Monday, December 31, 2007

Farewell 2007

I cannot end the year on a sad note. Know that sadness does not hang over our house as we end the year celebrating my mother's life. We had a most lovely service for my mother on Saturday. I spent 2 days compiling the music, framing photos and designing and printing the program, while my husband worked on the eulogy. We wanted a very personal service that reflected my mother and the family she created. On Wednesday she will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery - buried among heroes, soldiers and their spouses, right there near Bobby and John F. Kennedy - 2 men she adored. One of our family memories was seeing Bobby, a few of his children and Caroline Kennedy at the local movie theater after JFK died. Two families doing family things.

The funeral director was quite impressed that we had done so much, down to the CDs of music. He obviously didn't know June Jackson's daughters! I think she was my first teacher of the saying, "God is in the details." There was no way I was going to let tradition and grief dictate how my mother was remembered. She taught us style, so style it was.

From reading your comments and all the personal emails, I know that so many of you have been through the very same thing - losing your mother, or someone equally loved. I know death happens every day, every where and not always with warning and never when you are ready. I also now know that not everyone talks about it. A whole series of events is summed up in the phrase "My mother died." We relate the birth of a baby in minute detail, often accompanied by photographs or film, from the first twinge of a contraction to the first cry and breath of air, the pink rosebud mouth and ten tiny fingers and toes. Yet we keep secret or speak in hushed tones about the final days, the mounting sadness, the last breath and goodbye.

My sister and I searched the internet for answers, signs, guidance and advice on how to walk these final steps with her, how to understand what was happening. There was some help out there and Capital Hospice proved to be most comforting and informative. Yet just as each individual is different, so is their death. Babies may pick their time to arrive, but once they set the wheels in motion, for most, it's pretty standard. Not so for the dying.

As I have said before, this blog has become my journal. I write it for me. If you choose to read it, so be it. It is in my nature to share what I know. It's how I make sense of things and if you are like me, then you too want to know. We're all going to face it someday, so perhaps some word I say, some thoughts I share will be of help to you. I am going to tell you about the pain and beauty of dying, the things we did for her and the things we did for us. The hard part and the beautiful. It is a joyeous story, yet there will be tears along the way. Too much to tell in one sitting. I'll be back.


Jan said...

Lesley, my mother died 5 years ago and this December we celebrated what would have been her 100th birthday. We went to her favorite restaurant, I compiled pictures, and we all shared our memories. She also made an "appearance" in my home. A small feather came out of nowhere, landing on the table by my place setting. We felt her presence all weekend. I wish you well as your heart begins the healing process. Thank you for sharing your life with us and being such an inspiration.

Mimi Jackson said...

My Dad dies 5 years ago, and I kept an online journal throughout the process. Because it is still on the web, people still find it and comment. It was an incredible comfort to me, and the hundreds who have visited since. Sharing is important, and it helps everyone.

Sequana said...

I haven't had a chance to give you my condolences, but I do. Yes, it's a very broken connection when our moms leave us alone, no matter what our ages. It's been exactly ten years since mine did that, but I've tried to be the person she would want me to be, even without her.

It sounds like your family is doing exactly the right things for you; and your mom would be proud.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that you found comfort in a Hospice site online...they were wonderful to us in my own mother's passing. I am glad that you are able to celebrate your mother's life as death is the best teacher of exactly how to cherish life. It seems to me that your mother forged and welded a family of strength and beauty that you have shared with us in the blog's online journal. Sympathy and condolences are sometimes offered awkwardly and uncertain. You have been in my prayers this Christmas as I stared into the glass ornaments from my mother that I display in bowls on our table. I'm sure you'll devise a wonderful celebration each Christmas that will bring your mother's spirit into the room joyously as she shares your families love for one another. Have a peaceful New Year Lesley. You've shared so much and given to so many, touched so many lives that we all hope to send you our best wishes and love back, may you receive it double fold for your big heart!

sharon said...

thank you for your sharing....i too lost my mother this year on 10/17. it was sudden and i miss her as do my siblings.

Loretta said...

Dear Lesley, I feel privileged to read your testimony of your mother's passing. I am sure that your family have honored her passing with the sacred detail that she deserves. May your family be blessed with her memories and the remembrance of her love all through this year.

Anonymous said...

Lesley, I have thought about you often over the course of this past week. It shouldn't surprise me that you all are handling this so beautifully and in a way that so honors your mom. From reading your blogs, it's very evident how strong your family is! Prayers contnue to go your way from here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lesley,
My mother died two years ago, and I still miss and mourn her intensely. I wake up thinking about her every morning. She left such a gaping hole in my heart and life. My parents lived with me and were an integral part of the household. When she was hospitalized, I would come home to an empty kitchen (my mom was always in the kitchen whipping up something).

It is very difficult to lose your mother, and I give you my sincerest condolences. There is not a "normal" time interval for grieving, so just take your time and hold fast to the wonderful memories and love.

I have really enjoyed all your art and own all of your books. Hopefully, your art will give you comfort during this time--I know it has helped me.