Thursday, May 17, 2012

Breathings of Your Heart


Her pencil stroked across the journal paper, slow and deliberate, each word chosen with care.  It was a eulogy after all, and none the less important because it was her own.  Odd to have been inspired to do so by her father, a man reluctant for many years to make a will superstitiously believing that when he did, he would pass.  A man, more often heard to say IF I die, than WHEN I die.

In his later years, he took to calling her at work to mention that he and Mom had been to a wake that day and they liked this feature or that about the wake, and would she mind making note of it for theirs?  She humored him and faithfully took the yellow sticky notes or scraps of paper home and put them in a manila folder labeled “funerals”.  When the days unexpectedly came to make arrangements, she was never so glad to have the knowledge of their wishes to draw upon.
 
She wrote both their eulogies, just ten short months apart – each a testament to the good life they lived and what they meant to family, friends and each other.  And she wrote them with honesty, like she was doing with hers now.  Not all selfless devotion, faith and goodness – but including a smattering of their human flaws as well.  For surely everyone carries some degree of ballast to balance their life.  And everyone is loved because of, and even sometimes in spite of, their load.
 
Reading about her parents to the crowd gathered at the church wasn’t easy to do.  But she was their daughter and a writer after all and the courtesy of her craft, exemplifying their lives, was her final gift.
 
She’d never envisioned herself as being the “last one standing”, yet here she was, alone, with no family left to write hers.  The arrangements had been made a while ago with her lawyer.  There would be no visiting hours or service.  Hence, no opportunity for it to be read.  Was it necessary then after all?
  
What mattered, the love she gave, the family she nurtured or the self she struggled with?   The accomplishments achieved, the depression overcome or the passion for writing?  Was it significant that she avoided committees like the plague but carried within, her own version of belief in a higher good?  That her taste in poetry was eclectic, that she had a mean controlling streak or that she indulged in a piece of chocolate every day?

Necessary? No.  She underlined the quote by William Wordsworth she’d started with in the beginning… 
Yes, the written word validates a life lived – even if it’s never read out loud.  And so, her pencil strokes continued on, slow and deliberate, in the fading light of the autumn afternoon.

24 comments:

  1. I always have the sense that you are writing from experience which, I think, is the hallmark of a well crafted piece.

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    1. Thank you - and yes, you are correct that parts of it are first hand.

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  2. Very evocative post. And the quote "fill your paper. . " helps to begin the writing, I think.

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    1. That quote has long been a favorite and it was nic eto write a piece to marry it to.

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  3. Very moving. Lovely tribute by you.

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  4. I'm glad that she is writing it regardless of whether there is, or will be, an audience.

    But, at least we have each other as an audience - right? It feels good to know someone else is reading what you write, I think...

    Sorry about the funerals...I hope writing this helped.

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    1. I love the audience we share with each other and yes, thank you, writing did help with a little bit of healing as I thought of the passing of these two wonderful people as I wrote it.

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  5. Very moving post, maybe because I can relate to the experience of writing and delivering the eulogy for both of my parents. Paradoxically, it was a horrifying, but strangely uplifting experience.

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    1. Susan, I don't think any piece I ever write will have the impact on me as writing and delivering both my parents eulogies. And you penned it perfectly, as it was strangely uplifting. Thank you for sharing and your perception!

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  6. Well written. I liked that she took care to make careful notes of little things her father said about what he would like. It is those small details that sometimes are forgotten when the time comes.

    Cheers, Jenn.

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    1. It was really great Jenn. And something I didn't include, it helped that I dated everytime he called, so when my brohters and sisters would mention something he had said to them, I could go by the date I'd written to know what he wanted. He changed his mind on a couple key points quite a few times!

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  7. I think this may be one of the most moving pieces I have ever read, Amy. It is truly lovely. I am planning to write my own as well. I will be more honest than anyone would be simply because I know me better than anyone else. I want my words to be read to the two three people I leave behind, if there are two or three who mourn my passing.

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    1. Wow Jo-thank you so much! Wouldn't it be something to start now and circulate a few copies for "feedback"? That would get interesting I think. We could really start a trend in getting people to write their own.

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  8. Oh Amy, this was wonderful. I love what you said about the eulogies being honest, not sugar-coated. I wrote a piece some years ago about how I don't believe in the "postmortem rewrite" that so many do. Everyone is wonderful and perfect after they're dead. Hogwash. Our flaws and idiosyncrasies are important components of who we are. They help to define us. The way some people do it, they turn people into plain vanilla once they're gone. You've made me want to dig that old post up.

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    1. I would love to see it - please do a little digging and post it! I also don't want flowers, but would love to have it lsited as "flowers gratefully declined so you can send them instead to someone you love today and brighten their day!"

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  9. Amy, I loved this. I threw the link into my Friday wrap-up. Hope that's OK. http://faithinambiguity.blogspot.com/2012/05/friday-retroflective-defeat-and.html

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    1. Tara, I'm honored. Don't believe any of my blogs has ever been linked to from another. This just made my day, in fact, it's made my week! Thank you....

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  10. So beautiful, Amy. I've been thinking about what I will do when my mom passes on--if I could bear to stand up and talk about her and what I'd say if I did. Your honesty is inspiring. I love the Wordsworth quote and your own--"the written word validates a life lived." So wise and true.

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    1. Thanks Elaine. I believe you wold do your mom quite proud. the wonderful thing is, you are already, with your lovely posts, chronicaling the beauty of your mom's life. That's quite a gift to her while she's living.

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  11. Beautiful. Yes, we live on in our words...all the more reason for us to pursue our craft with commitment.

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    1. Thank you Corrine, very encouraging!

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  12. such a lovely heartfelt piece--it made me think of how my husband did his father and mother's funerals---missed you

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    1. Lynn, I'm glad to be getting back to the postings, thank you. I really enjoyed writing this piece. Stopped over and readyour birthday blog and we share a similarity that I commented about. :)

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