Last Visit by Henry Regehr
On Monday, just two days after the memorial service, our family arrived at “Whitepines of Northumberland Tree Farm”, the farm Lillian and I had owned for three decades. We had taken care of the land, nurtured the gardens, rebuilt the home, planted trees and groomed the trails. We had welcomed family and friends for happy and intimate times together. Now we were warmly welcomed by the lovely new owners. At age ninety, this was likely my last visit to the place we had purchased decades ago, and that had become the mystical, longed-for home that had been the object of our search for the past many, many years.
On Saturday, the touching memorial service with family and friends, had been celebrated. Loving words had been spoken and grand organ music had honored a precious life, the sonorous church bells had tolled for Lillian, and we had now come, on this beautiful Spring morning, with the sad task of spreading Lillian’s ashes at the foot of trees that she and I had planted four decades earlier. This was her beloved farm where the flower gardens, the deep forests, and the pioneer log home, now fifteen years later, still carried the echoes of her creative presence. Lillian was coming home.
Our two children (my heroes), two precious grandchildren, two sweet great-grandchildren, and loyal partners, were now gathered in the woods to say our personal farewells to the loving mother who had been the heart of our family.
“Say something”, I heard behind me as I was about to do the heavy task of spreading the last earthly remains of the person we had loved and who had loved us unconditionally.
Here is what I wish I would have said:
“Lillian, you were the loving heart of our family. You were the anchor on which we all depended. Your loyalty and devotion were constant, your faith never failed. You became the protective tigress when threats assaulted. You loved courageously.
“Your good humor and laughter brightened our days. Your creativity brought color to everything around you. Your pursuit of knowledge and keen intuition brought light and understanding.
“Your consistent kindness and tolerance washed over the people in your life: the foster children, the children in your classes, your dear friends and neighbors, the patients and their families at Princess Margaret Hospital. Everyone who came within your reach and responsibility felt the wealth of your firm and gentle kindness.
“We are overwhelmed with gratitude to you, and your love is now reflected in our love for each other and in our commitment to living lives of purpose. It is apparent in our dedication to the people around us. Your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, and the lovers who have joined our family, are a testament to your unfailing faithfulness and love.
“Thank you, dearest Lillian.”