My mother passed away more than two years at the age of 81. It was a challenging time for our family. She had in-home hospice in the house that she had lived for 50 years and where my father still lives. Between my work and children, I would make the hour drive to visit my parents often, to be with my mom and to be supportive to my father.
A visiting hospice nurse left a pamphlet at my parent’s house and I found a poem on one of the pages along with signs that the time was getting close. The poem, entitled “Gone From My Sight,” is about a ship that sails out of sight, that is not gone but at another port. I read that poem many times and felt the words were exactly what I needed at that moment.
After my mom passed, I left the cemetery and went straight to Joshua Tree with my family to spend time away from the schedules of work and life to pause for a few days. When we got back, life was waiting and thoughts of my mom’s passing went from heavy emotion to passing thoughts like clouds going by in the sky.
We took our time going through her belongings and a few months ago, my dad had me look at her purses when I was visiting. We had very different tastes and my brother had no use for her clothing, so most of her belongings were donated. When we were going through her purses we found one hidden in the back of her closet. I had never seen it before and my father did not remember it either. It was not her style at all. It was a tan, leather purse that looked like it had Aztec designs, possibly from Mexico. It was very unusual looking and I decided to keep it. Since it had begun to dry rot I took it to Tucker’s Express Shoe Repair. On the way to the repair shop, I used the purse as I ran errands and was surprised by the compliments I received about it.
When I came back to Tucker’s a week later after dropping it off, he said several people had seen the purse hanging in his shop and wanted to buy it. I took my purse home and put it at the bottom of my closet. It needed polishing but I did not have time. After a few months of traveling with my family and everything else that keeps me so busy I noticed the purse in my closet. No wonder my mom kept that purse in her closet for 50 years, life really does get away from us at times. While my mom is out of my sight, she is not out of my mind or heart. The purse was a gift at just the right time, from my mom in her own special way.
“Gone From My Sight” by Henry Van Dyke
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear the load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!” There are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: “Here she comes!”
And that is dying.