Loss and Poem #42: Untitled by Gregory Orr

My grandmother

My grandmother passed away on February 5th after a short illness.  She was 95 years old.  She was kind, generous, loving and gracious.  She’s been a rock for my family, particularly for my mother.  While we are most grateful for her long life, we also feel her absence keenly.  I’m also grateful that I got to spend the last five years of her life with her, here in Ghana.  We can’t believe that she is gone.  I’m at a loss for words.  She was witty and was quick to summon up a proverb when needed.  My family was always quoting her.  I know she would have had something wise, funny and wicked to say about her death and our reaction to it. As with most traumatic events in our family, it would help if she were around to help us negotiate and deal with our loss!

As usual, my mother and I have been reading and sharing poems.  We seemed to have latched on to this following poem, Untitled by Gregory Orr:

This is what was bequeathed us:
This earth the beloved left
And, leaving,
Left to us.

No other world
But this one:
Willows and the river
And the factory
With its black smokestacks.

No other shore, only this bank
On which the living gather.

No meaning but what we find here.
No purpose but what we make.

That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:
Turn me into song; sing me awake.

My family, near and extended, called my grandmother “Aunt”.  When she moved into my grandfather’s household as his young bride, she took along one of her older nieces to help her settle in.  This niece called her Aunt, of course.  My mother, the oldest of my grandmother’s children, copied her cousin and referred to her mother as Aunt. This practice is quite common in Ghana.

Aunt Aba Abasema, may you rest in perfect peace.   We love you and we miss you dearly.

(I’m hoping to make a full return to blogging in the coming week.I’ve turned off comments for this post).