mad in pursuit journal
3.2.03 She has sailed away
My husband's mother died yesterday. She was nearly 98. By the time I met her, maybe 25 years ago, she was a Southampton matriarch. Her fussiness about how many kinds of toast to serve with breakfast made it hard to know the real person.
I only got to know her after she got Alzheimers and we started sorting through her papers.
She was a political activist and world traveler, but the Olive I love best is the young woman barely in her twenties, full of longings and full of discoveries. She was in love with the man who would be her husband for 70 years. He saved her from the poverty and provincialism of her family, but also introduced his own family's brand of tight-lipped discipline. She wanted to be wild. She saw beauty in emotions. But all around her were the lessons in how she was supposed to be good.
She wrote this poem during those years. It's as fine a eulogy as anyone could write.
There will come a dawning