Tune for a Monday Morning
View from the Studio

Remembering

Pat & baby meToday, it is ten years since my mother died, in eastern Pennyslvania. When she lost her battle with lung cancer, she was not much older than I am now -- for she'd been just a teenager when I came tumbling, unexpected and fatherless, into the world. That she would lose the battle was something we all knew, but it happened a good six months sooner than expected. I'd been making arrangements to travel from England to Pennsylvania to relieve my exhausted half-brother from caretaking duties when I woke bolt upright from sleep one night, knowing, somehow, that she had gone. My brother called 40 minutes later, confirming what I already knew.

Today, it is also ten years (and nine days) since the World Trade Center came down in New York, ash blanketing streets I'd often walked when I lived and worked in the city.

Tomorrow will be ten years from the day that I hurriedly traveled back to the States in time for my mother's funeral. At London's Heathrow Airport, the numb shock I felt at my mother's death was mirrored in every face around me, for most of the world was also in shock as the Twin Towers lay in ruins. The airport was thick with soldiers and fear as international flight schedules slowly resumed. My New-York-bound flight was half empty of course (who in their right mind would want to fly then?), the passengers eerily silent, sitting fearful and white-knuckled all across the Atlantic. A bomb scare diverted the plane to Canada, but I made my way back to New York and then on to Pennsylvania, to a small, private death in a country that had bigger things to think about and to mourn.

Thus today, not September 11th, is the day of remembering for me. Tomorrow I'll go back to books and art, to walking in the woods and loving the land and dealing with some difficult things that are on my plate right now.... But today is for remembering. For forgiveness of the past. For gratitude for the present.

My mother was not an easy woman. Our relationship was not an easy one. But I deeply value the gifts she gave me: a love of beauty, the ability to cope with change, and a capacity for working hard. Today is a day of remembering a quiet young girl named Patricia Ann, who had a baby much, much too young. And did the best she could, in a hard situation. This beautiful poem is for her, with compassion, and with love:

"Flare" by Mary Oliver.

As Oliver says: "A lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of this world...."

Comments

I empathise with you Terri. Rising above those sad times is all you can do, and I think is the best thing to do. The poem by Mary Oliver is so poignant and I gather has relevance to you. Keep on being who you are, that's a poitive thing to be, from where I'm sitting you are a pretty special human being. Your beautiful Art and words bring great joy to many. ox

Oh, Terri. That poem. Thank you so much for sharing it.

I was thinking of you and your mother a few days ago, when I received a letter from mine. I can see hints of you in her face, even in so small a photo.

I'm grateful for the gifts she gave you as well, because you just keep sharing and sharing them with the world.

A touching post and so-true poem.
I echo the thoughts of Margaret and Amal, and am grateful for those gifts which you share so generously with us. You spread magic and beauty, hope and optimism with every word and every image.

"When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice
something you have never noticed before."....Terri this is what you give us when we open up your lovely blog...Ahh to put the iron thing down they carried....many things to think upon....blessed be to you...Janette

Such a poem, how does she write like that?! Thinking of you and your mum...I spent some time with mine this afternoon and was reminded of how much we are alike, and how much she has taught me.

I too can emphathise with you, although it's only been two years since my Mom passed away. We weren't close at all, until the last 3 or so years of her life and even then I kept waiting for her normal behaviour, so it was often like waiting for the other shoe to drop. In retrospect, she taught me a great deal and was able to develop into a very different woman and raise my son differently. Despite the difficulties, I still deeply miss her.

You have done wonders with those gifts.

The grandmother of one of my partners, who had taken him in as a difficult teenager, died in a nursing home in New York City on September 11th. They could not get the memorial service together until January.

Pamela

Terri your blog was one of the first tentative steps I took into the world of compuers apart from using the stuff at work.It was so interesting and full of things I liked, it hooked me! Your Mum may have got pregnant to young but I am sure she did a lot of people a favour! Be Happy!

Terri,
Your post is a wonderful tribute to your mother and the poem, the poem is gorgeous and moving.

I'm both glad and grateful I came across your blog Terri.
Oddly enough, I went to check out a studio space today. The lady who owned it happened to be an editor/artist, named Patricia. Spooky.

A day of remembering, of gratitude and words made beautiful by Mary Oliver.. this is a beautiful post, beautiful tribute to your mother.

Terri--that poem, which I didn't know, resonates under the breastbone and behind the eyes. My ears tintabulate with the sounds of it. Thank you.

Jane

Ahh..the benefit of a troubled childhood and the strength that comes to love and forgive those who brought it on.

Thank you, Terri. For the note, for the poem, and for giving me time to reflect on my father.

Another note,
I just read your entry and the poem aloud in our studio, to an audience of our "shop elves", dear friends who work for us during the busy season, my darling wife and partner, and our eight year old little girl. All were quiet and listening, something that is hard in a busy studio. Then, I was suddenly reminded that Mary Oliver is sort of the "Poet Laureate" of the Unitarian Universalist Church, and published by it's press, Beacon Hill, of which, most of those in our studio are members of. So, thanks again.

Thank you Terri. I needed that bell rung today. About ten years ago my mum won her battle against breast cancer. So now she is still around to do all the things I find difficult (as well as the ones I love). It is good to remember what is important; what we remember when that is all we can do. Love to you.

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