On the dock

Fish in Lake Pontchartrain off the new pier @ Bonnabel Boat Launch in  Metairie | Lake pontchartrain, Metairie cemetery, Pier fishing

It was a Sunday. I knelt down today at my mother’s grave, and sobbed. How I miss her.

The space above, around her grave, so silent, so deafening.

I left there, pulled out onto Airline Highway thinking how many times she and I had driven by this cemetery. Oblivious. Carefree.

Then I drove to the boat launch where I’d take her on Sundays after Mass and lunch, just to sit and watch the waves, the boats, the birds, the people. It was a ritual. She loved repetition. It soothed her dementia. It was all about the routine.

As we’d sit in the car looking at the lake, she’d say the same few things over and again in a round. Then, after a time, I’d help her out of the car, sit her on her walker and push her up to the dock. As we we’d move along she would always say the same thing every week: “I wish I could get up and dance!” I’d say, “What’s stopping you!” She’d laugh.

She loved to dance when she was young. I remember her in my childhood often singing, I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady. She loved it when Patti would sing it for her. “Bed! Bed! I couldn’t go to bed…”

Parked on the dock we’d linger for a bit, and she would greet every passerby. With such cheer, equal for all. I once thought, “If the whole world could pass by her on this dock, the world could heal.”

We’d say nothing much to each other. No need to anymore.

Sometimes I took a photo of her to send to the kids, or to my sister. “Grandma’s having fun!” “Mom’s having fun!” As I’d send the photo, Mom would say something like, “My goodness, the things you can do nowadays! When I was a little girl…”

Then we’d sit quietly for a bit more time and she’d often say, “It’s so peaceful here. I love the sound of the water.”

She loved being near the water when I was growing up, always wanted to go to the Rhode Island shore. Newport, Galilee, Point Judith were her favorites. It gave her a sense of serenity, she said.

She’d gone to the shore right after I was born, my dad told me. After six children and two near-death labor & deliveries, she was worn down. The rhythm of the waves, the smell of the sea salt and the sound of the seagulls made her world seem better. So it seemed. She’d just look.

Then…

In those last nine days of her life, she was helpless. I was helpless. She was unable to eat, had difficulty breathing. Yet, she was so serene. Almost otherworldly. It amazed even the nurses.

But I couldn’t take her to the boat launch, to our dock.
That crushed me.
I wanted to.
So much.
I told her so.
I held back the tears,
but she could tell.
She said,
“It’s okay,
I know it’s there.
I can see it
in my mind.”

Such beauty amid the terrible, as she faded.

I miss you mom.

I know the water is There, and certainly you’re There by it. On eternal Shores, eternal Peace. And you dance, and you sing, and you feast, waiting for us on the Dock.

12 comments on “On the dock

  1. Claude Kenneson says:

    Beautiful description of your love for your mom. She was special and so are you. May she rest in peace.

  2. clowfamily7 says:

    No words…just beautiful.

  3. Tim R. says:

    Tom, I remember when Patti sang “I could’ve Danced All Night” when we had gone to a kareoke club….I was so impressed. I know that my mouth dropped wide open with surprise; she danced with her feet as she sang. I had heard her sing in the choir, but this was completely different…one of those moments that stick to me….

  4. Praying for you, friend. Pax!

  5. Thanks for sharing this lovely tribute from a loving son.

  6. I walked hand in hand with you today. Shared tears of both sorrow and joy. Thanks, as always, for allowing us the privilege of accompanying you on your beautiful journey with Mom. The following passage from Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) came immediately to mind. Reads much better (and appropriately for this note) when one includes mothers whenever “father(s)” is written.

    1Children, listen to me, your father;
    act accordingly, that you may be safe.
    2For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children
    and confirms a mother’s authority over her sons.
    3Those who honor their father atone for sins;
    4they store up riches who respect their mother.
    5Those who honor their father will have joy in their own children,
    and when they pray they are heard.
    6Those who respect their father will live a long life;
    those who obey the Lord honor their mother.
    7Those who fear the Lord honor their father,
    and serve their parents as masters.
    8In word and deed honor your father,
    that all blessings may come to you.
    9A father’s blessing gives a person firm roots,
    but a mother’s curse uproots the growing plant.
    10Do not glory in your father’s disgrace,
    for that is no glory to you!
    11A father’s glory is glory also for oneself;
    they multiply sin who demean their mother.
    12My son, be steadfast in honoring your father;
    do not grieve him as long as he lives.
    13Even if his mind fails, be considerate of him;
    do not revile him because you are in your prime.
    14Kindness to a father will not be forgotten;
    it will serve as a sin offering—it will take lasting root.
    15In time of trouble it will be recalled to your advantage,
    like warmth upon frost it will melt away your sins.
    16Those who neglect their father are like blasphemers;
    those who provoke their mother are accursed by their Creator.
    (Sirach 3:1-16)

    Benedicat nos omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus, descendat super nos et maneat semper. Amen

    Peace, dear friend!

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