My 89 year-old widowed mother, my sister Carol and her husband along with many other members of my extended family all reside in Buchanan, Michigan, my home town, and the surrounding area. It was 7:02 AM this past Wednesday, March 27th, when I received the call from Carol that our mom had passed after a long and difficult eight months. In short order I was packed and on my way north out of Florida, arriving in Buchanan two days later.
Over my life I have observed, both personally and in others the strong bond that often forms between mother and child, especially, perhaps, between mother and daughter—and, certainly, none more so than that of my sister and our mom. These two were truly best friends.
Not long after the services, chicken wings, hugs, more chicken wings, and goodbyes I hit the interstate once again for my journey back home. As I settled into the familiar rhythms of the road, I noticed that the signs of spring were becoming more and more apparent—trees that had been brown and desolate a week earlier, with only the tiniest of sprigs on the tips of their limbs, had begun their annual explosion of lushness as the season progressed.
Observing this earthly resurrection brought to mind the Japanese enso circles I wrote of not long ago and I found my spirit being lifted: I thought of my mother having reached the end of her circle of life; but I also thought of all her young grandchildren, great grandchildren, and their loved ones, each setting off on the beginnings of theirs, as it is meant to be.
And I remembered when I had done the same.
As I drove on, a song written by Karla Bonoff and performed by Linda Rondstadt came up on my playlist. I was reminded of how deeply it had touched me when both my best friend and my brother passed a couple of years ago. And now I found its message comforting once again as I began the process of learning to cope with the loss of Mom.
And it brought to mind the relationship between her and my sister.
So, I pen these last few words of reflection on the passing of Sydney Carol Birong: The beloved mother; the beautiful and devoted wife of my father; and the inspiring role model for her offspring. And to dedicate the playing of this song (link below) to her and Carol and, certainly, so many others who have had to say goodbye to a dear friend.