Where the light wavers, love flows freely

My mother. Photo taken Feb 5, 2020

Yesterday, David Kanigan over at Live & Learn shared an excerpt from – Ann Napolitano’sDear Edward: A Novel (The Dial Press, January 6, 2020)

The light wavers;
perhaps the person holding it is tired.
The steps slow.
The rush seems to be over.

Last August, my mother turned 97. She is mentally still sharp as a tack though her hearing is no longer what it used to be. Physically, she does not fare quite so well. Since a fall that broke five bones when she was 94, and two hip operations to repair the damage, she has been confined to a wheelchair. Her arthritis is crippling. Her hands are gnarled and her fingers crooked. She can no longer hold a magazine, her knitting needles or a pen to do her crosswords. The bones in her mouth have deteriorated making it painful to wear her bridge and impossible to eat anything but soft or pureed foods.

The doctor tells her that her heart is strong. Her body, she says, is tired.

Years ago, I asked my mother to tell me her life story. One of the things she told me she regretted was leaving her family behind in India when the war ended and she set sail to join my father in England. She was one of 10 children with lots of extended family around. They spoke French. Were raised Catholic – up until meeting my father, my mother was convinced she would become a nun.

My father was an only child. There wasn’t a lot of love lost between my father and his parents. He had never really recovered from feeling they had abandoned him when he was 9 and they divorced, shipping him off to boarding school from England to the prairies of western Canada. He spoke limited French when they met though he did speak Farsi, the language of the region in which my mother was born. My mother spoke limited Farsi as Pondicherry, where she lived, was a French protectorate at the time and her family was Euro-Asian, not as they were all sure to tell you, Hindu.

For my mother, family was everything. For my father, family, at least the one he’d known as a child, equalled pain.

Together they built a family of four children and then a huge extended family of friends my parents adopted over the years. They were well-loved by many. My father for his outgoing nature and generosity not to mention his amazing baking skills. My mother for her kind nature, gentle ways and her gift of creating beauty all around her.

My father left this world over 25 years ago. My brother followed a year and a half later.

My mother struggled to recover. Struggled to make sense of the loss of the men whom she loved with all her heart.

Up until my grandson was born 2 years ago, my mother often talked about how she wished she wasn’t in this world anymore. How life felt too heavy, too dark to see her way through.

And then, she met her great-grandson and she felt energized, alive, willing to perhaps even reach 100 years of age.

She’s not so sure of that benchmark any longer.

She has lived a full life, a life complete with love and sorrow, the lightness of being and the darkness of night, joy and loss, happiness and grief.

Last week, she said she felt her time was drawing near.

She has come to that place where ‘the light wavers’.

The beauty of her years has made this place poignant and gentle and illuminated with grace. There is acceptance mixed with love and gratitude for the beauty of her light in our lives over these many years.

The grief can wait until after she is gone, whether that is this month or in years yet to come. For whatever her time on this earth, it is a time to celebrate, to cherish and to love wildly this tiny matriarch who has travelled so far from the young woman who met a ‘flyboy’ from the RAF during WWII and followed love from India to England to Canada back to England then France and Germany and Canada again.

My mother’s light is wavering.

She grows more and more tired.

Her steps as she moves her feet along the floor beneath her wheelchair have slowed.

There is no rush to say good-bye. Only this gentle easing into what will inevitably come when the pain of one more exhale grows heavier than the life that rushes in with every breath.

I feel my heart melting quietly into that place where the light of Love does not waver. That place where Love is all that remains, to carry, to embrace, to share and to remember.


Thank you, David, for the Lightly Child, Lightly inspiration.

20 thoughts on “Where the light wavers, love flows freely

  1. The words about aging and being ready to go speak to my mother’s stage. At 93 her osteoporosis is so bad and her sight almost gone that’s she also ready but her heart is strong. Today she will travel 4 hours to celebrate a little girl turning 3. That’s what keeps her going as well; our visits. The regular days are long and hard — you lose your other half and all your friends when you live that long.
    As usual Louise your words are as finely tuned as your heart.♥️


  2. Reflecting on the end of life is one way for us to gain insight into really living. What a loving tribute to both your parents. They built a nest from which you came into the world.
    I especially like the tender ending of this. It sounds like acceptance through love.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This exquisitely beautifully written post brought me to tears. My father of 94 passed on recently during our trip to Chicago (I am still trying to find the words to write about it). I appreciate your comment about postponing grief until after…. Interestingly, I got to have a few conversations with my dad about death, who was also mentally sharp as can be right until the end, but physically frail. My dad was insistent that he wanted his life to be celebrated and instead of a funeral he wanted a party. He had always said he wanted to live until 100 but when the pain and organs started to deteriorate, in ways such as you describe, he was finally ready. I was so grateful to be there to be with him as he finally let go peacefully surrounded by love and family.

    How interesting that your mother is from Pondicherry. We were there a few years ago and were surprised by the French feel and clear influence that there remains there still today. Love your mom’s love story. How interesting it would be to retrace her steps and go to Pondicherry (if you have not been) as a way of connecting with your roots.

    Your mom looks so well. My dad too. Even the day before he died he commented himself on a photo that Ben took and said “wow, I look good!” I told him I certainly have way more wrinkles than he does. He thought that was pretty hilarious.

    Thank you for this.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Peta, thank you for your beautiful comment. I’m sorry to hear about your dad’s passing – I do love his attitude. A party is a perfect farewell!

      My grandfather was the architect of the city — he was French and his brother was the ‘Administrator’ / Governor. One of my aunts still lives there – she is the youngest so ‘only’ 85 and several of my cousins.

      And yes, going back to trace my mother’s family is one of my bucket list items – my daughters and I had planned to go last year but my eldest had just had a baby — so… sometime in the next while I shall most definitely do it!

      Thank you again for your beautiful words. Your father sounds like a remarkable man.


      • Hello Peta, your blog is wonderful and the photos are fabulous. While I was away, my sister showed your photos to my mom — and she said that the house you show – the one that reads, “This currently abandoned property….” — was the house she grew up in! My grandfather was the architect of Pondicherry so he built himself the grandest home! (or so my aunties say) Thank you for bringing a smile to my mother’s face. She loved having my sister read your words to her and show her the photos. ❤


Real conversations begin with your comments. Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.