(Note: This is posted under “Reflections.” If you want to read about the boat only, click “The Boat” from the menu above.)
She died on Christmas morning. In her bed. After writing a message on her blackboard in perfect penmanship. A perfect exit, you might say.
That was 3+ weeks ago, but it’s taken me this long to write about it. Grief takes the form, and the time, that it takes.
She was 105, so it’s not like it was unexpected. But she was still so…alive! Alert! Needed!
I just wasn’t ready.
But then, I never would be.
Aunt Martha was the last of my 20+ aunts and uncles to leave this world — but so much more than that. She was the trigger for my post-retirement visits to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I was raised. My need to see her evolved into a need to put down some new roots there, and our lives became linked in new ways. In fact, she once owned the piece of property that became Camp Many Moons…and I didn’t even know that when I bought it! That was also, somehow, perfect.
It’s no dishonor to my own amazing mother to say that she became like a 2nd mother to me. Before she became “that vibrant old woman,” she was so many other things. (Her obituary is posted here.) The point is, all “old people” were something else before they became that. We are all something else before we become that. I resolve to remember…and hope that, when I, too, am “old,” someone will do likewise for me.
The most important thing she was, I think, was graceful. She was grace, personified. Her face should be attached to that word. You know, like a cue card.
Her main legacy, for me? That’s where the “WWMD” in the blog title comes in. It’s a take on the acronym “WWJD” (What Would Jesus Do), popular in the 1990s. When I get frustrated or sad about the divisiveness in our families and communities…when I feel hopelessness creeping in…when I’m tempted to say or do anything that would cause more harm than good…I stop and ask myself, “What would Martha do?” The answer: Give love. Whatever is coming at you, give love back.
Ok, Martha. I’ll try. In your memory and in your honor, I’ll try harder. But I remember, too, that you were also aghast in recent years at what has happened to us. After all you’ve seen, you were shocked to see this. You didn’t ignore it, but you also didn’t absorb it. With your eyes open, you kept smiling. With your heart open, you kept loving.
Aion yrittää. I’ll try.
Martha and me in photos, below. See her face? Fully aware, but fully kind…