I was very lucky having had two formidable women to serve the role of mothers, the later more of a dear friend since she did not have to raise me. It was hard, was sad and was so final. In a way, it was the farewell to the connection with such a dedicated generation that valued what we often forget; quiet and unspoken courage to go through life, illnesses and challenges as well as success. They made something really good and brave out of themselves and stood proud but not asking for any recognition.
We buried her on a cold, windy, gray and snowy day with a graveside ceremony. The whole family sat in the front row under the tent fighting tears that got caught in our throat making it so hard to talk. As her casket got lowered into the ground, Mirah, the four year old granddaughter of her daughter-in-law, walked to the grave holding her grandma's hand and dropped a card that she had made for Grandma Ruth onto the casket. We all looked at such a miracle gesture only a four year old could do, so endearing, so meaningful and inspiring. In a child's eyes death is not final. The note was there to be read. Most likely in spirit and in peace, Ruth read the final note with its colored crayons drawings and laughed. Mirah always made her laugh!
Death has its gifts. Being able to see so many people we had not seen in a long time and visiting with them, reviewing their memories about Ruth to add to the long store of images and words that we carry with us about her. The rabbi at the graveside service said it so well. "As long as you live her memories will stay with you."
So it is with all of us. The long lineage of the previous generations are stored in our heart and souls and since we cannot be born without dying, it is in a way a form of immortality. One that is precious.
After a few days, her two sons and wives revisited the grave. The sun shone on us but it was cold. Steve, my husband's older brother had been generously taking complete care of Ruth's needs with his admirable wife Deana and both had done so incredibly much compared to us living here in Colorado limited by distance; only sending genuine love, making phone calls, writing notes, e-mailing and in my case, sending snail mail letters. Their grief was great but her illnesses had them prepared for her final departure. My husband was still very much in shock.
Steve read something he wrote inspired by the Lincoln museum they had visited the day before in Springfield IL and mentioned the importance of spending a lifetime reaching out and touching favorably other people. He said that not all people influence so many as Lincoln did. But within our own circles we do. We hear it all the time. Make a difference. I believe that we touch many other beings that we either inspire or actually work with in life and often the difference it makes is not obvious to us, but it is present like a beacon of grace that gets passed on to others.
This chain is the never ending link that all humanity shares. It perpetuates what humans recognize as our basic goodness and all the qualities that go with it. We are born, live and die but we live through others that come after us or around us and the beauty of it is infinite.
|Steve and Mirah|
|Ruth and Barry|
Copyright Micheline Brierre March 2013