When my mother was dying of cancer toward the end of 2015, we talked a lot about what Heaven might be like. As Mom did so much work on her self-published book, “Christian Feero, Loyalist of New Brunswick,” she talked about how wonderful it would be to meet all her ancestors. Back when she was gathering information about her relatives, there was no Internet, no DNA test kits, and no online records of her ancestors. Mom’s research was done on foot, traveling through New Brunswick and other areas, going to cemeteries and writing down the names and dates of relatives. She also spent a great deal of time visiting libraries and talking with any remaining relatives with stories to tell.
Just knowing so much more of her past gave her so much insight about her people. She even taught herself calligraphy so that she could compose the family tree at the end of the book. The epilogue of the book always brings me to grateful tears:
“How I wish I could write a book” my grandmother would sigh wistfully as she concluded an evening of recollections about her early life in New Brunswick.
In the dusk of summer evenings and in the lamplight that softened winter nights, Nannie rocked in her chair and re-lived her life aloud. I was her frequent listener – often a willing one – sometimes bored, but like all children, encouraging the diversion to postpone bedtime.
“Nannie’s stories” imprinted my childhood with second-hand memories of people, places and events. Nannie’s life became almost as real to me as my own.
Was I with them as children when she and her brother tethered little field mice to sticks and pretended they were their cattle? Was I berrying with them when the moose chased them? Did I cry when her only sister died? Did I touch the silken fabric of her garnet wedding dress? (It was patterned with tiny rosebuds.) Did I feel the homesickness as a young bride far awy from home, and the sadness of the loss of my firstborn child? Did my bones ache with fatigue after long days of cleaning, washing and cooking for a family and a crew of hired men? Was it my laughter or hers that pealed at the antics of a neighbor or the comical expressions of a relative? Whose joy at birhts…whose sorrow at deaths?
Who really wrote this book?
Gloria Bullock, 1983″
A year and a half later, after Mom died, Dad was having a hard time being alone and taking care of the house. We moved him into our house, and for a beautiful month and a half, we loved having him with us.
Dad had Hospice, and he enjoyed the wonderful people who helped him. When he was awake, we would spend time with him, remembering happy times and saying our “remember when?” stories. Gradually, he slept more and more, and ate less and less. One day I asked him what he thought Heaven was like. His answer? “Love, just all love.” I still believe that to this very day.
I was grateful to be with him when he took his last breath. It was as peaceful as a feather landing gracefully on a still pond. I believe with all my heart that he and my mother—in fact, all my relatives, friends and pets; are all together in Heaven. All the earthly trials and troubles and worries are gone, and our spirits are at last free.
And I am positive that there is indeed love; just all love.