the greatest of all

Author: angiem, 01 29th, 2010

When my paternal grandmother died, her daughter and daughters-in-law prepared her body for burial.  For three days they kept her open casket in the middle of the front room while neighbors and the church community stopped in to pay their respects.  Every single evening her seven loving children held a vigil in their childhood home, the room and hallway filled with people.  I was eight years old at the time.  I sang a song one night that to this day makes me cry.  It was a song about a mother and her love for her offspring.  As old as time itself, it was my daddy’s favorite song, because his mother always sang it to him. I could barely finish singing it, as everyone in the room was crying, myself included.

I cried for my daddy who lost his mommy.  I couldn’t imagine a worse fate.  What is a mother, but the sun, the moon, the stars, buttered bread, warm milk, down pillows, storytimes, golden apples, silvered pears, castles in the sky, dragons, princesses, tears, laughter, hugs, kisses, and forevermore love.  As a mother myself now, there is only one thing worse.  And I cannot fathom it.

Death had come and took with it a dear friend’s mother today, another sweet friend’s grandmother days ago, and still insatiable, it lingers in the darkened corners of another sweet friend’s family.  I have nothing to offer, no words of comfort to erase the pain or lighten the heartache, just a reminder that LOVE will remain.  Death has no power over that.  I am thinking of you three.  I can’t stop thinking of you.  I love you.


38 Responses to “the greatest of all”

  1. Michelle @ The True Book Addict Says:

    Okay Angie…I’m in tears now! What a beautiful post. I cannot fathom losing my mother or something happening to me and leaving my boys without a mother.

  2. French Fancy Says:

    You just cannot describe the death of a parent, especially a mother. It is like the worst thing in the world and until it happens it is impossible to understand the feeling.

    One consolation now that neither of my parents are still alive - I’ve got the worst of all hurdles behind me.

    This was a beautiful post, Angie.

  3. Diane Says:

    Your contribution at such a young age is touching. You helped in the healing process. :O)

  4. Ava Says:

    My heart goes out to your friends. My mom was in an accident when I was little, she pulled through and was fine after it. I lived in fear of losing her.

  5. bethany Says:

    So sorry for your sadness for your friends.
    Beautiful memories and beautiful piece.
    Love what you wrote about mothers. Yes!

  6. Mama Zen Says:

    This is utterly lovely.

  7. Sarah Laurence Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your recent and past losses. Yes, love trumps death. Memories survive.

  8. Ruth Says:

    Now I’m crying. Beautiful words.

  9. Jena Says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. And praying peace be upon your friends. Mom’s are the best!

  10. Se'lah Says:

    Loss is always so hard. This is a beautiful post. I feel your pain.

    p.s. it’s not too late to join the *gift of jewels* postcard exchange. so pop on over and sign up if you’re still interested.

    one love.

  11. pamela Says:

    We seem to be sharing similar emotions this morning. An old friend of my husband’s died yesterday, on a hike with his wife in the snow. Very sudden, very unexpected, far too young. Words are such inadequate comfort sometimes.

  12. angiem Says:

    Michelle, I can’t bear to imagine my children growing up without my love.

    Oh, Julie… I came close, but I don’t fully know. I cannot imagine a piece of me gone.

    Diane, thank you. Thinking of you too. You and I spoke about this yesterday morning. Didn’t think the subject of death would come up so soon.

    Ava, I am sorry. I can just imagine how terrifying it must have been whenever you were away from her.

    Thank you, Bethany. There’s something about mothers, isn’t there?

    Thank you, Mama Zen. I bet you’re one of those super cool, wonderful moms!

    Yes it does, Sarah. Isn’t love wonderful? I am in love with love.

    Ruth… Thank you. Please don’t cry. You have an awesome mom, and you have been a wonderful mother figure to all your siblings.

    Thank you, Jena. Thank you for your prayers.

    Se’lah, thank you. I have joined. I am thrilled!

    Pamela… Oh dear! I am so sorry to hear that. Your poor husband. That poor wife. Such sadness.

  13. Ligia Says:

    Angie this week I started writing about death and it was so strong, powerful and emotional for me I just couldn´t do it any more. Wrote a few lines and stop. Then re-read what I wrote and felt so empty, so far from what I felt… I want to congratulate you on this… you did great… I just couldn´t do it… but you show me how… for that thanks!!!! loved it… is a difficult topic but you made it friend.. a big hug with a deep sense of admiration for you… now I maybe will feel more inspired to try in a few days, weeks or months…

  14. laura Says:

    Death, where is your sting? How I long for the day when it burns no more. No matter how ready the Beloved is to go Home, we are always sorrowed to be left behind.

    Praying comfort for all.

  15. Mary Moon Says:

    I wish we still held our dying in our arms in their own beds as they passage from here to there. I wish we washed the bodies of the ones we love ourselves and kept vigil ourselves. Home death- home birth, we have lost so much when we decided to give those passages to the “experts.”
    This was a beautiful post, Angie. And you know what? When I die, I know my family will be sad but they will know quite well what parts of me they carry on within them and that makes me happy. And I hope it will make them happy, as well, to think about that.

  16. She Writes Says:

    Angie, I have been through the death of my mother. I have been also through the death of my marriage. The words “I can’t stop thinking of you,” and “I love you” are some of the most comforting words I have heard in seasons of grief. They bring a depth that speaks beyond themselves, what word are never deep enough to tell. I am sorry for your sadness and the loss!

  17. Bunny Says:

    Angie, this post is beautiful. You are beautiful. There are days when I am driving in my car and start crying because I know one day I will be on this earth without a mother. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of what that will be like, I’m with my parents a lot. I still haven’t been able to fully handle the loss of my 4 grandparents…I can’t imagine no longer being someone’s child. I pray always that my three sons will live long healthy beautiful lives…I’m a worrier, not all the time, I’m usually very happy but I just want it to be like this forever…its so beautiful.

  18. Beth Says:

    And it’s that love that keeps us going - no matter what.

  19. Deb Says:

    So hard to get through. The best we can do is be there for the ones that need us. Be well.

  20. julie Says:

    Dearest Angie
    Your words brought tears to my eyes.. I know only too well this loss. My mum died when I was thirteen so in some way I am perpetually stuck in that place where you just want your mummy!!

    Your words summed up perfectly what a mother means to the child within all of us. So sorry to hear your sad news. xx Julie

  21. Jessica Says:

    The older I get, the more aware I am that death will be coming soon to family members. Not unexpected death, just the ordinary, time-has-passed type of death.
    I think the saddest thing is when a child loses their parent. :-(

    I can’t believe you kept the casket open so long? And nothing starts to smell?

    Thanks for sharing the post Angie. It was beautiful.

  22. Susu Paris Chic Says:

    Mother’s love is something unique. My relationship with my mom got a step better yesterday. I don’t really want to give details here in a “public space” (saying that I regularly wish, when reading your posts, that we could just have a nice chat in a café… to talk even more openly about all the interesting topics that bring up) . My mom called me yesterday, after a long silence, and I had a warm feeling inside that carried me the whole day.

    Have a sweet Sunday dear Angie - here in Paris the sun is shining and I’m meeting two fellow blogger American friends in a downtown café!

  23. angiem Says:

    Thank you, Ligia. It isn’t an easy subject to write of, or speak of. I have a good cry every time I do it.

    Laura, I believe so. They are ready to go, but we aren’t ready to give them up.

    Thank you, Ms. Moon. I’m quite sure your family will always and forever remember your love for them. You are a wonderful mama.
    And yes, our connection, our bond, that chance to say hello or goodbye properly has been lost.

    Thank you, Amy for your kind words. I am so sorry for both of your losses.

    Bunny, thank you. I feel your love for your family. It is strong and beautiful.

    So very true, Beth.

    Thank you, Deb. I am thinking of you too.

    Julie, I am so sorry that you lost your sweet mom. Right when you probably needed her love and advice the most. Thinking of you, dear friend.

    Jessica, I can’t remember anything smelling. I’d have to ask my mom or dad. I think there are all sorts of powders and such to preserve the body.

    Susa, I am so very pleased to hear that. It is wonderful news!
    One day soon dear friend, you’ll meet me in a Paris cafe and we’ll talk ourselves out of words. Can’t wait!

  24. Rick Says:

    Angie. Your writing humbles me, greatly. I had chills running up and down my arms as I read your description of a mother. It has never, ever been done better.
    And yes, the love remains. I have said this often as of late.
    The love always remains.

  25. SJ Says:

    Yes, the greatest of all indeed. There’s something about your mother that (if all is well, of course) provides an underlying knowledge that you are loved unconditionally and when that’s gone, I feel like we’re forever different. I can’t imagine how hard it will be when that day comes for me, but I can only hope to have friends thinking about me and loving me the way you are for yours.

  26. Lydia, Clueless Crafter Says:

    Angie, a mother is all those things and I often turn desperate when I think of losing her. She and my father are flying to France this week to visit my younger sister. They will take to the unknown roads together, a beautiful journey in idea but a scary one for a daughter across the ocean who cannot be there to make sure all goes well.

    I also think the loss of a mother is the end of a direct dialogue about growing up, being her spirit incarnate but different, and resolving issues that come from 2 people who so many days feel like one.

  27. Dawn Says:

    You are such a beautiful writer. This post very nearly had me in tears. The line about mothers being the sun, moon and castles in the sky is perfect. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it put so eloquently.

    I’m sorry for the deaths that have touched your life. May they leave pleasant memories in their wake.

    I also wanted to thank you for your comments! I always look forward to reading what you have to say!

  28. Holly L Says:

    My heart goes out to those who have lost someone so recently and to you. I too cannot even fathom that “one worse thing.” I simply cannot imagine.

  29. Francesca Says:

    The traditional way of dealing with death, at home, with vigils and chants, is so much better than shunning it away to some hospital or nursing home and pretend it doesn’t happen to all of us. There is one thing worse, and I still haven’t found peace.

  30. Mrsbear Says:

    Such a difficult topic to write about. I can only imagine how tough it must have been for you and your family. But what lovely evidence of the lives your grandmother touched, that so many were able to come and honor her. I’m sure the song was beautiful.

    My thoughts are with you and those families that lost someone cherished recently.

  31. Cindy La Ferle Says:

    Beautiful post. I found you through a comment left on “Life in Red Shoes,” and was intrigued by the title of your blog.

    My mother is very ill right now, so I can feel this post in my heart and bones. Your essay today made me think of how much she means; how much mothers mean everywhere.

  32. angiem Says:

    Rick, thank you. Yes, it does. Always and forever.

    SJ, how right you are. No matter what anyone says, a mother’s guidance and love shapes us as people.

    Lydia, every time I take a trip somewhere without my kids I worry about them. What if something were to happen and I’m half a world away? I understand your fear.

    Thank you, Dawn. It has been a strange two weeks. It’s a comfort to know that others care, isn’t it?

    Holly, neither can I. Thank you.

    Francesca, I imagine that in some parts of Italy where you live, those traditional methods are still practiced. We all die.

    Thank you, Mrsbear. It was so long ago, but I still remember. And to this day, her love is evident in her children. They are so loyal and loving to each other.

    Cindy, thank you for stopping by. I am sorry to hear that about your mother. I hope that she gets better quick. The winter months are cruel for the elderly.

  33. Wendy Says:

    Beautiful post. As I was reading it, I was thinking exactly what you ended up saying–there is only one worse loss.

  34. Make Do Style Says:

    Such a lovely post even though it is about death. It is good to participate in all of things that life brings.
    Amazing to have sung like that at such an age.

  35. angiem Says:

    Wendy, thank you. Yes, there is.

    Kate, thank you. I have a horrible singing voice. What drew the tears were the words of the song.

  36. Vanessa Says:

    Time does ease the heartache, but the heart never stops yearning for one more hug, one more kiss, one more conversation, one more “I love you” slipping from the lips of a dear one.

    Thank you for, again, sharing a piece of your childhood. I always love to hear about it!

  37. krista Says:


  38. angiem Says:

    Vanessa - Thank you for listening, Vanessa.

    Krista - You know me. I’m all for it and all about it.

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