This week, amidst the buzz and bluster of a very busy week, my (paternal) grandmother passed away. Yesterday was also my mother’s birthday. So it was auspicious that Debbie over at A Buddhist Catholic had this quote on her page this week:
Magna Mater (Great Mother) pays homage to the life-giving aspect of women, affirming the ongoing nature of life. It is the journey of Motherhood and the path of the two traveling as one. It is the ultimate gift of the female body. She stands majestically within herself, as symbolic voice of hope.
I’m sure I will have more thoughts on this in the coming days, but for now I must finish up packing for an early flight to Kansas for the funeral. As my father says, “she was old – 90 – and lived a wonderfully full life. There’s not really any reason to be sad.” She had had Alzheimer’s for about two years now and it was starting to get difficult, so we take it as a blessing that her body did not decide to outlive her mind, a process that can be quite painful for all involved. She passed easily and painlessly with a priest, her husband and others at her bedside.
In Buddhism we are encouraged to imagine all beings as having been our mother in some past life, in order to generate bodhicitta (heart-mind of awakening). Every being out there, no matter what our relation to them now, was in some past life at some time your mom. For some this may not be the best path to compassion and an open heart, but for me it instantly cuts through all labels and boundaries. Words cannot describe the debt of gratitude I owe my mom. 28+ years of support and so much more.
Off to pack for now. Tomorrow I’ll be reunited with family I haven’t seen in over a decade. I have a feeling we mostly Irish and unpracticing/ex Catholics will make it a time to simply share being with one another. I look forward, with a smile, to that.