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!”.
For those of us who are seekers or ex-seekers, the word Home is one of those words used in an effort to relate a state of Being. I’ve looked up the definition of Home and some I liked were:
- A place where one dwells permanently.
- Social unit formed by a family living together.
- An environment offering affection and security.
Our physical home may or may not fit those definitions but almost everyone has their own concept of the word Home. I like the last word of the first definition…”permanently”. In a world of impermanence, we could use the word Home interchangeably with the Absolute (where one dwells permanently). You are already Home…it’s not about how to get there, not about waiting for it to open its doors and welcome you in.
The word homesick is defined as “sad or depressed from a longing for home while away from it for a long time”. When we are not present, we all suffer from homesickness which can manifest in many forms with the symptoms and cures being discussed and analyzed endlessly.
I’ve read that your physical home is a reflection of your inner home. Now that’s an interesting concept. Is it aesthetically appealing, is it secure, is it chaotic, does it need attention, is it in need of repair? If it is perfect in every way, are you content?
“Home is where the heart is”. The earliest author given credit for that quote is Pliny the Elder AD 23-79. I guess none of this is exactly a new concept.