The Cycle of Life

In Loving Memory

Those who have been following this blog know that we have been caring for my husband’s elderly mother in our home for the last 3 years.  There comes a time when the body is too worn and tired to continue, and the spirit longs for freedom from it and life’s experiences, some quite painful.  She lost a daughter long ago, before Rick was born.  A beautiful 6 year old who ran into the road after a ball, Sharon was hit by a truck and died instantly.   The experience affected the rest of her life on many levels.

SR

Daughter Sharon who died at age 6.

Mom was fortunate to be able to pass away at home with us instead of a hospital or facility.  Her feline companion Willow and the rest of cats were also in attendance.

Willow

Companion cat Willow, taken back in October. One can see the love between these two elder ladies, one human, one feline.

The outpouring of love and support from friends and relatives has helped us tremendously during our time of grief while we transition into a new life without her.  Special thanks goes to Samaritan Evergreen Hospice for all their assistance and compassion during the last 3 months.   We could have not done this without their support, and that of the caregivers we enlisted who have helped us during most of the 3+ years we have had her with us.

It is here I will close my own thoughts, and leave readers with an eloquent note I received from an old friend and long-time mentor.   It has brought us great comfort.

“I join you in your sorrow and joy.  I am aware that getting old is mostly a matter of letting things go, giving up many thoughts and dreams that we compile during our lives.  I have come to believe a page from the Buddhist philosophy, dependency arising.  All things are connected to all things.  Nothing happens without a ripple through the universe whether we are able to perceive it or not.

     I also believe it has been a blessing that she was surrounded by the cats and the farm, all the things that speak of life with their
cycles and acceptance of all that happens.  A few days ago I had a five minute stare down with a four point buck and several does.  He was a little curious but very separate with his little family.  He was also fearless and accepting of our sharing a space and time.  Eventually he went back to eating and I went along my way.  The doe’s weren’t concerned in the slightest.

      There’s nothing special in that five minutes except that we are all here, we all have our part to play and then we go forward to
whatever dimension is next.  The rest of us remain with our memories, selecting out the good and mostly letting the rest fade away.  While I’m in no hurry, to me Death is a friend who I’ll have plenty of time to get to know in the future.  I’m watching the seasons come and go with more intensity than ever before.

     You and Rick have come through a very difficult time that has increased the wear and tear on both you.  You are changed by it as we
all are by every difficulty that comes our way.  Now is the time to sit back quietly for a short while and cement the good while letting the bad find it’s own way down the road.  I admire your strength and fortitude tremendously, both of you.  I want you to finish out this winter and walk into spring with all of its new promise.  I hope you will find renewed happiness in the renewed season.    – K.”

CloudWoolies-05052015

Clouds and blue sky in spring over Salmon Brook Farms.

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57 thoughts on “In Loving Memory

  1. Hi Rick and Lavinia

    We feel deeply for you at this time and our thoughts and love are with you and we are comforted that your mother was able to pass to another life in your home and surrounded by all those who loved and cherished her.

    “There comes a time when the body is too worn and tired to continue, and the spirit longs for freedom from it and life’s experiences, some quite painful.”

    It is only two weeks ago that we sat quietly with Janet’s mother Clare as she also slipped from us to rejoin the love of her life, Archie, her body also worn and too tired to continue.

    It was sad to let her go, but we took comfort in knowing that her suffering was over, and rather than thinking of it as something that had ended, we knew that a new life was beginning for her.

    She also suffered the pain of losing a daughter, quietly suffering that in her own way, as I am sure your mother did, but together they are, once more…

    We have taken great comfort in knowing that you have a special garden where you have planted flowers for Brian, Archie, and Marion, and we will plant a garden of sunflowers for your mother that will bask in the early morning glow of an eternal life.

    May she rest peacefully and those who love her be comforted by the memories she has given you all.

    Baz, Janet, and TomO…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Baz, Janet and TomO – I also feel deeply for your loss of Janet’s mother Clare. Yes, the suffering is over for these women now, and they have rejoined their beloved husbands and daughters.

      Rick’s mother Gladys loved sunflowers! She said they always looked so friendly and bright. Spring and summer in our respective parts of the world will be bright with flowers. Thank you so much!!!!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Tim. She had only turned her attention for a moment when Sharon ran into the road. That was all it took. The pain remained with her for life.

      I found the photos in an old album. That was a particularly striking photo of her, and that particular one of Sharon seemed to express the little one’s personality I have heard so much about over the years.

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  2. Herman says:

    This is a beautiful and heartwarming tribute, Lavinia. Wish I could help you or had the right words to take away your pain. My thoughts are with you and Rick’s family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Herman! We take comfort in that she is not suffering anymore and that she is back with her husband and daughter now. In one of Gladys’ lucid moments, she expressed concern for Willow and what would happen to her afterwards. I reassured her the we would continue to take care of Willow, and that she has a forever home with us.

      You have had much pain of your own, Herman. When my friend sent that lovely note, I thought of you too, and hoped the words might bring you comfort as well.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, GP!

      I have the California Redwoods ready to plant in memory of your son. The friend who gave me these young trees said they do not uproot easily in storms and will grow strong and tall, protecting the farm as a windbreak and providing shade long after all of us are gone. The rainy season now is the perfect time to plant them. The drought is officially over, for this year. I will have to rig up some protective cages to keep the deer off them until they get big enough.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. The words of comfort your friend wrote are special and thank you for sharing. It is unusual for a parent to pass away at home, among her family these days…she must have had much comfort from that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Carol. Yes, that was a special note from my old friend and mentor, and was perfect for a tribute to Gladys. I am glad she was able be here with us. I am more tired than I have ever been in my life. As K. said, it does change you, as does any difficulty, but it was a privilege to accompany her to the Door to Eternity. She is at peace.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pam Ross says:

    Lavinia & Rick,
    The blessing of Nana living such a long life, of course, can only bring happiness. But the loss lingers, no matter how we try to put it into a positive light. You both especially, learning how to live your lives all over again together, and not be reminded every day, is going to be a strange road. In time, you just start new routines and it gets easier. But the loss always lingers. Thank you for taking such remarkable care of her, and most definitely giving her a quality of life so she goes to heaven feeling satisfied & peaceful. We love you both. We will always love Nana. You both deserve some happy times ahead, and even at those times when the loss seems to linger, please know that there should be no regrets…only love and good times ahead. Love always! Pam

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Joe. In her last lucid moments we were able to tell each other how much we loved one another. She had been ready to go for some time now, and was thankfully able to eat, walk and get about up until the day came she said she was too tired to get up and did not want to eat. The Hospice nurses were wonderful in helping make her comfortable as possible.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Nina says:

    Our deepest sympathies, Lavinia – to you, Rick and Willow. May Rick’s Mom now be healed from her emotional suffering and be at peace. You surrounded her with your Love, her dear Kitty, Home-life and Nature – such a Blessing. You are very special and have gone through such a difficult time – we wish you all Peace, Rest and Comfort. Much Love, Nina & Michael xox

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Nina & Michael. We tried to provide the best home we could for her. We were so glad when she and Willow cat bonded and became best friends. Gladys loved all the cats, but Willow was her special friend. Willow has a forever home here.

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  6. I am so sorry for your loss Lavinia. I know how tired you must be and know that it will take some time before that weariness goes away. My father died at home five years ago surrounded by his family. It was what he really wanted and we were pleased to do it for him but it is so tiring. There is no respite for the carer and always a feeling that one should be doing more. I love the tribute written by your friend; it is so very moving. My prayers are with you and Rick and also for your mother-in-law; may she rest in peace.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Clare. I am glad your father got to die at home too. Yes, it is tiring for the caregivers, and I am more tired than I have ever been in this life. It will pass, and as K. says, spring will come.

      I thought our friend’s words might speak to everyone, and so it seemed appropriate to make them the closing thoughts to this post. Many of us are in similar situations now, or have been. His words brought much comfort, as you all have as well. Bless all of you for being here with us at this time.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Lavinia, I am so sad for your loss. I know the feelings, not easy. What a beautiful tribute and also your friend’s words. She is in my heart, with my prayers. And my thoughts are with you and your family. Love and hugs, nia

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, dear Nia. Gladys is with her beloved daughter and husband now, and will cry no more. Her cat companion is settling out and adjusting to life without her. That kitty is close to 20 years old now, and is more fragile herself. We try to give her as much attention as possible. Thank you all so much for your words and support at this time.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jerry. I was hoping that this tribute would give readers a feel for who Gladys was. She is at peace now.

      I had set up a bird feeder outside her window where she could watch them come and go from her bed. She so much enjoyed birds. On sunny days she liked to be on her chaise lounge on the porch where she could watch them outside.

      Now is time to catch up with my own life, and all of you.

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  8. I am just seeing this, Lavinia and Rick. It’s a beautiful tribute to your Mom, and also to you. You and the cats helped to make sure she had a good life in her final years, and you worked hard to make her feel loved and comfortable.
    Condolences to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Cynthia. The cats, especially Willow, were a tremendous help in making her feel comfortable, and made our job easier. My friend K. provided a beautiful eulogy on the cycle of life. When I read his note, I felt it should conclude this post.

      My sincere thanks to all of you who have commented, or just taken the time to read this post. In an old letter she wrote in 1990 marked “Please read after my death”, she said had hoped there would be a memorial service of some kind. She knew few people here outside her immediate family and caregivers, and most of her own relatives and friends have passed away. She always loved international travel, so I thought WordPress, with all the international visitors that stop by this blog, would be the ideal place to honor her life. Your own lives from around the world have touched ours in a positive way, and I am grateful, and honored, to know you all.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. While we did connect at gmail, I wanted to visit your post too Lavinia and must tell you how beautiful and poignant I found it to be. Thank you for sharing your letter from K. I relished every word and read it thru twice to really soak it in. What a comfort that must have been for you and Rick. I felt these words really deeply, “The rest of us remain with our memories, selecting out the good and mostly letting the rest fade away.” And thoughts of my dad are flooding in.
    As a younger person, I, like most, really had a fear of death. Then my dad passed away, and somehow all those fears faded. I just feel that whatever is beyond, he’s there and I’m not scared anymore. Does that make sense?
    So there’s the ‘ripple’ that K refers too: Agnes, Rick, you, K, me, my dad and so it goes. I’m picturing it on calmer water, moving out from the centre, ever wider, but more and more gentle as it goes. Wishing you gentler moments too, x K

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Boomdee. What you say about the fear of death fading away makes perfect sense. The other side of the veil is not far, only just out of our sight. I thought our friend K’s note said something that would strike a chord with many readers, as well as provide the perfect ending to this tribute. I am honored there was meaning there for you as well. K. is a retired engineer and long-time mentor, always gently nudging me to continue creating music. His words are a comfort, and I refer to them often to maintain perspective on the Cycle of Life and all that entails.

      I too, am wishing you gentler moments, as the ripples through the Universe ever widen. Have a wonderful holiday season, and a peaceful and plentiful New Year to come. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. kittiesblue says:

    Please accept my condolences in your time of grief. Your mother-in-law was quite beautiful, Lavinia, and I am sure she was so happy that she was able to live out her life with you and your husband, Rick. Thank you for your kind words and thoughts about Fiona. Her prognosis is not good. After two and 1/2 days on IV fluids, her very high BUN did not come down one bit. I will write more about her next week. Thank you so much for your continued efforts on Swizzle’s behalf. You are a generous and loving person. May you enjoy a happy and blessed Christmas. Hugs, Janet and Kitties Blue

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Janet. Gladys’ cat Willow also misses her, and is adjusting as well, a little more every day.

      I am keeping your little Fiona in my thoughts and prayers, and ask readers of this blog to please do the same. I know the heartbreak and roller coaster ride of caring for a CRF cat. I am hoping Fiona may be just taking a little extra time to heal, and she will be OK. She has the advantage of being young. Sending Fiona purrs and prayers for recovery, and a blessed holiday season for you and all your family at Kitties Blue.

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  11. Dear Lavinia
    I have just returned from a couple of weeks in Australia, where I have been helping my sister care for our parents in her home. Our parents are not at hospice level yet but the care giving role is still enormous. No wonder you are the weariest you’ve ever been, after 3 years of devoted and loving care. Hopefully, the quieter days of winter will give you time to nurture your spirit and body so you can be ready for the onset of spring activity.
    Be well, dear Lavinia, and my deepest sympathy to you and Rick and Willow, on the passing of Gladys. How lovely it was that you were able to enjoy her last years together. May 2016 bring you peace and joy. And thank you for sharing some of Glady’s journey with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My dear Gallivanta, thank you so much for stopping by! You have been helping your sister care for both of your parents, and so you both do know how hard this has been. Gladys is safely gone now, no more suffering, and longing for her long lost daughter. Rick and I are both looking forward to the new year and return of spring, and a renewal of our own lives. Old Willow cat is learning to adjust to life without her elder human companion. We think she is close to 20 years old herself, and we are committed to keeping her until she too, is ready to depart, and join her companion. We are also wishing you and your family peace and joy in 2016. Much love, Lavinia & Rick.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your good wishes. My little old cat left me this year. On her own terms. She simply went away to die. I was sad she didn’t want to be with me in her final hours but we each have our own ways. She was about 17.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lucy. Family and friends, including our WordPress family, have been very supportive. Rick’s mother appreciated and was was an avid supporter of the visual and performing arts, and would have enjoyed your work. Wishing you all the best in 2016!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Lost my mother last winter, so my thoughts are with you. Old age and disease are hard to overcome, but eventually life goes on and all good memories are preserved. Children and accidents are something else, as you write, it is too much to bare.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Nokotahorse. My thoughts are with you and your family as well on the loss of your mother last winter.

      The cycle of life continues, and the horses also know it well. Sometimes the veil between worlds becomes thin, and my old horse visits in dream state. In the dream, I wonder who has been taking care of him all this time. In the end it does not matter, we ride off, sometimes have adventures. I know I will see him again many times before my own time comes to leave this earth.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Mrs. P says:

    Death affects each of us in a very different way. I know well the heartache of losing children suddenly. That Gladys stayed as long as she did is a testament to her strength. You are very loving people to care for her rather than send her to a home. Having worked in a nursing home, I understand well the task you had in caring for her. Fortunately since then I have been surrounded by people who are caring for their elders at home and it’s wonderful to see this. I do hope your friends beautiful tribute assist you in the changes in your ow lives and fresh beginnings. Thank you for sharing, I was quite moved by your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by to honor Gladys, Mrs. P, and thank you for the kind words.

      Much has changed in our society since the days when it was more common to have multi-generational families living under one roof. They helped each other come into this world, and leave it when it was time. Many people, whether they are elderly or much younger and in need, are totally alone, with no family or friends to care for them. I am glad to hear you are surrounded by people who do care for their elders. They are bright candles! And yes, having worked in a nursing home, you do know how difficult this was for us. I am also a cancer survivor, 5 years now, and felt close to the point of physical failure myself towards the end of Gladys’ life. I do take great comfort in my friend’s words, and look forward to spring here on the farm.

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  14. Pingback: At Home at Salmon Brook Farms | Cynthia Reyes

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