Saturday, February 14, 2015

Condolences & Love Notes

Last month my mother passed away unexpectedly and while my world continues to spin off kilter, sometimes seemingly moving in reverse, or standing still with little progress, I remain grateful for all those who have touched my life during this difficult time.

It isn't easy expressing condolences; few people know what to say. Sorry helps... but stories told from personal experience are often more meaningful and have powers that heal.

Printed with permission is a copy of an email I received Thursday from a good, wise, college friend, Hannah, who graciously said... "By all means, please share. With all the nonsense that cyberspace can bring, this is the epitome of its incredible usefulness and beauty - connecting us all heart to heart."

From: Hannah
Subject: Condolences
Date: February 12, 2015   8:43 AM
To: Dyan

Hi Dyan

Looks like you and M have some very challenging weeks ahead of you, but I know you're up to it! Probably sounds cliche as anything, but just take one thing at a time and try not to get overwhelmed by the big picture. These are the last acts of love you can perform for your mom.

I remember going through my Dad's belongings with my brothers and sister - we had many laughs as well as tears. He had the oddest way of storing things. In a box with old gas station receipts and matchbooks, I found an essay my mother had written in high school about her baby brother, my Uncle Joel. It was amazing (she got an "A"). I was able to send him a copy to enjoy, and many years later read it at his funeral.

Clearly the most bizarre find, in a box labeled "kitchen" (years after my mother passed away my Dad had moved from his own place into a house with his female companion, and many of his belongings went straight into her garage), in amongst the plastic containers and utensils was... get ready... a package of calves liver! Desiccated and perfectly preserved! I have laughed over that for years!

Hopefully your mom's treasures will yield far more "normal" surprises! On that note, wishing you and M strength, fortitude and a sense of humor as you proceed.


I share her words with you as they put things into perspective... that death is universal; no one is spared, that humor can be found in the oddest of circumstances, and that you too, may find comfort in these words when needed.

"Every death is about someone's life. Until you are in the process of 'ending the story', you don't always know the quiet and everyday things that went into that story. As children, we very often don't hear about the lives our parents lived as they became our Moms and Dads", as said to me this morning by my husband, Michael.

Here's a glimpse of my Mom and Dad on their wedding day and the special surprise I found while searching for my mother's Will and funeral directives.

"Love Notes" written by my dad to my mother.

Some of these notes were stapled together and numbered consecutively while others were loosely stacked. Oddly, they were all written on the backs of pink bank deposit slips! Was this a literal decision... deposits of love? Or chosen for their color, pink, associated with affection, or for size, perfect for short poems, or perhaps because the paper was free?

I questioned posting these private notes and making them public, but remembered today is Valentine's Day... perhaps the one day a year where sentimentality is not only appropriate but also encouraged... a day to profess one's love for another.

With both my parents now gone and their remains soon to be reunited and kept with me, I leave you with... my last 'acts of love' to them... for now.

And this last love note to my mother, written on the back of a calendar on her 52nd birthday, just two days before my father died suddenly of a heart attack at the young age of 57.

Mom chose not to remarry.

Like swans... mates for life.


  1. Oh, Dyan, what treasures! I imagine that reading those love notes made you see your parents in a different light: as two lovers, not just Mom and Dad. What a sweet romantic your dad was! And what a curious choice of paper to write those notes on! I loved seeing their pictures too. They were a very attractive couple!
    Michael is right about children not paying much attention to our parents' lives. We forget that they are people too who were once young and had hopes and dreams for their futures long before we came along. Children tend to be self-centered and see their parents as being there to serve their wants and needs, forgetting that their parents have wants and needs of their own.
    I hope that you discover more treasures as you go through your mom's belongings. Objects that will remind you of her and bring a smile to your face.

  2. Dyan,
    These notes are wonderful. Poems! On pink paper! It seems your parents had a lovely life together. I hope your Spring will be lovely too.
    Love, Carol