My mother passed away a year ago today October 7, 2017. “Passed Away” is a common term used when someone dies. There doesn’t seem to be a definition for who or what is passing away. This is my account of witnessing the passing away.
My mother was 92 when she “passed” and had been in failing health for a few months but mentally still sharp as a tack. She was a strong woman with a strong personality and since I inherited some of those qualities we would clash occasionally. Not enough to strain our relationship but enough that we respected each other’s views when we disagreed.
She was in Hospice for the last few days. There are many things I remember of those days but what remains in my mind is witnessing her personality slipping away the last three days when she stayed in bed, slept most of the day and then stopped responding to us. During that slipping away aspects of her personality began to leave until there was nothing left except her lying empty in bed in silence. My memories of any personality clashes of the past were also passing away and now a year later I cannot find them at all. However, there are many vivid happy memories that will always remain.
While witnessing this gradual removal of the mask of the personality it became clear that we will all have a mask to leave behind. When the mask is gone the naked newborn we once were reappears again empty of any ideas, habits, behaviors or perceptions picked up along the way.
No matter what your beliefs of life after death, I believe I witnessed the mask of her personality pass away leaving a clean slate ready to do whatever it is we do next. This has made me more aware of how the outward personality is only a mask and what hides behind it is what is real. I am grateful and consider this experience her last gift to me.
The holidays are about over and once again I went past the point of enjoyment into the realm of overwhelmed. Cooking is not my favorite thing so it doesn’t take long for resentment of spending so much time in the kitchen to show up.
This time I spent a lot of that kitchen time thinking of my grandmother, Chana Mae, who was an exceptional cook. She was a young widow in the early 1950’s and took a job as a cook on a large farm cooking for farm hands. The owner let her have some chickens and she became an entrepreneur with a thriving egg business.
My memories this Christmas had to do with her cooking Christmas and other holiday dinners for her family. She had to be a master organizer because everything was made from scratch…including catching the chickens for dinner. Besides a big dinner there were several homemade pies, whipped toppings, cakes and candy. I wondered if she felt overwhelmed…if she resented the time spent in the kitchen. If so she never let on, I always felt it was done out of love and she enjoyed it.
So my memories of Chana Mae in her large farm kitchen carried me through the holidays. I reminded myself that it was my choice to spend time in the kitchen preparing food as gifts. When I attended gatherings where people unpacked their purchased goods to share (some with the store sticker and price still attached) I thought of Chana Mae and how much time, effort and love she put into her gifts of food.
I wish I could be more like my grandmother this time of year but just having the memories of her gifts of love-filled food is enough…..and as every other year after the holidays I say “I’m never doing all that again!”.
It’s been two months since I have posted anything here. I have had several insights that I considered sharing during that time but didn’t take the time to sit down and write. These ideas or insights come like flashes out of nowhere and if I sit down immediately and write…a blog is created. However, most of the time when the flash comes I am involved doing other things and rather than stop what I’m doing I’ll make a mental note that I will write about this very good insight later. I’ve given up trying to figure out where glimpses of insight come from but I know they come as “flashes” while in the present moment.
The problem is that these flashes happen while you’re in the present moment and if they are not written down right away the insight vanishes into the land of past memories. The space where past memories dwell is not suitable ground for a flash insight because it can get absorbed in concepts and filters that were not there during the initial flash.