Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Letters to the dead: Jorene

On Sunday April 6, 2014 my beloved aunt Jorene (Adams) Maier had her appointment in Samarra. Well, technically, rather than involving a frightened rush to Samarra in the vain hope of avoiding such an event, it was an anticipated meeting in Selah, WA in the privacy and comfort of her own home, embraced by her family, especially her husband of more than sixty years, my uncle Moritz. Together they were the MoJo of the Maier clan: Moritz and Jorene, a unit, a single and singular entity. Now, she has departed to explore Shakespeare’s undiscovered country alone, while Morrie and the rest of us are left with a huge lacuna in our lives here in the mundane, workaday world.

They married not long after the war, that’s WWII of course, and embarked on a life together. During that journey, they shared nine children, twenty-eight grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren, countless nieces and nephews, spouses of most of those, and enough love and kindness to blanket the world. Jorene was kindness personified. She was Catholic, and in that context I think it is completely appropriate to call her a saint. She lived her life that way and, in death, per her beliefs, she is absolutely one.

Given the power of her life and its effect on those around her, I thought immediately of John Donne’s poem when I heard of her death. She may be gone, but her legacy of love and kindness transcends the grasp of Death himself. Once her appointment was scheduled, she did not tarry here. In my experiences with death, it seems that the good ones never do. They are anxious, in the concept of the old spiritual, to board the morning train for home because that evening train just might be too late. Bon voyage, cher tante (per alliance).

Mornin' Train  (Technically, "Get Right, Church")

She is at peace. It is those of us who remain who wish there were a train to carry us to Gilead. Alas! There is none. The only balm we have is our memories of her. Perhaps, that is enough.

Death be not proud – John Donne

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

P.S. My lovely friend Ren maintains a blog of letters to the dead. I have submitted this to her for inclusion there, too.

1 comment:

  1. Frank, that was a lovely tribute to my mom.Thank you. She was and always will be a truly remarkable person.
    She really is the kindest person I have ever known. She loved so many and so many loved her.
    I feel so fortunate to be her son. What a gift to have her and my dad as role models. I never had to look any farther than across the kitchen table.
    I miss her so much already, but it makes me smile thinking about the life and legacy she has left for all of us to carry on.
    l love you mom.