Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Passing

We had a loss this past week - D's mother, Marie, died in her sleep following a stroke. She was 95 years old, and had lived a sweet, modest life, originating from Nebraska. She was deeply and innocently religious. The only book she read as a rule was the Bible. Her favorite verse was John 3:16, for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

D is more than okay with her peaceful death, having been ready for this moment for a long time. Marie lived in a nursing home, lived mainly for sleeping and eating, and sometimes didn't recognize those around her. But she seemed to always know her boys, D and his brother, along with their older sister, MW. Whenever any of them came through the doors of the home, her face would light up with the most obvious joy.

For someone so inherently sweet, she had a few surprising instances of crabbiness that I keep with me, which always make me laugh for their sheer oppositeness of who she was. First were those times in public places when she'd say in a very loud voice (thanks to her being unable to hear very well), "My, she's fat!" or "She better lose some weight or who knows what will happen!" Then there was the day I was visiting her after the death of D's father, Bill. They'd been married many years but were not very close once they moved to the nursing home. I'd been feeling sad about Bill's death and I asked Marie if she missed him. Without missing a beat, she said in a calm voice, "No, he really was an old grouch." In the same vein, D's brother WS told us of what she said when he told her of Bill's death. Instead of crying or acting distressed, she smiled, put her hands together, and said, "Now the money's all mine!"

Marie wasn't educated, having ended school in her eighth grade year to work at her father's farm in Hastings, Nebraska. It was there that she met Bill, D's father. The two married and drove out to California to make a home. Bill made his living in the cattle business, having a side business as a butcher...but not the kind of butcher that works in a shop. He was a slaughter-man, the one who walked onto properties, shot the cow and cut it up into the requisite sides of beef. The man was strong to say the least. D remembers him as serious, brooding, and short-tempered. So his mother made up for it while Bill traveled.

Every week, despite Bill's warning not to spend money, Marie took her children to the Baptist prayer meetings at their church, followed up by dinner at a local diner, Betsy Ross. D remembers those dinners lovingly, because that was how she stood up to her husband, that was what she did to counter his rougher ways.

Monday, we'll have the funeral. It will be modest like she was, a graveside service, flowers, where she'll be laid to rest next to she wanted, like he wanted.

Off you go, Marie, onto your next journey. May it be filled with the light you imagined.


Danny said...

Sorry for your loss but I so enjoyed this portrait. Great photo, too, when was it taken? There's something so American about the way you've described Marie—like we're watching a sepia-toned Depression era newsreel.

Fromage de Merde said...

My condolences Adriana as well as a very respectful thanks for sharing about her life.

Jean said...

You speak of Marie so simply and unsentimentally. Why then did my hair stand on end and my eyes tear up? I guess because in announcing her death you brought her to life. Wow, this is when I think reading blogs, reading the moments of other's histories, is amazing. Thank you.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Amen to those concluding words and to the comments as well. I'm sorry for your family's loss, and I hope the funeral was an occasion of togetherness and love. Thank you for making this portrait of two people who enriched the world. It will be treasured by your family for a long time.

Mark Daniels said...

A wonderfully written tribute, Adriana. God bless all of you as you remember with obvious gratitude.

Mark Daniels

Tamar said...

Dear Adriana and D,
So sorry I came to this so late. My thoughts go out to you for even when it is peaceful, death is a loss at so many different levels.

Thank you for sharing the story of Marie and Bill with all of us.
With warm regards,

Carolyn said...

Adriana, I'm sorry of your loss. This was such a touching post in honor of your mother-in-law! What a sweet lady she seemed and a character rolled into one :) I'm sure you and your husband will miss you a lot, but in doing so you will also remember her fondly and lovingly.

I agree with Jean, you did bring her to life in this post :)

Edge said...

such a real trubute, and as always, beautifully written.
Best to your and yours for the holidays.

Adriana Bliss said...

Thank you so much, everyone for your condolences and lovely comments. Marie's funeral was perfect for her, humble and sweet. A gentleman from a local college joined our gathering and sung Marie's favorite hymns a cappella. We told some stories, and cried some tears.

Again, thank you.

TDharma said...

What a tale of two lives. Hopefully Bill and Marie are getting along well in the hereafter. My grandmother said, upon the death of her husband, "He's well out of it!" That's all I ever heard her speak of it. He was a bit of a tyrant himself, and he, too, left her some money. Marriages are funny things...I've starting writing about it on my blog.

Thank you for a wonderful post.

aka Slap Me Silly Sally

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