Last Words

On Sunday, we thought we’d reached my grandma’s final day on earth. I spent the day thinking about her, crying, talking to my husband, and fanatically checking my phone for texts from my mom (side note to those people who write critical blog posts about “distracted” people “glued” to their phones, you may do well to remember that some of those distracted-looking people might be looking for texts about dying grandmothers from their own distraught mothers and that this phone-based link in fact represents connection and not disconnection or distraction). I went to the woods and I sat on the rocks and sang Woman Am I. My mom told me she’d been singing it to my grandma as she listened to the erratic sounds of her breaths, thinking each was the last. My letter did make it in time to be read to my grandma while she was still conscious enough to indicate she heard it. And, on Friday I did a FaceTime call with my mom and she took it to my grandma’s bed so that I could talk to her. She didn’t open her eyes, but she murmured a greeting and she smiled when she heard my little two-year-old say, “hi, Mamoo!” So, we were able to say some final words and goodbye “in person,” which was really, really difficult, but also a gift.

After singing on the rocks, I then spoke aloud to her, those final words that didn’t really come in a letter or on Facetime:

April 2013 038

Unfinished new grief sculpture…

We have learned from you
we have loved with you
we have heard you
we have seen you
we have hugged you
and held you
we have mourned with you
we have mourned for you
we have been dazzled by your radiance
inspired by your adventures
and touched by your generosity.

Three generations of women
have sat in your lap as little girls
have been covered by your quilts
and zipped into your sweaters
you carried each of us on your hip
and held us each in your heart

We respect you
we cherish you
we appreciate you
we’ve learned so much from you
we’ve laughed with you
and lived with you
and traveled with you

and now
we open up our hands
we open up our hearts
and we let you go.
Be free.
Continue your travels
on the currents of time and space…

My grandma was a beautifully active, vibrant woman and her quick devolution due to advanced and very aggressive pancreatic cancer is a harsh blow to our family. I’ve always admired and respected her and been proud of her for all of her accomplishments and activities. She was not a particularly emotionally demonstrative woman, but it amazing to think about all the ways her presence is woven through my days even though she lives 2000 miles away–the sweater I put on every morning is one she knit for me, her quilts are on my kids’ bedroom walls and on all our beds, magazine subscriptions she gifts us with are in the car and bathroom…we’re connected in many ways and I don’t know what life will look like without her in it.

April 2013 021

My “three generations of little girls” thoughts made me create this not-finished sculpture. Little boys are part of the generations as well, but not in as direct a line as the girls—I’m the oldest daughter of an oldest daughter of an oldest daughter (and my own daughter is an “only daughter,” so while she’s my youngest child she continues a line as the first daughter of a first daughter of a first daughter of a first daughter).

My dad also brought over the last four beads for my woodspriestess necklace and so I took a new picture with them too:
April 2013 049When I came back in, I drew a Crone Stone and got, no joke, She Who Knows: The Grandmother of Time:

April 2013 052I have had some really amazing experiences with these stones and I was in awe at the cosmicness when I read, Wisdom is the inner knowing we already possess. How is it our bodies know how to menstruate, to ovulate, to cease menstruating, to breathe? I thought at first reading it said to cease breathing and I thought it was so perceptive because of my mom waiting and listening to my grandmother’s slow, labored breaths. Then, I re-read and saw it was only “to breathe” and then it felt less cosmic. Ah, well.

Categories: art, blessings, death, family, poems, prayers, womanspirit, women | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Last Words

  1. This post spoke so profoundly to my heart, dear Molly, as both of my grandmothers have been midwifed to the other side in the last 2 years… and I was not able to be there with them. Your poem is especially touching because it could weave itself into the life of all women. Thank you for sharing your soulful self. You’re precious.

  2. This is so touching and beautiful, what an amazing tribute to your grandmother.

  3. Kass_Kray

    Wow! I just came across your blog browsing randomly, it’s not the kind of stuff I usually read but this was really moving – thanks for taking the time to create this.

    I wanted to ask, would you be interested in having a chat promoting your writing on a social media site called that I’m launching? We’re a Q&A platform – and I’m really keen to get some talented bloggers involved in our community before we roll out to the rest of the world.

    If you’re interested, please email me at and I’ll send you an invite code to have a snoop around the site!

  4. what great sweetness lies here…poignant honoring of your physical lineage. Blessings on your grandmother’s journey, and on the 3 generations now in existence, as well as your grandmother’s grandmother. Bows of gratitude for a life well-lived and so beautifully honored.

  5. debra

    may your grief move through you gently.

  6. Pingback: Birth Song, Life Song, Death Song by Molly Remer | Feminism and Religion

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