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.


This entry was posted in Feeling Clearly, Mortality and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to The Only Things

  1. Tom Watson says:

    How very profoundly touching.

  2. Dorothy Warren says:

    I so understand. No matter how many platitudes about a life well lived she is still your mother and you will miss her always. Be good to yourself.
    We will miss her too. Thank you for making “Marjorie Remembers” possible so that we could share her last few years with you.
    Dorothy Warren

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Dorothy – Thanks so much. She was loved by a lot of people and I know they -and you – are grieving with us.

  3. Marion says:

    … sigh … all true and well said.
    in the words of the internet: *virtual hug*

  4. Laurna Tallman says:

    Beautifully written, Isabel, at the still point on the turning world.
    My prayers continue.

  5. Judith Umbach says:

    Everything in moderation, including moderation. Some occasions require that all rules be broken – follow your heart. Be kind to yourself.

  6. I think it was Margaret Atwood who said, when her mother died, “I felt I was being shuffled by large, unknown hands.”

    But there really are no words when it happens.
    Love you.

  7. Jim Taylor says:

    I particularly like the lines “Laugh without crying; breathe without aching.” So true. (I was tempted to write, “dead true” but I won’t.) (But I did.) (Oh, what the hell….) After my mother died, it felt disloyal to laugh, but it was the first step in the healing process. So welcome the laughter, when it happens.
    Jim T

    • It’s true: My sister and I, the day after our mother died, were sitting within a few feet of where she had been and died the night before. The hospice bed was still there. We turned on the TV and an old Seinfeld was on: we laughed and laughed at the old lines as if we’d never heard them before.
      A neighbor knocked on the nearby front door and open window; she must have heard us…we immediately turned off the TV. I don’t know what she thought…but she proceeded to tell us at great, boring length about when HER mother died…we were so glad when she left.
      We found this to be a pattern, that when we told anybody our mum had died, the person would immediately tell us all about HER mother, when SHE died…it’s like they really needed to.
      We understood, but got quite tired of it. But, see? I have just done the same thing. It must be a primal thing to share, to show we know, have been there — and survived — that we’re not alone.

      • Isabel Gibson says:

        Barbara – Maybe we do it in part to share – maybe in part to continue to bear witness. In any event you’re exactly right – we’re not alone.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – Yes, our laughter started before she died. A few days before she died, Mom was talking about her hair dresser (whom she had known since the late 1980s here in Vancouver, from family visits), who was in deep denial about Mom’s condition. Mom herself was not. Anyway, Mom said that she’d hate to have to be the one to tell the stylist of her death. My older sister paused just a second and then said, “Well, Mom, I have good news for you.” We all laughed – sisters, caregiver, and Mom – not least.

  8. Anne (Longworth) Marshall says:

    Alison Uhrbach shared the news of your mom’s passing. I’m so sorry! Like Alison said, your mom was the last remaining member of the beloved Coffee Gang. Those of us in our generation maintain great memories of all the shenanigans of the group.
    You may find, as I did when my dad died, there’s a feeling of being orphaned. It doesn’t matter how old we are. We’re suddenly thrust into being the older generation in our own family, and it’s a sobering thought.
    Be good to yourself as you grieve.

  9. Alison says:

    Can’t think of a response – but I do think it’s amazing you can put thoughts into words. Take care

  10. Morris Berengut says:

    Isabel, I’m so sorry to hear this sad news. My sincerest condolences to you and your loved ones.

  11. Barry says:


    Thank you so much for posting the link to Aunt Marj’s collection. I just re-read it and love the life expressed!

    • “Someone or something that has been truly loved can never be lost”.
    • “Tell them to be aware. Life is precious, every day, every place, every person, everything that happens. Life is precious. Don’t waste a moment of it. Even the hard things have value. Live fully every hour of every day.”
    • “the present, I would not miss a day of it”
    • “As for the writing – it enriches my life, and so far I have no plans to stop. I appreciate your support.”
    • “I had a wonderful life, I just wish I’d realized it sooner,” [I do not think she missed the present]
    • and a favourite “God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”

    Peace, Luck & Love

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barry – Thanks for this. It’s good to hear from people who were touched by her writing.

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