An ordinary day …

March 21 is an important day….to me. It’s a conflicting, filled with joy and sorrow day, and I don’t expect it to change while I live and breathe.

If I could have enough faith to move a mountain, or even be so expectant as the little teeny tiny mustard seed who just wants to be planted so she can grow and scatter her seeds, and proliferate amongst the dry and barren earth.. that would be something. This seed grows in the most difficult spaces, challenging the elements to stop her. Throwing down the gauntlet each and every time . I shall says the seed. It is my purpose, and I shall proceed.

Such power in the seed. Miracles laying carefully sheltered within a husk that contains such innate ability to produce good and needed things.

Blooming in challenging days, where sunlight is often hidden, and needed rain is scarce. The need to stretch and be patient, to wait beneath where it is dark. Nestled in the underground awaiting the prompting to push upwards, to find light, to do what it was made for. The courage of this minute thing to to reach for it, and to not stop until it completes what it began.

The bright red male cardinal always reminds me of her. Birds, especially, and gardens, and soft instrumental hymns that are the background music to her soul.

A sweet package arrived in the mail yesterday. A lovely token of remembrance sent by someone who loves me..and who also loved her. The impeccable timing of it all. Precise…just when sorrow was bending my head towards my chest. The tiny magnet with the cardinal, and the words,

“Love lives forever”

True love does. It does not go away. That kind of love is eternal, rooted and saturated in hope, drenched with the very water of life, and it surrounds as the tears roll gently down the cheeks, causing me to reach for a tissue.. a Kleenex.

She loved Kleenex boxes, and would buy them in multiple containers carefully plastic wrapped all together. She liked specific designs on the boxes, and wanted them to match the contents of her rooms.

Kleenex just reminds remind me of her too. I never buy tissue boxes. They are redundant to my way of thinking. I have toilet paper . This is needed.. it’s not an option. Two years later, on the anniversary of her passing, I’m still plucking tissue from the same box… her decorative box. These little frail scraps of soft tissue are the essence of her . There is a delicious delicacy in tissue . It’s an extra ..but also needed all at the same time and if you like tissues.. and she did.

There is an elastic band on my desk. Yup.. memories again. She usually had one or three wrapped around her right wrist.. just in case. She was prepared to fix, and it brought her such joy and sense of purpose to repair the broken stuff.

I woke up this morning, and heard the lone distinctive song of the male cardinal . The darkness was yet there, as the dawn had not begun to break yet.

These are gifts. Simple in their sentiment, and yet so specific and custom sent begging me to take notice of them, and honor them, with an affirmative nod.

I see you, and I remember you . Early coffee in the morning shared together. You are everywhere and all around me, and I feel your presence especially in the quiet places of nature, and in the fixing of things, and conquering mundane challenges that set your heart alight. Your tool belt that was multi purposed, and held your treasures. A verse that I found tucked down deep in the front pocket like a love kiss from heaven . Every detail.. is priceless.

And then came Grace …

I ran a few errands with her yesterday. A trip to the drug store to pick up some necessary items. Then onto the bank where she had a list impeccably written in the tiniest of notes and readily gave to the teller with a happy and honest smile.

I could kind of surmise that the teller was a little stressed, but Grace, as she sat on the chair waiting in her cute red parka with grey fur lined hood, and matching Scottish tartan scarf was completely at ease. She was prepared to wait.

A line had formed, and I stood a ways off behind her as her sentinel . She is 93, and she truly is ” Amazing Grace” in so many ways. Those of you who know her, and are blessed by her many kindnesses, and joyfully heavenly spirit are content just by sitting near her, and spending time alongside.

This time with her was like an infusion of fresh air that I didn’t even know I needed. The sun was out, the roads were dry, and the chill in the air had dissipated.. what a relief. Even if it’s just for the day , it’s a welcome reprieve from the grey of yesterday.

I heard on the radio while driving out to see Grace, that it has been the darkest winter in Ontario in 100 years. Bleakness can overtake where the sun cannot be found.

We shared a quiet lunch at one of her favorite little cafes in town. These moments. I could picture my Mum joining us too for a wee bowl of homemade soup . The community drawing us to each is to one another in love . We reminisced at the table, and she shared experiences she recalled of my Grandpa H. We smiled across the table, and our eyes met ..Her smile and infectious giggle stirs me. She is an example to me of the very best way to live . She is a heart filled up with joy. I teased her as I left her, and said I think she epitomizes ” Amazing Grace?”

, and she she shook her head, and said, ” no dear ..not me.”

I want to be Grace when I grow up .

” The man who kneels to God can stand up to anything.” Louis H. Evans

Thirty one years ago my first child was born . I couldn’t imagine my life with him, and after that first breath and piercing cry there is no way that I could imagine my life without him .

A child changes a person. This child changed me .

We are all pieces of a puzzle. We don’t know the piece that is missing until it snuggles into its space, and the scene takes ahold of us, and we feel complete.

My first born son was born this same day, that Mum departed to heaven . They are forever linked . This was for a reason . It’s not random .

My brain misfires because it cannot decide whether to celebrate the birth of my son, or to mourn the passing of my Mother . It’s a conundrum to be certain .

Cooking at Hospice kitchen this morning, I had a feeling there would be a ” walk out.” There was . The chef asked if I wanted to join?

I said, ” yes.. of course.”

It’s an exquisite honor to bear witness. This team of volunteers does it so well, and elegantly . Nothing is taken for granted . Dignity and care walk hand in hand here . There is soft music playing in the background, and everyone stands quietly, arms folded in front of or behind their backs. We want the family and those taking that final walk behind their beloved family member to know that we see you. We are here in this place because we care. You matter. We all matter .

Many of us who volunteer here do it because we have experienced hospice care before . These people inspire me. There is always much to learn from one another about how best to serve and care for each other.

As we brought the salads in to the guests who were present for today at Hospice care , they erupted into a song of thanksgiving before their noon meal was served. I found it incredibly moving. My emotions flooded into my eyes, as I observed this bond of brotherhood that these people had for one another.

These incredible souls are drawing near to what lays beyond. They are here for today , and that is enough. The celebration of now.. no more.. no less.

They are not alone . They have community in this day program . Volunteers drive them in from their homes for the day. Yesterday a lovely doggie named ” Charlie” was in attendance. He brought lots of smiles. He wandered about from person to person wagging his fluffy blond tail , and waiting to be petted. He became especially interested in me when I entered the dining area with food. He stood back, and looked at me to see if I would invite him in to sit at the table . I did not .

The business of living and the business of dying .

I took myself out to lunch at ” The Mad Radish,” and pictured my Mum occupying the seat across the table from me. Memories flood in.. and gratitude. I even ate kale in my salad even though it tasted like eating a cactus. I know Mum would have laughed if I had told her that. I loved making her laugh.

A healthy salad from ” The Mad Radish.” Are all radishes mad?

Happy Birthday on earth my son, and Happy Birthday in heaven my Mum .


5 thoughts on “An ordinary day …

  1. Beautifully expressed! We are sitting in the sun at YVR, waiting for our connecting flight. A great time to reflect on the memories of you, your family, and of course, Amazing Grace W. Love, Frank & Jean.

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    1. Thank you so much Frank, and happy belated birthday to you too . It’s Mum’s birthday today . I picture her and Dad and all of her loved ones having a heavenly shindig of a celebration today .. Grace is certainly amazing, whether she agrees with us or not . She is an example to me .. sending love to you and Jean ..

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  2. Jill, this post is beautiful. It makes me miss the older generation that has (and had) so much to teach us. The humility of spirit “no dear…not me.” I can hear my grandmother saying it too. 💔. I think it is good to serve and sit at the feet of this generation and remember to be slow, humble, and consider others better than ourselves (Phil. 2:1-11). “To love another person is to see the face of God” (Victor Hugo).

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    1. Laura, I completely agree . So much to learn . They were humble, worked hard for their families, served others, and kept doing, and being in community . I love that Victor Hugo quote too. I printed it on the front of the program on my wedding day . Even though the marriage broke apart, the quote remains eternally true . Thank you for your sweet comments . Have a blessed day .

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