Wednesday, December 30, 2015
There are many memories. But, sometimes, few words.
Today is the anniversary of my mother's passing, and in remembering her, I have gone back to old photographs, to this one, in particular, of my mother, father, older brother, younger sister, and me; that is my mother's white pencil caption, below. I return to the words I shared during her memorial service. Lore Kephart passed away four years ago, but she is present, still.
On the morning after the evening that my mother passed away, the sky was sherbet colored—bold and also delicate pinks, upward-rising tangerines, traces of lemon. It was the sort of sky one only rarely sees in winter—complex and unforgettable and outrageously beautiful—and it was, of course, my mother, at peace at last.She had brushed by me, on her way to heaven, the night before—the gentlest knock on my right shoulder. She had gathered around her, in her final days, so many varieties of kindness in the doctors and the nurses who had come to care for her, so many reminders that goodness, after such sadness, reigns. She had left behind parts of her to discover still—a note stuck in a bible, a photograph no one remembered taking, the namesake song “Dolores” playing in a nearly empty restaurant. On the day of my mother’s funeral, a warm breeze blew. It was her; there is no question. She wouldn’t leave us lonely.Beauty is the art my mother mastered. For her, orchids kept their angel wings for surpassing months on end. For her, the mashed potatoes always whipped up right, the gravy thickened, the turkey cut tender to the bone, and anyone who ever had my mother’s chocolate-chip cheesecake was never, in some way, the same. She made the dresses my sister and I wore as little girls. She embroidered flowers into our collars. She filled her house with color, fabric, texture, and light. With conversation and surprise. With gifts—abundant, always.In the weeks since my mother’s passing, I have been pondering the many measures of a life—that which dissipates, that which remains. I have been looking up, studying the skies. I have been watching the greening of the stalk of curly willow that sits in a vase in my most sun-filled room. I have considered spring’s rumbling things, impatient, even in winter, to rise. I have been blessed—immeasurably blessed—by the outreach and wisdom of souls like you, and I have made my decision: Beauty remains.In the words she put down on a page, in the friends she gathered around her, in the gifts only she had the talent to give, in the orchids that yet bloom in her deep-silled windows, and in the man who was her husband and is my father, my mother, always a beauty, remains. Winter will soon cede to spring, and she’ll be here. The moon will blaze bright through an afternoon haze, the stars won’t leave the sky at dawn, a fox won’t run when you walk by, and in all of this, you’ll find my mother. And in a garden called Chanticleer, between the risen roots of that most magnificent Katsura tree, there will, come summer, be a stone that reads The Wedge of Sun Between Us. That stone will be my mother’s stone. Perhaps she’ll find you there.