Life and Death Journaling

 This past week has taught me, that in learning how to die we learn how to live. The three prominent female figures in my life were struck by disasters. My 79 year old mother fell off her horse and sustained a severe subdural hematoma and has been in ICU, my mother-in-law, Jeannine is on a remote cardiac monitor and my favorite aunt Lilly and second mother, passed away. I don’t know who to write about first, as they are all such unique and dynamic women.

My mother has been riding since an early age and even though we tried to get her to stop she said she wanted to die on her horse. She always hung around with younger riders and has had a youthful spirit. I am happy she’s had this passion, but now as she slowly reclaims her memory and talking abilities after the accident, she finally agrees that she must give up riding and find a more age-appropriate hobby. We were told that her subdural hematoma was so large that if she was 20, she would probably be in a coma.

Aunt Lilly is my husband’s aunt, but I’ve known her for more than thirty-five years. She died in her sleep at the age of 88 after a tumultuous yet successful life. I suppose what I admired about her most was how in spite of all she had been through, she never wore her heartaches on her sleeve. She was a bright, vibrant and positive woman who was a successful clothing designer in Montreal where we lived during our early marital years. When Lilly’s daughter, Norma, phoned to ask if I would speak at her memorial I was honored to be included.

Here is my eulogy: Some people are immortal and Lilly Dee is one of those. I met Lilly more than 35 years ago when I married Simon. We immediately had a connection, but, more importantly, I so admired her vibrant spirit, positive attitude, sense of humor and snippets of wisdom. Lilly always seemed to say and do the right thing at the right time. Uncle Ernie called her the family diplomat as she always told us like it was with the right balance of honesty, grace, and compassion and like her brother Alex, with the sensibilities of a wise sage. I’d like to read a poem from my recent collection, Dear Anaïs: My Life in Poems for You. (Note: For those of who have my book, you will notice that I modified the last stanza for the occasion)

My Navigator

   Dedicated to Aunt Lilly

From the moment we met

I loved you, right there,

in your country house on a remote lake,

Hungarian cheese spread smeared on Swedish crackers,

chicken paprika draped over a mound of mashed potatoes,

that long French Canadian wood table,

delightful culinary aromas from your kitchen,

lively paintings and portraits enveloping your walls,

books piled on your bedside table.

Oh how I miss the warmth of your home,

nestled in your easy laugh and zest for life.

I knew I wanted to grow old like you,

proud shoulders pulled back,

despite years in concentration camp

and the loss of two adoring husbands.

I shall forever be impressed by your sense of humor,

how you called my husband the glue doctor

after he developed a prosthetic cement;

your fine attire as a clothing designer,

positive tint to life’s idiosyncrasies, and yearning

for learning and travel.

I sit here with the memory of your accented voice

and how you said you had to go to your room to

‘brush your tits,’ and how each time

we looked into one another’s eyes

we had a connection which transcended

any words I could blend on these lines.

You’ve helped me navigate through every

stage of this woman’s life and shown me

how to survive all that I’ve been through

and for this I thank you.

Lilly, your spirit remains forever alive.

Rest in peace.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Life and Death Journaling”


  1. 1 Vicki September 14, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Not everyone perceives the lessons of (navigation) living and dying as graciously as you. Your mother and aunt, no doubt, did not always enjoy from others the sensitivity offered by your insights into their lives and personalities. You were a gift to them, as well.

    BTW, is that prosthetic cement called “In-Bone”?

  2. 2 Faith Stern September 15, 2009 at 5:29 am

    Dear Diana, I was so shocked to read about Eva’s accident and the subdural hematoma. How is she doing? Is she in a rehab facility? Is she in New York or near you? We plan to visit Pat and Eric next weekend. They both have COPD and can’t travel.
    Since they were at one time very close to your parents, I’m sure they are concerned about Eva’s condition, and like us wish her the very best and a good recovery.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Quote of the Week


"A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror."

~Mary Gordon

About Me


I am a memoirist, essayist, poet and teacher whose passion is keeping a notebook. My notebook is my muse and my alter ego. It contains personal snippets of my life and observations from the world around me. Diarist Anaïs Nin has been a great source of inspiration for me. My hobbies include writing, writing and more writing, but when I have extra time, I enjoy reading, walking, hiking, yoga, working out, cooking and hanging out with my family and Maltese Poodle, Spunky. In order not to become ensconced by the glare of my computer screen, I also teach in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and in various conferences and festivals around the country. My pleasure comes from sharing my joy of journaling with professional writers and anyone interested in writing.

Blog Listings


%d bloggers like this: