It was an auspicious first day as an orphan. After cleaning out my Mom’s room at the Home and finding little treasures like her address book, I came home and played piano for a few hours. Bach, Beethoven, Scarlatti, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, a few hymns, sacred music all. Then set off on a rare San Francisco hot day to walk the length of Golden Gate Park, in company with my journal and a book of Mary Oliver poems. I stopped at the St. Francis statue in the Arboretum’s herb garden, warming my bones in the sun and inhaling the flowered fragrance. On to Stowe Lake watching the turtle sunning on the log and the ducks swimming by. Sit on a log on a path further down and write a poem. Stop at a playground and read some of Ms. Oliver’s poems, missing Zadie a little bit. Arrive at Ocean Beach and do what we San Franciscans can so rarely do— take off my shoes and socks and let the small waves at water’s edge wash over me.
Back at the dune I wrote in my journal: “Something important is stirring to life. Time that marches forward is as real as my mother’s passing, but it is also illusion. All time and times are present together, the ancestors, humans and descendants alive together in a perpetual present, if only we could see and feel it. Here, at land’s end and standing at the foot of the ocean’s expanse, the enormous blue sky vaulted overhead, I feel the solid self flowing out into the surf, this body become a sounding board for the water’s musical roar. Sand, sun, sea and sky are lifting me up and cradling me, leaching out the bitterness and inconsolable sorrow, leaving just enough sadness and grief to flavor the joy and relief. ‘Mourn in celebration’ says my friend Kofi, with his African ancestral wisdom predating the New Orleans practice of mourning the passing and celebrating the having passed through this earth. By Korean standards, 60 is the age of the elder and my Mom had 1/3 again as much time to keep bestowing her blessings before her work was done. She was the matriarch of beauty, leaving behind her a trail of luminous children and grandchildren and one great-grandchild and more to come. And all are dancing together here in this moment on the western edge of the continent.”
Rode the N-Judah back home and then out again to the parking lot above the Cliff House to see the sunset and complete this most beautiful day. “Sunrise, sunset” goes the song from one of the few musicals in New York my family went to— how many lifetimes ago that feels!— and it was the perfect way to honor the life of this women whose sun rose in Coney Island 93 years ago and set in San Francisco last night. “One season following another, laden with happiness and tears.” And so it was and so it shall ever be.