Thursday Tidbits

Posted on June 14, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with 3 comments


“And he will raise you up, on eagle’s wings,

Bear you on the breath of dawn.”

On Eagle’s Wings – Michael Joncas

Reflections on death and dying, and the aftermath.

Four weeks ago today, our mother “slipped the surly bonds of earth.”  Death remains one of life’s great mysteries and it is not a subject that I would normally tackle in this space. However, watching our “north, south, east and west” leave this world has caused me to do a lot of reflecting over the past 28 days.

Is there a good way to die?

No one has been able to tell us what it is like. Many people have claimed to have had near death experiences and have talked about the white light phenomenon. However, many of us have observed a loved one dying.

I am not going to attempt to weigh in on tragic deaths. This is a totally different domain. I wish to speak about dying at an advanced age after a life well lived.

Spending one’s last days surrounded by family with lots of talk, laughter, music and prayer might be as good as it gets. Most people want to be at home in their final hours but many times this is simply not possible. Many people end up in a care facility. There has been a perception for a long time that this would be the last place a person would want to go at the end of a full and productive life. But from my own experience spending time visiting various nursing homes in the area, this perception is erroneous. The care is first rate. The staffs are competent and compassionate. Many of them have palliative rooms for the comfort of the resident and their families when the journey is coming to an end.

We don’t want to see our loved ones suffer. When death is inevitable, we want the suffering to end quickly. But not too quickly. The conundrum of death.

And then it is over. The struggle, the pain and the worries, along with all the joys of a long life for our loved ones ceases. And we are left to ponder.

When the centre of a family’s universe is gone, there is an empty feeling that’s very hard to describe. Every birthday or special event, family reunions and gatherings of all manner, have centred on your parent for nine decades. The feeling of loss is palpable.

This is followed by a deluge of memories and stories. With many of us coming from large families, there’s no shortage of stories.

And photos. It reminds me of the old Jim Croce song, “Photographs and Memories”. Mom was a meticulous organizer and nowhere is this more apparent than photo albums she carefully arranged by date going back to the mid-1940s. Every picture tells a story.

There’s a picture on my writing table. It is from our last family reunion in 2015. Amidst all of the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren sits the matriarch of the clan. While her physical presence won’t be felt again, her spirit lives on.

No death is joyous but a life well lived is to be celebrated.





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3 Responses to Thursday Tidbits

  1. Yvonne Fox says:

    The school teacher in you comes through loud and clear every week, Len. I always remembered when I was writing weekly columns for the Port Hastings Historical Society that the first sentence was the most important one to grab a readers interest. I always was interested to see the paper each week to see the caption the newspaper guys used as that first sentence was what they took it from most times. Being in a church choir, I get to sing “On Eagles Wings”fairly often. You continue to inspire, Len.

  2. Jacqueline Vosman says:

    Thank you for writing this Len – it touched my heart. I have lost both my parents and Father-in-law over the years as well as other dear family members. As you are aware recently I lost my Mother-in-law. Your piece describes beautifully the family experience of losing such central family members. My condolences to you and your large family on your tremendous loss. What a legacy your dear Mom has left behind here on Earth. Jacqueline (Hanifen) Vosman

  3. Bernice Grant says:

    We lost an absolutely wonderful friend and neighbor on Hillcrest Street. Teresa P.D. was the epitome of the mother everybody should have. Loved Teresa P.D. A super lady! And eight very fortunate children to have had her for so long.

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