I lost my mom on April 2, 2021. Below are remarks I gave during her graveside service on the 5th.
My mother taught me all I know about living in this world.
- She taught me how to live into my creativity.
- She taught me how to be tough when things were hard.
- She taught me how to iron a dress shirt — even one that was “cut on the bias”.
- She taught me how to love others, and to love nature, and love traveling and seeing the world.
- She taught me how to be kind, though I could have probably done well to pay better attention during those lessons.
She was my constant companion growing up; racing past the poppies in our back yard, taking the #5 bus to the library, and tagging along as she visited print shops to make posters for events that she was running.
One memory that’s really sticking with me this weekend: we would sit on the floor, with a tape she had recorded of herself singing that Peter, Paul & Mary song about the dragon.
Puff the magic dragon, who lived by the sea. /
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee, /
and Little Jackie Paper, who loved that rascal Puff, /
brought him strings and sealing wax, and other fancy stuff. /
And we would both be in tears every time we were done, because that little boy in the song forgot about his dragon, and how dare he.
Dragons live forever — but not so little boys. /
Painted wings and giants’ rings make way for other toys /
But unfortunately as I grew,
I discovered just how distracting “other toys” can be.
as I think all Jackie Papers sadly do.
We all wish mothers were like dragons and could live forever, but they cannot.
Now, one grey night, it’s happened.
And as my lifelong friend slips into her cave, I know I must be brave.
And even with head bent in sorrow, and green scales falling like rain
I must find a way to continue playing along the cherry lane.
I will always be your little boy,
And I will always cherish our times traveling on billowed sail.
Thank you for giving me a perch upon your mighty tail.
I promise you, if such a place exists, that one day, I will join you by the sea, and we can frolic in the autumn mist in that land called Honalee.
Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea /
and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee /