My sister, Katie and I are planning our mom’s “Celebration of Life” at Port Aransas on the beach for July 20. It’s beautiful and strange. It is sad and happy.
After mom died, my mother-in-law, Jean Holmes said, “Well, you are an orphan now.” I laughed. She later told my husband, Noel, that she wished she would not have said that so soon. I asked, “Why?” I thought it was perfect because I had said the same thing dramatically to myself.
The void my parents’ deaths left is thankfully simultaneously filled with so much of the unconditional love they gave me on this earth. They seemed to have had the right amount of parental expectations versus forgiveness that parents need to survive children.
One of my favorite poems about children comes from Kahil Gibran. It reads:
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet, they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
I cannot read this poem through without crying. Each and every time. In the past, I have always thought of my children. Now, I think of mom and dad. I think how thankful I am that my mother and father gave my brother, sister and me so much unconditional love. For letting us have our own thoughts. For not trying to make us into them . But, most of all for loving each other first and foremost before us. This I believe is the greatest gift a parent can give to their children. This love is the bow from which my siblings and I as living arrows were shot forth.
The songs Katie and I picked for mom’s “celebration” are It’s a Wonderful World, Unforgettable, Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Kamakawiwo version), Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You, Girl from Impanema and The Eyes of Texas. These songs represent our life with mom and her 65-year romance with our father, William (Bill) Brightman Wilkerson. Mom would sing immediately along upon hearing any of these songs and Dad would join in with her. I can see them now singing. I can hear them now. It makes me happy. It makes me sad. Just like life.
NOEL WILKERSON HOLMES is the Publisher/Managing Editor of the Pleasanton Express. You may E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.