Paper Thin Veil

Let me take you back to that “thin place”.

The day after my mother passed, my father, sisters and I sat in the living room alternately weeping and planning.   It had to have been around mid afternoon.   The priest had not yet arrived.

My father sat in his leather chair.  MoodRingMomma sat across from me and MCV on a loveseat.

During this time, we heard a THUNK. It sounded like something had fallen over.  We were discussing how Sally’s passing was peaceful.  She’d had hope in her heart and there’d been no struggle.  (At least that’s what my note to myself says).  “Passing on”, in fact, describes her death better than “pulling through”.  We thought it was just some random noise.

We then moved on to the topic of funeral arrangements.  Nearly ten years ago my mother attended the funeral of a friend of hers from church.  She walked out of that service and called me on the way home, telling me she knew exactly how she wanted her own service to be.  She’d saved the program.  When she got home, Sally wrote down the hymns she’d wanted sung on the back.  At some point she gave this program to my sister MoodRingMomma.

Eight months ago MoodRingMomma found the program and put it in a place she knew she would find easily should the need arise.  When it did,  it was in her carry on luggage within ten minutes;  it was as if someone was guiding her to the place.  From there the old program made it to my parents’ living room where we were reviewing it, discussing these hymns none of us had ever heard.  THUNK.

MCV and I looked at each other.

“What was that?” MCV said.

“Did a cookbook fall over?” I responded.

I looked at the bookshelf in the kitchen.  Nothing had moved.  But now my antenna were up.  A deacon from church had written to me “Be aware….see and write down your dreams….know her presence as well as God’s.”

A bit later, I said to my family something along the lines of, “Death has a way of aligning  priorities.”

Again, THUNK.  No cookbooks had fallen over.  I am not sure my father would agree, but if my mother had been talking to us, it would have been through the sound of cookbooks. Sally was making herself heard.  We got the message: Peaceful, funeral program, align our priorities.

Many a time, I am sad to report, Sally would feel “talked over” at the dinner table, as if the other four of us (but mainly just two of us) were engaged in an exclusive conversation/debate/interrogation.  My sisters and I learned all of our debating/arguing/bickering skills at the dinner table.  Having the last word on a subject was the ultimate triumph!

A wire tap of our  household circa 1980 might have revealed the following:

Me:  “I hear that President Carter is welcoming professional Cuban refugees with open arms into the U.S.”

Dad:  “Fiddlesticks!  That’s not true!  What’s your source?”

Me:  “The San Francisco Chronicle?”   [Fill in the blank except for the Encyclopedia, which was exempt].”

Dad:  “Bah, such a rag.  Don’t believe everything you read.  Read a few other things and then report back. Fidel’s opening his jails and mental institutions, that’s what.”

Sometimes my mother would leave the table in frustration.  She just wanted to be heard, to participate.  It was hard to be heard over the last word.

Now my father and I see each other several times a week for meals.  We keep a lid on it.   Believe me when I say I am listening.  Intently.     I think my dad is too.





Filed under Family, Life, Religion

7 responses to “Paper Thin Veil

  1. Donna

    Sally would be frustrated with the 4 of us too when we would meet for dinner and it would often divide to the 2 men speaking and she would be left with me! She wanted to be included in the political fray or often her passion of photography which was a more desired conversation with Jim rather than me! After awhile it became more balanced and we figured it out. Never a dull moment.

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