Pages of my life…

Merci

Posted on: December 16, 2008

A heartwarming birthday celebration took place on the beach at Half Moon Bay a few days ago.  A fairly small family gathered to scatter the ashes of their dearly loved Mom…who went off in search of a better world shortly before Christmas.  This beach was one of her favorite spots to sit and dream…indulge in picnics with loved ones and just enjoy being alive.  For this very reason…it seemed a fitting place to return her to the sea she loved…and provide a special spot for loved ones to come and visit at will.  And so on her birthday she was both born into this world and returned to forever sail the seas.
Merci means thank you but was also the given name of someone I have known for most of my life.  And now she is gone…leaving behind a sea of sad faces trying to come to grips with her loss.  Though I was married to her son many, many years ago…she never quit referring to herself as my Mom.  She loved telling everyone I was her daughter…and even sent me a card reminding me that I could not divorce the whole family.  We shared countless laughs and memorable mischief over the years…kept in touch by phone and mail and shared a seemingly endless stream of thoughts of one another.  She was a beautiful woman…stunning in her younger years and gracefully elegant in the latter part of life.  She set the table with her finest burgundy dishes and had tea parties where dolls and children played in perfect harmony.
We strolled along beaches and sat dreamy eyed admiring sunsets over the marina…looking just past the sole palm tree…pretending Hawaii was in reach just over the horizon.  There were picnics on long drives through the country…impromptu stops to feed ducks in a pond or merely to indulge in a hot fudge sundae in need of devouring.  In July I was fortunate enough to help her sort through boxes and boxes that contained much of her life.  It would have seemed a tedious task were it not for the gasps and giggles that accompanied opening each box of forgotten pictures and treasured memories.  She was a pack rat…a trait which I completely understood.  How could you get rid of a tattered piece of embroidery born into the family…or part with books you once took such delight in reading over and over again ?  Her homemade soup was worthy of hosting royalty…though her shy manner and modest means precluded her from having many guests.
Hers was an old fashioned world…one of velvet and lace…untimely to be sure as she never, ever arrived when expected.  She lived in a place that was forever changed long ago…her face etched with the hardship of losing both a small child and her husband in her youth.  Ravished by polio and the deformities that made her every day more complicated than most…she painted with a style that would have pleased any dreamy eyed romantic.  She often threw her hands up as if to surrender when things got unbearably tough…but then a smile would come over her face as she thought of yet another way to make it all work out.  In her heart of hearts…it was her children that she loved more than life itself.  She delighted so in admiring pictures of their youth…days gone by and remembering the smallest kindness…and happier times from yesteryear.
To say she will be missed is an understatement of gigantic proportions.  She had a job to do and she did it rather well.  The first things her children had to say to me were expressions of gratitude for the love and laughter I shared with their Mom…telling me how I made her so very happy…and what the special relationship we had shared meant to her.  I know she would have been smiling down from heaven at that very moment to think what a wonderful job she had done in raising children who would be so gracious under the worst of circumstances.  I also know that while our endless fun and mischief making were very much mutual…it is I indeed who owe her a debt of thanks…pure and simple.
Merci’
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