Friday, August 26, 2005

They Were Enough

We are entering the final countdown before Monday's big move. Fortunately, we have lately been treated to a number of farewell dinners, rather a good thing considering the dearth of edibles in the fridge and our incredible disinclination of having anything that might be considered remotely intimate to do with the stove. I had put a visit to the cemetery on my mental todo list and finally got around to paying my respects this morning.

I'm have not been an avid visitor of cemeteries since I deem that nobody is really there. In fact, my dad's remains have rested there for six and a half years, and I have not really visited. I did take mum there for a quick visit once so that she could reassure herself that those responsible had dutifully added the year of dad's death on the flat and tasteful headstone. She was not a terribly trusting soul, my mother wasn't. Me? I am perhaps too trusting, too willing to assume that all will work out. It turns out, of course, that it usually does, so I was not surprised to find that mum's death date had been duly added, probably two years ago, shortly after she died.

Although I have confessed to not being an avid visitor, I must now admit to spending a very pleasant time at the graveside today. It was a wonderful summer morning; gentle cooling breezes caressed me in the shade. I sat on the grass and let my mind wander. Preferring to enjoy the quietude, I didn't try too very hard to stir up memories but let my mind wander wherever it would.

Memories that did pass across my mind were just that, memories from a long time ago: mostly from over forty years ago when I was young and my parents were much younger than I am now. I remembered walking with the folks one day and my mother bemoaning the fact that she was about to turn forty. Dad reminded her of the old saw that life begins at forty. I also remembered my mum and I once laughing hysterically at my hearing-impaired father when he responded incredulously to some comment or other that he has misheard: "You want me to weed the carpet?" Why this next memory came unbidden to my mind I don't know, but for a while we went to a very small church that was short on talent. My mother once tried to sing a solo, and her voice cracked on the high notes, but she did okay. And I remembered dad preaching a sermon from Philemon when the pastor was on holidays, and I had been proud to realize that he was quite a good preacher.

Then I thought how the wheel of time ever turns. About twenty years ago mom and dad moved here to be nearer family in their declining years. Now, I am the one moving to be nearer my kids. I am not going there to die but to live, but, of course, death comes ever closer, and one can't help but think about it. I don't think it's gruesome or macabre to ponder my death; it's just the wheel turning, always grinding relentlessly onward.

I sat there on the ground in the shade of the trees for quite some time. It was pleasant, so pleasant that I wondered about changing my own plans. I have thought to have a tree planted over my remains in some unmarked spot, but now I wonder. Perhaps I should give my kids the opportunity of visiting such a peaceful spot, a place where they can think and, perhaps, remember. We are not there, where we are buried, but it marks a spot where there is nothing for the visitor to do but rest and remember, and that is not such a bad thing. But in the end, I'll probably still opt for for an isolated unmarked site and ask for tree to be planted over me. It pleases me to think that some of my remains might be absorbed into a mighty oak or a shady maple or a staunch jack pine.

Soon enough, it was time to leave, time to say goodbye, a sort of goodbye anyway although my memories go with me and will endure for as long as I endure. Someday, that's all I shall be, a shadow in someone else's memories, and then those memories too shall fade, and I shall finally fade with them. Perhaps that is as immortal as we shall ever be. I couldn't help but think that today, that this one brief and flickering candle that we call life is all that we have to live and that we might as well live it fully, whatever that means to each person. I am not dogmatic about this, and I am not being theological in this respect; it was simply an impression that I had.

Soon, too soon, the best part of an hour had flown by, and it was time to depart. I patted the headstone and spoke out loud. I told mum and dad or the ground or the air around them that they had done a fine job, that they had done their best and that their best was enough.

That's not so bad is it: to do your best and for you best to be enough?



defiant goddess said...

That was very moving. There's a lot to take with me from that post.

Best wishes on your move and the life that is just beginning.

PBS said...

Wow, what a great post! I don't think it's morbid to think about death--we're all going there eventually, some sooner than others. I don't visit where my Dad is buried very often, prefer to remember him when alive.

Mel said...

Thank you for a truly beautiful post.

kathy said...

awww nice post. I find myself lost for words here.

Gina said...

That was wonderful to read, AC. I think perhaps people don't think of death often enough. Not in a morbid way, but just that they try to pretend it will never happen.

methatiam said...

I just returned from a memorial service today for a gracious 81 year old woman, and saw your post.
She had been given a couple of weeks to prepare for her death so she could make her final wishes known, and she died at home among family and with dignity.
There are all kinds of good reasons to contemplate your own mortality, it's obsession that can be a problem.

Besides, you are ending a life - the one you spent in that house for so many years.

Karla said...

What a lovely post AC.
Your last paragraph chocked me up a bit.

Butterfly said...

Sheesh. I should get you to email me a warning before I blindly read these kinds of posts!

Nicely said.

Lynn said...

Great personal essay. You have the knack.

Heather said...

Beautiful post, Anvilcloud.

It's a nice peaceful feeling, in adulthood, to come to the realization that what your parents did may not have been the best, and may have sucked alot of times, but it was enough.

Here's hoping your days ahead in your new place are filled with lots of LIFE!

Wash Lady said...

This post is certainly in my Top 5 of yours....
I learn a great deal from you, you know?

Anonymous said...

Gosh, AC. I ricocheted from Ginnie's comment to her page and back to this narrative. Gosh . . . It's early here and I'm on the couch waiting for the sun - This post opened the windows and doors and I joined you in the breezy cemetery. We both patted those stones as we walked away.
Gosh. This should be shared again. Have you ever submitted your narratives for publication?