Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"AND THAT IS DYING..." 




On a beautiful October morning eleven years ago I sat by an open window smelling the rain and waiting for my mother's shallow breathing to stop. I had been her care-giver for the last fourteen months of her life and she and I were alone when she left. 

It was sad, but there was sweetness in the last few hours we spent together. I discovered that helping someone into the next world was as amazing as bringing my children into this one.

Those last few months were hard, sometimes poignant and often absolutely hilarious. My children will concur that Grandma was quite the character.  She named her walker "Jack"  short for jack-ass and insisted on having Mrs. Cavanaughs chocolates on her bed table. She was convinced a little piece of candy in the middle of the night would put her right back to sleep.  Who could fight with that!



For her last birthday, her 89th, I telephoned everyone in her directory and asked them to stop by and say hello. " No presents please, just come on over and have a piece of cake."  

We heard the first knock about 8:30 and a steady stream of people were in and out all day long. That night she turned to me and said... "I didn't know so many people knew it was my birthday." She never suspected I had anything to do with it.

  
As I was planning her funeral I found this poem by Henry Van Dyke (1852 - 1933) a respected Presbyterian clergyman from Pennsylvania. I love his perspective on dying.  Its just the next step...


Gone From My Sight

by Henry Van Dyke


I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

AND THAT IS DYING ...