May 30, 2012. When I decided to walk the Camino de Santiago, the first question was “When?” though perhaps it should have been “Why?” That question will be left for another time, but the “when” question seemed fairly easy. Spring tends to have more rain, summer is way too hot and crowded for me in almost any country, but the autumn is my favorite time of year, so I placed myself in Spain in September and October 2013.
Then I realized that since September 1 was my mother’s birthday, I’d begin then for her . . . and that has stuck in my mind. It would be her 92nd birthday in 2013, and given her circumstances, I would have been surprised if she were still on the earth when I begin my walk, but that September 1 date was anchored in my brain, my schedule, and became my firm answer when people asked, “When are you going to do this crazy thing?”
My mother has not been well for many years, and has deteriorated seriously over the past few months. This morning she died, finally at peace, nearly reaching age 91. While I was in France earlier this month, I lit candles for Mom in every church I entered. I’m not at all a believer, but she is/was, and I have always loved lighting candles for her in Italy and France.
With each match to the wick, I blew her my wish . . . “let go, Mom, let go. You’ve done enough, suffered enough, lost enough.” And she finally did just that, though I don’t claim any power over such an action as death.
So she has flown on the wind today, and is out of pain and confusion. And I, I still have my goal date set, it will always be Mom’s birthday, and I am filled with even more resolve than ever, to start on September 1, and to complete my 1000 kilometer walk for myself and for my parents. They would each think I was a crazy person for doing this Camino, but their styles would be different, as they always were. I’ll have to think more about that and imagine just what each of them might say to me as I prepare for my long walk.
For now, I’m just savoring that start date, thinking about my beautiful mother, and itching to begin training again . . . after we put her to rest this weekend.
Rosemary Teresa Mercurio Joseph
September 1, 1921 – May 30, 2012