Photo: Adrianne Marcus in Finland, Sept. 2008
My mother passed away early this morning. At 12:38am, to be exact. She died peacefully, her chest rising and falling, movement gradually becoming more of an afterthought, until she breathed no more. The cell phone by my bed woke me up as the doctor called to give me the news. She apologized and said words of condolence as I listened to what she had to say. I replied with words coming out of my numb mouth. There wasn't much left to reply.
I got up, Jim and I got dressed and went upstairs to tell the rest of the family. Aunt Judy was first. I pushed open the door to my old bedroom and she was up in an instant. I began to tell her but she already knew what I had to say as soon as I knocked on her door. Alix, Ian's daughter was the next one to wake up. She broke the news to Ian. I called my sisters, Shelby and Stacey. We piled into the family minvan and drove the 17 long mile to Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco to say goodbye. We have been driving back and forth to the hospital every day for two and a half months. I knew every inch of the route. I drove it every day. I sat in her room every day. I held her hand every day. This would be the last time I had to drive to the hospital.
Mom obviously wanted to spare us the heartache of being there at the moment of her passing, but we saw her shortly afterwards. She was so still, so quiet. We wiped our tears on Kaiser's Kleenex, more like sandpaper. We left her an hour later. As we were walking out of the hospital, a young couple were being escorted inside. They were having a baby. The woman looked apprehensive, not knowing quite what to expect. Her husband was nervous and elated, carrying their bag as she was wheeled off to the third floor. I looked at my family and we laughed. There is balance in the world. The circle of life keeps on turning. Mom's left us, and a new life is on its way.
Her death wasn't unexpected, just extremely painful for me to witness and sad. I was there for her, giving her my strength so that she could fight this disease and come home. I was there for her, so that she didn't have to worry about Ian, my stepdad, who has his own medical issues. I was there for her so that she could relax and try to focus on healing. I promised her I'd take care of her dogs. She would do the same for me. She was fierce and someone you wanted to have on your side. She was the strongest woman I've ever known. This is why I cannot believe she could be gone. So quiet. So beautiful, looking like she was truly at peace, having finally won her last fight.
She had ovarian cancer which led her to get a hysterectomy. Complications gave her one setback after another. Her body was weakened by over two years of malnourishment. She had lost her appetite. This is a woman who lived to eat. She loved food and the enjoyment of cooking and sharing a meal with friends. We knew something was wrong. She knew something wasn't right for over a year. Her diabetes, congestive heart failure and irregular heartbeat all added dimensions to her complex case and she didn't have the strength to overcome her numerous problems.
My mom and I were very close. She drove me crazy at times, but I loved her just the same. She would pick up the phone and call me at least once a day. "I just wanted to see how you are," she'd say. She's never say who was calling, she'd just launch into her thought as soon as you answered the phone. She just wanted to hear my voice.
She had a tremendous passion for everything that interested her. She loved her writing, her poetry, a good meal, and her dogs. She surrounded herself with intelligent people, loving a good discussion about art, music, or books. Her insatiable curiosity lead her to travel across the country and around the world seeking the hidden pleasures of local diners, hand crafted chocolates, and hand-blown ornamental glass birds. If you had the honor of being her friend, she'd give you anything you could ever want or need. It made her happy, knowing that she could take care of you. She had a huge heart.
She satisfied her curiosity for the world around her by writing about it. She was published in newspapers and magazines such as The San Francisco Chronicle, Food & Wine, Town & Country, Parade Magazine, and Travel and Leisure. She also published several books including, "The Chocolate Bible," "The Photojournalist: Mark & Leibovitz," and "Carrion House World of Gifts." There are works of unpublished fiction sitting in boxes in her workroom. "Morrigan's Crow" was a contemporary fantasy novel set in Ireland. "Chefs," was a scathing look at the world of celebrity chefs and the food world.
She was a food and travel journalist by trade but her true love was poetry, having published over 400 poems. She was an amazing poet who knew how to stitch words together in such a way that each word tugged at the other words, line after line carried you into the raw emotions that she wanted to explore. She would often reduce an audience to tears. She published many books of poetry such as "Magritte's Stones, " "Child of Earthquake Country," "The Moon is a Marrying Eye," and "The Resurrection of Trotsky." To read some of her poetry, you can find it at her website: Double M Sighthounds.
For the last few years she turned her attention to her dogs, Silken Windhounds and Borzois. She had seven of them. She became involved in the dog world, building friendships with in the dog breeding and lure coursing community.
I love my mother. I cannot imagine life without her. I know I she was proud of all that I've done. She could not wait to try my own cheese. I will not disappoint her. She was 74.
Here is the poem that my mother wrote for our wedding.
For Sarah and Jim, May 2, 1999
Here, in this season of flowers, your faces bloom
With love. This, your beginning, is a journey of roses,
Without thorns. The mutual air is filled with the sweet
Scent of blossoms, the perfume spilling out into
Each room where you are, pledging love, a lifetime
Together. All those delicate promises, pledges of spring.
Soon it will be summer. In that time, your faces will
Alter under the warm sun. Eating the fruits of the ripe
Nectarine, peaches, you will offer each other a taste,
A sharing. Your mouths will be honey and cinnamon as
You learn to invent delights
In more ways than you ever thought possible.
When autumn comes, you will change again, and there
Will be days when thorns and small hurts
May seem more important than they really are.
As the leaves turn, remember the blaze of color
Yellow and red, the amber fire that needs to be
Fed in order to continue to burn.
Speak to each other, let no night fall on
Sadness; remember to say I love you before
The day closes. Each morning is both a
Closing of time and a beginning of another.
Take nothing for granted.
When winter arrives, with its grey, dormant season.
Remember the bare branches are only
Illusion. Deep inside the pruned limbs, buds are
Dreaming their forms, taking the sweet shape of roses.
Wait for spring; and you will taste these blooms again,
Like love, with lavish familiarity.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Photo: Adrianne Marcus in Finland, Sept. 2008
Posted by Sairbair at 7:35 AM