a. last. summons.

One minute, at Tomasitas, I am begging quarters for the parking meter, flashing dollar bills to the bartender who smiles and fills my palms with coins.  I am crossing Guadalupe Street, with loud trucks heaving by, on my way to the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market in Santa Fe, when my phone rings.  Right there, mid-street, half-crossed, under the hot sun and wide sky.

You never know where you’ll be when the call comes.  Filling a parking meter.  Picking out peaches.  In a bar at 10:00 in the morning.

I duck down a side street and find a low adobe wall under a fruit tree which holds me in  shade. The wall seems to quietly fence a church property, but the church has no name.  On the phone is my father, trying to tell me something, which I cannot understand.  Kenesia, the caregiver, translates, in a thick Southern accent I can almost not understand.  Two friends drive by, pull over, wave.  How can they know, just there in the shade on a low adobe wall, I am answering the call?

Mother has been given a week to live.  He wants to tell me this, about the hospice nurse who has been by since my early morning phone call.  He wants to tell me it is time to come home.

I wave my friends on.  Strangers pass by on the shady sidewalk.  The unmarked church exudes quiet and peace.

I am coming.  He does not know that I have already changed my flights.  The caregivers are women who know living and dying; they had already whispered:  come.  One of them reads a person’s feet and knows.  Don’t ask me how.  I just said: I am coming.

There are only a few calls that trump everything; the call to come home is one.  It is a summons back to the body who knitted you together; back to the cave from whence you first flailed forth, back to the woman whose love is the shape of your dark nights.  The very least I can do is to assist the one who birthed me into her second birth.

We are beyond talking.  I will hold her, if I am lucky.  Body to body, flesh to flesh.  Even the limbic brain knows love, and that is where we will huddle.  In the beginning is the body, the gurgle and burp, the gasp of air, the breast.  And in the end is the body coming to rest.  The arms stilled, eyes closed, the spoon, rejected.    Between that beginning and ending is everything good and heartbreaking, everything wild and wondrous, everything hoped for and found and lost.

I am coming, Mother.  I came into this world in your arms.  You will go out, I pray, in mine.

~ by Susan on 08/12/2012.

15 Responses to “a. last. summons.”

  1. Praying that you will hold your mother! The Hope Class is praying for all of you, especially your mother.

  2. Much love to you all.

  3. Dearest sister on this journey,
    No words, for yours have already said it all — so tender, raw, wise. Hold her, as we hold you. The summons comes, and the heart answers. Godspeed to you, your mother, your brother and your father, for gentle passages, for sweet returns, for all of life in the holding and being held.

  4. Deear Susan,
    My love and prayers go with all of you. I know our loving Father has you all in his arms.

    Sarah Martin

  5. Beautiful narrative, Susan. And tragically affirming. A moving tribute to beautiful Wylodine. Your final embrace of her seems to me the ideal loving act she may know deep in her heart. Your sense of your mother suggests to me that she would likely pour out blessings to those women who hover over her as well as bless the fecund bodies and spirits who birth into the world the courage and grace for all our beginnings, ends, and resurrections.

  6. Oh, dear Susan, how deeply your powerful words touch me, move me to tears, and evoke my heartfelt prayers for you and your whole family. I called Rowan to tell him and send much more love than I can express. Ann

  7. Susan Thinking of you… With love and hugs Leslie

    Sent from my iPhone

  8. Dear Susan, Tears are flowing down my face as I read this. You really put your heartfelt feelings into touching words. My prayers are with you and your family. I do hope you will be able to hold your precious mother in your arms. For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. Psalm 48:14.

    Glaydell Pinson
    Hope Class ( presently inactive)

  9. Dearest Susan, Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and the whole family. There is no way to express how very much we love your Mom and Dad and how much they mean to us. Ralph & Peggy Coleman

  10. You don’t know me, but Dr. and Mrs Hull have been a part of my life since the early days of the seventies when my now ex-husband was a student at Southern seminary. They have both stood as beloved
    models and mentors. My heart is with you and your whole family. God Bless you all.

  11. Susan–We just heard about your mother’s serious condition. Please know that we are thinking and praying for all of you. Buddy and Kay Shurden

  12. A hug of enourmous admiration and of love for you. Harriet

  13. three years ago, my mother finished her journey with alzhiemer’s. a month ago, my father ended his battle with parkinson’s. dying is a forge that burns away all extraneous matter. it is a sacred passage we are sometimes blessed to witness.

  14. Susan, My heart goes out to you. I must stop crying and fix this face so I can guide this wheelchair to the dining room. God be with you. Iva Jewel Tucker (in retirement place–temporarily, I hope–battling Guillain-Barre Syndrome).

  15. Susan, I do not know you, but continue to be moved by your words. I remember a similar call when my own mother was placed under Hospice care. It was a difficult week, but I am so glad I was by her side until the end. I rejoice in her beautiful life and witness, and that she is now in the arms of Jesus. You are such a gifted writer. Thank you for sharing the feelings that touch so many. God bless you and comfort you in your loss.

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