s mother attended also; Mom and her had become close friends watching their families grow each year together. Her daughter, who was just 52 when she died, is just across the pathway from Mom.
Four women who loved Mom created several hours of opportunity for family and friends to come together as the people who loved her, to cry on each others’s necks, and hold each other for a moment in her memory on a lovely sunny day.
My sister created a picture wall of Mom: pictures of her childhood on the farm; significant events, like her high school graduation picture; her babies and grandchildren and siblings; most of the weddings she’d attended; her parents’s fiftieth wedding anniversary with all her siblings; vacations she’d taken and other pictures of her beauty. Too bad they did not have a copy of the picture of her holding her 20 month old grandson as Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber awarded me a state Scholar of the Year award. She was so proud of her children. Sister set up a table with some of mom’s collections of little ducks and thimbles and wooden spoons bought for nothing at garage sales mom had hand carved into little faces as mementos for family and friends to take from the day. She made sure we had food and a beautiful spread arrived with the family and friends. Tables for people to sit at were covered with cloths and flowers.
I asked a childhood friend of mine who has a Master’s Degree in Theology to deliver our eulogy, as Mom did not have a minister she was close to. I told her many things about Mom to include and she was so good at sharing the words. This friend had come to our home from the age of 12 as a Camp Fire Girl; Mom was the leader. Mom had welcomed her questions as a budding feminist. After returning from her 14 years of education and working in California they established a relationship as adults, and when her mother died, my mom helped her clear the estate. She said the most beautiful words in remembrance.
Here’s what people remembered about her: Her door was always open. She welcomed everyone on her doorstep with open arms. She honored everyone’s perspective by listening to them. She accepted new members of the family as each child, niece, nephew, and grandchild married or partnered with open arms and heart regardless or race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other difference. She treated her friends like family. She never stopped learning. She loved so many people. She shared whatever she had. No matter how little she had you never left her house without gas or bus money to get home. You never left her house hungry, or without a box full of whatever she was growing or had just canned: raspberries, blueberries, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, zucchini, corn, and jam and pickled green beans and dill pickles and pickled beets, and sweet zucchini relish or chocolate zucchini cake.
My sister-in-law played guitar and led the singing of two of Mom’s favorite hymns in coordination with the eulogy. We sang “Old Rugged Cross” and “Amazing Grace”, and recited the Our Father together as a group. Many of the younger generation do not know these songs and prayers I grew up with; I worry perhaps we are failing to pass on this part of our heritage. I don’t care what you believe; just share the cultural heritage.
As we were wrapping it all up a little girl who was with her family in the public park came up and asked for a piece of the chicken we had on the table. My cousin called out to see if there were any objections. I told him be sure to ask her parents then do as Mom would have done: feed her and welcome her.
Mom created gardens in her life everywhere she lived. Gardens full of flowers and food and art and family and friends. A woman who came from no wealth and little education made herself a life of riches beyond compare. She had a humble home and never owned a new car. It was not about money or clothes, great furniture or new cars. She loved so many PEOPLE and they all loved her back. Several people commented there was not one negative word or drama for the two hours at her service. Nary a dry eye in the park this day.
Rest in peace Eva Lea Bradford Doner. Born November 22, 1929. Died June 26, 2013.
Flower Watch – blooming attractions in my neighborhoods this week – glorious purple spears of Russian sage; yellow and red corepsis; nicotinia, salvia; widely varied shades and combinations of colors in the myriad dahlias blooming.
Currently Reading – Glamping With Mary Jane (outdoor adventures) by Mary Jane Butters; All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan (social politics) by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi; Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease (nutrition science and politics) by Robert H. Lustig; How to See Yourself as You Really Are (enlightenment) by the Dalai Lama; Perfect Pops: The 50 Best Classic and Cool Treats (cookbook) by Charity Ferreira; Elliot Allagash (fiction novel, more light summer reading) by Simon Rich. Yes, concurrently.
This week I have been grateful for:
- Local live theater.
- Talented dedicated teenage actors.
- Remaining employed.
- This body, regardless of the shape or size, which breathes for me, sees and cries for me, feels the sun and wind and cold and water for me, and has arms to hug any body I want.
- Being recognized by an elder man who called me by name and when he said his name full recognition came upon me and realizing though I had not seen him since I was 17, he had known me since I was an infant, and still recognized me. How much we change and don’t change.
- Making a place for the box that held my mother’s ashes before her inurnment on my work table, since she is watching me anyway she may as well be beside me.
- Sunlight and cool breezes.
- A summer filled with family; we are so busy with our lives and so widely scattered I love when we are able to meet more than once a year. It’s not easy even with modern communication and transportation. Might be even more challenging these days. We are way past four digit telephone numbers and walking over to grandma’s cause she still lived in the little house at the end of the block. Nod wryly if you know what I mean.
- The son deigned to spend Mom’s memorial day with me.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.