Friday, July 29, 2011

Radio Silence

At night I dream of rain, but when I wake, there is only dust and heat. On the road between Lubbock and San Angelo, where I have been driving these past two weeks to visit my mother, there are brown fields, empty of everything but dust devils. Sometimes I have counted as many as six at a time, rising lazily from the earth. They are remarkably long-lasting, taking their time as they roam across the fields, moving here and there, but always, strangely, as if they have purpose and direction.

My mother put a name to dust devils for me when I was a child. She pointed them out one day, as we were driving across the deserts of New Mexico. Later I stood in the stinging swirl of one in a vacant lot in our neighborhood, and knew it for what it was because she had named it.

She gave me the name for mirages, too, and I see these also as I drive the roads these hot summer days. When she told me that they were only the image of water and not the thing itself, I didn't believe her at first. But true to her word, the shimmer always stayed ahead of us, just out of reach. Men had died, she said to me, chasing mirages in the desert. And then she laughed, to show me that it was not a thing to worry too much about. She knew I was a worrier.

And in this way, by putting names to things, a mother helps a child unlock the puzzle that is the world.

Frances Williams Tomlinson
June 17, 1924-July 29, 2011

11 comments:

  1. So beautiful. Perfect. I could not have written that on a day like today. I'm honored, as your mother surely must be.

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  2. Susan, that was a lovely eulogy. Peace to you and yours.

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  3. Bless you, Susan. Thank you for these beautiful dust devils and the glimpse into what made your mother the unique person she was. Much love and sympathy to you.

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  4. Blessings to you and your family, Susan, as you adjust to your mother's transisiton. Good memories will sustain you. Take care.

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  5. What spectacular images of life and lessons taught. Thanks for sharing. Apparently this has brought you some peace. It is never easy for a parent to die, but you seem to have learned so much and will lots to carry you on as you grieve. My thoughts will be with you. La Nelle

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  6. Comfort to you and all who love her.

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  7. Take what peace and solace you can at this time. Judging from the words you have written here so well, you may be doing that already.

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  8. Thinking of you Susan and wishing you easy days ahead. gail

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  9. Susan I'm so sorry for your loss, but what a beautifully written eulogy.

    I thought of you often when we were in the States and was sad we didn't get to meet this time.

    To the next time my friend, and here's a (((virtual hug))) from across the pond.

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  10. memories are the names we give to the things we can no longer hold...
    peace & love to you my friend...

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