In memory of Gertrude Wilber
Gertrude died on the first day of the Iraq War in 2003 as the bombs began to fall. She was buried beneath the plum tree in our front yard. Gertrude was a peacemaker.
Gertrude, age 83
My wife Alix’s mom Gertrude died this morning at 10
of old age and emphysema and congestive heart failure.
Alix and her brother Chris were both with her
when she died in her own home
and it was a good and peaceful death
with the two people she loved and needed most
there with her holding her and
caring for her.
Yesterday Alix called and
I was struck by the peace in her voice
in what is doubtless
the hardest time of her life.
She had just finished giving her mom a morphine shot
and before that she had given her mom a bath
and she had spent many hours holding her hand
soothing her, talking to her.
Alix said, “I’m so glad I can be here with her.
I wouldn’t miss this for anything in the world.
This is the bargain we make,
the other end of life and birth,
and just as natural as the beginning.”
On this dark night,
as the bombs begin to fall on Baghdad,
and sorrow falls like a curtain across the world,
I think of Gertrude,
a woman who loved peace and abhorred war,
and I think of the smile that crossed her face
during moments in the last few days
when she came to consciousness and realized
that she was cradled
in the love of her children.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003