Sometimes, life has a way of reminding you that there’s nothing more important than being with the ones you love. I want to offer my sympathy to everyone who’s had a loved one pass away suddenly. And I want to thank friends and family who comforted my husband Harry and I. When your world is turned upside down in a minute, it is hard get beyond the emptiness to find a way even to grieve.
It’s been a long, hard week. I was too emotionally drained to work, even today, although I sat at my computer and pretended that I was able, while my mind drifted to the events of the past week. If I’m in a state of emotional overload that has left me exhausted, I can only imagine the grief that my husband is feeling.
Harry’s mother, Beulah M. “Snooks” Calhoun, passed away Monday morning, March 19, 2007, from a cerebral vascular accident, a stroke.
I met Harry’s father for the first time as we walked across the hospital parking lot late Saturday afternoon and then met Beulah Calhoun where she lay in a hospital bed, an oxygen tube in her nose. She opened her eyes and looked at my husband, made noises, but nothing that resembled words. She didn’t recognize her son. It is the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed, or ever hope to.
Days followed: funeral arrangements, the viewing, financial matters and family dinners. Each day ran into the next and ended with Harry and I falling into bed exhausted and numb. When we came home on Saturday, although we had been gone for not even a week, it felt like an eternity.
I noticed on the drive home from the airport that in our absence winter had departed. After the cold and rain in Connellsville, Pa, the sights and sounds of spring in North Carolina were a welcome sight. Tulips had broken ground, pushing through the hardy daffodils. Pink and red azaleas now dotted the hedges, seemingly overnight. The oaks hung heavy with seedpods and cottony dogwood flowers rained pink and white petals, joining maple seed airplanes on the recently cut grass. The sight of gold finches fighting for seed at the bird feeder made me cry. We were home.
Beulah’s loved ones describe her as being most happy out of doors, so I think it fitting to end this entry with “March,” written by Hal Borland. Although I never knew her in life, the narrative seems to fit the mother of my husband. So, in memory of Beulah Calhoun, whose funeral was held on the first day of spring, and for her son:
March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice. She knows when the first shadbush will blow, where the first violet will bloom, and she isn’t afraid of a salamander. She has whims and winning ways. She’s exasperating, lovable, a terror-on-wheels, too young to be reasoned with, too old to be spanked.
March is rain drenching as June and cold as January. It is mud and slush and the first green grass down along the brook. March gave its name, and not without reason, to the mad hare. March is the vernal equinox when, by the calculations of the stargazers, Spring arrives. Sometimes the equinox is cold and impersonal as a mathematical table, and sometimes it is warm and lively and spangled with crocuses. The equinox is fixed and immutable, but Spring is a movable feast that is spread only when sun and wind and all the elements of weather contrive to smile at the same time.
March is pussy willows. March is hepatica in bloom, and often it is arbutus. Sometimes it is anemones and bloodroot blossoms and even brave daffodils. March is a sleet storm pelting out of the north the day after you find the first violet bud. March is boys playing marbles and girls playing jacks and hopscotch. March once was sulphur and molasses; it still is dandelion greens and rock cress.
March is the gardener impatient to garden; it is the winter-weary sun seeker impatient for a case of Spring fever. March is February with a smile and April with a sniffle. March is a problem child with a twinkle in its eye.
Hal Borland: Sundial of the Seasons, 1964