Monday, July 16, 2012

The Spirit


She never thought she was beautiful.


She was stunning.



And very beautiful.


"The end of an era. My grandma joined my grandpa in heaven yesterday and in honor of her we all raised glasses before dinner. I am very lucky to have had her in my life for the last 23 years and proud to be the grandchild of such a classy lady." - Kirsten's Facebook post.
My mother was made up of pearls and sapphires and roses and daisies and pinks and reds. Laced with the crushed red pepper of Grandma's Basilicata. She was a true Italian Steel Magnolia. Delicate and fierce, lion and lamb, she showed uncommon strength during adversity. And a sweetness and gentleness of spirit during graceful times. Her middle name is Grace.

Opera sustained and comforted her. She got lost in the music and it brought her back to her youth - a time when her father listened to opera daily. She was initially named "Aida" but the hospital had a hard time understanding my Grandfather's pronunciation and somehow there was involvement with my Aunt Rose and suddenly Aida became Edythe.

Bones. They flavored the sauce ("they're the best part!"). And she gave me her bones. 



And laughter. And generosity of spirit. And of course love.



We were blindsided. Her sisters lived well into her 90's and we took it for granted that she would also. We had a ways to go. 

"Is she going to be all right?" I asked my sister when I learned she was in the hospital.

"I think so," she replied.

Two days later a diagnosis and then the following week she was home with hospice.

The night she came home, the furry tornado that is Murray-Guido Shostakovich entered our lives. He likes to sit in sinks. My mother had talked of getting a cat for two years. It was the perfect time. A "rescue-kitten," he will have the most pampered life with my sister. She is a born care-giver who lovingly cared for my mother the last few years. 




Murray is a cyclone. The day after my mother left us, Murray (aka "Murrala") decided he could fly and lept off the 2nd floor platform. He couldn't fly. My sister now has a vet. And Murray is fine. And we're affixing plexiglass  across the stair railings.


I'm including all these family photos. Because that was my mother. La Famiglia is why she got up in the morning. La Famiglia is what kept her up at night trying to ease our way into the world.

In the week she was home, I learned so much about her. About her spirit. Reflections, dreams, day dreams, early morning conversations with my sister centered around the journey of the spirit - her spirit and ours. As my mother slowly passed into another world, she was still teaching me. I learned so much that week. I just wish there was an easier way to learn.

On July 5th, the hospice nurse told us to be prepared for her leave-taking that weekend. My birthday was on the 12th. I understood if she couldn't stay. I told her so. On the 12th, I ran home for miscellaneous work with my Fringe production.



I had a purr with Pip.



Marveled at the volunteer flowers on the patio.



And returned to my mother. My sister was 100% certain I could do this because she wouldn't leave me on my birthday. Even though the nurses were stunned that she was holding on five days later. My sister was right. She didn't leave.


Paul, Matthew and Kirsten gathered at my mother's for my "old" birthday (it's a decade thing - even my mother told me to stop telling people my age because it was aging her!) It was a simple dinner:

  • arugula salad with candied walnuts, blueberries and goat cheese
  • Spaghetti with garlic, oil, Parmesan and Italian parsley
  • Tiramisu courtesy of my sister
The comfort food my of my childhood. I wanted the aromas to go to my mother.  There was laughter at the table. A lot of it. The hearing is the last sense to go. We gave my mother an earful! And she was at my birthday party. Her last parting gift to me. 

On July 13th - on her mother's birthday - my mother left. Diane and I were on either side of her and wished her godspeed and told her how happy we were that she could be with my father and her original family. And of course, how much we loved her.


Cook up some pasta tonight. Blend some olive oil and butter. Add a touch of garlic and saute briefly. Throw your pasta into the garlicky oil. Sprinkle with Italian parsley and a heavy dose of some good Parmesan. I guarantee - instant comfort. Instant love. Each time a Gresio left me, I celebrated them with pasta and wine. It nourishes the spirit.

I learned a lot about the generosity of the spirit. The generosity of others. Courtesy of my mother's friends, Diane and I could host a dinner party for forty at any given time. The fridge was that packed. With sweetness.

Amazingly, this was not a week of weeping and wailing. There was a lot of laughter tinged with a touch of dark humor. A lot of ruminations on the sense of the spirit. And I have to tell you - two weeks ago I found out my mother's age. I never knew. And guess what? It's not on her obituary and I'm not telling you! She was ageless.





40 comments:

Ellen B Cookery said...

It's always sad to lose someone so special. I can fully relate. My condolences to you and your family.

Barbara F. said...

So sorry for your loss, Claudia. Your mom sounded like a wonderful lady. xo

bellini said...

Such wonderful years you all had together. I am very sorry to hear this news.Our hearts go out to you and your family.

Lynda said...

Oh Claudia, my prayers are with you and your family. Thankfully you have such wonderful memories of your remarkable mother and are able to celebrate her life. Blessings to you.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Claudia - I have tears streaming down as I finish reading this lovely tribute to your mom. I am so sorry she is no longer with you, and especially if it came as such a surprise. It is never easy, no matter what. She sounds like she would have been an inspiration to anyone, and it's clear that she was to you. How lucky you were to have had such a fabulous mother. I hope the pain of losing her will soften as time goes by. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Love, Linda

Ciao Chow Linda said...

And she sure was beautiful in every way. just wanted to add that too.

Angie's Recipes said...

Claudia, I am so sorry to read about your loss. My prayers are with you and your family. Even Murray looks kinda sad.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Oh Claudia, what a lovely, lovely tribute to your mother. Thank you for sharing your family photos. I am so sorry for your loss and you and you family will be in my thoughts and prayers. I think Murray may be a bit lost after this. He sounds like quite a charmer.
Sam

Anonymous said...

I am so orry or your loss. You honored her beautifully in your words and your cooking.

Kathy said...

Claudia, So very sorry for your loss. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family!
Your post is such a lovely tribute to your beautiful mother. It touched me deeply. She will be with you always.

Mister Meatball said...

So very sorry, C.

Tonight we'll raise a glass, and have some aglio y olio, for mom.

Lucia said...

Sorry for your the loss of your mother. Tomorrow it will be pasta a la aglia and olio in memory! Our favourite here. All my prayers to you and your family during your sorrow.

Wanda..... said...

My sincere condolences, Claudia. You have wonderful memories.

Linda A. Thompson Ditch said...

What a lovely post, and a beautiful way to share your mother's spirit with the rest of us. Thank you.

WokandSpoon said...

Condolences Claudia. This was a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

SKIP TO MALOU said...

Claudia, I'd like to extend my deepest condolences to you, and whole family on the loss of your mom who is a remarkable woman. Your tribute to your wonderful mom brought her to life for all of us. Thank you for sharing this loving and heartfelt post. I'm sending you my warm and sincere ::::HUGS:::: Claudia. I could truly relate.
xo,
Malou

Chiara Giglio said...

I am so sorry or your loss, you have lovely memories..a hug

Balvinder Ubi said...

My sincere condolences to you,Claudia. This was a lovely post sharing your memories with your mother. Take Care!

Gloria said...

Sorry for your loss your Mom sounds wonderful this is a really lovely post Claudia! bless

Gina said...

Claudia,
I'm so sorry to read this, only wishing she could have had countless days with you too. I'm sure she is smiling down on you now and loving this beautiful tribute you wrote in her honor. Glad you and your family were able to be together and comfort each other. -Gina-

Bradley said...

Tonight we celebrated your beautiful mother over pasta and herbs. It was a wonderful dinner and though we never met, her spirit will now be with me every time I boil water. It's amazing how much food connects us all.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I am ever so sorry for your loss! A wonderful post for a beautiful woman.

Hugs,

Rosa

Cucina49 said...

Oh Claudia, I am so sorry for your loss. What a gorgeous tribute to her--I love the description that she was made of pearls and sapphires with crushed red pepper.

Reeni said...

This was a beautiful post Claudia! I'm glad you were able to celebrate your birthday with her. I'm so sorry for your loss. xoxo

sophiesfoodiefiles said...

Ooh dear Claudia, I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved mother. What a great tribute to her.

I send you lots of love & hugs to you & your lovely family. She will be greatly & deeply missed.
Big cyber hugs to you xxx

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

This was such a beautiful tribute to your Mother, Claudia. I see so much of you in her. I can't believe you didn't know her age ... she does look so young and vibrant.
My Mom would have been 90 on July 16--another woman younger than her years. perhpas she and your Mom are having tea in heaven right now talking about their daughters who blog? I'd like to think so!

We will miss our Moms forever but we are lucky that they left us with such sweet and happy memories.

{{hugs}}

Velva said...

Claudia, I am so sorry. My deepest sympathy to you and your family. I realize from reading this post, you are at peace, there is no turmoil, only sadness at the loss.

Your tribute to your mother was beautiful in this post.

Always,
Velva

Frank said...

A wonderful tribute!

Pegasuslegend said...

A heartfelt beautiful tribute that I am honored to be able to be a friend to read. Her time on earth was adored by everyone and her spirit lives on in you. What a glorious feeling to know and feel the love you have that exudes in these words of love.. my heart is full of joy for your time together and heavy for her loss my friend. Always treasure those moments not many have in life.. god bless.

Lizzy said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mother, my friend. She left a wonderful legacy in her offspring and theirs...and so many good memories for you to share and cherish. I am sorry for your loss. May she rest in peace. xo

Roz said...

Oh my God in Heaven, Claudia. I am so very, very sorry for the loss of your beloved mother. I truly was unaware as I was in surgery the same day. I sincerely apologize for my belated ability to catch up with your blog and to extend my sympathies for you and your family. What a wonderful woman she must have been to live so fully and to have raised such a bright, creative, loving soul as you! I will keep all of you in my prayers. Please know that as an empirical science writer, that whenever I read your written words, I am completely taken away to a level of writing that I adore!!!

Much love and baci, bella amica,
Roz

Lori Lynn said...

Your post is such a wonderful celebration of your mother's life. Her photo with the hats & purses is so precious. And I love how you describe her - with gems, and flowers, and peppers! A beautiful spicy life! May she rest in peace.
LL

Daniela said...

Thank you for sharing with us these photos taken from your personal album, and also my mom has a picture with the hat like yours? Daniela a hug.

Rosemary said...

She must have been some woman! My heart aches for you. Even though it's been several years now, I miss my mother terribly. Guess we always will. It's comforting to "talk" to her -- especially while I cook. A lovely tribute.

Kitchen Riffs said...

So sad to hear this. My deepest condolences. Really beautiful tribute to your mom.

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

My condolences to you and your family. Thank you for sharing the wonderful memories and stories in this blog post. Tonight I will be making pasta with olive oil and parmesan, and I will think of you and your mother, and my own mother as well, who I am lucky to have with me. Take care.

Anonymous said...

I just read your blog, so so sorry for the loss of your beloved Mother, no one could take her place,she lives on in your heart, body and mind..I re-read your blog, it made me weep, she sounded like an angel on earth now in heaven, she lived for her familia and taught you so much and your other family members, got a kick out of the little kitten, we lost our cats, two of them within one week on the only the only hot days we ever ever get, just like losing a family member..I am praying for you & yours to recover but one never recovers the loss of one's mama, but thank you for sharing her love and spunk and class..No woman ever gives her age out never..God's blessings to you, from my mind and heart to yours, take care..peace.....

Catherine said...

Dear Claudia, My heart is with you.
It is a sudden quiet, I have learned, that fills the atmosphere when you loose your loved one.
I pray for you and for this void to fill with the memories and love that your mom has left you with.
Blessings dearest. Catherine xo

Rebecca Subbiah said...

much love hugs

Barbara GF said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Claudia. Your mom must have been so special - loved the photos you shared of her and your sterling words. Hopefully the new kitty will be a comfort in your time of loss.