Le blog de la Bergerie
C'est la sainte Marguerite. Bonne Fête, Maman ! My mother's name was " Marguerite " (Daisy, in English) and she died a few years ago. She was a very good mother and I miss her, I pray for her and I know she prays for me. Today I want to pay tribute to her goodness and her humility, her even-temper, her smile and easy-going personality, and her dedication to her family. May her soul rest in peace.
The days at the end of her life, and her death, and the following funeral were such challenging moments. Although she had declined, although I was expecting it, because of her old age and her illness, and although I have complete faith in eternal life and the love of God, I found it to be difficult to bear. It was a very mixed emotional time with waves of sorrow on one hand, knowing a page was just turned in my life, but on the other hand with a constant showering of kindness and support, from family and friends, from neighbors around the corner or from across the globe, bringing a very real and practical balm to my heart. For that matter, I also found that the Catholic funeral service (in particular how it is done in this French Alpine village) was the most meaningful, supportive and formative way of coping with the passing of a loved one, by bringing us all together for this crucial moment, and processing on foot, behind the funeral hearse, thru the village to the cemetery reminding us of the "bigger than us" dimension of death, affirming the reality of the invisible world and the love of God.
I went through it first with the death of my father and then a couple of years later with my mother. Although every death is unique (just as every birth is) the traditional rite and the manner in which we go through these moments can make a huge difference, for the moment in which they are happening and for the months and years to come afterward, forever! My mother had a long life (she was 90 years old), a long marriage with my father, her husband. She worked a lot, from an early age (in her teens) to retirement, she loved the outdoors as he did, and she was always dedicated to her family.
I have gathered together a few mini-stories written about her in the last few years, first when I had moved back with my parents to help them out, and others written more recently. Her illness (Alzheimer) brought a very special challenge and although it had painful moments, it also had many good moments, funny ones and very moving ones mixed in with the difficult ones. To my own surprise, when we have to do it, we can adapt to new situations even better than I would have ever thought. And because of these very positive moments, I decided to share them, hoping they would encourage and help others dealing with similar situations.
I generally write in a simple manner, always starting with a personal moment but aiming for the whole picture, for a stronger world view. I found out late in life that I LOVE writing, I do it very carefully and prudently, polishing every word. For that matter, I think I am a better person in writing than I am in reality because I get more time to think about it and ponder, to review and crop, where in real life I do criticize others and say stupid stuff very directly when I get annoyed... and later on, I regret it. But not in writing, there is a deliberate intent to only write the best I can produce, to prune what is not needed. It is the same with my photos, I will only share the good ones, the beautiful ones. The artist in me dreams to share what I myself find so beautiful. So I'll put it out there... I think my photos of nature are simple, they often concentrate on a special light, on a surprising angle or an unfamiliar focus. I see amazing beauty in nature, in small and grand things, the kind that takes your breath away and for a minute will bring you little treats of inner peace and courage for the journey.
In many ways, praying does the same thing to me, it is a “mode of being”, a lifestyle, a vision of the world, that gets the best out of me (plus of course I get invisible help!). I want my contribution, no matter how small it is, to be adding something to the goodness, the beauty and the justice of the world. I am too old to have any desire to add fear and confusion since, with every year passing, I understand more fully how there are enough people and various forces out there driven to share those. So whether it is in writing or taking pictures, in praying and living, my goal is to love the world and to love my neighbor every step of the way. And it is enough of a goal to fill my plate, as far as I am concerned!
My growing awareness of these goals of mine started with the kindness and humility of my own mother and her steadfastness in taking care of her own family, first in her teens, taking care of her younger brother who was hurt in a terrible car accident and needed lots of care (many operations and rehabs) for years, then taking care of her husband (a 64 years marriage till his death in 2012), and her daughter (yours truly!), and her granddaughter (who came to France every summer), and her niece (my cousin, whom we all loved dearly). Growing older and going through my own (stunning!) return to the faith three decades ago have helped me see the good traits I inherited and the rich background I was given.It is now my turn to hightlight them and pay homage. So here are a few chapters in my life story and these ones are specifically all about helping around you and caring for others, as you taught me, my chère Maman.