My mother died in April, 1985. Around Christmas that year I shared some feelings about her with friends and family. I tucked that message away in a Bible that I had given her on her birthday shortly before she died. I’ve only looked at what I wrote a few times in the past twenty-odd years.
Something made me pull it out just now. The book I quote at the end is Sir Edwin Arnold’s translation of the “Bhagavad Gita,” a favorite of mine. And of hers. This is a Hindu holy book, but it conveys a universal Christmas message: the joy of eternal life. Here’s the 1985 Christmas memory of my mother, Carolyn Hines, that is still alive in 2004:
“She is not here, yet she is.
She has given us life, and memories, love and caring.
She taught us honesty, respect for knowledge, how to live simply.
Words cannot express how we feel about her.
The quiet warmness in our hearts speaks much better.
Christmas may be a little sadder without her.
But I wonder for whom I’m shedding tears—she or me?
Her life was full, not always happy, but lived well.
Mother was graced with friends, and family, and Bill
Who made her last years in Three Rivers as she wanted them.
Waking up to the sun coming over the high mountains.
Feeding the cat and Patch. Watching “Good Morning America.”
Playing golf and rooting for the Giants to win the pennant…year after year.
Arguing with Bill about politics, the weather, history, whatever—
And loving every minute of it.
We may not have chosen her life for ourselves.
But it was wonderful to see it fit her like an old pair of slippers.
Scuffed up, worn, out-of-style, and so very comfortable.
Mother was a searcher of truth and knowledge
Whose lack of interest in material things reflected her higher leanings.
I wish that she could have found more of what she was looking for.
However, these searches do not end—hers, and ours, continues.
Mother found great inspiration in a spiritual book I loaned her when Grandma died.
She underlined these passages and told me often how much they meant to her.
To me they are the real Christmas message.
Never the spirit was born; the spirit shall cease to be never;
Never was time it was not; End and Beginning are dreams!
Birthless and Deathless and changeless remaineth the spirit for ever;
Death hath not touched it at all, dead though the house of it seems!
Nay, but as when one layeth His worn-out robes away,
And taking new ones, sayeth, “These will I wear today!”
So putteth by the spirit lightly its garb of flesh,
And passeth to inherit a residence afresh.
How, if thou hearest that the man new-dead
Is, like the man new-born, still living man—
One same existent Spirit—wilt thou weep?
Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year
Much love, Brian”