Maybe you remember Doris? I posted a photo and poem of hers back in December: When I Was Small. She was my best friend's, Nelson's, younger sister when I was a boy in Montreal. Doris wasn't a lot younger: not too young to also be a friend, both then and now.
She wrote last night to inform me that her mother, Mabel, was deteriorating rapidly. Her older sister, Diane, was flying out to the west coast to be with her. Doris wrote again today to let me know that Diane had arrived in time to witness Mabel's final hours upon this earth but too late to hear her mother's voice one last time.
I thought very highly of Mabel when I was a boy: still do. She was always kind to me and everyone as far as I could tell. I marvelled at her tolerance with my buddy, Nelson, who could be a little vocal with her at times. I remember Mabel taking all of us kids and one of Doris's friends to an exhibition in Montreal, and, somewhere, I still, approximately forty-five years later, have a handcrafted, leather bookmark that I purchased for fifty cents that day.
Mabel was a gifted woman who was brought up in ordinary circumstances. She was artistic and wrote poems. I remember her caring about the environment before it became fashionable. I would like to honour her by posting two of her poems. Doris re-typed, collated, and bound Mabel's poems not so very long ago and was kind enough to send me a copy. I dedicate this small memoriam to Diane, Nelson, and Doris.
This untitled haiku seems poignantly appropriate.
I looked hard at death
It looked kindly back at me
I no longer fear
Mabel also wrote about life and its conclusion in Life's Carousel not very long ago when she was well into in her eighties.
The horses prance
And the banners dance
And the hurdy-gurdy music plays
And the years go round
In amazing haste
In the endless rush of days
But the music will fade
And the horses halt
And my ride on the carousel will end
I'll marvel at how
The years have gone
And I'll step off where I stepped on
But the hurdy-gurdy
Will play again
Though different riders will sit astride
The colourful steeds
For the breathless ride
They, too, may wonder and question, "why?"
As they marvel at how the years flew by
Finally, I present you with an ink sketch that Mabel did when she was a young lady. I'm sure that this is her parting wish for the family that she has left behind for a little while.
With Mabel I echo the same wish for Diane, Nelson, Doris and all of you.
May your joys be as deep as the ocean
And your sorrows as light as the foam
Happy Sailing Mabel.