Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Mother

My Dear Reader, in my last post I shared that mother was coming to the end of her long illness, and I am sad to say that she passed away at home in Connecticut around 9 am on Labor Day. I was with her for her last breath for which I am grateful, though it is not an easy thing to experience. A friend of mine said, "You accompanied her to the other side. You did some heavy lifting." Which is an accurate statement as I have been exhausted since then. Several years ago my mother was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a incurable disease of the lungs. For the last sixteen months, she has been pretty much confined to her bed where she was beautifully and lovingly cared for by my father. It was my wish to go with mother and my father too through this experience and help them as I could.

We had a memorial service, or Life Celebration as she wanted it to be called, this past Saturday at the Guilford Funeral Home. My mother was a spiritual person and talked a lot about what she wanted at the event which included a profusion of lush flowers in pink, purple and red, her ashes in an urn with fairies coming out the top of it, and overhead a festive chuppa, the kind of structure found at a Jewish wedding. We - my father, three siblings and in-laws - pulled it all off, and it was standing-room-only for my mother at the Guilford Funeral Home for her moving and beautiful service.
TD designed the wonderful program filled with my mother's favorite quotes and photos –

Working on that service and going through with it was the hardest thing I have done in my life so far. Every action felt like a Herculean task - every action, another good-bye. If you have lost a loved one perhaps you know how I felt. My family was so very grateful for everyone who was there with us in person and in spirit. I spoke at the service and talked about how much my mother influenced me growing up as she shared all of her interests with me – fashion, decorating, style and art. And speaking of that, she loved this blog. She was its biggest fan, sending me a quick email and telling how she liked practically every single post, which now number over 400. How I will miss my fan.

My mother holding me when I was six months old –

My mother and father at a wedding before they were married –

Later, in the 60s, at a cocktail party –

More recently –

Through her long illness, my mother had a wonderfully positive attitude. I never heard her once complain or whine about her condition. She had no regrets or resentments, and she was not afraid of death. She was an inspiration to all who visited her, and a fantastic role model for the final phase of life. When I visited, she kept me busy. She wanted everything to be in order when she left and so we went through a lot of possessions and papers, discarding things as we went. "I can't take that with me to fairyland," she would say with a shrug.

On summer vacation in the Adirondacks –

A wee child in the woods –

 A fairy in fairyland –


donna baker said...

The picture of your Mom on the program and the one of her and your father, speak volumes. You've learned two of the most important lessons in life from her - how to live and how to die. My sympathies - you were blessed.

Splenderosa said...

Bart, what a loving tribute to your mother, as well as to your entire family. The photos of your parents from the 60's are just splendid and invoke such an elegant time. I admire you so much for this post and wish all gentlemen took the time to be this introspective. Yes, you were and are blessed. Marsha

The Swan said...

She is in the Sunset and Sunrise...watching you and yours! Look for her beauty in the flower, her caress in the shimmer on water...for like a fairy she sprinkles pixie dust, her essence surrounds you!

YOU did well...

Pigtown*Design said...

Bart... please accept my condolences on the loss of your mother. I am sure she was a wonderful woman because she has such a wonderful son in you.

You're in my thoughts.

Daniel Shigo said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you for writing it. Please accept my heartfelt condolences on your loss. I 'get it', having lost my father this past Monday. His service will be this coming week. Oh boy.

Funny. I had stopped posting on one of my blogs (la vie intérieure) while braced for impact. Your words, however, show me that there is reason to write again which I will do when the time comes.

This is a most excellent post, a wonderful tribute and a testament to love itself. Beautiful.

Gail, northern California said...

So very, very heart goes out to you, Bart.

ABG said...

Oh dear, I'm so sorry Bart. It'll get better/easier each day.

Reggie Darling said...

May she rest in peace...

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for you loss. My deepest condolences.
Your mother was indeed very, very special.
This is a wonderful, heartfelt tribute to her life.

Anonymous said...

I am new to your blog and am deeply touched by the story of your loss. Your care and dedication to your parents is most admirable and all of you were most fortunate to be there for each other.

I am in a similar situation and hope to handle it with as much dignity, compassion and selflessness as you have.

I do take some comfort and hope from the Parable of Immortality ( A ship leaves . . . )
by Henry Van Dyke - 1852 - 1933

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

Then someone at my side says, 'There she goes!
Gone where? Gone from my sight - that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the places of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
'There she goes! ' ,
there are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout :
'Here she comes!'

Best Wishes

Anonymous said...

What an incredible compliment and tribute to your beautiful mother!

I assure you; she is around you and with you; (even if she is in "fairyland") also! what a lovely positive expression!

I was so fortunate to be so, so close to my mother (as you were)! She told me (before she got sick with an awful chronic thing like yours had)

"If you really, really want something; and I am 'gone' then ask me! I will run from one end of heaven to the other to give it to you!"

And I am careful; but I do!
She makes it happen every time!

I talk to her every day! (and my mother (also my biggest fan) has been gone for 32 years! (I was a baby of 33 years!)

I hope this gives you comfort! Talk!

Wonderful and touching post! I loved so much the very first comment......and all of the rest!

Bart Boehlert said...

Many many thanks for all the comments here. Very touching and lovely and I really appreciate so much the heartfelt responses –

pve design said...

What a lovely tribute and testament to your love and devotion. I think every parent deserves love, care and kindness.

MaryBeth said...

How odd that I found your blog and decided to subscribe. Only 2 post came through so I decided to click on older post and up comes this. My mom was just diagnosed with pf on Monday. I don't believe finding you was a coincidence, so I will see where this leads me.
Sorry about your mom but it was a lovely post.