Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Music of Angels

Just minutes after I pressed the "publish" button on that last post, the telephone rang. It was the hospital, calling to let us know that my mother in law's breathing had started to get worse. We rushed to the hospital, and for the following forty-eight hours we all took turns sitting quietly with her, making sure she was never alone.

She passed away peacefully on Saturday morning. I was sitting with her when all of a sudden, without any warning, she simply stopped breathing.

God, I miss her. She was such a central part of our lives that I still can't believe she's gone.

I'll never forget the first time I met her. I was working at Coles on Sparks Street in Ottawa and Fran and her roommate and her mother came in, laughing and smiling and completely brightening up the entire store. Fran and her mother were close, like sisters and best friends in the way they shopped and did things together. And I remember being so impressed at how youthful and spirited her mother was. And, like her daughter, she was a knockout.

I've included a photo of the three of us taken at our wedding. I've always loved this candid shot of us smiling and laughing while talking to each other. I think that's one of the best ways to express what Francine's Mom was to us.

Francine's Mom was the strongest woman I've ever known, and had this very unique creative touch in everything she did. I'll never forget the first time I listened to her play the piano. Immediately after hearing her play for the first time, I wrote the following poem.

Music of Angels
by Mark Leslie

Her fingers dance effortlessly
Across the ebony and ivory keys
Like tiny dancers moving a split second ahead
of the music they know so well
The notes rise and glide forth through the air
Beautiful and timeless
Yet they fit this moment so well

As she plays I am no longer in a closed room
I am breathing in a fresh cool ocean breeze
with the warmth of the sun upon my face
As the flashes of brilliant colourful light superimpose
themselves on gentle waves sliding up the beach
from the sea

I stare in awe at the woman who is creating this magic
And I think of how incredible it is that
such a moving, powerful piece of music
Can come from anything less than a chorus of angels
Then it occurs to me that this is merely one
of her beautiful miracles
And I smile across the room at her first miracle
The one sworn to me by marriage

She always treated me like a son, and I loved her like my own mother. I always got a kick out of how supportive she was in my writing. She never read a single word of one of my short stories (because she didn't like to be creeped out by the horror I wrote) but she insisted on owning and cherished signed copies of my work that she bragged to others about.

And on a wry note, I was slightly disappointed at how much I liked and respected her. Because once I met her, all of those stereotypical jokes about "mother-in-law" were completely lost on me -- our relationship was never like that at all. She was 'Mom' to me. A constant support, a constant joy.

As I said, there's now this huge void. This loss is difficult, but sharing stories about her life right now with family and friends is at least comforting. And I know that the music of her love will continue to echo in our hearts forever.


Sheri said...

wow - what a beautiful tribute to a wonderful woman. You are very blessed to have had such a great relationship with your wife's mother.... as you said... so many times the MIL can be a difficult relationship to have. You are one of the lucky ones.

She was a beautfiul woman. I am so sorry for your family's loss. Peace

lime said...

aww mark, my very sincerest condolences to you and francine. i'm so very sorry for your loss.

that was a truly beautiful tribute to her aned if it helps, i hope perhaps you may share some other special memories of this lovely lady.

may your precious memories comfort you all and know you and francine and alexander are in my thoughts and prayers.

Melodie Norman Haas said...

Deep condolences to you and Francine. What a beautiful woman and a beautiful tribute to her. Thank you for sharing and I pray for comfort and peace in your life during this sad time.

Anonymous said...

My heartfelt sympathies go to you, Francine and Alexander. The loss of a loved one, especially one as remarkable as your "Mom" reminds us of how precious our time together is.

You can be thankful for all the love and support she provided to everyone and for the fact that Alexander had this wonderful grandmother is his life even for a short time.

Keep well, you are in my prayers.


BTExpress said...

Your lucky to have had such a great relationship with your "Mom". My condolences for your loss.

Anonymous said...

that was a beautiful tribute Mark. Thank you for sharing a little part of this wonderful woman with us.

My thoughts are with you.

Tish said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. You were truly blessed to have her in your life. My deepest sympathies go out to you and your family.

Regal said...

Very sorry and a beautiful post and lovely photos. Peace for you and your wife. I know you were a wonderful son-in-law.

lecram sinun said...

Mark, I am sorry to hear about your and Francine's loss. Though your post is a wonderful and very uplifting tribute of love to her. I am sure she slipped into grace with peace knowing you will always do right by her girl.

My thoughts are with you, my friend.

Tish said...

Happy Valentine's Day!

Virginia said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Mark and Francine. It seems you were not only blessed with a wonderful wife, Mark, but a mother-in-law that was truly a part of the family. You've shared such beautiful sentiments with us, and I hope your own words give you strength in the future.

All my best.


Cosima said...

My heartfelt condolences to Francine and you. I am so sorry for your family's loss. Your tribute to your mom-in-law is so very beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Rainypete said...

I never got to know my mother in law that well. I'm glad you two had such a great relationship and am truly sorry for your loss.