Life cycles through so many phases: birth, childhood, teen years, adulthood, the wisdom years of ageing and finally our bodies die when we’re done with them. In all of this, there are celebrations of the transitions we experience throughout life: baptisms, birthdays, weddings, funerals, recovery from illnesses, new babies, graduations.
This past weekend, we celebrated the life of my son-in-law’s father, Bruce, whose body died a couple of weeks ago. Bruce was a good man who taught us a gentler way of living, how to accept life as it is, to be at peace, to “go with the flow.” He was a surfer as a young man, so my son-in-law, friends and family went to the beach Saturday morning and several of the guys had a paddle-out, tossing leis and flowers into the ocean then whacking the water and chanting “Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!” We had a wonderful celebration at the house afterward with a slide show of photos, music, a beautiful scrapbook that a cousin made with some help from my granddaughters who love their grandpa so much. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful celebration of a good man. He will be missed and he will continue to be celebrated.
On Sunday, we celebrated my uncle’s 82nd birthday in grand style with family, friends, food and my uncle sitting there enjoying it all. I love going up to see him, with that mischievous sparkle in his eyes and that ready smile. He has a large family and large extended family and it was wonderful to see so many gathered to honor and celebrate my uncle. I learned that it was Feb. 13, 1951, when he was just 21 years old, that he was wounded in the Korean War, ultimately losing a leg. My uncle has always been our hero, supporting a family of nine, working in the community, in the church, always the first to help a friend, always ready with a teasing joke and his happy smile that makes everything in the world better. I love him beyond beyond. And beyond that.
And today, we commemorate the day that Mom’s body died and we celebrate the amazing life she lived. Like her brother (my uncle), she was always a bright light in every gathering, always dancing, singing, telling a fun story, keeping everyone happy. She was an amazing mother, encouraging our dreams and hopes as kids, ever-supportive of all our activities (“You don’t need to join every club in school”, she’d tell me), teaching us to be considerate of others, to volunteer, to give back, to be of help; to learn and grow, study hard and work hard. She inspired my love of dance, taking me to ballet lessons, sewing my costumes. When I grew up, I loved when just the two of us would sit at the kitchen table, talking over coffee. It’s been 22 years since I’ve sat with her at that table, yet we still talk, I still feel her loving presence, she still finds ways to teach me, to love me, to let me know she is still with me. Love doesn’t need a body.
I love you, Mom.