Remembering Anna Jane....
I’m not sure that what I had planned to say during mom’s memorial service will translate into the written word, but I will try my best. My hope is to somehow capture the essence of mom and to celebrate the parts of her that have impacted me and shaped me ... and the parts of her that will live on in everyone who knew her.
Mom was not the larger than life personality that my dad was, and I often felt that she lived in the shadow of that personality, even at times after dad’s death. But despite that shadow, mom radiated and spread a light of warmth, generosity and kindness that overshadowed all who came into contact with her. She was a force to be reckoned with in her own right – a force of unlimited energy, of unbounded generosity and of unending kindness.
I know my mom believed in some form of an afterlife, and she certainly took comfort in the concept of guardian angels. A few days before she died, she told me to watch out for little signs that she would be there with us, signals that she was watching over us. She promised that Lucy, Nate and Michael would have a guardian angel, one proportionate to her immense love for them, watching out for them.
Because my mom staunchly believed in an afterlife, even if she freely admitted that she didn’t know what to expect, I have envisioned her living on in some way during the past few months. I have wondered who may have crossed her spiritual presence or path. I have wondered if she has been reunited with her friends and family who passed before her, and whether she and dad shared a Valentine’s Day date on the day she died. I smile when I wonder whom ”the lucky guests” are at the most recent incarnation of her bed and breakfast in the sky. Who is enjoying the warmth of her kindness, the warmth of her generosity and hospitality, and the warmth of her homemade muffins – you know the ones with pomegranate seeds and the small chunks of candied ginger? Who are the lucky few that are enjoying the freshly cut fruit salad, the egg souffle and the vanilla latte with hand-frothed warmed milk?
Sometimes I close my eyes, and imagine my mom’s love and light enveloping me. It’s not hard to imagine her light and to feel its power and warmth swirling around me. Her presence was lovely – the gentle kindness and the extraordinary generosity. Her light certainly would burn brighter than most, as we all know that her energy level and her capacity for love on earth was extraordinary.
When I visited mom last May to help her begin to clear out her Massachusetts home, I knew at that point that her cancer had returned. And I knew that she had decided to decline any further treatment. What I didn’t know was what to expect when I saw her. I didn’t know if her mood would be low or if her energy would have declined. Not sure how she had processed the news of the cancer’s return, I expected the worse. What I found was the same energetic, loving mom who seemed to have a deeper sense of centeredness and calm. I also found a mom that seemed to have even more energy than before her diagnosis, and more strength, if that was even possible.
There is one memory in particular that stays with me, a remarkable example of her uncanny strength and energy, that took place during that visit. I can remember driving her home from a grocery store in East Hampton and her asking me to stop at her mailbox for her to pick up her mail. We had gotten into a conversation of some sorts on the way home from the store, and I had forgotten that she had asked me to stop for the mail. As we rounded the bend from Turkey Hill Road to the long driveway she shared with her neighbors, I heard the passenger door suddenly open. Startled, I quickly turned and saw an empty seat. Mom had apparently jumped out of the car to get her mail, despite the fact that I had forgotten to stop at the mailbox ... or even slow down for that matter.
I slammed on the breaks and came to an abrupt stop. I immediately looked behind me and to the far side of the car and mom was nowhere to be found. I took a deep breath and was quickly preparing myself to get out of the car, when mom comes swinging back into the passenger seat like something out of a Tom Cruise movie with her mail tucked under her arm and a look on her face that said, “What are you waiting for. Let’s get going!”
There will be many things that are lost to me with mom’s passing. I will never be able to replicate certain aspects of my mom, nor her many, many talents. I’m not much of a host. In fact, my children have never tasted warm homemade ginger pomegranate muffins, or warm homemade muffins of any kind for that matter. And frankly I’m not very adept at cutting fruit. I leave the complicated fruit, like pineapple and mango, for my husband Andy to cut. I have never finished a knitting project that I started. I’m not terribly crafty. And I do not have a green thumb of any shade. I can only hope that Nate and Lucy will take after their grandma in some way, in any way.
But while there are many things that will be lost with my mom’s passing, there is one enormous gift that she has left us all, a gift that will never be and never can be lost – that is the gift of her kind, generous and loving spirit … and the gift of having basked in the radiance of that spirit.
Her love for her grandchildren was unending. The time that she spent with them was so precious. She was always present with them. She listened to everything they wanted to tell her and everything they wanted her to know with enthusiasm, respect and warmth. They knew she loved them and they knew she would always be there ... a friend, a loving presence and a grandma. That love, that presence and that warmth will forever be a part of my children’s memory. It will always be a part of their every fabric, their very being.
If there is one thing that I have learned in the years after my father’s death, it is that a loving presence cannot be destroyed by death or with time. The memory and the recollection of love are always with us, especially a love and kindness that is as immense as my mom’s. What a gift for my children and Michael that they had such a powerful force loving them. Grandma’s love is imprinted on their souls forever. And of course they have one hell of a guardian angel for as long as they may need one.
For me, I’m grateful every day for my mom. As I have said many times before, I won the karmic lottery having been the daughter of Anna Jane Krebs. I must have done a lot of good in my previous lives to be born into the light of her care and nurture. I can only try to honor her memory and her life and her love. The best way I know to honor her –
as we all can -- is by trying to extend a small part of her enormous, larger than life, and unending light to those around us. I am quite sure that her bright light of warmth, kindness and love lives on in spirit ... in her spirit, in the spirit of her grandchildren, in the spirit of her daughters, in the spirits of all her many friends, and in the spirit of her lovely, and no doubt extremely popular, bed and breakfast in the sky.
Jenn Krebs Rapkin
Guilford, Connecticut & Barcelona Spain