Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Burying Dad and Mom

John and Jean Hay died in years past.  I was there for their deaths, each time arriving shortly after their passing, viewing their bodies, acknowledging their individual spirits had gone.  St. Francis, later in life, when asked if he would be somewhere, answered “Brother Ass willing".
I believe in evidence of life beyond death.  Indeed given linearity is a construct, I believe the soul transcends this life and the mind is much more than the brain.  Reductionists like child size bites on reality and call the godly wanting.  I don’t even know if there’s a clear demarcation of life and death but feel often this life as death. I’ve been dying since I was born and gain greater awareness with aging.  There’s a lost of externality for sure. My senses are less robust, my hearing decreasing with my sense of smell and my eyes long ago required glasses.  Then there’s that sex drive thing and other drives that have me recalling my life more ‘driven’ than today when I wouldn’t say I’m coasting but I’m certainly not as much consumed by the rush.  As time runs out I’m more appreciative of time.
Dad and I talked in his latter years as did Mom and I.  Mom was firm in her Christian faith and Dad was glad to be with ministers and priests.  In the end both were attending services and ministers and priests served them well.
The church wasn’t as interesting to me in my middle years. It had been a very important community growing up.  I followed the Beatles to drugs and eastern religion only to return to Dr. Carl Ridd’s Christian existentialism, the study of Kierkegaard and later the spiritual Christianity taught so well by Dr. James Houston in person and in his books at Regent Collge. C.S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy captured me heart and soul as later did St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.  The Dark Night of the Soul best explained a particular life passage as I found myself understanding as never before Jesus of the cross, the Servant King.  East met west in meditation and prayers.
My brother and I drove from Napanee to Toronto today.  My parents wanted an urn where their ashes lay side by side.  They wanted to be buried with my mother’s father and mother and her sisters in the Prospect Cemetery, Toronto.  Dad and mom met there during World War II.  He was with the RCAF and she was volunteering to help the soldiers.  My Aunt Sally would be in Washington DC as the executive assistant to Canada’s Ambassador.  Her other sister Hannah married a dentist.
For a Baptist, ironically, Mom loved to dance with Dad.  Dad loved to dance with her.  They married. There’s a picture of Dad looking most handsome in his RCAF uniform while mother was always an outstanding beauty with her mass of red hair and wholesome smile.  They lived with my mother’s mother and father when Ron came along and a few years later there was me.
Mary from Prospect Cemetery placed our parent’s urn in the deep hole beneath the big tree.   Ron and I stood watching. Then Mary left. A slight rain fell beneath the grey skies. I read Psalm 23 faltering.  Both my parents liked Psalm 23.  I liked it as well.
Then two brothers stood silently side by side.  I silently prayed. I asked forgiveness. I thanked them.  I prayed for them.  I prayed for family and friends.  My mind was still. There was stillness there.  Peace descended. I cried.  I opened my eyes.  Ron was holding the shovel.  He scooped some dirt into the hole. I followed.  Shovelling a scoop of dirt into the hole.  Ritual.  I passed the shovel back to Ron. He folded the cloth over the remaining dirt laying the shovel on top of the grey fabric. An excavator waited on the street to finish.  I hugged my big brother.  We returned to the car where Gilbert waited.  We drove away.
Ron asked if there was anything I wanted to do before he took me to the plane. I said I could see Aunt Sally’s old place if it was near.  We’d come off St. Clair.
“Our childhood homes are closer, “ he said. There's a deepness in Ron.
“I’ve not been to them since I was here a decade or two ago. “ Indeed I couldn’t remember which wife I’d been with when I decided one day to make the pilgrimage to the old houses.  Ron drove us there.  I got out and took pictures with my iPhone.  We went to the churches we attended too.  He remembered more than me.  I was only 5 when I left Toronto.  He was in Gr. 3. We drove by the school he attended.
 I remembered grandma’s home and our house on the street with the cul de sac at the end where the forest began.  Playing marbles came to mind. Ron remembered the wasps. I remembered the shivering maybe rabid dog, the hospital and needles.
We drove around the Toronto of our early years.  Nothing much had changed in buildings. Red Brick structure.   Different signs.  New languages. Half a century ago.  We stopped at a Wendy’s for burgers. Gilbert enjoyed his burger paddy and walk after that.
Toronto Pearson Airport.  I said good bye to my brother, thanks and god bless.  Now Gilbert and I are waiting for a plane.  I miss Mom and Dad.  The Road Less Travelled.  Ron said it right when he said how right he felt in Toronto.
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