Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 Year End

Well, I suppose I could run down the things that seem significant to me from the past year, and I will briefly, but 2012 will really always be about the last two or so months and the 3 events - one with national significance, one with local significance, and one with personal significance - that really dominated.  These are, of course, the Newtown, CT shooting in the school, "Superstorm" Sandy, and losing my Mom. 

It's hard to really say anything about the shooting other than:,30743/?ref=auto

and as for Sandy, my poor hometown will be digging out for years.  So before I get to Mom, here's my list of what I'll remember about the last year, in no significant order.

Listening - Sibelius
Watching - Firefly and Serenity
Reading - more sci-fi, comic books, Analog magazine, some actual science
Seeing - Book of Mormon
My new notion to venture into violin, taking a lengthy detour through the mandolin
Visiting Ithaca and Point Pleasant (just in time, it turned out)
Romeo & Juliet with Rob & John
"Clockwork Angels" at Prudential Center
"Late Nighting" release party at Alor
My daughter graduating high school and starting college

That's about it.  Now on to Mom.

The last night we were with her in the hospital she was pretty out of it most of the time.  During once stretch where she resting, I held her arm and silently said the Lord's Prayer to myself (I'm sure it aggravated her that it took me a couple of tries to remember the whole thing).  In the car as I was leaving the hospital I listened to "The Garden" over and over again and cried.  I went to bed with my cell phone next to me, because I think I knew I was going to get a call that night.  When we told her she had to keep the oxygen mask on and she replied "no, I don't",  I really think she had made up her mind that she was ready, and didn't want to drag on any longer.

I'll leave with what I said at the wake.  Goodbye, Mom.  You'll always be loved and missed.


Getting to spend time with loved ones, with family, was the most important thing to my Mom as the years went on.  And anyone who has ever spent a holiday with our family knows that at some point it usually descends into an outburst of uncontrolled, hysterical laughter.  Our ability to make each other laugh is really central to our family identity, and even in the hospital in her last few days, we got to make my Mom giggle a few times.  And she provided us with a few laughs as well, as when she told the ER doctor straight-faced that she didn’t smoke (“Three days” she told me, as if that could erase 69 years).

Sometimes my Mom wouldn’t appreciate our humor.  There was probably a lot about her kids that she didn’t appreciate – feel free to catalog our list of personal failings at your leisure, I don’t have that kind of time right now.  But the one thing that her kids did for her that no one can really argue is that we provided her with three pretty exceptional grandchildren.  She may have complained that the world had gotten too coarse, too harsh and unrefined, but I think that’s only because she never really got to see the good that went on just outside of her view.  She got a steady diet of bad news and lewd jokes from TV and the radio, and missed out on the truly good, the good that she saw in her grandchildren and wished to see in the wider world.

I want to share a story with her, and with you.  My friend is one of the flooding victims of the recent hurricane, and when I finally got to his house to make sure he was ok, all he could talk about was the army of young people that came to offer help.  "It was such a blessing, kids just showing up to help” he told us.  So you see Ma, they listened to you after all.  I don’t think that we, their parents generation, can take credit for it.  But maybe the example our parents set, truly the greatest generation, provided the example of selflessness, of charity, and of sacrifice that we are seeing right now all over the area, and that would offer her a more hopeful view of the future. 

So Ma, please know that your legacy is a generation of grandchildren with big hearts, and an amazingly inherent understanding of right and wrong closer to the Golden Rule than you could possibly believe.  And as a measure of a life, that’s am amazing legacy, indeed.  


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