January 2016

Illia Thompson:

Within eight days, one Saturday after another, I experienced concentrated tender tending.

First, there was a memorial celebration of life for my son-in-law, a man who died suddenly at the age of 44. It was held at the place business that my late husband began and my daughter carried on. Later she added her husband as a partner. Blackthorn Hot tubs and Spas in Salinas fairly recently redecorated it as a showroom of fine quality. There, about a hundred people shared sorrow and story—a life remembered came into play. My daughter fully felt the tending of all present and the grace of he who had departed.

Then, the second celebration was the following Saturday in Oakland. It was a Bat Mitzvah, a Jewish Rite of Passage, as one of my sister’s granddaughters, in the presence of friends and family, celebrated her coming of age. It was the shift from childhood to womanhood for a 13 year-old girl. Her study for this event was prolonged and intense—learning Hebrew, chanting the messages of the bible, as well as preparing a speech that would express clearly her feelings. It was an essay to read aloud to those congregated in the temple.

Hannah spoke from her own heart, her desire to be of service to others as she crossed the threshold indicated by this day. She read with conviction and clarity, strong words that spoke of having a soft heart, to be of generous nature, not only monetarily, more so actively in everyday life. Smiling at others, including strangers, she spoke of being generous in feelings, dissolving judgments that might hinder connections, even briefly, to carry a sense of caring.

After the morning service, a luncheon, followed in the evening by a dinner. There the young and the old danced, no partners needed in the manner of youth with elbows akimbo and legs darting in all directions. With loud music, disc jockey broadcast, they bounced around the large room as the older adults smiled, unable to hear each other over the loudness—reconvening conversation when the music stopped.

Hannah and her young girlfriends, a bevy of teens, spent energy ignited by celebration and consuming an abundance of sweets from the dessert bar.

The events were well celebrated for myself. Two consecutive Saturdays held the rites of passage that honored both mourning and the one that announces the coming of womanhood.

Now again in the quiet of my own home, I more clearly know the circle we all travel. I am grateful for others with whom I get to share my elongated journey. I feel well tended as I tend to others.