My mom died this last Tuesday. She was 81 years old. She was one tough woman. She suffered through a heart attack, a stroke, lung cancer and finally succumbed to brain cancer with nary a complaint. She was happy through her last days, living in a morphine dream land without pain. She "visited" with her family and friends, went shopping, did her knitting and sewing, went to jail after she killed a man (no doubt he deserved it) and apparently witnessed my niece Erin and me burn a house down. That was my mom. I greatly admire her strength and grace.
She was a school teacher. She worked in the Head Start school program in the late 60's when it was first implemented in our county schools. She and her partner drove a van throughout the county finding children who did not have enough to eat or shoes and clothes to wear to school and helped them meet their needs so they would have the strength and pride necessary to get a good education. She founded the first pre-school program at the Presbyterian church she attended.
I spent several months dreading having to return to the bizarro town in which i grew up to attend her funeral. My childhood memories are not particularly pleasant. When the time finally came yesterday i was relieved to find so many people there who were her friends, family and colleagues who shared with me stories of how much fun they had with my mom and what great work she did over the course of her life. This is a post on the funeral home guest book (who knew there was such a thing :) from one of her first grade students from a long long time ago.
I have many great memories of Mrs. Marcus from Berryville Primary School, especially the cereal she gave us for afternoon snacks. Deepest sympathy to all of her family.Many people have said to me this past week that they are sorry for my loss. I truly appreciate their expressions of love and concern for me and my family. However I do not feel i have lost anything. Her spirit now walks among those who came before and will remain in my heart for the rest of my life. Each time we use the crazy napkins she embroidered for me or i wear the weird sweater she knitted for me with the sleeves large enough to go around my legs or wrap myself up in one of the many many afghans she crocheted for me i will think of her and draw strength from her strength.
I am grateful that she brought me into this world and fed, clothed, sheltered and loved me until i was ready to face the world on my own. She was very fond of the hippie decree "go out and do your own thing". If she said it to me once she said it a thousand times in her special voice " do your own thing, baybay". And that is what i did. She was always so proud that Robin and i lived our lives as we saw fit, never compromising on our values. I got an email from a close friend of my brother Richard's the evening before the funeral. She told me that she had gotten to spend a lot of time with mom when mom came to visit my brother for Thanksgiving a few years ago while he was out doing his thing. This is what she said mom told her. She said:
she felt she had contributed to the world. Duane cares for the earth, Richard cares for the soul and Vickie cares for people. I did okay.I was astounded and pleased that she uttered these particular words. My permaculturist friends will recognize them as the essence of the ethics of permaculture which guide us every day here at The Funny Farm . Care of the earth, care of the people and a fair share for all which i have always taken to mean caring for the soul of the earth and all of its inhabitants, animate and inanimate. My brother Richard is a classical musician and conductor. My sister is a sociologist who works with pregnant mothers and y'all know i am a crazy farmer.
The one thing all humans have in common is that we are all going to die some day. Dying is just a part of the circle of life. I will continue to celebrate my mom's life until my time comes and it is your turn to celebrate my life and pass it on to the next generation.
Deep peace of the Shenandoah river to you mom
Deep peace of the refreshing breeze to you mom
Deep peace of the shining sun to you mom
Deep peace of the Blue Ridge mountains to you mom
Rest in eternal peace mom