Sojourning with Grief-Bringing My Mother Home

My mother loved roses. Photo by anne richardson.

My mother loved roses. Photo by anne richardson.

Scattering Seeds While Planting With Intention

Once, when I had a yard, I bought a packet of wildflower seeds, a mix where you scatter them and wait to see what arises from the earth. Poppies, coreopsis, wallflowers, alyssum, phlox, flax…whatever would take hold. And in my garden I had plants I set into the soil with specific intention. Roses, daffodils, lavender. This sojourn has been a scattering of seeds and in the center was the planting of one intention-to return some of my mother’s cremains to the land of her birth. Last week in the company of her two remaining cousins, I offered her back to the land. My mother-a beautiful English rose.

Weaving Connection From Afar

Week Seven of my sojourn was about connecting with family. Marion and Jennifer were my grandfather’s nieces, daughter’s of his younger brother. Marion was the bridesmaid at my mother’s wedding and Jennifer, twenty years my mother’s junior, shared the same birthday month. Even after my mother immigrated, they stayed in contact and were her closest cousins (and only ones now living.) They hosted me over eight days and it was on “hand-off” day that we gathered to remember my mother.

The Irish poet and philosopher, John O’Donohue, was a master craftsperson in the art of writing blessings for all occasions (and “non-occasions.”) In my own offerings to the world, I do my best to emulate his style. I woke in the morning with snippets of a blessing forming in my head and wrote a short one to share during our simple ritual.

May the green of the hills
dress you in splendor each morning
when you rise to greet the day.
— anne richardson
My mother’s cousins at site we scattered her cremains. Photo by anne richardson.

My mother’s cousins at site we scattered her cremains. Photo by anne richardson.

Glass heart hidden among the forget-me-nots and scattering of cremains. Photo by anne richardson.

Glass heart hidden among the forget-me-nots and scattering of cremains. Photo by anne richardson.

Blessing of Sharing Loss Through Ritual

Water-laden clouds hung in the sky as we walked the driveway to an upper pasture, part of Marion’s horse farm. We had chosen this expanse as it would offer a wide view of the countryside, with hills folding in on one another and a dappling of villages peeking out among the trees. When I had asked Marion if forget-me-nots might be in the field, she thought not, but as we looked along the fence line, there they were, that sign, to me, that this was the place my mother was meant to be (read blog post Sojourning with Grief-Storms & Forget-Me-Nots, C2C Part 2). And, as if on cue, the clouds parted and the sun dazzled us as we shared a few memories, laughed (a family gift,) and I shed a few tears as I read my blessing. The glass-fused heart that held less than a thimble-full of her ashes slipped into the dainty blue flowers, hid from view, and I released her cremains (mixed with Let Your Love Grow compost, so as to enrich the land) just behind the fence line. A few drops of rain began to fall as if my mother said, “That’s enough now. Time for you to go have your lunch out.

Somerset cousin connection firmly planted.

Somerset cousin connection firmly planted.

Quilting Together Family

Family can be defined on so many ways. Bloodline is only one. I know many who have a deeper sense of family with those they are not related to. For them, it is safer…and kinder. My “blood” relatives are small in number. I am grateful I have these ties both new (my third cousin on my father’s side of the family) and old (my mother’s family) to tend. Relations and relationships to deepen.

Remain Open to the Unexpected-Grief’s Ever Present Lesson

Sometimes, when you scatter seeds, something unexpected grows. For me, it has been the gift of deepening family relationships. The relationship with Marion and Jennifer has shifted from one of them being “Mum’s cousins whom I kept updated about my mum as she declined,” to MY cousins, not “cousins once removed.” We have shared stories, experiences, and laughs. And yes, I remind them of their cousin Audrey. I am honored. Plus Marion has a daughter, Debbie, who I was able to get to know, and we now have a bond. Cousins.

And I met Elaine in Scotland. A connection of the heart I never expected on a side of the family (my father’s) I had not invested in, but am now curious about (a future sojourn!)

Grief, my mentor, once again reminded me that in keeping an open heart, I received far more than I could have imagined. In seeking solace and a resting place for my mother, I have been gifted with an expanded family. Once again, I am grateful for all of Grief’s wise and kind lessons.

When was a time you “scattered seeds” and were surprised by what grew? If you were to write your own blessing for an occasion, or non-occasion, what words want to tumble out of you?

As I write this, Week Eight is coming to a close and my time in the United Kingdom will be ending. This land feels like home. As I said in Week One, I belong. I have two homes now. And I am also tired, which is why I am behind on my blog posts. June 9th I leave for Chartres, France, the last week of this sojourn, for a retreat/workshop. But for the rest of today, I will be a tourist in London. It is blustery and cloudy. And that feels like home.

Blessing For Scattering Mum’s Ashes In Her Homeland

May the green of the hills

dress you in splendor each morning

when you rise to greet the day.

May the nearness of family,

the laughter and memories shared,

be tossed in the wind

and cover you with love.

As seasons unfold like daffodils

opening to spring,

may the reflection of your heart

be like fire warming our souls.

When the sun catches our eye on the field’s

glistening dew’s remaining drops,

may we see you wink

and feel your presence.

And as sun sets over the valley

and moon rises through her waxes and wanes,

may you dance in our dreams

assuring us you live on

beyond time and place.

© anne richardson 2019