Surreal but good

Today was the first day of the estate sale for my mother's house. We aren't selling the house, just many of the contents. My parents had oodles and oodles of things -- many of them collectibles that worked in that house because of its size, but which Eddie and I can't accommodate in our homes. And then, after my father died, people who loved my parents both gave my mother exquisite pieces -- crystal, Lladro figurines, work by Denis Knight and Jessica Maycock and Lillian Blades.These things went on sale today. The sale was scheduled to begin at 8:30 this morning, and people were at the house by 8:00. When I got there -- right at 8:30 (the sale was being handled by Jay Koment, a premier art and antiques dealer) -- there were people waiting to get in.I have to say, I was apprehensive to say the least. Letting these things go wasn't easy. Pieces that we were clearing out have memories, and I wanted to feel as though those memories are being shared up among the people who knew and loved my parents. My father's favourite chair -- to a cousin who loves it. My mother's favourite -- to a former student and lifelong friend. My father's music books -- to his pupils, that sort of thing.I needn't have worried. One of the first things someone said to me, after asking how I was handling the sale (and the answer was I was handling it perfectly well, thank you, until that very moment that I saw all the people and knew it was time to let things go), was that so many of the people who had arrived bright and early were there because they knew and loved my parents and they wanted to have mementos of them. That made me happier. Much happier. And then the people who bought the things that mattered most to me were people who knew my parents and loved them, and so it was all good.We do it again tomorrow, and then it's time to start work on the house.All, all part of the process of letting go.

Just ourselves and immortality

Because I could not stop for Death,He kindly stopped for me;The carriage held but just ourselvesAnd Immortality.--Emily Dickinson

Yesterday we buried Mummy. Or to be more precise, we held a memorial for her and then interred her ashes in my father's grave, as she always wanted. She was cradled in a box, an urn, which was made by her niece Margot, out of cured coconut wood from Indonesia. Fitting, I thought, as Mummy's name -- Keva -- was chosen for her by my grandmother, who had met the daughters of Governor Allardyce, who were named Viti and Keva, names the Governor had come across when he served in the far east.The service was bouyed up by music sung by the Nassau Renaissance Singers and the Highgrove Singers, both of whom are keeping the Bahamian tradition of classical choral music lovingly alive. They sang pieces by John Ruttter, music that we played for Mummy in the ICU when we visited her, and pieces set to music especially for her, and pieces we gathered up in her memory. They sang my father's other song -- not "When the Road Seems Rough", which we sang at his funeral 24 years ago and which has since slipped into the Bahamian vernacular to such an extent that my mother grew very tired of it, grew tired of the emotional upwelling that always accompanied it, but "Praise". Her students sang for her and played for her -- Sparkman Ferguson and JoAnn Callender and Cleophas Adderley. Many people paid verbal tribute to her. We sang her favourite hymn, the hymn sung at her wedding, "Immortal, Invisible", and a Good Friday hymn (Mummy loved the Holy Week services) and an Easter hymn. We sang our grief to the rafters, and afterward we went to her house and we ate and drank in her memory.I have no idea whether it was as she would have wanted it, but I think she would have been pleased nevertheless. There was more drama surrounding her death than she would have liked, and more pomp surrounding her memorial than she would have chosen, but her public service made her a public figure and both came with the territory.So here's to Keva. Here's to Keva. Here's to Keva Marie.