My mother lived for most of her life within eyesight of the greatest of lakes.
The comings and goings of ships into the Duluth/Superior harbor was information she filed in her heart. She was Duluth. From the crest of the big hill to the shoreline of Lake Superior, she lived and moved and had her being.
A number of years ago – in 1985 – a freighter by the name of Socrates grounded on Park Point. The storm that tossed it onto the sand bar was the stuff of legends. My mother was one of the many who were drawn to the incongruous sight of that mighty grounded boat. It was evidence of what wind and water can do to the best-laid of plans.
And so it was yesterday.
Yesterday a storm hit Duluth that rivaled the power that tossed the Socrates. Winds in excess of 60 mph whipped the snow that fell. The temperature was in the low 30s.
After 19 months of somehow not being able to release my mother’s earthly remains to the elements, my siblings and I had determined that yesterday was the day. We discerned that mom would want to be released in (at least) three places: her beloved church, her beloved lake, and in the cemetery where her parents and siblings are buried.
When we made these plans we joked about snow. It’s Duluth, after all. Anything is possible in late October.
It was an epic day. The wind howled. The waves were so high that the road to Brighton Beach was swallowed by the lake. The snow pelted. We shivered and hugged and wept and laughed and here is what we learned:
She who has always calmed our storms is with us yet.
As we committed her body to God’s earth, we laughed about the tough, scrappy children who learned by their mother’s example that whining about cold is no way to behave. We were out in the elements that she taught us to love: wind and water, tree song and wave crash. We held each other and gave thanks for the tiny immense scrap of a woman who gave us more than we will ever know or name.
The lake roared.
Our family is no grounded boat.
We are afloat and alive and she is in it all.
Well done, mom.