21 July, 2009

Where Memories Collide and God Resides

Mary Anne Anthony

b. 29 November, 1928
d. 17 July 2009

"Sileo in Pacem"

" Thou goest home this night to thy home of winter,
To thy home of autumn, of spring, and of summer;
Thou goest home this night to thy perpetual home,
To thine eternal bed to thine eternal slumber.

Sleep thou, sleep, and away with thy sorrow,
Sleep thou, sleep, and away with thy sorrow,
Sleep thou, sleep, and away with thy sorrow,
Sleep thou beloved, in the Rock of the Fold.

Sleep this night in the breast of thy Mother,
Sleep, thou beloved, while she herself soothes thee;
Sleep thou this night on the Virgin's arm,
Sleep thou beloved, while she herself kisses thee.

The great sleep of Jesus, the supassing sleep of Jesus,
The sleep of Jesus' wound, the sleep of Jesus' grief,
The young sleep of Jesus, the restoring sleep of Jesus,
The sleep of the kiss of Jesus of peace and glory,

The sleep of the seven lights be thine, beloved,
The sleep of the seven joys be thine, beloved,
The sleep of the seven slumbers be thine beloved,
On the arm of the Jesus of blessings, the Christ of grace.

The shade of death lies upon thy face, beloved,
But the Jesus of grace has His hand round about thee;
In the nearness to the Trinity farewell to thy pains,
Christ stands before thee and peace is in his mind.

Sleep, O sleep in the calm of all calm,
Sleep, O sleep in the guidance of guidance,
Sleep, O sleep in the love of all loves,
Sleep, O beloved, in the Lord of life,
Sleep, O beloved, in the God of life!

( "Death Dirge", from Carmina Gadelica, edited by Esther de Waal. )

On 17 July 2009, about 21:15 hours Arizona Std. Time, Mom Anthony passed through the veil. She headed home to be with her Christ her Saviour, to reunite with her husband, siblings and cousins, aunts and uncles, her own parents and grandparents. The long unbroken line of Ripleys and Martins reaching back in earthly time, in Chronos to the British Isles.

Barb and Bill Frey arrived on Thursday the 16th, fresh from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Anaheim. Sister Martha, her daughter Havah and grandaughter Zoie were here, along with good friends, Chiqui and Joe Kelly and their daughter Lorena Madrazo. I flew in on Friday mid-afternoon. Brother John arrived about 8:00 Friday evening.

Mom was laid out in her bed, barely conscious, breathing shallow and quiet. Her last real lucid moments had been two days before when she told Martha that she was done and was just waiting. That night, we all gathered around Mom's bed, held hands, spoke to her, prayed with her and held her up in God's great light. Each of us spoke words of love and release, quietly letting go. Each one holding her memory up in love. Together we prayed the Lord‘s prayer and gathered in the living room, sharing common and uncommon memories of Mom.

Twenty minutes later, Lori (Lorena) walked out from Mom's room saying that her breathing was growing ragged. I walked in, stood beside her and picked up her hand. With one small little shudder, she released her last breath and her heart ceased its long years of rhythmic dance. Her body was dead. Her earthly suffering had ceased. Mom was finally at peace.

It was clear from that moment on that nothing of the true Mary Anne remained. Her spirit was released and winging its way heavenward, sailing into the bright, never ending sunrise beside a quiet sea where Christ awaits us all.

She is free. The gangly and bossy young girl who wandered the Iowa corn fields has gone home. The striking, dark haired teen who sang and suffered adolescent years with TWO younger sisters in Lakewood, she too has returned home. The barely adult young woman bore me out of passion and love for a bright smiling Swede, fresh out of the Marine Corp. He who broke her heart...Well, that heart is now mended and whole. The fiesty young beauty who married the soft spoken Southern gent and spent nearly 54 years loving him fierce and fine, funny and in the final moments, faithful to his going, she is now at peace. She is once again resting in his strong arms.

All of that history, all of the pain, the unsaid words, the broken promises, the miscarried children, the dreams unfulfilled...They are now redeemed and made whole. I know it to be true. It is the promise that Christ himself made manifest in his short walk as a Man amongst us.
Now we, those left behind to walk our singular paths in imperfect clay vessels, we are the ones who grieve. We feel the loss, the empty place at the table, the phone calls that will never be again, the assurance of a hug, a mother's word or gesture or the simple knowledge that she is there just to listen. We reach out in the darkest night and she is no longer here. That grief will remain 'til God's healing grace soothes us and the sure knowledge that behind her love...His love is stronger. Behind her fierce protection, His fierce love is infinite, all powerful. Beyond our loss, His love is an ever flowing fountain where we can kneel and rest and drink to our hearts contentment.

And when that day comes when we are released from these broken and imperfect bodies, she will be waiting with all the saints who from their earthly labors rest, quiet and complete; encompassed in the arms of our true Father God.

Until that day, we have one another and the promise alive in Christ’s gift to us, His everpresent comforter, the paraclete, the Holy Spirit. His voice and love shown forth in our lives and in the lives of our brothers and sisters sustains us.

For me, this continues to be a life shattering process. Nothing will ever be the same again.
Today, the moon turns full dark, a new moon in its home sign, Cancer. Tomorrow there is a full eclipse of the Sun, its umbral centered in Bangladesh. AND, two days later the Sun passes from Cancer into its home sign, Leo...fiery, expansive, magnanimous. It is the heart of summer. Between the two major influences of Moon and Sun, I find that I am torn.

Its a strange place, unknown and uncharted territory.

I am undone. It is forevermore, an alien land. I feel caught between worlds. I flew down here on Friday full of fears and caught up in the angst of a 4 year old boy who felt his whole world turned inside out. Abandoned, chained to an unknown shadowy father... He seemed a dead and stinking corpse following the boy day and night.

I steeled myself for the worst when I arrived. I was afraid to look at, much less touch Mom as she lay dying.

All of those fears were washed away when I saw her sunken, waxy face and heard her raspy breath. Under the dying flesh, the Beethoven like death mask, there was my MOM! At that moment, the universe tilted and changed. I held her hand, I brushed her cheek with mine. I pushed an errant whisp of grey-white hair from her forehead. I sat with her, talked with her. (Yep, I did all the talking, heh!) Still, it was a conversation.

All of those fears and revulsion about death and dying are now gone.
They were washed away on Friday night.

Holding Mom's hand as she breathed her last breath is a moment that will remain seared in my psyche as long as I wander this broken ol' world. It was a "knowing" moment. Her passing was so sweet and gentle.

Now...why am I torn? Grief is a strange beast, seemingly insatiable. It rips unseen wounds in the strangest and most unlikely places. I am undone, wounded and racked with pain. Yet, I am also very much at peace. Time and prayer and God's grace will heal the pain. That's all I know right now. The peace that God has bestowed will reside, refreshed by his Holy Spirit. Although Mom has departed, her memories remain in each of us. And, more importantly, God has blessed us all with gifts beyond grace, beyond salvation. It is the gift of Himself. It is Christ His Son. It is the Holy Spirit…This is God complete. This is true peace.

Godspeed Mother mine.


Linda SoG (http://www.lindasog.com/) one of the regular contributors over at the KisP Institute (http://www.sondrak.com/) read this memorial on my facebook page.

This is her reply :

" Her resting place shall be in the Garden of Eden.Therefore, the Master of Mercy will care for her under the protection of His wings for all time and bind her soul in the bond of everlasting life. God is her inheritance and she will rest in peace and let us say Amen."



  1. Beautiful tribute Stephen! The photos bring her into our hearts also.

    Bless you and your family.

  2. Anonymous5:11 PM

    Your mom is beautiful--I know from the love she put in your heart, everything in this world passes--but love--love is eternal. May the holy angels come to comfort you in your grief.

  3. Thanks Tara, DW and all those who posted on facebook.

    There will be more as the pics of family come together.


  4. One could never want for a finer tribute to a life well lived. You mourn her passing, but are the better for her being. Bless you.