Catherine found out about our project from an editor at the New York Times who was collecting stories about grief and mourning during the pandemic. She was eager to speak with us because, as she put it, “talking about my mother helps me to remember her.”
Catherine’s mother Ana was 86 when she died in April, 2020, of natural causes in Coventry, Rhode Island.
“We were going to have a memorial service,” Catherine said, “but we canceled it after lots of push and pull with the caterer, funeral home, etc.” “She was cremated but have yet to memorialize her. We don’t know how to.”
Catherine hopes to reunite her mother at her father’s grave in Croatia, where he died two years earlier, and where both he and Ana were born and raised. “The village is our real home. I see my face in the limestone in Istria.”
In the village, a bell did sound, signaling Ana’s death. “We arranged the bell ringing from here by phone.”
What struck Catherine was that no one sent any telegrams. “In 2010, when my dad died, everyone sent telegrams of condolence. It was as if COVID made people think it was useless to even try and communicate.”
“We could have done something on facetime or zoom but honestly if someone had recommended it I would have been against it. I didn’t even imagine doing anything virtual. I would not want that for my mom. I want to connect directly with people. Zoom is practical but doesn’t achieve the objectives of laughing, crying, touching, expressions of sorrow and even delight in having people show up. I’m a librarian and I’ve spent my career trying to get people to come into the library to touch books, to walk through the stacks. You can’t do that with zoom. Some experiences just cannot be replicated on line. Maybe we can do a memorial some day.”
Catherine added: “I also want to celebrate my mom’s life and I’m afraid zoom would just be about her death. My parents had a beautiful life. A Rock and Roll life, and death is just one small part of their story. Mourning, ceremonies, those are important but not the most important thing for me. My parents modeled for me how to live, to be alive.”