Monday, December 27th, 2021
Though it arrives a few days later, what with all of the commotion of the Holidays, here is Louise’s most recent offering:
From The Princess [Sweet and low, sweet and low]
Alfred Lord Tennyson – 1809-1892
Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon, and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.
Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother’s breast,
Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west
Under the silver moon:
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.
It’s a lovely poem that I had never read or heard, and her choice surprised me. She wrote:
Ce poème m’a rappelé mon père qui travaillait de longues heures et qui le soir venu, lorsqu’il rentrait à la maison, venait me voir dans mon lit et me chantait “C’est la poulette grise…..”. Ma mère m’a racontée cette portion d’histoire de ces moments tendres que mon père se permettait sans que j’en sois consciente. Je suis certaine, que j’en ai gardé des traces. J’ai toujours senti que mon père m’aimait même si cela ne se traduisait pas par des mots, mais plus par des instants partagés à cueillir des petits fruits, à déneiger la cour ensemble, à aller en camion avec lui passer de longues journées à l’attendre. Je me sentais bien et sécure à ses côtés. J’ai aimé et j’aime encore profondément mon père pour tout ce qu’il était et qu’il a fait pour que j’aie une vie meilleure que la sienne. (LC)
This poem reminded me of my father whose work days were long and who, at day’s end, when he returned home, came to my bedside and sang “C’est la poulette grise…“. It’s my mother who told me this part of the story of those tender moments that my father created as I lay sleeping. I feel sure that I still carry traces of them. I always felt my father’s love for me, even if it wasn’t expressed in words, but mostly in such shared moments as picking berries together, or clearing the yard of snow together, or spending long days travelling alongside him in his truck, and waiting for him. I felt safe next to him. I loved him and still love him dearly for everything he was and everything he did to give me a better life than what he had known. (LC)
* * * *
After reading this, I messaged Louise, asking her how old she was when her father died. She wrote back that she was in her forties, and that her father died on her birthday. She added: “Il ne voulait pas que je l’oublie.” [He didn’t want me to forget him!]. Finally, she wrote: “Il est présent dans ma vie chaque jour.” [ ! feel his presence in my life every day.]
And this got me thinking about love, and death, and what we leave behind. I’m certainly moving ever closer to that moment, and as the seasons change, so do my fears and feelings. Of late, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about when we pass through death’s doorway and if I’m honest with myself–in an understandable bit of wishful thinking–I imagine that door staying just slightly ajar, so that I will continue to look back at those I have loved. And left.
And ah! I have to remind myself that the door will shut tight, and I will see nothing and know nothing. I will have simply ceased to be. And this harsh thought of something severed, of my love extinguished, hurts.
Today, Louise’s words remind me of the gentleness and the love that continue to live and flow on the other side of the door. Her memories of her father are vivid and specific and will exist as long as she does…
So there it is: this bridge between life and death, love and separation, need not last forever…It seems to me that if the memory of those I have loved and lost lives on, vividly, and then less and less so, for as long as my children, and perhaps also my grandchildren, live, then my love will have run its course. And what will remain will be the slightest of seeds that may, if the conditions are right, sprout into unknowable, unpredictable, and brand new expressions of love.
ART: The Silver Moon, Karen Kansala