Stories and Journeys



Without awareness, does anything or anyone really exist? I am aware that I enjoy sitting in the front room of my house. In the front room of my house I enjoy sitting in a rocking chair and looking out the window. I look out at the activities going by on 46th Ave. in my Hiawatha neighborhood. It's like getting to watch a free movie which I call, "As Life Goes By." I am aware there is snow everywhere. We are blanketed in it. Underneath that blanket of snow I am aware there is stuff happening. Stuff like nature getting ready for a rebirth come spring.
It's a week day. I have the television tuned to TPT. I am aware of coverage of the Minnesota legislative session. Jim Davnie is no longer my state representative. Now it's Samantha Sencer-Mura. Patricia Torres-Ray is no longer my state senator. Now it's Zaynab Mohamed. I wonder if they know that elders like me even exist. State Representative Frank Hornstein and Senator Scott Dibble are back representing southwest Minneapolis. Watching the legislative session enables me to stay aware that there is more to Minnesota than south Minneapolis. I am very aware that I grew up on the north side of Des Moines. I am rooted and grounded in south Minneapolis. And if you have read this far you have taken the plunge and become a reader of this Stories and Journeys column.

I met them through Senior Community Services. They have been doing my snow removal and lawn mowing. As I write, I have their photo in front of me. It's their Happy Holidays card containing their picture. On the back of the card is what I know to be the prayer of Saint Francis which starts out, "Lord,make me an instrument of your peace..." It has been a source of inspiration for Mike, Jenny, myself and many others throughout the ages.
On Dec. 23, I received an email from Mike telling me that Jenny, his wife, died at 4 a.m. I have in mind pictures of Jenny showing up with Michael to do snow removal or lawn mowing. She had cancer. I once asked her how she coped with her cancer-related pain. She told me she just tried to ignore it. I took her words to heart. I have been trying to ignore the pain and discomfort that are part of my lumbar and cervical spine stenosis for years. I am aware that the pain and discomfort have become constant – impacting my everyday life functioning. My hands are in pain as I type this column. Would my pain and discomfort exist if I wasn't aware? I have an appointment with my spine surgeon coming up shortly after I make deadline for this column.

It's sitting on the top shelf of the closet in my bedroom. It is my urn. I have been trying to imagine myself as a pile of ashes in that urn. At the end of the day is that all I am? A pile of ashes in an urn to eventually be placed in my niche in the Green Mausoleum at Lakewood Cemetery. My sister-in-law, Carol, recently came to stay with me for a few days. We paid a visit to Bradshaw on Minnehaha Ave. I have now signed the paper work and paid the money. When I die, Bradshaw will come and pick me up. They will take me to get green cremated. My ashes will be turned over to my sister-in-law to ultimately be delivered to Lakewood for direct burial.
There will be time and space in the Green Mausoleum chapel for people to gather to share their awareness of me, how they knew me and be part of a service. I am calling it a Celebration of Pure Awareness. I'm hoping to say a few words even though I have died. Awareness is everything. Does anything or anyone exist without our being aware? My obituary will have appeared in the Star Tribune, the Longfellow-Nokomis Messenger and the Southwest Connector. Copies of the Messenger and Connector newspapers containing my last Stories and Journeys column and obituary will be available to attendees. Tesha told me she could make that happen. I am aware that death is the great equalizer. A lesson I learned when I was night attendant in a mortuary on Minnehaha Parkway.
So, I ask you dear reader: Is that all we are, a pile ashes in an urn or whatever form we take after dying occurs? Tell yourself, tell others or tell me.
I am aware. Staying strong. Writing with courage. Aware of my pain, I am not a robot.
In gratitude always!


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