good grief


Mom’s cancer, with relentless, rapacious appetite, spread from her lungs to her brain, then to her brain lining. Her decline, swift, over the sparest number of weeks, and savage, instant by inexorably passing instant, stripping her of bodily function and proffering only pain.

On April 28, 2017, Geneva Theodosia Reynolds Mack Watkins, the mother of my wife, my mother in law, a proverbial force of nature, yea, verily, nature itself in the immensity of her love, died.


Since then, I have watched and continue to watch Geneva’s daughter, my wife, Pontheolla, grieve, embracing her sorrowing, weeping heart and soul…

through those initial moments of her acknowledgement of the inevitable; the oncologist saying those dreaded, yet essential and candid words, “There is nothing more we can do”…

through the calling of family members and friends, receiving, responding to their questions, “How?” “When?” “Why?”, accepting, answering their expressions of concern with a  gracious “Thank you”, a slight and earnest nod, a sympathizing falling tear, soon followed by a pitying flood…

through the planning of mom’s funeral, truly, justly a celebration of her life supremely, freely, fully, faithfully well lived; the testimonials from persons from ev’ry path of her earthly being and doing; the songs of praise and the prayers to God, all bidding, believing in her gladsome greeting in the heavenly habitations…

through engaging mom’s affairs – initiating probate, closing accounts, and cleaning her home, sorting through the years of the daily accumulations of living, but more, existentially, spiritually, moving through her space still warm and welcoming with the manifold memories of times spent luxuriating in the wealth of her hospitality…

and through every day and counting since, Pontheolla hails as blessed her ev’ry reminiscence, honors as the bounty of her holy sorrow her ev’ry tear, holds fast to her ev’ry thanksgiving for the nonpareil grace of God incarnate in the life and love of her mother…

Hers is good grief.

4 thoughts on “good grief

  1. Praying for Pontheolla and for you Paul as you both remember Geneva and everything wonderful and incredibly loving, giving and spiritual about her. Though it is “good grief”, it is by no means an easy road. May the joy of who Geneva was /is eventually overcome the unbelievable pain her loss has caused Pontheolla and you, and so many others who loved her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Loretta, for the kindness of your words and for you. I know that you know well of what you speak – that good grief or grieving well does not mean it is an easy state of existence or a state of existence of ease. Grief is hard and, I believe, one of the principal costs of loving.



  2. Paul and Pontheolla,

    My heart is with you both as you traverse this good grief. As Loretta so simply and eloquently said, there’s nothing easy about it, but it is a precious time nonetheless, a time to remember all the irreplacable qualities, gestures, attitudes, and passions that Mrs. Watkins embodied and lived out, a time to remember how she uniquely touched her beloved daughter and nurtured and loved her to be the creative, loving, passionate, beautiful-in-every-way woman she is, a time to remember how she embraced and touched her dear son-in-law’s life. I feel great gratitude to Mrs. Watkins even though I never met her, for those gifts to the world and to my own experience. And I feel gratitude to God for the gift of her presence on this earth and of her influence on it, for her obvious strength, patience, and grace.

    With my heartfelt love and sympathy as you live these difficult, special days understanding what you have lost, but more importantly what you have been given that can never be taken away.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Karen, for blessing us with your gracious wisdom. Verily, Geneva’s dying leaves an immeasurable loss, yet, in her powerful life-force presence in our lives, before and, in her still lively, living, and loving effects on us, now, she abides.



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