Saturday, December 12, 2009

RIP Aunt Zelda


The call finally came yesterday, letting us know that Aunt Zelda had breathed her final breath.  As with everything else in her life, she had not listened to the authorities about when she was supposed to die, preferring instead to choose her own time.  I wished I had been able to play her out with some beautiful piece of music, but it was not meant to be.

I had of late begun to feel like a pregnant woman two weeks beyond her due date.  I couldn’t schedule anything without adding the caveat about Zelda’s impending death.  It was a limbo in which I was beginning to feel uncomfortable, given there was absolutely no hope of a miraculous recovery.

But today the finality is upon me.  We’re struggling with details like getting her death certificate signed so her body can be transported from Chicago to Detroit for burial.  Nothing is particularly easy.

I’ll write more about Zelda as I prepare myself for her funeral, which will be on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the speed of bureaucracy.

Our rabbi Esther offered another poignant Mary Oliver poem today, which resonated with me as I think about Zelda’s passing:

When Death Comes by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

12 Comments:

Blogger Pauline said...

I'm sorry to hear of Aunt Zelda's passing. There's always a hole left when one of us goes elsewhere. Love the Mary Oliver poem - it is indeed fitting.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

That's a beautiful poem to post for your Aunt Zelda. I'm sorry for you and your family to hear that she has passed away, but living for as long as she did is quite an amazing accomplishment!

3:29 PM  
Anonymous DD said...

Thanks, B. Quite a fitting poetic send off for a remarkable woman who deeply touched all who were privileged to know her and love her.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear the news, B, and also am glad that you and D have a lot of good memories of Aunt Zelda to savor.

I hadn't read that Mary Oliver poem for a long time; it's perfect both as a tribute to Zelda and as an inspiration to those of us still alive in this world. Thank you for sharing the news and your heart.

F.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

I can hardly believe that until a few months ago I was not familiar with Mary Oliver's poetry, but I keep running into her now, always with exactly the right words.

I am sorry to hear of your aunt's death and feel that same sense of time and family slipping away.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I am sorry to read about Aunt Zelda's passing. My Tante Kathie passed away at 99 just last week. A wonderful long life. I celebrate her as I am sure you celebrate Aunt Zelda.

The poem had meaning for me so thanks for sharing.

xoxo

2:05 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

On an unrelated note...

Happy Hanukkah!

2:21 AM  
Blogger lacochran said...

I'm sorry for your loss. *hug*

7:19 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Beautiful poem! I'm so sorry to hear of Zelda's passing. It's never an easy thing.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Henrique Abrantes said...

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Na verdade seria uma troca você colocaria um abnner no meu blog e vice versa entre em contato comigo:
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Blog: http://has02.blogspot.com

12:29 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Zelda. It's great you got to visit and spend time with her so recently. Even when this is expected, it isn't easy. :(

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear of Aunt Zelda-- the posts that you brought of visiting her these past couple of years were truly inspirational to those caring for the elderly!!
I didn't like the Mary Oliver poem at first, but after I read it over again--- I, ahem, kinda like it!

2:28 AM  

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