Sunday, May 30, 2010

Francis thru others' eyes, 2 photos & Bonhoeffer quote

Dear Family and Friends,
I'm indebted to Kelly Bellis, Pax Christi/Maine's former web-master for the two attached striking photos of Francis. They were taken during a weekend conference/retreat outside Bangor ME, at an intimate unique center created by Georgia Koskiusko and her husband out in the country. Our good friend, the late Jim Harney was the organizer for that fall weekend, possibly in 2005.

One photo shows Francis listening intently to Jim's mentor from out of state who lead the retreat. The other photo, where Francis looks absorbed in prayer, was taken around 8:00 AM when we were likely listening to our guide during a nature walk.

Lynn and Lee enlarged and framed Kelly's photos for me as a surprise Mother's Day gift. They're perfect icons for my sitting/prayer time.

Last Sunday, at the planting of our "Be loved" Francis tree, -- the beautiful Japanese Stewartia (whose name Rowan now knows,) -- I read some of the passages you wrote to or about Francis. One friend told me afterwards it "rounds out Francis." I've found it an uplifting exercise to cull them from your cards.

Rereading them and your notes has also nourished me. When I read this must-share quote of Dietrich Bonhoeffer last week, it was as if for the first time:

can make up for the absence
of someone we love.

And it would be wrong
to try to find a substitute.
We must simply hold out
and see it through.
That sounds very hard at first
but at the same time
it is a great consolation.
For the gap, as long as
it remains unfilled
preserves the bond
between us.

It is nonsense to say that
God fills the gap.
God does not fill it.
But on the contrary
keeps it empty
and so helps us to keep alive
with each other
even at the cost of pain.

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Next weekend I'm going on a retreat with Cynthia Bourgeault, the author of Love Is Stronger Than Death. It'll be held at a retreat center at Mount Desert Island in Seal Cover Maine: I'm most grateful to Martin Steingesser and his partner Judy for leading me to this book which applies to me in some important ways.
And so indirectly, they've led me to this upcoming retreat!
With gratitude for love that never dies,

PS There are unsolicited signs that Rowan remembers Francis. Besides reminding me once again (She does this almost weekly!) about dusting his (St.) Francis statue, Rowan made a loving unexpected gesture on Francis' behalf: She had gone to a party where pre-painted eggs, (prepared by the mothers) Polish style, had been emptied of the egg itself and filled with confetti after which the children play with them. She had brought me one on Sunday and tucked it into a larger blue plastic egg.
Well on Thursday, her usual visit day here, making sure I saw her do it, -- she ceremoniously took the egg where I had placed it and put it right on top of the large photo of Francis, (the one she had hugged before) sitting on the dining room table. That poster awaits more work from me when I shrink-wrap it for her future viewing. She did this with an air of satisfaction. I was satisfied too.

PPS: The following week, and for the first time, when Rowan arrived at our home she hugged the St. Francis statue standing in the entryway.

Then a week later, seemingly coming out of nowhere, she said: "Pepere is alive." I let that sink in a moment and then asked: "Rowan, when you said 'Pepere is alive,' what made you say that? "I don't know," she replied. I see that mystery and the limits of human knowledge do not prevent conviction and another kind of knowing, even, and maybe especially, in a child.


So here are your quotes, -- FRANCIS THROUGH OTHERS' EYES, written to and about Francis in emails and cards:

He was, without any doubt, a shining star in the active way he lived his principles. He struck me, every time I had the pleasure of seeing him, as being the kind of thorough-going grown-up we all aspire to be: gentle and confident, able to engage sincerely and comfortably with anyone, either lightly or seriously, as the occasion called for. He stood up for folks who could not speak up well for themselves. Francis leaves inspired memories.

It feels to me that a huge hole has been created in this world. Francis was a treasure, very calm, very loving, emanating warmth and kindness always. I sensed that he didn't have a mean fiber or bone anywhere in his body.

I liked Francis' presence, always, -- his kind way of listening and speaking.

His tender attendance to our dying mother has left us with such enduring affection. All accolades for him will never exceed what he deserves. His graciousness will always be remembered.

Sitting next to yoga often, in yoga class, I always felt such a quiet joy and strength from him. I will never forget his smile.

His eyes shone when he smiled. He had such presence.

I don't think there was ever a person who was not touched in some way by his presence. He lived his life fully and shared openly his spirit with the generosity and caring of a whole human being. As a gentle and quiet man his actions spoke much more than any words could say.

(Many many people spoke of Francis' kindness and gentleness:)

An extraordinary man...a gifted and intelligent man...the kindest, dearest man.....a gentle and loving man (rare, indeed)... truly one of the gentlest souls I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.... a peaceful and reverent man.... Such a kind and gentle spirit has left this world....a gentle spirit with a quiet sense of humor...You are such a beautiful human being, with a quiet, gentle way about you that touches all who come in contact with you... "gentle and holy soul."

He leaves much as an example of what a loving and caring human being looks like -- for others to emulate.

Francis was an inspiration to me, living, in the best spiritual sense, what I envision an authentic Christian life to be. He was also a "good father" to many of us....What a great soul he was! Our community has felt a significant loss. I'm adding my small voice to the collective.

I would guess it was 15 years ago, maybe more, the first time I met you. It was at a vigil in Monument Square. It was cold. You had a sign. You introduced yourself, embracing me, a hug which I soon came to know was your trademark. There were more vigils on even more frigid days on Commercial Street in front of the BIW ship repair facility. While the rest of us shivered, the cold didn't seem to bother you, ever smiling that sweet smile. What an endearing man, my wife said. Endearing is the right word.

I write with admiration for Francis' patience and unbowed humor in his daily encounters with pain...Francis is one of those great souls who shine in our midst, making the world more nonviolent, just, wise and good simply by being their beautiful, godly selves.

A source of inspiration because he modeled the values he espoused.

Francis will always be remembered because of how he lived his life. What a life and ministry he had! His was "a life well spent, an exemplary life well-lived.

As we Quakers say, "Let your life speak." His surely did, -- of love and peace.

I smile recalling Francis as a gentle ray of sunshine whose presence had an amazing and calming effect on people who knew him and came in contact with him.

I was moved to see Francis' special obituary in my newspaper and flooded with such good memories of who and how he was that I want to write you. You met me only briefly, but as a member of Community Psychiatry at Maine Medical Center, and later with Geriatric Psychiatry. I worked with him many times. His humanity, caring and determination to better the lives of those he served shone through always, but my favorite memory is of a training experience we had. He and I (This was in the 70's) were lying at right angles on the floor of some church hall, arm wrestling! The idea was gender equality or empowerment or something, but I remember our joyful competitiveness & the fact that I actually made some headway but the didn't let me win.

Francis was an oasis for me during those moments after mass, or at a gathering of parishioners. There he was, peacefully present among us, silent mostly, and I would sidle up to him and be blessed by a conversation inevitably insightful with a bit of wit and wisdom and a twinkle or two for good measure.

The memory of his idealism, commitment to justice and love for fellow human beings will live on.

I can only hope that the loss of my wife or either of my brothers comes after such a fruitful interval.

Francis' life of great courage, honesty, and gratitude was such a full expression of his intentional life! His was truly a life lived with intention...

Always the rock for Elaine, always kind to all, and now a leader in how to let go with courage, grace, faith and love! You are teaching us all the most valuable lesson we might ever need.

I reflect on the life experiences we have shared together growing up on the farm and looking up to you for guidance, as an older brother. I remember it was you who pushed for higher education for me with my parents and that step in attending St FX has enriched my life experience greatly.

Francis and I first met about 1976. We were both in the newly formed Lifeline Program at USM. He and I would go out for runs together. We would usually run about three miles....For me there was no warming up period with Francis. I liked him right away. And it wasn't long before I admired and looked up to him. He was easy to be with and I greatly respected his points of view.

Thanks for the example of your life of integrity, for your smile, your twinkly eyes and your kindness. Your presence and friendship have meant so much to me.

Francis, -- Great integrity epitomizes how we think of you. You are a man who really pays attention to his inner voices: you have somehow been able to find the strength and courage to " speak truth to power." And you have done so in a way that was not provocative. You were a man who knew right from wrong and while many of us might choose to look the other way, you could quietly take a stand when you knew it was important to do so.

When in Yoga with you and Elaine I always kept an eye on you to make sure I could keep up, and I usually didn't. I loved his presence in yoga class and the sweet way he always consented to demonstrate, to be used as an example.

His was a life of great integrity. I believe the contribution of his integrity to the universe does not end...

Your sweet courageous spirit, humble strength and loving presence have always been gifts to us.

My prayer is that as my time draws closer, I will be able to move forward with the grace and joy (in the midst of pain) I see in you, Francis.

We are both in awe of the grace which you exhibit as you approach the end of earthly life and from this we draw strength of our own to deal with our own feelings around loss of a loved one.

My fondest Francis memories include his vibrant smile and hearty laugh, -- from Camp days to more recent summer family reunions.

In the loss of Francis we have all lost a great advocate but he will long be an inspiration to many.

Francis, you are a prince, always have been.

Francis I have things I need to say to people I taught me how important this is to I sit and quietly watch my little boy and I know how fast I will become the old man...I will do it well and I will show him by to live well, how to love well, how to die well...we are all part of a continuum of life's energy and you will soon shift forms again...I know you will be there...that your energy will flow through those of us still here in the physical realm...Francis, I love you, I will work hard at being my best self...I thank you so very much for sharing your life energy with me...thank you Francis, thank you...

Francis, Love radiates from your eyes and smile whenever I see you. You have taught me so much about living and now you are teaching me how to die with dignity, peace, and love.

I always will remember Francis' gentle spirit and quiet sense of humor. He always made me smile and, as a young kid I thought he would be the perfect "big brother" that I never had.

He is at peace and entered the transition escorted by so much love and peace, he'll assist us when the time comes for our transition.

The way you have confronted your illness with deepening spirituality is such an example to us all.

I feel fortunate to have had you in my life. You are so selfless and giving. I always enjoyed our intellectual conversations and appreciate how well informed you are. I will never forget how you always hugged me each time we got together. This is special because most men in our society are reluctant to hug another man. It demonstrates how secure you are in your identity and the love that you have for other people, regardless of their gender. You have such a great sense of humor. ...I love you and thank you for being who you are: a great male role model.

We frequently talk of the wonderful days when we all did yoga together. We can visualize Francis quietly going about his business of helping you, Elaine, in any way he could while being an active participant in class.

Dear Francis, What a treasured friend you have been...what a wonderful priest without borders you are... your very existence has led many to the God you have loved so well. Thank you so much for sharing that last visit with me even when you were already suffering--and yet could listen patiently to my stories, asking discerning questions, and adding your own insights to enrich the narration. You are a good and just man.

I always learned deeply from you, even when there were no words spoken.

I always felt when Francis looked at me he was trying to peer into my soul. While I’m not perfect I never feared what he would find but I was often curious about his thoughts. I felt that he recognized my strengths and didn’t judge me for my weaknesses. I was always amazed at his patience in Yoga. When his body started to give up (his heart n soul never did) he would continue to help you do demos, even though I could see something just wasn’t the same.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

We Buried Francis' Bones and Planted Francis' Tree

Dear Family and Friends,
Francis didn't hesitate to call things by their names. Because he was cremated, and since "cremains" include many bone shards, it was literally Francis' bones that we buried at the Notre Dame Cemetery in Springvale on Saturday.
Twenty-one of us family and friends gathered there on the Goulet-McGillicuddy plot with our nephew, Rev. Terence Curry, S.J. who had driven from Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA, to lead Francis' internment service. Francis' siblings, Jo (of Houlton) and Lou (of Cape Elizabeth) were there along with Jo's husband Lou Curry. My 90 + year old aunt, my mother's last sibling, was there with my cousin George and another cousin Lillian. All the rest were dear friends.

We sang two hymns both fitting for Francis:
YOU ARE MINE by David Haas
Refrain: Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow me, I will bring you home: I love you and you are mine.
Verses :
I will come to you in the silence, I will lift you from all your fear. You will hear my voice, I claim you as my choice, be still and know I am here.
I am hope for all who are hopeless, I am eyes for all who long to see. In the shadows of the night, I will be your light, come and rest in me.
I am strength for all the despairing, healing for the ones who dwell in shame. All the blind will see, the lame will all run free, and all will know my name. I...
am the Word that leads all to freedom, I...
am the peace the world cannot give. I will call your name, embracing all your pain, stand up, now walk, and live!
Terry then recited some prayers, including antiphonal prayer (call and response) and I proclaimed this passage which I've always found very compelling from

St.Paul's Letter to the Romans 8:35-36; 37-9:1:
Who shall separate us from the Love of God?
Will anguish or distress, or persecution or hunger?
Or nakedness, or danger, or the sword?
No, in all these things we overcome overwhelmingly
through Him who loved us.
For I am certain of this:
that neither death nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature
will be able to separate us
from the Love of God
made visible in Christ Jesus.

This was our final hymn:
WE ARE CALLED by David Hass
We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.
Come! Live in the light! Shine with the joy and the love of the Lord! We are called to be light for the kingdom, to live in the freedom of the city of God!
Come! Open your heart! Show your mercy to all those in fear! We are called to be hope for hopeless so all hatred and blindness will be no more!
Sing! Sing a new song! Sing of that great day when all will be one! God will reign, and we'll walk with each other as sisters and brothers united in love!

Lynn, Lee and Rowan's presence with us (both Sat and Sun) meant a lot to me. I was heartened to see Rowan singing along with her dad crouched on the grass for her to see the words as he pointed them out. And I was glad the words of the hymn might reassure her. And us.
A good friend called our committal service "suitably simple and completely reflective of the one we were there to honor." Well put. For me there was also a kind of unreality in the reality we were going through. Actually I felt the whole weekend took on this tone.
But both on Saturday when we afterwards moved on to the Oak Street Bistro in Alfred to share a tasty meal, and on Sunday after our tree planting ceremony when we moved on to our joyous community potluck, there was this blending of tears and laughter. I thought it was good, good for us, and good for a child to learn this balance.

The Planting of Our Be-Loved Francis' Tree on Sunday, took place on the front lawn under sunny blue skies. Lynn, Lee and Rowan stood next to me facing our house while a large group of friends fanned out along the lawn, with one on the porch, facing us and the street. Abigail our neighbor's grandchild and Rowan's playmate stood next to her, close to the Rowan Tree behind us (That's literally its name) which for the first time since it was planted in 2007 displayed a large white blossom at its crown! Shawn, our arborist had already dug the hole, and a pile of rich humus sat waiting for the final internment of our living tree which stood as our centerpiece -- Francis' Japanese Stewartia Psudocamellia tree. Now 20' tall, it will slowly but eventually grow to 40' in height and 20' in width.
Before sharing a few details about what Rowan calls the "pepere tree" I reviewed for everyone our simple agenda:
A A few remarks about the tree itself and the intention of the planting;
B My reading of the Roman 8 passage I had read on Saturday;
C Sharing of two poems, one very personal, the second inviting deep thought from all of us;
D Reading of several of many comments about Francis which I will email to everyone.
E Finally, (I told those gathered,) they would have time to speak about what Francis means to them.
F We would then plant our tree and
G Share our potluck on the other side of the house, near the chicken coop and grape trellis. (Tiny little grape clusters are already visible!)

About the Japanese Stewartia Pseudocamellia:
Once its trunk attains a diameter of 2 - 3 inches it features stunning bark that exfoliates in strips of gray, orange, and reddish brown. The serrated foliage changes with the seasons: bronzy purple in spring, dark green by summer and red or orange in the fall. In midsummer its gorgeous white camellia-like flowers open in random succession. Someone said it looks like Francis! -- tall and graceful.

The Intention of this Tree Planting, I explained, is not just to honor Francis' memory. From the beginning I've wanted it to symbolize and express and celebrate love that keeps on growing, -- Francis' love and mine, and the love of all of us. I'm convinced that Francis' love did not stop or get fixated at a certain level when he died, and that he did not pass into a different remote universe from the one in which we live. This ONE mysterious universe in which we all live encompasses both the living and those we call dead. I say "those we call dead" because, as the Catholic liturgy says about people who die: "Life is changed, not taken away."

I then read this Rilke poem and Letter after sharing the Romans 8 reading:

To the Beloved
Extinguish my eyes, I'll go on seeing you.
Seal my ears, I'll go on hearing you.
And without feet I can make my way to you., without a mouth I can swear your name.
Break off my arms, I'll take hold of you
with my heart as with a hand.
Stop my heart, and my brain will start to beat.
And if you consume my brain with fire,
I'll feel you burn in every drop of my blood.
From The Book of Hours II,7

Life's Other Half
"I am not saying that we should love death, but rather that we should love life so generously, without picking and choosing, that we automatically include it (life's other half) in our love. This is what actually happens in the great expansiveness of love, which cannot be stopped or constricted. It is only because we exclude it that death becomes more and more foreign to us and, ultimately, our enemy.
It is conceivable that death is infinitely closer to us than life itself....
What do we know of it?"From Rilke's Letter to Countess Margot Sizzo-Noris-Crouy, Epiphany, 1923

The Personal Part
When all this unfolded there were tears and laughter as I was moved to spontaneously share a few "unpublished" personal stories not included here. At one point, when the tears came strong out of my heart, wanting to reassure Rowan that tears are okay, and even healing, I used the expression "agony and ecstasy" and tried to explain in child's language, in the presence of everyone, what these words mean.
But later at the end of the tree planting day, that night when everything had been picked up, sitting in the rich silence in Francis' usual place on our futon, I realized that "ecstasy" is not the apt word. It's not ecstasy but soul satisfaction I get, just sitting. Twice daily. That's where my treasure is. That's where I find the strength to go on.
One of the personal yet "unpublished" things I shared during our tree planting fest, and which I sort of hesitate to share online, is my prayer to Francis. But why not? It's actually a partial list of Francis' unique qualities, those I need to internalize. Since I no longer have access to them through Francis' physical presence, -- a sort of external access, -- I must now access them internally by bringing those qualities into my own self. That way I won't be bereft of the ways in which he balanced me. I will be able to become more fully myself, in Francis. Or, Francis lives in me, as someone wrote she hoped would happen. "Une vie a deux," is the expression that came to me weeks ago.

This is my prayer to Francis so far. It's "a take" on the ancient prayer, "Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your Love."
"Come darling Francis, fill me with your spirit,
your level headedness and gentle wit,
the wisdom of your patience and presence to the world,
your poetic soul and surrender to Mystery.
Give me courage, and the will to live."
I explained that "presence to the world" refers to Francis' interest in what's going on in the world by his reading The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly etc, etc He also enjoyed going to Starbucks for a cup of coffee to read The Boston Globe. I plan to try doing just that some time.

People's Sharing their comments about Francis
Jaynie Schiff-Verre's explanation -- how Quakers listen and then wait a few breaths before another speaks, to honor what was said and the person who shared it, created a thoughtful atmosphere. But I can't adequately reproduce here now what people shared standing together around our Francis Tree. There was the speaker with her/his emotions and the intonation and the heart. I couldn't do it justice. So I will share the quotes about Francis which I've been gathering together, soon.


Friday, May 21, 2010

I forgot the best part + 2 quotes

Dear Family and Friends,

Before going to bed last night, I looked once more at the tender note Rowan wrote me this afternoon. But this time I realized I had forgotten to relate the best part, -- Rowan's excellent drawing on the other side of the "envelope" depicting a broadly smiling, bearded Francis.

This afternoon she had kept pointing out the drawing, waiting, it seemed, for a response. I had told her: "Oh, yes! Pepere has a beard, and he's really smiling." But it wasn't until last night that I realized I had failed to notice, ( maybe in the emotion of the moment,) the word Rowan had written near Francis' head, encircled in cartoon fashion:

"Hi !" with a clear exclamation point.

In her drawing Francis is saying "Hi !" He's communicating with a broad smile. It's the "Communion of the Saints," one dogma of the church I really appreciate!

Since that reminded me of the article in The New Yorker to which our friend Gloria drew my attention: "Good Grief, Is There A Better Way To Be Bereaved?" by Meghan O'Rourke (Feb 1, 2010) I dug it out then and there and copied this passage:

"Perhaps the most enduring psychiatric idea about grief, the idea that people need to 'let go' in order to move on; yet studies have shown that some mourners hold on to a relationship with the deceased with no notable ill effects. In China, mourners regularly speak to dead ancestors, and one study has shown that the bereaved there suffer less long-term distress than bereaved Americans do."

Gloria also sent me an article about Lydia Davis' writing which includes this powerful and pithy poem:

Head, Heart

by Lydia Davis
Heart weeps.
Head tries to help heart.
Head tells heart how it is, again:
You will lose the ones you love. They will all go. But even the earth will go, someday.
Heart feels better, then.
But the words of head do not remain long in the ears of heart.
Heart is so new to this.
I want them back, says heart.
Head is all heart has.
Help, head. Help heart.

So we mourners weep. But we also say "Hi!"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rowan story preparing for Burial and Tree Planting

Dear Family and Friends,

In the last few days I have been culling passages from emails and cards to share people's heart-warming comments and some stories about Francis. I plan to read a few at the Tree Planting on Sunday.

I'll send these when I'm finished, but I'm attaching now, at the end of this, another precious Rowan story. You encourage me to continue sharing them. Here is today's:

When Rowan came into our home this afternoon she said to me, "Memere, I wish Pepere could see Bella! I wish he could pet her! "

Bella is Rowan's darling puppy, -- a Golden Doodle -- which she got on her birthday last month. After the party in which I took part as a leader of one of the four groups of Kindergarteners that went on a treasure hunt at Eastern Promenade close to Lynn and Lee and Rowan's home, I returned to drop off some eggs.

All the festivities were over, but there was Rowan sitting on the steps with golden Bella in her arms. I can understand why she would want Francis to see her. Bella, cuddled in her arms gave her face a very soft look that this very active godchild doesn't always reveal. Bright Rowan has a mind of her own, and because of that, the precociousness that yields insights I treasure.

I told that even though Pepere can't pet Bella, because he doesn't have a body as we do anymore, just the same, because he's in the spirit world (the expression she initiated last month) he might possibly see her, somehow.

Then Rowan asked me for a "very good piece of paper" because she wanted to write. So I got her another piece of that slightly wrinkled parchment the art store gave me for her. After she folded it neatly in half, she started writing while I was looking through the condolence cards to cull more comments about Francis. If I looked toward her in the least she told me she didn't want me to peek at what she was writing. But she did ask me how to spell "die." And when I did, she explained she wanted to know how to spell "died," so I spelled that word for her also.

Then when it was finished she gave me her story, and read it to me:

She read the "cover" of this "letter" first:
(The top left had a drawing of a stamp on it.)

For the inside note, she read:

Then partly fighting back tears myself, but also letting myself cry, I told Rowan that it's okay to cry, even that it's good to cry. And it makes us feel better afterwards, I added. And, that our love and the crying go together, I explained. The crying shows how much love we have for Pepere.

So Rowan cried with me by turning her head and covering her eyes as I hugged her.

Then, seeing the cards in a pile on the floor where I sat, she asked me about them. So I explained that I was copying passages to share with people, because they loved Pepere very much.

Then she wanted me to read them to her. So with the two of us sitting on the rug, I opened one after another from the pile of cards I had isolated last night that had comments about Francis in them. She wouldn't let me omit anything but wanted me to read all those notes.

But after 5 or more minutes of reading Hap our contractor and handy-man told us that he had finished fixing the leak in the pond liner, and that if we wanted, we could go outside and empty the bucket full of tadpoles I had brought back from The Children's Center where I picked up Rowan this afternoon.

And so we got up and turned our attention to the frogs in the pond. Rowan delighted on this warm afternoon taking off her shoes and wading in the pond, and trying to touch the frogs.

Earlier while I was reading to her, the trilling frog that had enchanted Francis and me two years ago began to trill. I expressed my awe and told Rowan how Francis and I had opened the glass door so that we could hear all night long this most beautiful sound. Rowan said: "Better than Pepere?" I tried to explain the apples and oranges concept saying that the trilling frog is the very best frog sound I ever heard. And that Francis' voice is also the very best voice sound I ever heard.

When Lee picked up Rowan later and I read him Rowan's note while she played outside with Abigail, our neighbor's grandchild, he told me that Rowan often speaks of Francis.

An additional Rowan story about Francis I forgot to include last month was written while Lynn was telling me about her Easter Vigil dream about Francis. Rowan was eager to hear her dream. But while Lynn related it, and as we talked, Rowan wrote this in the Rowan Journal which I had started to keep in 2006, jotting down some sweet things she used to say, -- the way children do. This is what she wrote then:


On another page she wrote this. But let me explain that Rowan loves pancakes, esp. the maple syrup that goes on them. So I've made those for her each week since she was 17 months old. Francis used to give her her own little jug of maple syrup in which he had measured a generous enough amount (but not so generous that she could drink it as she'd have liked to do.) He did this in response to her request for each pancake!

STOrieS Of MeMe AND PePe

Love and Gratitude,

Monday, May 10, 2010

Specifics for May 22nd Commital/Burial and Tree Planting on May 23rd and Our Closest Friend

Dear Family & Friends,

I have a quote on death for all of you at the end of this post by Rainer Maria Rilke -- called "Our Closest Friend." Those who are NOT coming to either Francis' Committal/Burial or the Tree Planting can therefore just skip the following specifics about these two events and go right for the quote.


Francis' Committal/Burial (on Sat May 22 at the Notre Dame Cemetery in Springvale) at the Oak Street Bistro in Alfred Maine ...............

THE POTLUCK AFTER the planting of the Japanese Stewartia -- our "Be-Loved Francis Tree" -- (on Sun May 23 at our home)


I have to telephone the manager of the Bistro on Friday May 21 to tell him how many people are coming so we can sit together. So please give me your final decision about the lunch by Thursday May 20.
This Lunch in Alfred is where Leedy's used to be, -- at 3 Oak Street (easy to find!)
When I heard they offered promotional discounts, I thought I'd inquire on your behalf, but I learned they do not. However their prices are reasonable. You can check the lunch menu here which should include (but doesn't) the appetizers, etc. included in the brunch menu:

, -- IF it's easy for you to do, -- could you please tell me what you plan to bring so we'll have a well balanced supper to enjoy together.

If you need directions to get to either place, look at my earlier posts or do a web search, or just ask me.

OUR CLOSEST FRIEND by Rainer Maria Rilke

"...Assume the unity of Life and Death and let it be progressively demonstrated to us. So long as we stand in oppsition to Death we will disfigure it. Believe me, Death is our friend, our closest friend, ...And I do not mean that in the sentimental, romantic sense of distrusting or renouncing life. Death is our friend precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love...Life always says Yes and No simultaneously. the true Yea-sayer. It stands before eternity and says only: Yes." Letter to Countess Margot Sizzo-Noris-Crouy, Epiphany, 1923


Friends around Portland: If any of you have time to help me plant, I'd appreciate it. It's a big challenge to get done by myself what Francis and I accomplished together, esp. right now with projects getting completed, -- like our garage being rebuilt. The solar hot water system just got completed two weeks ago, and it's marvelous!

Loving gratitude to all,