Monday, May 18, 2009

I Won't Come Back, Louis MacNeice Said This

In 2001, I went through an extraordinary year. My Mother died in January, then my lover left me in February, the one I was speaking of in my last post, she who gave me the poetry of my later years, then in June I lost my Dad. In the following October, Annie died, my wife of twenty years but by now several years divorced. In some ways losing Ann was the worst. In others, losing Mom was the worst. In still others, losing Maire was the worst. I crashed in the first months of the year. I couldn't work. I didn't go back to work for several months. In that time I slowly cleaned out my old house that by then I could never own outright, even though I had been there twenty years, I moved here, Mom's house, a different, marginally better economic deal.

Here's the deal...Mom was a Minister...Hypatia Hasbrouck is a well known name in Unity School of Christianity. She got the Myrtle Filmore award for lifetime service, basically for establishing a track for ministers to become fully ordained in Unity while in service in the community, instead of going back to Unity headquarters and entering in the full academic program that takes at least two years. She was able to do this because she had been a teacher before she was a minister at the high school and college levels. First she became an ordained minister, and ran a church. Then she began teaching at Unity School. Then she organized this department of ministerial education. Then she was drummed out for political reasons, but later, there were so many ministers that she had trained who succeeded that she was given praise and honors and became a minister emeritus.

I am not a member of Unity School. I have never been. I am not much a Christian at all, though as a high school student I was confirmed in the United Church of Christ. Now I chant Sanskrit Mantra, feel at home with certain forms of Buddhism, and have studied intensively in one of the five Chinese Classics, I Ching since 1969.

Yet in this matter of death and what comes next, Mom and I held exactly the same attitude. She did not, I do not, think of death as an enemy. We both hold it to be a doorway, an exit. We both told each other just as I write it here. There were others who told me that she showed up in their lives after she died. My sister said. A certain minister nearby also said. Some others. Not me. She was absolutely silent with me. Gone. As she should be, as I hope to be.

Mom died in late January. Still this is an eighth year anniversary.

I Won't Come Back

Mom looked at me then,
"I'll not come back here," she said.
To this I agreed.
I said, "Me neither."
I said, "You go on. I'll be
Leaving this place too."

In the end, coma,
Her body attempted one
More breath, in or out,
Either would have done.
Neither worked any more, no.
It was done. She left.
I never saw her
Around here after that time.

We burned her old bones.

January 03, 2009 7:41 PM


This poem crossed my path and I fell in love with it. So I wrote about that.

Louis MacNeice Said This
(See his poem Snow)

God, how you said it,
There is more than glass between
The sides of the world.

There is snow falling
And on this side, pink roses
Display, arguing
Suddenly against
The outer cold white snowflakes
While I eat my fruit.

How you said all that
Is a flaming bubbling pot
Deep in my true soul.

January 03, 2009 8:41 PM


  1. Christopher, I loved reading the story about your mom. She sounds like quite the woman, and it makes sense how you would have come from such a person. I love the poem for her, acceptance is divine.

  2. Thanks, Catv. There is of course way more to the story, the other side as it were.

  3. I like you you have honoured your mother's death, in conversation with her. I wonder what else you have written about her, in life, if any. The second poem is wonderful, too.

  4. Rachel, she made sure I was plugged in. She went into her stroke with me visiting her. She was in recovery from hip replacement. I was sitting with her as she lifted her right hand, index finger pointing up, as if "wait a minute..." then touched her ear and stopped.

    Three days later, holding her hand, I talked her through taking her last breath. Earlier that day she started to go but pitched a fit because her daughter was not yet in town. We gave her morphine and she was able to wait for daughter's arrival. She lasted to that evening, about 45 minutes after I brought my sister to the hospital.

    In all this my mother was in deep coma.

  5. losing
    to get wings?

    peace be upon them all...

    be well

  6. Peace be upon them indeed. Thank you.

  7. i miss you're Mom Christopher.... but from what you say about what she said, i don't think she'll be back this way.....

  8. the possessive seemed like it should have an apostrophe so i gave it one.... "your Mother"

  9. Ghost, you are very kind to miss my mom. I have many complicated sides to that relationship. When you took her out of the professional realms where she shone, there was something a little more difficult about the rest of it. She had, for example, five husbands, but ended single. Her youngest sister never sat easy in their relationship, even though she also became a Unity minister. Every good thing in my relationships with women probably came from my being an only son of a single mom in the forties. Every difficult thing in my relationships with women also came from there. There is a real way that I survived my childhood. Later, when I watched two men divorce my mom, I understood their side of things, couldn't help but agree with them. The first was the man who raised me and lasted eighteen years. The next was a marvelous man, the number two Osteopath in the country for specialization in cranial manipulation. He lasted fifteen years but then could take no more.

    So there you go. It is never just one way with us...


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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