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Posted on 2005.02.07 at 00:54
I call Estelle my spiritual grandmother, and it is not because she isn't alive. At 92 years old, she's one of the healthiest elderly people I know. I call her that because while she is not my genetic grandmother (my mother having been adopted) there is no single person in my family whom I resemble more. Estelle taught for more than twenty years kids in various villages of northern Quebec. She was already retired when I was of young age, and I got to spend many days with her (doubtlessly to afford my mother some respite from the incessant questioning). I owe her many things: an appreciation for the spiritual, eagerness for long walks (esp. by the sea), a sense of reverence towards nature, somewhat of a penchant toward painting as an art form, and surely I inherited some of her proverbial pig-headedness which is otherwise rather lacking in my family. It is in her home that I read my first scholarly book, a biography of St. Francis of Assisi. She was calmly supportive of my desire to become a priest when I was too young to be taken seriously, and gently nodded when I decided otherwise. She thinks the world of me, is extremely proud that I am the first of my family to attend university; she has read each and every paper I wrote as an undergrad. She had never asked me for anything.

Tonight, she called. She asked me to write her a letter. In that letter, she wants me to explain to her what I think happens when someone dies.


from: chalepa_ta_kala date: 2005-02-06 23:14 (UTC) (Link)
Elegy IX, Ovid

Si tamen e nobis aliquid nisi nomen et umbra
restat, in Elysia valle Tibullus erit.
obvius huic venias hedera iuvenalia cinctus
tempora cum Calvo, docte Catulle, tuo;
tu quoque, si falsum est temerati crimen amici,
sanguinis atque animae prodige Galle tuae.
his comes umbra tua est; siqua est modo corporis umbra,
auxisti numeros, culte Tibulle, pios.
ossa quieta, precor, tuta requiescite in urna,
et sit humus cineri non onerosa tuo!

Still if nothing remains of us but a name and a shadow, Tibullus will live on in the valleys of Elysium. Come forward to meet him, learned Catullus, with your Calvus, and wreathe your youthful forehead with ivy. And Gallus, come too (if they speak against you who say that you wronged a friend) prodigal of your blood and life. Of these your shade is the companion, and if a shade is anybody, you have swollen the pius crowd, gracious Tibullus. I pray his bones be at rest, at peace within the quiet urn, and may the earth not lay heavily on his ashes.

from: methexis date: 2005-02-08 10:44 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, thank you dear. 'May the earth not lay heavily on his ashes", what a splendid expression!

from: ketsele date: 2005-02-07 06:38 (UTC) (Link)
This gave me chills and really moved me.Estelle sounds so beautiful,as is your connection with her..this is an important letter you shall write.
::love to you::
from: methexis date: 2005-02-08 10:45 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you very much. I suspect it will be difficult, but nothing important isn't.

That's pronounced like K.F.
from: keyef date: 2005-02-07 10:08 (UTC) (Link)
I was going to comment as well that I got goose bumps when I read that. This was a very moving post.
from: methexis date: 2005-02-08 10:46 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I try to avoid dramatics but it is an important moment for me (and her).

That's pronounced like K.F.
from: keyef date: 2005-02-08 10:53 (UTC) (Link)
I don't think that it was dramatic. I think that it showed true emotion and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
from: amathya date: 2005-02-07 13:57 (UTC) (Link)
A beautiful post.

I wrote a whole slew of things and then erased them ... but I always get carried away. Just be honest and express what death is to you; it will always be subjective, because there's simply no right or wrong answer. Death, at this time, is unknowable.
from: methexis date: 2005-02-08 10:48 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks dear. What touches me the most about her request is that, as someone who is deeply religious, she is supposed to _know_ what will happen to her when she dies. That she asks me what I think is beautiful in its humility and vulnerability.

from: bdaul date: 2005-05-26 21:58 (UTC) (Link)


How fortunate you are to have her in your life, that she would do such a thing for you. It seems she is once again teaching you, yes?
from: methexis date: 2005-05-26 22:11 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Blest

Once a teacher, always a teacher. :)

A pleasure to make your acquaintance.

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