Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Detail from tablecloth embroidered by Mary.
Holbrook, New York, 9:11 a.m.

John and Melinda are still asleep, which is really no wonder after the emotional intensity and all the activity of the last few days. The house is on a busy street and for most of the day and night, there are cars going by. And, of course, the mowing of summer lawns, although I'd say it is quieter than Brewster. 

I didn't sleep well last night. I managed to keep myself from those too dark places, but just barely. The sadness in the house leached out and I felt my bones absorbing it. It is never easy to see or be around suffering, amplified in the case of your loved ones, and John fluctuates from being relatively jovial and normal to the knife-pain of shock and loss.

Detail from Czech vest made by Mary or her mother in the 1930s.
Much later.

Funny, as you absorb the loss of someone, after awhile, you think, “Okay, I get it! I understand loss. You can come back now, okay?” John and Mel have been riding the waves of this all day. I can’t say that it makes any one of us that pleasant to be around, or at least, emotionally reliable.

John and Mel are setting off some fireworks. I am curled up on the couch writing and listening to She and Him sing You Really Got A Hold On Me. And then there’s Calexico, Two Silver Trees.

“Traces sweeping out across the static night
You are draped in white like the blossoms of the tree”

John remarked earlier that it was already not his mother’s house anymore. Which is kind of sad. Fireworks. Wine (frothy sangria made from pear juice, blueberries, pineapple, mango from a condolence fruit basket and raspberries from her yard). Parliament/Prince We Can Funk blasting from a Bose docking station. Not the things of Mary’s world. And she’s been gone less than a week.

More than one family member related to me that Mary had predicted her death on June 16th, which was the day her mother died. She made it all the way to June 29th, which is a hell of lot more accurate than most of us are likely to be.

Most of the family was out of the immediate room when she breathed her last. Her next-door neighbor Harry was in the room. Harry is from Turkey and a devout Muslim. Mary was a very devout Catholic, yet they were dear friends and Harry cried as much as anyone in the family. He even made John cry at the funeral (a good thing). When Mary breathed her last, Harry was at her side, reading a prayer from the Koran.

This quite struck me. Mary, who fled the Czechs and Slovaks being sold out by Chamberlain and other Allied agents of perfidy selling out those sovereign nations to buy off Hitler, dying in America with a dear “infidel” at her side. Mary, at sixteen, taking the train with her mother across Eastern Europe, to flee to America. And here she dies with someone from what could well have been an alien culture. For me, this was some measure of her heart and soul. For all her staid ways and old-fashioned notions, she could recognize goodness and love wherever it came from.

Hydrangeas at the church.

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