They Live On


In search of my mother's garden, I found my own. Alice Walker

The actor Sean Connery received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 for his contributions to film. He was almost 80 years-old at the time. Connery accepted the award with his usual humor and dignity, but I will never forget what he said at the end. To paraphrase, he thanked his deceased parents and wished that they could be present for his award ceremony. He said that his parents’ memory continued to enrich his life and that he thought about them every day. He finished by telling the audience that he loved his parents, missed them and looked forward to seeing them again.

I listened to his acceptance speech and I thought if Agent 007 could publicly proclaim his continuing love for his parents then I could, too. He gave me permission (although I know now I don’t need permission) to say I love you, Mom and Dad. I miss you both and I always will. Perhaps then the greatest gift of grief
 is carrying my parents in my heart—not as two people fixed in time or memory, but as individuals who continue to inform me and enrich my life in ways I cannot yet imagine.

As I have written in other places on this web site, I have a love-hate relationship with saccharine poetry and prose. The works of Helen Steiner Rice get on my nerves. When it comes to grief, I’m just not that evolved. Over time, and to my surprise, cards, prose and poems that used to rankle me now offer comfort. There is an odd sort of consolation (and hope) thinking about my parents waiting for me to come Home.
Here is one such excerpt from a May 1910 sermon given at Saint Paul's Cathedral, London, by Canon Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918):

"...I have only slipped away into the next room...Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name...Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well..."  

I’ll end this section with a verse from one of the sympathy cards that didn’t console me much when Mom died, but holds a world of hope and promise for me now:

Although you will miss her
And mourn that she’s gone,
May this thought bring you peace—
That in you she lives on.

Go to next page: Preparing to Live: A Meditation on Death

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How complicated and individual mending is,
the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar
Mary Jane Moffat
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