MY grandmother died recently. She was 96 years old, and she passed away peacefully. Her last week was spent mostly asleep, and her last moments were shared by her three sons. I was able to visit a few days before she passed away with my eldest sister. She was sleeping, peaceful. She looked at the time as though she had already done the hard work of preparing for death. Lying on that bed, as thin as she was, she looked less like my grandmother, and more like the archetypal ancestor. She proceeded me, came before me, lived a full life which I know so little about. She married, had children, raised them, watched them grow up, worked, retired, watched most of her siblings die, outlived her husband, aged, and over the last few years, lost most of her reason and slowly fell into dementia.
She was always an anxious woman, always nagging me when I was a little boy. She would cut my fingernails when I came over and scold me for touching her mirrors and glass tables. She loved me, but she had an uncontrollable anxiety about things. When she began to succumb to dementia, her anxiety slipped away. It was as though she had always gripped too tightly, trying to control things, until she realized fully, with merciful humility, that it was no longer in her power. The last few years she was relaxed, although she did not like living at the home, but demented or not, who would?
I cried several times when she died, but most of all when I re-read chapter one of Ecclesiastes. My grandmother was Jewish, though I don’t know how religious she was, and I am not religious in any explicable way, but I have studied many parts of the Bible, both the Torah and the New Testament, fairly closely. Right now nothing seems more profoundly true than these lines:
1. The Words of the Preacher, the son of David, King in Jerusalem.
2. Vanity of vanities, says the preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
3. What profit has a man from all his labor which he does under the sun?
4. One generation passes away, and another generation comes, but the earth abides forever. …
11. There is no remembrance of former things; neither will there be any rememberance of things that are to come with those who come after. …
18. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow.
I don’t know why I thought to share that here, but I have been thinking about Livejournal again. I don’t even know how many people I used to know who are still around, or how many people are listening. Since I have abandoned this journal for so long, I will mostly be posting from now on in my new journal, Project18. Feel free to add me if you like, I will of course add back. Otherwise, I wish you all well, in all of your labor under the sun. May you profit from it and arrive on time while the feast is good.