Saturday, March 21, 2009
Imagine, my mom was driving a motorcycle around England in 1943. She was 19 then. She had a boyfriend who was a Spitfire pilot. They used to read poetry to each other at Harrow on the Hill by Byron's tomb. They were in love. My mom was in the ATS at Biggin Hill fighter station where her boyfriend, Rick, was posted. They lived fast and true to their hearts. There was no time to waste by not feeling, blocking and worrying if it was right. Life was so tenuous - up for the lottery every moment as planes fell from the sky, bombs fell from the sky and buildings crumbled around people daily. The world was at war and nothing was forever. There was only the moment in which the truth existed.
Rick was shot down. Killed.
In 1948, my mother married my father. They had four kids, moved to Canada from England twice, started their own business, and divorced in 1975. My mother continued to work to support the two children she still had at home. She created a new career for herself and kept my brother and I in school, in good clothes, with enough food to eat and the occassional vacation and special treat. She did well by us although she was sad - she had lost a part of her self in the process of all this.
At 58 years old, she died of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease); robbed of her retirement and her chance to go to Europe and explore the arts of the countries she had spoken of so passionately over the years.
Her wish was to have her ashes taken to Byron's tomb to be spread in the place where she remembered her passion, her love and her truth. This was done. I hope that my mom and Rick's molecules are dancing together still.
The Tear by Lord Byron
When Friendship or Love our sympathies move,
When Truth, in a glance, should appear,
The lips may beguile with a dimple or smile,
But the test of affection's a Tear:
Too oft is a smile but the hypocrite's wile,
To mask detestation, or fear;
Give me the soft sigh, whilst the soultelling eye
Is dimm'd, for a time, with a Tear:
Mild Charity's glow, to us mortals below,
Shows the soul from barbarity clear;
Compassion will melt, where this virtue is felt,
And its dew is diffused in a Tear:
The man, doom'd to sail with the blast of the gale,
Through billows Atlantic to steer,
As he bends o'er the wave which may soon be his grave,
The green sparkles bright with a Tear;
The Soldier braves death for a fanciful wreath
In Glory's romantic career;
But he raises the foe when in battle laid low,
And bathes every wound with a Tear.
If, with high-bounding pride he return to his bride!
Renouncing the gore-crimson'd spear;
All his toils are repaid when, embracing the maid,
From her eyelid he kisses the Tear.
Sweet scene of my youth! seat of Friendship and Truth,
Where Love chas'd each fast-fleeting year
Loth to leave thee, I mourn'd, for a last look I turn'd,
But thy spire was scarce seen through a Tear:
Though my vows I can pour, to my Mary no more,
My Mary, to Love once so dear,
In the shade of her bow'r I remember the hour,
She rewarded those vows with a Tear.
By another possest, may she live ever blest!
Her name still my heart must revere:
With a sigh I resign what I once thought was mine,
And forgive her deceit with a Tear.
Ye friends of my heart, ere from you I depart,
This hope to my breast is most near:
If again we shall meet in this rural retreat,
May we meet, as we part, with a Tear.
When my soul wings her flight to the regions of night,
And my corse shall recline on its bier;
As ye pass by the tomb where my ashes consume,
Oh! moisten their dust with a Tear.
May no marble bestow the splendour of woe
Which the children of vanity rear;
No fiction of fame shall blazon my name.
All I ask – all I wish – is a Tear.
October 26 1806
Live, love, be brave.