Somewhere around the world today there was another selfless soul born, of that I am pretty sure. And even with all the newborns today, there’ll never another Marjorie be.
I ended the phone call with …”my thoughts and prayers are with all of you.” As I promised I would, I dialed the number to my parents house and waited for Mom to answer. Usually, it’s been her making those dreaded calls to me, but tonight I had a message to pass on and an inkling that she already knew what I had just confirmed. She answered the phone and both of us seemed a bit scared to say the first words, knowing why each of us was on the line. I passed on the message I had promised to share and we talked about what we feared to be the case. Our dear, sweet Marjorie had passed, no more than an hour before.
In the instances between words, my mind raced around the planet and back, or certainly through my lifetime and maybe hers. I thought of the party line connected to the old phone at the bottom of the stairs, before the stairs were re-done. And how the news would be around Canada and back before I could hang up the phone. I thought of the visual data bank I had created in my own mind from the hours of stories I was privy to in our many chats. I pictured the land and the buildings around the farm where she was raised even though it was all before my time. I thought of the gathering in her living room just about 18 months ago, when I found myself generation jumping. I thought of the easy way about Marjorie. The way she meandered through our lives spreading cheer in a humorous, but innocent, self-deprecating kind of way. I think of it this way, she tread lightly on our souls, but we all knew when she had been through, and we all knew when we were missing those gentle steps and longed for their return. I hung up the phone. I sobbed and expelled a deep breath that was cut short by more sobs. Then I bowed my head and I prayed. I cried words that were only audible in thought. God knows what I said and He knows that I wanted mostly to let Him know that Marjorie’s life should be celebrated because any of us lucky enough to spend a day with her were a part of the celebration that was her life. Oh to have the eyes that she viewed the world with and the peace that fell about her like rays of sunshine climbing higher to be seen shining down through the leaves.
Marjorie came along a generation before me. She grew up in a world that was even further behind any world I have ever known. Yet, she was never more than a smile and a few words distant. I have written about this generation before, her generation, and I am truly awed by their perseverance, outlook, and their reverence. Nothing seemed to be lost on them. Nothing. And we sit here looking things up because most is lost on us, or so it seems right now, to me.
I have slowly been coming to the realization that it has been, it is, and it will be, my truest and deepest loss for not having been better acquainted with more of Marjorie’s, Uncle Carl’s, Uncle Clarence’s, Aunt June’s, and Aunt Janette’s generation. To unknow the things I do know in order to make adequate room for the things I should know and the time in which to engage in that realm of knowledge would serve me well. The other part of my humanly incoherent prayers were largely centered on my own thankfulness for the times I was able to spend with Marjorie, especially in the last 6 years. Marjorie’s house and her hospitality became my New Brunswick home away from home. Many times there was no plan, or very little planning, and it didn’t matter because there was always a place to rest my head, and always a meal. More than that, there was Marjorie. She always thanked me for any help I provided even if it was just the security of someone else in the house so she could sleep easier. Truly though, it was always I who received the most benevolence.
I was up there in July this summer. I knew of her condition. She and I discussed it openly, honestly, and without trepidation. I knew of her mindset and I admired her faith in God. Somehow I think this line from a song we used to sing in church fits how I saw her courage…”but greater still the calm assurance: This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!…” I’m sure that God knew Marjorie and I could discuss such things and allowed our paths to intertwine over the years, these specific years, when we were both in the places we came from. I don’t know. Maybe I read into things too much. Actually, I know I do, just maybe not here.
The poem I shared, A few days with Marjorie, I wrote mostly while I was in Canada this summer. I knew this day was coming. I felt knots in my stomach on certain days between then and now because I was aware that I had likely seen her so very much alive for the last time. Yet, like my overwhelming gratitude for the visits I had with my Aunt Janette and my cousin Gayleen before they left this imperfect place, I am so very happy to have spent time with Marjorie and her sisters in both May and July of this year.
For some reason, over this summer I really fell in love with a song that has absolutely nothing to do with Marjorie, but I am connecting the two. I came across Seven Spanish Angels and for whatever reason, perhaps because my mind never wandered far from the scene I knew of along the St. John River, I started singing this song to myself with my own words. This song, in my own words has become a favorite that the twins and I often will sing on the ride to and from school. Yes, we are odd like that. If I had any kind of singing voice at all, I would have laid down a track of my own, even though I am not at all sure what those words mean in sequence. Plus, I’d rather listen to Ray Charles sing just about anything than hear my own noises.
Before I share the few words I changed or rearranged, I thought I would delve into the reason I have these words to pull from on short notice. In actuality there’s been plenty of notice. I have drawn on Marjorie’s peace and her courage to battle, or not to battle, the cancer that so many of us have seen the various faces of. I wrote notes while I was still in Canada, I typed lines all summer, and recited more words to my phone’s voice recorder throughout the fall, anytime my lyrical rhythms were wandering through the thoughts and prayers surrounding Marjorie. I did so for two major reasons. One, I wanted to write, to think, to remember, to celebrate in thoughts both visual and grammar based, Marjorie alive and as I had recently seen her. Two, I marveled at her ability to sit and discuss her own mortality with complete peace, a twinkle in her eye, and a smile just waiting to be seen. So, I wrote. I sang. I cried for what I was missing, and would ultimately never experience again. I prayed for God’s will, fully understanding that His will may have been complete as far as Marjorie and I was concerned. I prayed for her miraculous recovery, but I prayed more so for the peace she felt to never leave her. I prayed for the vision through her eyes to view this place as she had shared with me in recent years, and maybe selfishly I prayed too for my eyes to see the same.
And so it came to pass, this night, that her time here was done. Her life, a long life, lived fully, but shorter than any of us had hoped. I look to my minds eye and want to believe that the one who was most content with this night was the one who went. I will see her again some day and the smile will be there to accompany all that was so unassuming about her. We will sit and share another breakfast laughing our way through. And I know we will be every bit as thankful for that time as I have been for the time with Marjorie here.
Nothing too creative here, just a somber song I grouped together with some slightly altered words. I call it Seven Irish Angels.Seven Irish Angels He looked down into her bright eyes, and said “It’s time, come home with me”. She threw her fears to the side, whispered “God I’m ready for thee” She could hear her family callin’, she said “This is my last fight, if they take me back to Wilmot they won’t take me back alive”. There were seven Irish angels At the altar of the Son They were prayin’ for the sinners In the valley of St. John When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared There was thunder from the throne And seven Irish angels, took another Angel home She knelt down and picked her gaze up The same we saw every day She said, “Father please forgive me I can’t make it without your plan”. And she knew His plan was plenty And she knew she felt the pain And her final prayer was answered When The Lord called again There were seven Irish angels At the altar of the Son They were prayin’ for the sinners Each and every one When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared There was thunder from the throne And seven Irish angels, took our dear Marjorie home There were seven Irish angels At the altar of the Son They were prayin’ for the sinners In the valley of St. John When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared There was thunder from the throne And seven Irish angels, took another Angel home There were seven Irish angels At the altar of the Son They were prayin’ for the sinners Each and every one When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared There was thunder from the throne And seven Irish angels, took our dear Marjorie home