Thursday, December 17, 2009

Indian Sunset

With this last piece I figure I have given my grandchildren a sense of their grandmother. It is an impossible task to try to convey a life through words, but I wouldn't want her memory to simply elicit a shrug and "I never knew her".
Her last six months of earthly life were lived in a small town in New Jersey where she was living off of raw juices. A team of friends would volunteer their services taking care of her every need except for ginger snap cookies and Tetley tea, and ice cream and hamburgers... Her main care givers were Janice and Charles Stillhard. No two people worked harder to try and extend the life of another, but that is there story to tell. I want to talk about her memorial which was held some months after her passing. Janice told the story in front of about a hundred family and friends about how she met my mother-a story that was new to me. Janice related how she was desperate to stay alive and had exhausted all treatments that she could find out about. My mother was referred to her by someone in the New York area. She called up and they had a conversation which I can only imagine and she was invited to visit. Janice decided to fly into Portland and for a variety of legitimate reasons she was scared-it was do or die time and she was about to put her life in hands of a real eccentric in every way. She even belonged to something called the Baha'i Faith which Janice thought was a nudist society cult. When she was telling this story I was thinking "Wow! you really wanted to live!" My mother had given Janice directions from Portsmouth, N.H. although she had told Dr. Mary she was coming from Portland, Me. Needless to say the directions made no sense and poor Janice had been driving around frazzled mentally and physically. Finally she made it to Eliot Me. and had found a Green Acre Baha'i sign for a place called Fellowship House. There was a sunburst carving on the sign that sent chills up her back because there was a nudist camp in rural N.J. with a similar sign. She knew she was close but still there was no house with a porch light on an it was eleven at night. She called my mother who said she was right down the street from her house and would she please hurry because she was anxious to get out of her clothes. Suddenly, Janice wasn't so sure wasn't paying too high a price to stay alive. She was greeted warmly at the door and their was a pot of comforting soup on the stove and a comforting presence to serve it. They became close friends and Janice and her daughter actually lived with my mother for several years and Janice became a Baha'i and regained her health-although to my knowledge she never did become a nudist. My daughter Laurel read my contribution to the memorial.

I was hoping
I think you were too
If there was an Indian Summer left in you
A reward for fixing broken bodies and shattered spirits
A last season on the porch
Of swaying and being swayed
By the colorful sleep of the twilight sky
"See this sunset," you'd say
"Abdu'l-Baha loved the sunsets at Green Acre.
Can't you picture him walking on stairs of light
to the other world."
And there you go,
A dying sun burning brightest at the end
All eyes of the universe giving reverence to this moment.
Your moment
To be seen
and heard
and remembered.

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