A cherry when it's blooming
It has no stone
A chicken when it's piping
It has no bone
The story that I love you
It has no end
A baby when it's sleeping
It's no crying.
"The Riddle Song."
I took a brief hiatus from blogging to try to process my mother's death. I decided I needed to come back.
Thanks to all of you who have left comments or e-mailed with prayers and words of comfort and encouragement. They are much appreciated.
I want to tell you about what has happened since I last blogged. The night before my Mom died, we all gathered in her room. I think we all had an intuitive sense that it would be her last night with us. My oldest sister Susan was softly singing "The Riddle Song" to Mom and said that Mom had taught it to her when she was a little girl. I knew Mom loved old folksongs, but I didn't know "The Riddle Song" was one of her favorites. We started singing any old folksongs or snatches of songs we could think of. One in particular that I remember that Mom always liked is "High Barbary".My brother Allen got out his guitar and started playing some original music he had written. I know Mom liked that.
A few days later at the memorial service, my niece Maggie got up and sang "The Riddle Song" again and accompanied herself on the guitar. I knew she had been playing acoustic and electric guitar for quite awhile, but I had no idea she was so accomplished! It was beautiful.
The memorial service was lovely, except for one thing. For some reason no one is quite sure of, Father Jim did not allow any time for family members to give eulogies or tributes. He did say afterwards that he had an important meeting at the Chancery that he couldn't avoid, so maybe that forced him to cut the service short. Or perhaps there was some miscommunication between Father Jim, the family, and the people at the church who planned the service. Here is what I might have said had I been given the chance:
When I think of my mother these days, I think of two things. One is her definition of heaven, one of the wisest and most beautiful things she ever said to me: "Heaven is where all the people you love know each other." The other is the fact that she was such a great cook who loved bringing her family together for a great meal. But her meals were never about linen napkins and fancy place settings with everyone on their best behavior. Whether it was a giant hamburger with everything, shad prepared the Charleston Receipts way, or a huge salad full of fresh vegetables, Mom's meals were all about good people enjoying good food and having a good time. If there wasn't enough room with the grown-ups, you could grab a seat at the kids table or even on the living room couch. Want some more? Help yourself!
Now I believe Mom is in heaven where all the people she loves know each other. Dad is there, Mary Darby is there, and all the people we have known and loved who have gone before us are there. And we are there, too. For I believe Mom has passed out of time and into eternity, where there is no past and no future, but only an eternal now. Therefore, to Mom it seems we are there and have always been there. In a few moments more of time, we too will enter into eternity, and it will seem to us too that we are there and have always been there.
More than once (Mt. 25:1-14, Rev. 19:7) Scripture compares heaven and the Kingdom of God to a wedding feast, the marriage feast of Christ the lamb of God. I believe Mom is up there right now, helping out with that wedding feast, making sure the people she loves are comfortable, happy, and have enough to eat. Maybe she's sharing her recipe for blueberry muffins with the angels! I love you, Mom.