Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When I Go To Grace And Winter

When I go to Grace and Winter
speak my name but once.
Speak me a simple song
and then go about your day.

Belle Fox-Martin.

I've hesitated tackling this project for a while because to do so would mean digging through the overstuffed attic that is my mind and doing a little bit of cleaning and dusting-organizing, really.

As most of you know, my mother came to grips with mortality this last Easter Sunday-which was not a coincidence, as she loved Easter better than any other holiday-perhaps because of its message of redemption in the face of all the odds.

It would be the understatement of a lifetime to say that Nancy was a remarkable woman who'd led an equally full life in her adopted home. The outpouring of wellwishers and friends from near and far had Grace Church in Vineyard Haven stuffed to bursting, and the parish hall and the steps of the church were crowded with more friends. I suspect that there was also a minor traffic jam in the neighborhood as well.

It was a joyous occasion tinged with sadness because we all knew that we were not going to see Nancy again this side of the Divide and we all realized what a great friend we'd lost with her passing. As it happens, I acquired a stepsister, a new brother in law, two nephews and a niece, all united by our mother and her good works. It was said by many there that Nancy was the kind of person who saw what needed doing for the people around her and just went ahead and got on with the job.

She lives on in all of us, in our DNA and in our thoughts as we all walk the path to Grace and Winter.

Mother had not been well, and her frail old body gave out on her-although, knowing her, she'd made her peace with G-d and did not go fearfully or with great regret, but with courage and strength and trust in the Resurrection and the End of Days. One day her ashes will be laid down in a quiet and peaceful place along the Cedar River, in the company of her family.

In the end her adoptive home was an allegory for the islands that the rest of us live on for a time, one day to take the last boat at midnight over to a dark and brooding Mainland.

I've my own epitaph for my Mother, and it is from the pen of A.E. Housman.

The Lenten Lily

'Tis spring; come out to ramble
The hilly brakes around,
For under thorn and bramble
About the hollow ground
The primroses are found.

And there's the windflower chilly
With all the winds at play,
And there's the Lenten lily
That has not long to stay
And dies on Easter day.

And since till girls go maying
You find the primrose still,
And find the windflower playing
With every wind at will,
But not the daffodil.

Bring baskets now, and sally
Upon the spring's array
And bear from hill and valley
The daffodil away,
That dies on Easter Day.