"Hi, this is Jeff." And in my sleep filled mind I was thinking "was he trying to reach me on my cell and I just didn't hear it?" No, he continued talking and what he had to say made no sense. "Nanna died." "I don't know who that is." And so the conversation went.
As he continued to talk, my mind began to clear and the pieces started falling into place. "She died this evening at home. The coroner came and so did the police." I'd like to think that at 101 years old, all that wouldn't have been necessary.
I got to thinking a few years ago we came to town, picked her up and took her to that place on the hill. The place with the beautiful view and a few hundred souls. There we stood, the three of us in the middle of this place talking about the people there; sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers. "That lady there, I'd just as soon piss on her grave." she said. Apparently, this was not a very nice woman to have provoked a comment like that from my Great Aunt who only reserved comments like that for those that truly deserved it.
It's at the top of this hill that overlooks the valley, down on the markers of the Revolutionary war dead whose stones are carved in German and covered with a few hundred years of lichen that she will rest finally besided her husband and her daughters who she has missed dearly since they day they left this earth.
Imagine you are standing on the
seashore. A ship at your side spreads her
white sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object
of beauty and strength and you stand
and watch her until at length she hangs like a
speck of white cloud just where the sea and
sky meet and mingle with each other:
"There, she is gone."
Gone where? gone from your sight, that
is all. She is just as large in hull and mast
and spar as when she left your side and just
as able to bear her load of living freight to
the place of her destination. Her diminished
size is in you, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at
your side says, "She's gone," there are
eyes watching for her coming and
other voices ready to take up the glad shout,
"Here she comes!" And this is what we call
dying-this is life!
Paul S. McElroy