Category Archives: Mortality

Musings about getting older – the physical, mental, and attitudinal changes that come (good and bad) – and the inevitability of death – our own and that of those we love.

Dam Dandelion

This week’s theme appears to be dandelions. Who would have predicted that at the outset?  Not I.

It’s especially surprising because this week the Big Guy and I were on a trip through two national parks – Yellowstone and Grand Teton – where I had ample opportunity to try for the expected shot.  The amazing shot.  Even for the iconic shot. Some of those results will appear here before too long.

But I also had a chance to see other views.

Close-up of dandelion seed head with dam in background

Dandelion and Jackson Lake Dam

If I were, you know, a blogger, I could take this juxtaposition in more than one direction.

In a philosophical mood, I might be tempted by a riff on so-called intelligent design versus true intelligent design.

In a personal mood, I might muse on the unconscious patterns in my photography: as I look back, I find many shots of dandelions. Or I might consider emerging preoccupations: dams and bridges and dams that are bridges.

But this weekend, with friends and family, I will help to inter some of my mother’s ashes in the family plot alongside my father’s ashes, and next door, as it were, to my mother’s parents.  I will also help to scatter some of her ashes on the farm where she grew up, on the land that she loved.

So this weekend, my thoughts go more to permanence and transience: To the things that last, and the things that don’t.

The dam would seem to have it all over the dandelion in this respect.  I can’t damage the dam’s structural integrity no matter what I do, but I can dispatch the dandelion with a puff of breath.  What could be a better symbol of permanence than a dam, engineered to last for many decades?  What could be more transient than a dandelion, flourishing for just a few weeks?

And yet . . .

Eventually, the dam will crumble into nothingness, while the dandelion – through its offspring, and theirs, and theirs – will persist.  Will live forever, if you like.

Life lasts.  Love lasts.

Anything that looks otherwise is an illusion.  Anything that suggests otherwise is a lie.

 

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Filed under Mortality, Photos of Built Stuff, Photos of Flora

Oh. No. Oh no.

About to get up from my sister’s kitchen table, I look with satisfaction at my selections from my mother’s jewelry: three family rings, a chain of purple crystals, and a necklace.

Nothing is worth much monetarily, but every piece will mean something to me or the other intended recipients: my daughter-in-law and granddaughter.  As I look around the table and see my siblings happily packing up their own selections, I smile.  It’s been a good process, with good outcomes and good feelings.

“Mom will be so pleased,” I think.

Oh.  No.

Glancing back before the funeral  service starts, I catch sight of Mom a few pews back.  “What’s she doing back there?” I wonder.  I mean, her regular seat is on the other side of the church.

Oh.  No.

“Did you see that?”  At the uncharacteristic excitement in my brother’s voice, my head draws back from the camera viewfinder.

“Well, I saw a white mini-marshmallow being picked up by the parent barn swallow.”

Barm swallow adult removing fecal sac to protect mud-daubed nest from discovery.

No, my brother says that I saw a baby bird’s fecal sac being removed from the nest to be disposed of where it can’t alert predators to the nearby presence of defenceless young.  As he explains it to me, I’m wondering how soon I can download and process my photo when we get back into town.  Mom will be so interested.

Oh.  No.

And so it goes.  The email about the bear quintuplets that I almost forward.  The photo magazine on oceans that I almost buy at the grocery checkout stand.  The video of the ducks and ducklings at her seniors’ residence that I almost send.  The chocolates I almost re-order, prompted by my monthly calendar reminder.

“Mom will like to get this.”

Oh.  No.

Oh no.

 

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Filed under Mortality, Relationships and Behaviour

The Only Things

Stay home.  Go out.
Sit still.  Exercise.
Tolerate clutter.  Tidy up.
Stay awake.  Sleep soundly.

These are the things, the only things.

Walk smartly.  Drive safely.
Read a book.  Write a blog.
Plan a meal.  Choose take-out.
Talk freely.  Keep quiet.

These are the things, the only things.

Think without drifting.
Talk without babbling.
Laugh without crying.
Breathe without aching.

These are the things, the only things
That I can’t do while my mother is dying.


Marjorie Mae Gibson died 10 June 2017.

 

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Filed under Mortality

Happy Birthday to Me

Today I turn, am, have, or complete 65, depending on your language (and those are just the few that I know). But whatever the verb, it’s an odd moment: long expected and yet totally surprising.  I cannot yet comment on the state itself but as I sit here, between the idea and the reality, I have a few random thoughts, as the aged often do.  Continue reading

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Filed under Mortality, New Perspectives

The Deadline Cometh

In five days, the Big Guy and I will arise early and cheerily, throw our overnight bags into the back seat of our car, and start a six-day drive home.  Before that, we will complete a miscellany of tasks related to being here, being anywhere, preparing to leave here, and readying ourselves to be elsewhere.  Continue reading

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Filed under Mortality