My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2006. She made her final transition last week, after years of inhabiting both this world and the world beyond. This poem is for you Mom:
I am the daughter of the mother who sees beneath
Raven’s eye shows me the way through
To the other side where down is up
And time can stand still
Until the time is right.
I am the daughter of the mother who sings in my bones
Drum song carries me out of now
To a place where fiery dragons roam,
Mother moon dances with her sun
And guides me home.
Winter is rapidly approaching here in the Rockies. And it is no accident the el Dia de los Muertos is traditionally celebrated today; winter is the season of death. This Day of the Dead is a time to connect with, honor and celebrate everything you received and learned from your dead loved ones.
Take a few moments today to pause and honor everyone and everything you have loved that is no longer with you. Light a candle, say a prayer of thanks, offer blessings.
Celtic Blessings to You and Yours
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours
I was one of the lucky ones; our house was on high ground and didn’t get damaged by the flooding in Lyons, Colorado. But my family still had to evacuate and spend a month moving between various hotels in Longmont, CO. The entire town of Lyons lost sewer, water and gas service. And it still hasn’t been restored.
A few lessons I learned from the flood:
1. Mother Nature is in charge. We humans can fool ourselves for awhile, but when push comes to shove, nature rules.
2. People are amazingly kind-hearted. I saw so much compassion and caring in Lyons in the days and weeks after the flood. My heart continues to overflow with gratitude and joy for all the acts of kindness, both big and small that I witnessed.
3. Not having a place to go home to sucks. Just this tiny taste of homelessness gave me huge compassion for people who spend months or years living in their cars or on the streets. Not having a home is truly nerve wracking.
4. I love Lyons, Colorado! The town is still a complete mess, but I want to be part of this community.
5. Stress can literally kill you. Our 3 1/2 year old male cat Raja didn’t make it through a month of being away from home. Even though he was staying with an amazing friend, Raja got so stressed that he stopped eating. Good bye, buddy! I hope you’re now hunting and sunning in cat heaven.
6. Flowing water can transform the landscape in a matter of minutes. The St Vrain river valley that I have loved and walked and photographed is now a different place.
Water does NOT submit to human control. We can dam it up, and try to stop it, but we should NEVER forget that water is born to flow. And it will continue to flow whether we humans like it or not! Water will NOT be controlled.
7. Flow never stops; Each drop of water on planet earth is on a flowing journey that never ends. This visual of the ocean’s currents, gives us a hint of just how amazing water’s flowing journey truly is:
And my own journey continues; My husband and I spent days searching for a new place to roost without any results. Then, due to the kindness of my favorite realtor, Mark Webber, we rented a great house on the edge of Lyons. This one has a septic system and well (!) AND a kick ass view:
Was this experience good? or bad? Like the old Buddhist story goes, it’s still too soon to tell…
My dad passed away a month ago. He had struggled to hang on and stay here long past the point of misery, so his passing was a relief in many ways. But there are still days when I have images of him in my head all day, and I miss him a lot. And other days I don’t think of him at all. Grief is a strange beast.
This morning I remembered a time many years ago when my dad tried to teach me how to jitterbug. Tried is the operative word here – I never could hold my torso still and get my feet to do what his were doing so perfectly. In my defense, I am not known for my coordination. Besides, I had a glass of wine before the dance instruction began!
Dad loved to tell people the tale of how his Navy buddy taught him to jitterbug. I always loved that story; Dad had joined the Navy at 18 and shipped out to California for basic training just as WWII ended. He went from a tiny town in southern Illinois to suddenly being in the Navy on a ship with hundreds of other guys. I imagine that it was all quite a shock for a young geeky country boy. One of his older shipmates took my dad under his wing. He helped my dad settle in to life in the Navy. And he also taught Dad how to jitterbug so he could impress the ladies.
I love the image of my skinny 18 year old Dad with his baby face, dressed in baggy jeans and a work shirt, dancing the jitterbug with some big beefy guy in the tightly cramped quarters of a battleship! LOL Life truly is stranger than fiction. The dance lessons definitely paid off because 40 years later my dad was still an amazing jitterbugger. 🙂
I miss Dad. I wish I had danced with him more. This morning, as I flashed on images of the handful of times that we danced together, I heard Dad’s voice in my ear. He said, “We’ll dance again.” And I suddenly saw an image of two energies dancing and flowing together and then apart, together and then apart. And as the energies danced, they morphed and changed shape, but I could tell that it was still the energy of Dad and I dancing together.
I think that image of my energy dance with Dad is actually a great lesson about the rhythm of life and death. We are energies that come together to dance on Earth, then part in death. Then we will come together again in a new place and dance a new dance. Over and over, we dance together in one form or another.
Later in the morning, I hike up one of my favorite trails, still thinking about my dad and missing him. I stop on a mesa to rest awhile. As I sit under the pines writing, I am startled by a hawk’s cry above me. I look up and see two hawks soaring and spiraling just above my rocky perch. The hawks appear to be dancing together on the wind. It’s a beautiful dance,.
Another memory surfaces as I watch the hawks; I flash on the image of my dad dancing with my mom. In my memory, they are both in their late sixties and have been together for over 40 years. When they danced together, they were so closely in synch that it was like watching a single body move and flow to the music.
The hawks are gone when I next look up from my writing. But a pair of young deer soon stumble upon me. They freeze for a moment. But when they realize that I wont harm them, they relax and forage for food a few feet behind me. Life dances on all around me.
I love you Dad. And I miss you. I miss your wide open country boy smile. I miss your stories. I just plain miss you! But I know in my heart it was time for you to move on. And I am ok – I know that you and I will dance together again soon.
My Dad passed last week. And this week I have many memories coming up about him; things he said and did, what I loved about him and also a few things I didn’t like so much. One of my favorite memories is hearing him call me Goldilocks. Goldy or Goldilocks was my Dad’s nickname for me. Even in his last days, when I would visit him, he would look up, smile and say, “It’s Goldy!” when I walked into the room.
I liked being called Goldy. No one except my dad has ever called me that. So, the nickname passes on with my dad, which is a little sad. But I had many years of being called Goldy or Goldilocks, and the name still makes me smile. Goldy actually referred to the golden blonde hair I had as a child. But Dad also used the name because he said, like Goldilocks, I would search and try out new things until I found the one that was “just right”. So true, so true! I still do that. Apparently I was picky and unwilling to settle even as a young girl. 🙂
I still search and push to find that one “just right” thing. I have found amazing houses to live in because of my constant quest for “just right”. And I love finding just the right restaurant, hiking trail, lawn chair or vacation spot. Searching for “just right” also led me to shift careers and try a lot of different jobs until I zeroed in on a profession that truly suits me. And my inner life is so much richer because of all the spiritual traditions I have explored over the years while searching for one that was just right for me.
But searching for “just right” can also be problematic. I have to be careful that my “just right” search doesn’t degenerate into a search for perfection. Yes, there is a difference between perfect and “just right”. Perfect has an obsessive-compulsive energy to it. When I get locked in perfect mode, it feels absolutely necessary to attain perfection. For example, when writing I sometimes get sucked into searching for the perfect word or phrase. And I feel compelled to keep trying and trying long after a reasonable person would quit. I can waste a ton of energy and make myself completely miserable when I fall into perfect mode.
The search for “just right” is more relaxed than perfection – there’s nothing necessary about finding “just right.” In the fairytale Goldilocks could sleep in any of those beds – she just wants to optimize her comfort! So Goldy takes a few extra minutes to try out every bed. There’s nothing OCD about it. “Just right” is about exploring all the options. “Just right” is nice to have, but not necessary.
My Dad is gone now, exploring in other realms. But while he was here with me, he taught me a lot about life and myself. I love that he found my “just right” quest interesting and amusing. Another parent might have turned this personality trait of mine into a problem. But Dad embraced me and my “just right” quirkiness. I love remembering that.
Happy Travels Dad.