I'm most recently a writer. In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot. As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades. An unwilling transplant from the South, twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US. Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect. When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do. Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!
Saturday, May 25, 2013
That was until six years ago, when on May 27, also Memorial Day that year, my mother made her graceful exit from this life's stage. Now this weekend is truly a time to memorialize the woman whose journey I shared, whose life influenced and shaped my own, and whose passing confirmed for me that death is simply part of living, to be accepted, even embraced, as another step in our travels with our loved ones and our Creator.
It would not be overstating to say that my mother's life was tragic in many ways. In my lifetime, I watched her struggle with a grief that would not be comforted, make choices that would deny her the life she deserved, and finally succumb to years of poor health and physical suffering. As a beautiful young woman, she loved and lost on a grand scale and the scars never seemed to completely heal. She was often sad, but never bitter. Her faith was strong enough to keep her going but never seemed to quite lift her from her sorrow. Through it all, I was not so much her child as her closest friend and confidante, a relationship I sometimes resented but will never regret. Living her life as well as my own made me understand better the price of lingering in the past, the danger of refusing to take risks and the beauty of unconditional love.
My mother's life was rooted in tradition. As a member of one of those old Virginia families whose land had originally been bestowed by an English king and whose wealth had long since been replaced by genteel poverty, she taught me to respect those who had gone before, despite their flaws, and to treasure my heritage. I fully expected that when she was laid to rest, it would be in the cemetery behind the little village church I attended as a child, beside several generations of her family. Instead, my mother asked to have her ashes scattered in the one place I now understand she was truly happy, where she had shared the first months of her marriage to my father. While their marriage ended in the devastation of his death by his own hand, I knew this request meant that after fifty years the grief had finally been comforted and she was at peace with having loved him despite the loss.
I prayed to be led to the perfect place to fulfill her request. That bright summer's day, I steered the car along a winding mountain road assuring my husband, who thankfully shared the task with me, that I would know the spot when I came to it. I had no doubt when I pulled off onto the shoulder that I had arrived at my mother's final resting place.