A Gift for Thanksgiving

She was dying. We both knew that. This time the stroke that seized her had been different. Although she looked much the same, there would be no coming back. Her frail, ninety-three year old body was too damaged. My mother looked up at me with apologetic eyes from her bed in her own beautiful spacious room, with its windows looking over the lake. I was warming her slim, cold hand in mine, beginning the inconceivable letting go. The big words remained unspoken between us.

birch & leavesSuddenly a flash of insight spread across her face. I’m convinced that what she said, spoken in spite of her customary Edwardian reticence, was a gift for me, a pattern for how I should proceed after she was gone. “Oh, if only I’d known how easy it all would be,” she exclaimed, (and I believe she meant ‘life’) “I wouldn’t have worried.”

Teaching me important lessons to the very end, what mattered to her and which she wanted to share was the wastefulness of the anxiety which had gnawed at her throughout a hard but richly-lived life.

Moving on my own now towards the light, I offer this last gift from her to you.: “If only I’d known how easy it all would be…”

May this Thanksgiving weekend  be a joyous one for you.

About Peri McQuay

Peri Phillips McQuay is the author of Singing Meadow: The Adventure of Creating a Country Home, The View From Foley Mountain, a book of nature meditations on her experiences living for 30 years at the Foley Mountain Conservation Area and A Wing in the Door: Life With a Red-tailed Hawk is the story of her adventures with Merak, a human-imprinted hawk, who lived free but saw McQuay and her family as her special people. Also Peri has written numerous essays, articles, book reviews and a weekly column, published in the Kingston Whig-Standard Magazine. Her credits include Country Journal, Harrowsmith, Bird Watcher’s Digest, The Snowy Egret, Seasons, The Fiddlehead, Herizons and Brick.
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