Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Stop Along The Way

For several weeks now, my Mother has been talking about a trip she started some months ago. She has worried about her suitcase, whether the bus has enough gasoline in the tank and shown a good deal of anxiety as to whether or not she was at the right bus stop. Some days, she surveys a tall mountain and wonders aloud if a proper lorry can be secured to help her make the journey up the mountain to a place she calls Home. As I sit by her bedside, I have listened to these wild adventurous tales and thought she was hallucinating until a kindly Hospice nurse and Mother's wise Doctor informed me yesterday that this is her way of saying she is ready to make her greatest and most wonderful trip ever. To Heaven. So I got her ready.

My mother loves words and metaphors and she has been using them concisely and eloquently these past weeks, even in the midst of unbelievable, unbearable, and unmerciful pain.

And so this is to say, her ticket is bought, she is packed, and yesterday afternoon she let us know she was ready to board the bus for a journey that will take her through the plains of India, the majestic Himalayan peaks, the simple meeting houses of Ohio, over the lush verdant rice paddies of Taiwan, and on to the Purple Mountains of Nanking. Mother always said that the most dangerous and rutted roads lead through the most beautiful scenery. How long this trip will take, I can not be sure. But I guess it won't be long. The rest of this journey is up to my Mother and the Driver.

This is my send off.

~ I painted this mural for my nine month old niece Miya Brantingham who lives in Hong Kong. When her mother asked me to paint something around the crib, I cannot explain why I came up with this scene instead of jungle animals or little princesses. It just flowed effortlessly and I worked on it through the night during one of my recent trips .

I learned last night Miya and her mother Mariko are on their way here to Virginia to keep vigil with me and my brother. I look forward to a baby in the house. This is my mother’s youngest grandchild and she is a book end to my daughter Leigh, the oldest and the only other girl. I feel sorry Miya will not know her grandmother in the ways Leigh has, but just today I suddenly realized why my inner mind painted this mural to keep Miya safe through the night. It is a stop on my mother’s trip.


  1. Dearest loveliest sister Jeanne-Ming, all our thoughts are with you and your fantastically brave and adventurous mama. I want to be just like her on my way Home - I want to be concocting wild and wonderful tales of the journey about to unfold. I will never forget this way of setting out on the ultimate journey, the one we are all waiting to make someday. Your mother is showing us The Way.
    Know that we are all thinking of you and sending our strongest and happiest thoughts like messengers and candle holders to light her way and make every step as though she were floating in a dream.
    Ever yours,

  2. Oh, this breaks my heart and fills me with joy at the same time. What a sendoff to your mother as she undertakes her most adventurous journey yet. I'm keeping you all in my heart! Love, Silke

  3. This is beautiful, Jeanne Ming. So beautiful.
    No more words for me.

    Love you. xo

  4. I have tears in my eyes as I read this...your Mother's inner life must have been rich her whole life to take such an adventurous last journey. She sounds like one in a million.
    Adorable little Miya is lucky on so many levels...having you as her Aunt...who created such an amazing mural for her and having your Mother as her Grandmother. I am sure that the stories she will hear about her Grandmother as she is growing up will make her life all the richer.
    My 95 and 87 year old parents are coming over for dinner this evening...I will read to them about your Mother's Journey.
    We talk about that last journey a lot as you can well imagine.
    My thoughts are with your Mother, you and your family. I shall say a little prayer for her and ask that her journey will as painless as possible.

  5. i sit, and i sigh, and i swipe away one tear after another.

  6. She must be wonderful and she will be with you always.

  7. Hello Jeanne

    my thoughts are with you. My father sailed away on his last voyage on Sunday evening last. I have been HOME with family as you are and attended to all the arrangements and began the grieving process. My Dad would not let go easily so it was a relief for us all when he lifted anchor and set sail.

    I will be thinking of you as your mother sets out on her last journey.

    Regards Delwyn

  8. Dearest Jeanne Ming, my thoughts are with with you and your mother.
    May peace be with her on her journey.

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  10. Jeanne,

    This is sooo beautiful...the mural on Miya's wall and the words.


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