Friday, January 06, 2006


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.


Gina said...

What a wonderful talent!

That haiku is especially moving to me.

My condolences to the family and everyone that she touched with her art and caring.

PBS said...

Those are so heartful and touching, what a talent! She will be missed.

Anvilcloud said...

Swati, I see no problem, but can you first post the address of that blog so I can have a look?

Madcap said...

Yes, the haiku is particularly poignant. And I'm very impressed with the pen and ink!

Bonita said...

May God's grace care for your family. In this life we have opportunities to validate and affirm others, as you've just done. Speaks worlds about you, and it is so lovely.

Darlene said...

Drats, there are tears in my eyes as I write this... And the sketching sums it all up. My, to be able to face our demise in such a way. I wish I could have met and known her. Blessings to all of you!

swamp4me said...

Sounds as if Mabel had a full life and an appreciation of the natural order of things. Thank you for sharing her wisdom.

Granny said...

How lovely. Thank you for the post.

Turtle Guy said...

Hello! Good to see you - I followed the link from your comment at Granny's!

Noticed you've done some time teaching - great! My folks were both teachers before they retired. Dad was an Elementary Principal, Mom taught HS French.

I'll look forward to keeping up with you!


mreddie said...

A wonderful tribute to her - and especially meaningful was the sailing ship departing with all sails catching wind. ec

Zareba said...

What a privilage it is to have known such a special person. I know you will treasure her memory always...Z

Rhonda Gibson said...

Life is short but God's love is eternal. It looks like your friend knew this and made the best of this love by expressing His. Today, the heavens are rejoicing to have another wonderful soul in their mists. Thanks for sharing her love, talent, and the methods in which she touched your life and now many others. Beautiful and something to strive for.

Anonymous said...

To dear John and all of you who have posted comments: I am so touched by this lovely tribute to my mother. Thank you.

John, your final words "Happy Sailing Mabel" brought tears to my eyes. It was simply a perfect closing line.

Anonymous said...

Mabel sounds like a most remarkable woman. My condolences to you for the loss of a friend and to her children for the loss of their Mom.