Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year -- a Sombre Beginning

 Shortly after I took these photos of sunrise on the last day of 2014, Pater got the news that his mother had passed away earlier that morning. She was 87, had lived a rich, full, and mostly happy life until the last few years of increasing cognitive impairment, and a slow-growing cancer; with the transfer to hospice two weeks ago, her death was not a shock, but it was sooner than Paul had expected. And, as has been my experience, one is never quite ready for the loss of a parent, however long that death has been forecast.

She was a very good mother and a loving mother-in-law, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and we're doing some quiet remembering here, we two, as well as chatting with our kids by phone and email about their grandmother.
 I'd planned to post something for New Year's, but I think I'll stay quiet for now, let the pictures of a sunrise's promise speak for themselves with their mix of sombre clouds and glorious colour. . . .We cooked up a turkey for just the two of us yesterday, and somehow it brought a flood of memories of Mom, of both our childhood families actually, and of the many turkey dinners we've cooked for our own family over the years. We'll hunker down with turkey sandwiches (really, we cooked our own little turkey just for those sandwiches -- you don't get the leftovers when you eat elsewhere at Christmas!) and remember and meditate and gradually get back into the world.

 I start teaching again on Monday, so there's lots of prep to do and I'll admit to groaning a bit about that. I'll also admit to some excitement about new courses and new students. And a third admission would be anxiety about my decision to retire at the end of 2015. And impatient anticipation for what that retirement might bring. One year at a time, though, right? And savour them as they come along. Jennifer, at A Well-Styled Life posted that she was choosing a Word rather than a Resolution to guide her through 2015. Her post inspired me to choose my own word, and today in yoga, I tried to let go of the Apprehension which hasn't been serving me especially well and to move toward Joy.  I thought, at first, of making Happy be my word for 2015, but I want, instead, to find ways to appreciate my life even when I'm angry or sorrowful or worried for very good reasons. Not sure, yet, what pathways I might follow in sorting that out, but I'm going to begin by simply being conscious of the word. Joy.
























And that's it. We're mourning a loss, but we're doing so in a beautiful place with people we love. The year has begun and has already promised us gifts -- we expect to meet new tiny people over the next few months. And you? Any Words or Resolutions or Goals or Hopes for the year? Has it begun well or are you still needing to keep your head down and the covers up for a while longer? I can't say it too often: I'm always pleased to read your comments and keep our conversation going. Happy New Year!

34 comments:

  1. Mater, I'm sorry to read about your family's loss. Memories, and the sharing of those memories can help - I hope it is so for you and your husband. I agree with you, that there is solace in being surrounded by beauty, and you do live in a beautiful place. I don't think it hurts to pull up the covers and hunker down for a little. When you have little ones to pull the covers back there's never a danger of getting lost in sadness.
    Wishing you and your family the solace of memories and togetherness in these first days of the year.

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    1. Thanks so much for taking the time from your own considerable challenges to send this comfort. Take care.

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  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. It's never easy, even when it's not unexpected. There's a certain beauty to your somber photos. Hope you take solace the sandwiches, and the hunkering down with the landscape.

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  3. Mater, I'm sorry for the loss of your dear mother-in-law. A hard way to begin a new year. Hunkering down, reminiscing with Paul and letting the beauty around you provide solace will hopefully ease, in some measure, the grief, or at least let you accept it.
    Coincidentally, I just posted about my word for the year.

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    1. I love your word and your post about it. Dare, indeed! Thank you for the kind words.

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  4. So sorry for the loss of your mother-in-law, Mater. I wish for you and Paul the solace of good memories and the beauty of your surroundings. Best to you both, xo.

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    1. So kind of you to take the time to comment, Patti. All the best to you for 2015.

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  5. How odd - my word for the year is Less. I started doing this last year. It helps to start the year afresh. Sad start for you but fine attitude. Chin up!

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    1. "Less" is a great word for a year -- we talked about this in yoga this morning. Thanks for the bucking up. ;-)

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  6. My condolences on the loss of Paul's mother.
    Your photos are beautiful reminders that life is timeless, at least I think so.
    Joy is a good word.

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    1. Thanks, Melanie -- loved your last post -- very joyful!

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  7. I was sorry to hear about your mother in law. It's very hard to be the oldest generation of a family. There's a certain loneliness to it. Wishing you peace and joy. That's a wonderful word. "Brave" is turning out (already) to be just the word I needed to focus on. Sending virtual hugs.

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    1. Yes, this is part of it, we're in the vanguard now and there is a certain loneliness and a sense of responsibility, somehow. Figuring it out. xo

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  8. Hello Mater, condolences on the loss of your mother-in-law. I'm glad that you and Paul are able to be together to gently grieve. Jennifer's comment above is very sobering - to be the oldest generation of a family. You and Paul are doing a great job already, leading your children in remembrance.

    We will be busy tomorrow - finally having a housewarming party, after 6 months in this house! Hopefully our guests will decide to brave the storm that's forecast.
    Enjoy your turkey sandwiches, and the soup which will inevitably follow - that's my favourite part of a turkey meal!

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    1. Thanks, Patricia. "to gently grieve" -- this is so precise. It's gentle, this grief, even precious in a way, and I'm glad we have time to accommodate it. And yes, I find Jennifer's comment both apt and sobering.
      I hope you have the housewarming party you deserve and that the storm is only enough to make your guests feel cozy and festive. Happy New Year!

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  9. I am sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. Your earlier posts about G-G spoke of what an important role that she played in your lives. It is difficult to let go of Apprehension and all of those feelings of anger, sadness and fear seem to appear in spite of our resolution. May the beauty of your home and the promise of the new little ones help you in your time of loss.

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    1. Thanks, Mme. It is difficult to let go of Apprehension, so I'm hoping I can create some new circuits this year -- switches that direct my energy along Joy tracks. Beauty surrounding us and our delightful little ones should help.

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  10. Gorgeous post, Frances. xo You've had so much loss in the last year - but also so much abundance. Must be very strange to hover between those extremes. You're doing a great job, though.

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    1. It's true, and perhaps that's why I feel conscious of those two possibilities: Apprehension and Joy. Here's to resetting the default for 2015. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  11. My heart goes out to you and Pater in sympathy.
    You are very fortunate to have a lovely family and grandchildren who look up to you.
    Hunker down, enjoy those Turkey sandwiches, and savour those memories.

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    1. Thanks, L. Turkey and Tryptophan for the win!

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  12. So sorry to hear about your mother-in-law, sending condolences to both you & Paul. Good to hunker down with your turkey sandwiches for a while. It was lovely to meet you in London last year and I do hope our paths cross again soon. Beautiful photos - the second picture is stunning. Wishing you a joyful 2015 x

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    1. Thanks, A. We really enjoyed that meal together as well and hope it's not too long before we might visit again. And who knows how far you'll get on your book launch! We have a spot for you in Vancouver. . . .;-)

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  13. So sorry about your mother-in-law and for the sense of the ending of an era. May you find joy in those wonderful granddaughters!

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    1. Thanks, Maggie. I do have the sense of an era ending -- I suppose the grief isn't simply over my mother-in-law's passing, but also over the loss of all the memories we shared together, her vision of my 20-year-old self that was not quite the same as anyone else's. . .

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  14. I am sorry for this news, and if I recall correctly Pater's mother was the last surviving parent. That is a particular loss. The matriarchs of both families sound like remarkable women and their ability to create strong, loving families has obviously been passed on to you two.

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    1. It IS a particular loss, isn't it?! I'm guessing you've experienced that already as well. We were very lucky to have had parents into our 60s, and now, I suppose, it's up to us to bring them into the future through memory and through the families we've got a part in building. Thanks for your kind and insightful words.

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    2. Both of Le Duc's parents are still alive, but I've seen this sadness come to pass with our friends. One friend's father-in-law, the last parent, said to her, "You wish you could keep me with you for a thousand years". I am so sorry.

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    3. Oh, that's so very poignant, that quotation your friend holds onto.

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  15. I am sorry for the loss of your mother-in-law, and with her, the last of your parents, even though members of that generation still remain. And yet your post is both poignantly beautiful and hopefully optimistic as well. It seems to have been a hard year in many ways, and yet also so much joy. That is the tough part of balancing the forces that push against us in this life, appreciating the joys and cherishing the memories.

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    1. It's so true, isn't it. You can't have one without the other, so it's important to see the joy, mingled as it might be with sorrow and loss. Thank you.

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  16. So sorry for the loss of your mother-in-law. Loosing the person who loves you as only a parent can is a bit sad and lonely. My deepest sympathy to you and Paul...

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    1. Thank you -- it's true that it's a very special kind of loss, exposing a bereft inner child. . .

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