by Jill Townsend
It was exhausting and difficult for my mother to talk in her last weeks. She choked and coughed and slurred, yet persevered. She wanted quiet and a calm atmosphere without too much busyness or too many bodies about. Even her cat knew when it was time to settle. I feel like she was calming the mind and spirit, moving with awareness, and intention, accepting her life with its pain and joy. What she did say, was important.
She did not want a funeral or a memorial service. She said we all know how we feel. She said people can give to a favourite children’s charity. If you want to do something special, take a walk at the Vedder River, or do your favourite nature hike.
In her last days, her words of wisdom for us were to: Pay Attention! Take Care of Each Other! Laugh/laugh/laugh and Cry/cry/cry! She also instructed everyone should eat ice cream until you cannot eat ice cream anymore. We had ice cream her last night, and she couldn’t eat it anymore.
She was aided in her transition by playing her 11 hour tibetan healing sounds, for meditation calming relaxing healing. She was also aided by well timed distractions, intense action movies, reviewing the daily New York Times recipes, news and laughter. The famous dance scene from Zorba the Greek was played a few times. She lived a long life, and seemed satisfied and content with all she had created on the farm, in her community and for her children.
There is a poem which tells some of what it is, for me, of the gratitude and presence which can come from nature, and which my mother cultivated and shared and gave to me and others, with her farm, her flowers, her herbs, her love of the natural world, and which I treasure always. Thanks Mom! You can substitute the word God for nature or the big bang or chaos theory, if you like, or whatever else makes your heart sing.
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)