A great love was reunited last night, and that is the love of my parents Hilda and Esher Ritchie. Our Mom passed away about 7:30 last night, peacefully in the company of her family, but oddly that is not the focus of this post. I would like to focus on the truly undying love that our parents had for each other.
Much has already been written about my Mom and Dad on Kamazooie by my brother Lark and myself; I am sure that it is clear that they loved each other deeply. What remains untold, is the way that they both thought of, and virtually planned for, their immortal love. It wasn't something that was literally planned in the conscious space but looking back, there was no doubt that these two soulmates would always be together.
As was recalled in other posts about my Dad, he was a man of great vision. He had his own dreams in which he eventually built a thriving tourist business and fishing lodge on Prairie Bee Lake, all with the help of his life and love partner, our Mom. But he also saw well into the future in family matters; at family events, he would often say, 'lets capture this for posterity'. We thought nothing of it at the time, but of course, theses pictures of family outings et cetera were for us in the future when we were no longer together. There's also another post where he took my brother Allan for a ride in the bush with Al's newly purchased video camera. During the drive he stopped, nowhere in particular, made a fire and started some tea. In retrospect, we all know now, this was to capture this traditional practice of sharing a tea over an open fire with us in the future because he knew of his own mortality and this video would transcend that.
More to the point of this post, my Father was not a deeply religious man but another thing that he used to tell us, with no particular concern or threat in sight was, "The bible says that when we are in heaven, a thousand years is but a blink of an eye". While it was never specified, it was very clear that this was meant to reassure us that when one goes before another, in only a blink of an eye, he or she will be joined by their loved ones in heaven.
Well, he unfortunately passed 30 years before my Mom and she never stopped thinking of him and neither did any of us, recounting stories when we got together and talking about the good times we shared as a family.
Long after he was gone, over the last 5 years, as my Mom began to show signs of dementia, a new issue surfaced. While her memory started to fail, my Mom never lost her ability to think clearly about family. Even up until her last week, she clearly knew all of us and our conversation was never about anything irrational or fictional. However, a strange thought began occurring to her regarding Dad; she would say "I wonder what he is doing up there. I wonder if he's found someone else". While this was a half joke in the many times that she said it, it was of course a deep fear that maybe their eternal love was not meant to be. At these times,I would tell her that "Of course not, he's waiting for you". One time about 3 years ago when her quality of life was still well enough, she told me "Well he's just going to have to wait because I'm not ready to go yet!". Other times she said this, and there were many lately, I would remind her what he said about 'the blink of an eye' and that for him, he will have only just gotten there and you will be by his side.
It was not a coincidence that Dad told the 'blink of an eye' quote for us to remember; it was his foresight telling him that he would likely pass before her, and that he needed to plant this firm in all of our memories so that we could reassure Mom that he will be there for her.
On Thursday last week, she was not doing well but she was awake and looking at pictures with us on the TV in her room; one of Dad passed by and I said "Look at that guy, maybe you will see him soon". I didn't know if I should suggest this but I felt it was time to reassure her that he is waiting for her. She smiled weakly and nodded; we all knew it wasn't far off. Well, last night, the time finally came to reunite with her eternal love. We were there to send her off and, without a doubt, Dad was there with waiting arms to receive her.
There is a post-script to this story of everlasting love, and that is to love deeply and without hesitation or embarrassment. My Father was a demonstrative person and Mom was a little more shy. I remember many times that he would grab her into a hug in the kitchen, in front of everyone, and try to steal a kiss. She would laugh and squirm her way out or give him a little peck. Later, when we spoke of this, she told me several times that she felt bad that she pushed him away at those times; she would give anything, after his passing, for another one of those joyful hugs. I assured her that it was not a problem, he always knew how much she loved him; but of course, she still felt a loss for pushing him away at those times.
So as the saying goes "Dance like nobody is watching, love like you'll never be hurt, sing like no one is listening and live like it is heaven on earth". While we may have the possibility for eternal love like Hilda and Esher, we must also treasure the ones who love us here and now and enjoy the amazing opportunity that the Creator has placed before us here on earth.
I wish you all health, happiness and very deep and everlasting love.