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Jahrzeit For My Mother Beatrice June 12, 1910-May 8, 1998

May 8th, 2018 Jorma 30 comments
She would have loved the mist...

She would have loved the mist...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Mom’s Jahrzeit, May 8, 2018

Twenty years ago today my mother went home for the last time. I look back at the passing of loved ones in my family and it is almost as it should be. My Grandmother Ida and grandfather Jaako outlived their son Tarmo. He died in the service in 1945. Other than that the young ones have outlived the old ones. That I was able to join my brother Peter, and be present for my mother’s passing was an honor indeed.

Beatrice was an educated woman in a time when society did not value education in women. She was something of an intellectual snob, but that too was all right. It’s just who she was. (‘Don’t’ interrupt me dear, we’re talking about Jewish things!’ She wanted her boys to find their place in the world, and we have. I am sorry that she missed meeting Izze and Zach. She would have loved them and spoiled them rotten.

My dad was gone so much of the time from WWII on that she taught me things that would normally have defaulted to Dad. She was my den mother when I was in Cub Scouts. She taught me how to row a boat and paddle a canoe… how to make a campfire in the rain and most importantly, how to read and love literature. She tolerated the serpentine path I had to follow to reach adulthood. She never blatantly took me to task for the many bad choices I made in my life. I miss her and Dad every day in a most selfish way. I would just like to be able to tell them that Vanessa and the kids and I are more than OK.

The Fur Peace Ranch was opening for the first time the end of April 1998. I had been talking to her daily and then one day when I called Sera, her caregiver, told me, ‘Oh no… she can’t talk anymore.’ My brother, Peter, got on the phone and said ‘If you want to talk to Mom, you better get out here immediately.’ I immediately went down to the studio here at the FPR and wrote this song.

Song For Our Mother
By Jorma Kaukonen
April 27, 1998
Fur Peace Ranch
Meigs County, Ohio

Strength unto my life she was before I was a man
Daddy’s off to fight a war in some far off distant land
He don’t come around much just at special times of year
But Mama always holds our hands and puts away our fears

‘Come and take a walk,’ she’d say, ‘down by that old Pierce Mill
And listen to the water passing by the rocks and rills.’
‘That old grey goose will bite you, but you can feed the ducks,
Trust your heart in all you do, you won’t have to trust in luck.’

Refrain:

Mama tried to teach us to be strong
And keep walking against the wind even though your hope is gone
It don’t matter how alone you are today
‘Cause if you keep on walking hard, you’ll find a better way

Many years have come and gone, now that I’m a man
My bro and I are all that’s left in this part of our clan
Daddy won’t be coming back, he’s fought his final war
And Mama’s eyes look far away, for some distant shore

She wanders in her mind now to that old tobacco farm
When she was just a girl at play in my grandfather’s arms
He strokes her hair with loving hands and sends her on her way
To walk across this century, which brings us to today

Refrain

My brother sits beside her bed and holds her hand so tight
He looks upon her shuttered eyes, will she make it through the night?
The what she is remains today, the who she is, is gone,
But what she’s done in both our lives I know will linger on

Her favorite books are closed now, her favorite song’s been sung
For her boys who stay behind her, she’s done all that can be done
She’s going to see her friends now that have vanished for so long
She’s on the road beyond the stars…

She’s going… going… gone

I couldn’t have said it better today!

Rory Bock was teaching here at The Ranch that first weekend. She asked me if I’d play Mama’s Blues with her on the little stage in the workshop and I did with tears running down my face. The next day I was on a plane to San Francisco. Here is the diary I kept as Mom completed her final journey… her final lesson to her boys.

Here are some voices from the past:

A letter from Jerry Jr., Hillside Farm, Meigs County, Ohio to
Beatrice Love Kaukonen (6-12-10/5-8-98)
Written June 20,1998
Dear Mom:
This is a last letter to you. A real one, a hard copy, one you could touch were you still able to touch. You know your memorial is in three days and even though I have used working as an excuse not to do this until now I realize this is not simple Jerry procrastination. It hit me tonight when I was putting my broken down motorcycle on the trailer. I have been putting off saying my final good-byes to you for once I have done this I must move on and it just didn’t seem time yet.
Well Mom, I guess it’s time.
You let me join Peter and Sera for your final hours and I will always be grateful to you for that. But that was your final chapter, your final lesson to me. There was so much more in the book. You and Dad spread so many layers of perception for Peter and I to sheath ourselves in. Love of music, of books, of the countryside where I live, of the hills and hollows and streams and ponds. I cannot hear a goose honk or a duck quack without being a little boy again hiking in Rock Creek Park with you and Peter. When I walk in the woods I think how you would have liked this land, when I put my canoe in some local lake I think of you teaching me how to row and paddle… I think of you on your boat reaching for freedom in the Skärgårds outside of Stockholm.
I think of you often.
I miss the phone calls. Especially the Sunday ones after I watched Charles Osgood’s Sunday Morning. I miss sharing the blessing of my life with Vanessa with you. Lord knows I wandered aimlessly for so long but you always encouraged me to believe that it would get better. You never moralized with me or criticized my follies.
You always supported your boys in your own way. You were not always easy to get along with but your were always easy to love. You had a giant spirit and touched more people than I could possibly imagine. You had plenty of love to go around and those who were moved by your spirit will miss you as much as Peter and I.
The last year or so of your life has allowed me to discover my brother Peter. He has become a part of my life even though we live so far away from each other.
You did not go gentle into that good night and sometimes this brought consternation into the lives of those around you. Yet the lessons of your strength do not go unnoticed. The kittens that gave you so much joy after Dad died now live on the farm here at Hillside. Doody clawed the crap out of me the other day but I couldn’t even get mad about it. Mimi likes to go outside but she returns to the guest house after about and hour outside. You would have been proud of the little rascal’s adaptability.
I remember sitting with you by your bed one day some months ago. We were organizing your old letters and stuff in the sideboard by the foot of the bed. At one point you grabbed my hand and said, ‘I wish I could believe!’ I remember saying, “I do believe!’ The truth is that I really do believe. I do not know how this happened but I guess it all has to do with who we are and where we came from. I know that when the time came for you to walk that last mile alone you did so with grace as Peter and I shopped for flowers for Mother’s Day for you. When we returned, the lines that had furrowed your brow were gone and I believe that when you were called home, you went in peace. I believe you are in a better place, together with your old friends and family. I believe your are bathed in love and that your spirit shines with the purest light.
I pray you rest with a satisfied mind surrounded by the ones you love.
I will never forget you and I will love you as the only Mother I ever had.
One of your loving sons:
Jerry Jr.
May 1, 1998 (3:11PM) Eastern Daylight Savings
It is 1215 here at 30 Underhill. Mom is in the living room sleeping, Her cats are here as well as Sarah and myself. Peter has gone to Oakland to take care of some business. Mom is pulling into the stretch of her life here. I am still somewhat nonplused by it. I’m sure that more will be revealed. It is so fortunate that Peter has made it possible for both Mom and Dad to die at home. A real blessing. She has traveled far. Almost the length of this 20th century of ours. She has seen many things and now it is time for her to go home. She has prepared Peter and myself as best she could and with this last lesson she moves on.
She has fought long enough and I pray that she now goes gentle into that good night.
May 1, 1998 (3:31PM)
I heard a sound and went to her side she looked at me but I’m not sure she saw me. She looked peaceful though. May she transit soon.
May 2, 1998 (11:29AM)
I just breakfasted at Mama’s in Mill Valley. When I came back a few minutes ago, Mom’s eyes were open and her left hand was raised. I went over to hold her hand and talk to her. She looked as if she was looking at me but Peter says her cataracts are so bad that even if she were otherwise well, sight would be problematic at best. Yesterday when I took her hand the power of her grip had been restored. Today it was like the touch of a small bird’s wing. Her female cat, Mimi, was at her feet on the bed. Sarah is having breakfast and Peter is still sleeping.
I slept well in Mom’s old room and although I dreamt, I cannot recall what the dreams were. The bed kept me warm with the aid of the little quilt that Vanessa and I gave Mom a year or so ago. The classical music plays on and right now I am in a timeless place. Every moment more is revealed.
May 2, 1998 (11:42AM)
I was just getting ready to do something important like playing a game of computer solitaire when Mom called for Sarah. She wanted something, it was hard to tell what. Sarah held her hand as she struggled with the words. Sarah calls her Bea… tells her she loves her. Her soft Fijian inflected voice calms Mom and she sponges water into her mouth from a little pink sponge on a stick. Mom is now calling for help.
May 2, 1998 (11:51AM)
Sarah comes but we cannot determine what it is we can do to help her. I go over to the bed. Her eyes are looking at something… we do not know what it is. I help Sarah move Mom higher in the bed. She still tries to talk but the words are incomprehensible to us here on earth. Her breath is shallow, almost imperceptible. Sometimes apnea interrupts the flow and she is still for some moments and then the cycle begins again. Time stands still, there by her bed, and we are all transported to another place where we can witness her in the unfolding of her destiny but can really do nothing to interact. Death is indeed a personal event and we can share in it only from behind our own eyes.
She puts her hand to her face, the fingers touching her forehead. She is hovering somewhere between life and death and whatever seems to be troubling her exists in the grey area of the tunnel I believe she is in. The sound of Sarah doing the dishes and the omnipresent classical music are surreal indeed but not unpleasant. She calls for Sarah again. Sarah comes and holds her hand and tells her she loves her. On Mom’s hand is her wedding ring that she has worn for over 61 years.
The angels wait.
Peter comes and looks down at her. I stand at the head of the bed where she could not see me if she could see. I do not know if she is aware at this moment that the three of us are here or if that time is already past. Her eyes close and the furrows in her brow relax for the moment. I shall go have coffee with Peter.
The angels wait.
May 2, 1998 (1:03PM)
Another moment of waiting… interspacial peace. Her breathing is punctuated by snoring sounds. Peter gets ready to run some errands…. I will stay with Sarah and Mom. I am in an orbital holding pattern.
The angels wait.
May 2, 1998 (3:19PM)
Mom’s cat Mimi wonders where her Mom is and why she isn’t getting the love she is used to. She pesters Peter and me as we try to work with the computers in Dad’s office. Mom looked at both of us for a while and then went back to sleep where she is right now. I must call Chuck and tell him to bring rice cakes.
May 2, 1998 (6:01PM)
Peter and I played Song For Our Mother and Hospice shuffle together next to Mom. Sara listened and Mom slept. She still sleeps, the sound of occasional snores rattling through the house. It is a waiting game. She will go when she is good and ready.
May 2, 1998 (11:16PM)
It is 2016 California time. Sarah has just given Mom her evening medications. She strokes her head as Peter holds her hand and I look on from the foot of the bed. Her breathing is a little more labored… the sounds of fluid gurgling somewhere in her lungs. Her eyes open and it looks as if she would like to say something but cannot. She makes little sounds. We do not know what they mean.
Peter talks to her gently but she is not going gentle into that good night. She is so weak yet so strong. I really do not know what to think. It will be a long time processing this. I will sit next to Peter for a while and then go to bed.
May 3, 1998 (12:25PM)
Sunday morning…. I checked in on Mom before I went to the gym. She had moved onto her side and was grasping the railing. Trying to get out of the bed? Who knows? When I came back from the gym Sarah said that she had been calling Jorma’s name. It must be my Dad since she never called me that. I went to her bedside and her eyes, clouded with cataracts looked a if they were fixating on me. She raised her hand and I took it. There was a little strength in her grip this morning… very little, but strength nonetheless. Once again, the human spirit and body is so strong, it holds so dearly to this transitory plane of life on earth. Fear about the next step? Well, it certainly is a transition we all must make sometime. People get ready, there’s a train a’comin’….
It is a beautiful morning here in San Francisco. Is this a better day than any other to die?
The angels still wait…
May 3, 1998 (2:46PM)
.
Five minutes ago I was sitting next to Mom reading the Tibetan book of Life and Death. Her pillow supporting her left hand slipped through the bars of her hospital bed. I was adjusting it and her arm when her eyes opened and she seemed to see me for a moment. She said, ‘My dear one…my dear one, my dear one.’ Then as I held her hand she gave it a squeeze and then returned to her Samsara… her ocean of endless suffering. For a moment our lives intersected again here on earth in real time. I was just coming to the word processor when the hospice lady came to tidy Mom up for the day. Indeed it is one moment at a time and each one must be enjoyed as such.
May 5, 1998 (4:15PM)
Yesterday she took Peter’s hand and pressed it to her lips. She is further away… her skin is colder to the touch but yet she hangs on. I just played for her for half an hour or so and she snored melodically through it. She is going, going, but not gone by any stretch of the imagination. What tenacity, and yet her time here has passed. I believe that it is her time to move on to whatever adventure awaits her.
It’s got to be better than this.
May 6, 1998 (7:11AM)
Sarah woke me up for her 0400 medication. I didn’t know where I was for a while. When I finally got my sorry ass out of bed she already had her medication and you could hear the fluid gurgling in her lungs. At this moment I can detect no recognition of me in her eyes. The sound of her breathing hurts ME.
This is no way to live, but it may be a decent way to die.
May 6, 1998 (8:26PM)
Peter says that Mom is melting. It looks that way. Today he called Edie Haskell and Amanda Nealin and Michael John Haskell… Elisha’s children to inform them of Mom’s progress. Amanda wept… Apparently Mom impacted her life in a major way. Michael John was inconsolable. He spoke of her connection to his Dad’s family… His only connection. They wept, and I, touched by how important Mom was to them wept also… as did Peter.
It was quite a moment. I decided to let go and give Michael John the old Kodak camera which was my first camera but which belonged to his grandfather. I had been holding on to it but it’s just more stuff to me and he will really appreciate it.
Mom is melting… she is a wraith… not quite a ghost. Here and yet not here. Recognition is gone and she breathes…. in… out… in… out. Sometimes over a minute between breaths. She is going, going, but not yet quite gone yet.
I miss her already.
I wonder when this will all sink in. My brother and I will be orphans now. I want to go home and see Vanessa.
May 7, 1998 (11:14AM)
Just a little further down the road. A little closer to her final destination. It is Thursday today. Sunday is Mother’s Day. She may be still alive, but she will not see me. I will be back in Ohio and she will be closer to her destination beyond the stars.
She lays in her hospital bed, leaning to the right covering the cast on her right arm. Sarah has just given her the 0800 medication and some of it gurgles in her lungs. For the most part she is no longer really of this earth. She is clean… they do that daily, but her bed clothes are rumpled. A little stuffed bear rests to her left, next to her on her pillow. The little Model A roadster Donna gave me yesterday is on her night stand next to medications and flowers.
I am so fortunate I was able to at least say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ when I got here a week ago today. She knew me and Peter then and she knows us now, wherever she is. They say she is not suffering and I pray that is the case.
I love her dearly. She is so responsible for who I am today.
She is the only Mother I ever had.
My gifts are overwhelming. My cup runneth over.
(She is moaning now. Something either real in our world or real in hers is touching her and she cries out softly and then lies quietly, each breath a gentle groan. I have told her all I could and yet I think I would have said more if I had the time. Or not.)
May 7, 1998 (5:10PM)
Amanda Nealin just called. She is Elisha Haskell’s daughter. I talked to her for the first time. She was inconsolable about Bea’s impending death. We spoke of family… it is all so important in these fragile times. Perhaps Vanessa and I will see them in Atlanta. I was going to lie down before I wrote this but a wave of emotion came over me. Sometimes it just wells up out of a complete calm and breaks over me like some huge wave coming out of the Pacific… cold and strong.
She looks so small. The signs of death are beginning to be visible. Blueness at the base of the nails, water retention in the hands and feet, and yet she seems not to suffer. I will lie down for a while.
May 7, 1998 (11:51PM)
2051 PDT
We went to give Mom her eight o’clock dose of meds. She has to be awake for this so she won’t choke. Peter couldn’t rouse her. This is the first time she could not be awakened. As I look at her there is something different. I think she is not in residence. At this moment I believe that the body still lives but the spirit has departed.
And so it goes.
I feel an emptiness that centers in my chest and moves towards my head.
May 8, 1998 (1:20AM)
2220 Pacific Time
I go to sleep now. I feel she could die any time now. Her body temperature is rising. Her
cheeks are getting hollow. Her hair is slicked back. She would have never tolerated that. Her breath comes quickly, punctuating the end of her time with us in staccato bursts. I will be up at 0400 for her meds and so for now I will say what could well be my last goodnights in this world.
May she pass with grace and soar with the angels.
She will always be in my heart.
May 8, 1998 (6:50AM)
0400
I’m up for the morning medication. Mom is more than sleeping. She snores gently for now, her jaw slack, head leaning to the left.
We gave her medicine to her and turned her to the right. She is dead weight, her body so hot. I think how she cared for me and Peter when we were babies, held and washed us and did her best to make us feel better. I wish I could do more for her but this is the best I can do.
May 8, 1998 (10:59AM)
0800
I spent a little time at the gym this morning but it was tough to concentrate on anything except Mom. She is not light when we turn her but she has a featherlike quality to her. Until the last day or so there was still a spiritual connection. This is gone now, but she is still Mom. Mother’s day is the day after tomorrow and Peter and I shall buy some flowers for her today. The two of us are in Dad’s old study tapping away making entries in our computers. There is a surreal quality to all this and yet I do not think it could be better.
May 8, 1998 (3:02PM)
1210
Peter just gave Mom her 1200 medication and she is unchanged. Miriam, a rabbi from the local Jewish community is coming by this afternoon to do whatever it is that they do. I am moved.
May 8, 1998 (5:17PM)
1400 West Coast Time
Peter and I went to Mill Valley to get some flowers for Mother’s Day and when we returned Mom was dead. Rigor mortis had already set in…. She waited until Peter and I both went out and she passed from this realm. The hospice folks are coming over to
clean and dress the body and we shall sit with her tonight. Pike is on the way with my tickets and I guess we’re all making travel arrangements. I must call Vanessa.
I don’t even know what to say.
May 8, 1998 (5:30PM)
I still expect to hear her breath, to see her chest rise and fall one more time but it is really over.
The angels aren’t waiting any more. They’ve taken her home!
May 8, 1998 (7:41PM)
1641 Pacific Time
Pike came over with our tickets and while we were weeping together Miriam, the lady Rabbi came and sang songs and prayers to free Mom’s soul and send her on her way. (Rabbi Miriam Centuria}
What a voice! We were all crying, but you know they were really tears of joy. The songs centered on freeing her spirit and letting it finally go home. She has wanted to go home for so long and now I believe it is accomplished.
As she was singing the sun came out for the first time in days and the rays bathed Mom on her bed surrounded by flowers.
Truly remarkable… a miracle! It’s almost enough to make me start going to temple.
May 8, 1998 (9:03PM)
The relatives are starting to call. Amanda Nealin, Elisha’s daughter, Peter Bryson, Babe’s son. So much love passing through one family at this time. She touched so many lives. I had no idea.
I almost forgot. Peter was making bequests according to Mom’s wishes. Before we went out he read all the letters to Mom and told her that everything she wanted done was done and that her boys would be all right
And so we’re all right.
The emotion of our relatives is so moving. What an impact she made on so many,
May 8, 1998 (9:50PM)
1950
It occurs to me, that Dad, mover and shaker on the world stage that he was, had nowhere near the impact on so many people as Mom has. My choice of mixed tenses is intentional. So many stories are coming in relating to how she impacted people’s lives in truly significant ways. I had no idea.
May 9, 1998 (10:38AM)
0738 Pacific time
The entries in this little journal are winding down. I got up this morning at 0600 and Mom was still dead. Funny how you expect things to turn out. I made some calls and sit here thinking. Peter is talking about getting his doctorate. Mom would finally have a doctor in the family. What a concept.
I am awash in a sea of generations today. There are many things I would like to hold out of this.
What a lesson.
May 9, 1998 (11:31AM)
0831
And so we are all up doing what must be done to make our departure easy. Sera is so moved it almost overwhelms me. Peter has been a tower of strength, a rock. I could never have done this. And so it is with the difference in people. We have all dealt with this in our own way. We now wait for one or two people to come and then the hearse at noon.
And we all go back to our worlds and this interlude of life and death shall be over.
Such a moment.
May 9, 1998 (12:36PM)
0946
But not quite yet. Peter and I played Hospice Shuffle for her one last time and tears ran down my face for the whole song, and it’s not a short one. Sera is going home for the weekend and returning Monday to take care of some things and house sit for Peter until he gets back from Utah. I went outside…. What a beautiful day today is. The smell that is
so much Northern California is in the air today. That Spring smell that has been absent with all this rain. I looked in the garage and there was a push mower. I mowed a few
blades of grass. I haven’t done that since 3312 Northampton St. when I was a kid. What a moment. Soon it will be time to let all this pass into the reservoir of memories. Life is for the living and we all go one. But what a journey into another time and place. The memory will fade until only ripples are left on the pool. But they will stay for a very long time. To be able to apprehend this, to grasp it for only a moment is such a blessing. I know there will be a withdrawal period from all this emotion and then that too shall pass.
On some days there is truth in everything and everywhere.
And with the rustle of the leafy shadows in Dad’s study we celebrate another day.
Mom died on May 8, 1998. Take note that is one year and four months to the day of Dad’s death on January 8, 1997.
Donna has just come and she kneels by Mom’s side. I go into the study to leave them alone and the tears refract the morning light like stained glass. Sera cries again and we here are one with the grief and joy. Mom leaves so much life and emotion behind her. Yet one more gift. Donna’s emotions honor us. Bea has left a mighty trail… easy to follow.
May 9, 1998 (1:28PM)
1030
Sera sits with Mom. Donna just came with bagels and lox for us. We have all learned so much from Mom…. we agree with that. In the end we walked with giant steps. We are waiting for Jeannie, Susan Dembitz and Sara Glickstein to close this chapter. Then the hearse will come to take her away.
‘And I saw that
hearse come rolling
for to carry my Mother away….’
And now Adrianna is coming too.
Sera requested on more rendition of Song For Our Mother. She got it. I’m amazed I can sing it without blubbering. And so it goes.
May 9, 1998 (3:08PM)
1208
The bed is empty…. only a blue plastic sheet on it now. The ladies all came. Susan recited prayers and the Kaddish. Mom’s spirit is free to go where it must and that is that. More tears, remembrances… Indeed, it could get no better. I will seek the time to grieve when I get home and I gladly await what life has in store for me. The man from the mortuary came for Mom. As we moved her from the bed to the gurney, the smell of death was apparent in its early stages. And that is part of it. We wheeled her to the hearse, her face open and upturned to the beautiful sunny day God provided for us today. She has gone home.
And that is that for now.
Requiem In Pace
May 9, 1998 (11:07PM)
2007 Pacific Time
And ending for now…. or perhaps a beginning. I will be processing this for some time to come. Mom was so much to so many, and most importantly to me. I know she loved Vanessa and was proud of the Ranch. I found she told so many people about it and glowed. In the end she died with dignity which my brother worked so hard to provide for her. The months of approaching psychosis and degrading quality of life, of swimming in Samsara perhaps more than most, lifted and in the end she went without a wrinkle on her face. She had lost the weight the edema grafted on her and she looked so much like Vera. I know she was at peace. To have been there and shared this last week with my brother and the people who she meant so much to and vice versa was a gift from God. I shall be eternally grateful. AND I was able to be sober for it, feeling each moment truly as never before. Her last gifts, her last lessons to us all. Lessons of love and compassion.
It is truly more than I could have dreamed.
I think as I sit here in the Oakland Airport that the last time I remember being here was almost fourteen years ago, fleeing Margareta. Now she is gone too and this is certainly a happier time for me and mine. I am truly blessed. A few ticket problems and delays, but how can it possibly matter. I’m sure everything will work out all right.
And so to home I go, to Vanessa and the life that is waiting to unfold. In this moment, I am walking with angels. I will try to recall this as the evening and the flight time drags on.
And so it goes.
And so we go.
Tonight I feel love!
What a wondrous journey!
.
May 11, 1998 (12:37PM)
Eastern Time again
The last entry in this dialogue. Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I had a momentary thought about calling Mom and sending flowers. But that is done.
Today Vanessa almost reminded me to call Mom and see how she was. And so it will go for all of us for a while.
Love makes it all worthwhile.
July 27, 1998 (11:32AM)
0830 West Coast Time
I am at the Embassy Suites with Vanessa… Peter is somewhere in the building too. The last time I was here was for Dad’s funeral a year and a half ago. My business in California is almost finished. I have already said goodbye to Mom and this interment is almost an ex post facto event. I know that Mom is in a better place and has been there for some time.
The circle shall surely be unbroken.
July 27, 1998 (3:46PM)
1246 West Coast Time
Vanessa and I have just returned from the Inglewood Cemetery. The Funeral was moving albeit brief. Mom and Dad are together resting next to Pentti and just up the road from Jacob and Ida. The sum total of a person’s life is certainly not measured by their place of rest. We are in the flight path of plane coming and going from LAX. Perhaps that is right considering how many places their beings graced. I must think more and then this set of pages will be closed.
I am surrounded by ancestors as well as walking the earth with one I love.

And indeed that is that as it was written in 1998.

I love you Mom! My cup runneth over indeed!

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

Ride Free To The Edge Of The World…

April 12th, 2018 Jorma 22 comments

Today started with me loading 1500 fly sheets to be autographed by me for the initial release of ‘Been So Long…’

The mule... loaded with sheets to be autographed

The mule... loaded with sheets to be autographed

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

A bunch of chores to do getting ready for this camp weekend at the Fur Peace Ranch. Then, since it was the first day that was warm while I was home, I was furloughed to go for a motorcycle ride.

Black Beauty has been waiting for a while for this day

Black Beauty has been waiting for a while for this day

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Towards the end of my father’s life I asked him what he missed the most as his infirmity progressed. ‘Tennis,’ he said. ‘I miss playing tennis.’ I thought for a moment. ‘The would be as if I could no longer ride motorcycles,’ I told him. ‘Oh it’s nothing at all like that,’ he said without missing a beat. I looked him in the eyes. ‘Yes it is Dad. It’s exactly like that.’ Short rides or long… I love them all and my life would certainly be the poorer without them.

115 foot pounds of torque... barely adequate?

115 foot pounds of torque... barely adequate?

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

In another conversation with my father not long before he passed. ‘Dad, was there anything in life you felt you left undone?’ I had visions of, ‘I could have been a better father… we could have gone to more ball games together…’ Something along those lines. What he said was, ‘I always wanted a motorcycle.’ I hear you dad… I hear you!

Ride free to the edge of the world dad… ride free.

I did it today with you in mind!

240 mm of aggressive rubber!

240 mm of aggressive rubber!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

Down The Road To The Old Farm

March 17th, 2018 Jorma 44 comments

It is Saturday here at the homestead and as winter begins to wave a frigid farewell there were icy tendrils of rain clattering on the roof. We got a call from the folks who bought Hillside farm from us two years ago. They were taking out some ornamental grass we planted over ten years ago and wondered if we wanted the plants. ‘Of course,’ I said. ‘I’ll be right over.’ I fired up my pickup and headed down Rt. 33 to Kingsbury Rd. It’s been quite a while since I had driven on Kingsbury Rd. and longer still since I had been up that dirt road to the old homeplace. As I was driving on Kingsbury I crossed the little Shade River and there on my right was the Carlton Church and Cemetery. We shot the cover to my Stars In My Crown CD in 2006 up there by the cemetery. I have history on this road. When I came to Southeast Ohio almost thirty years ago I knew almost no one. Today I there are people buried in the Carlton Cemetery I knew… and that is how it goes.

Up at old Hillside Farm we loaded the root balls in the back of my truck. ‘Would you like to look around?’ I was asked. That I would, and that I did. Near the hemlock tree by the side of the old house so many of our four footed friends rest. I took the stone with me when we moved… but our friends will rest there until they are only dust.

The Hemlock
July 6, 2003

In our garden there are four dogs
How does this garden grows
There’s Marlo, Glory, Vin and Zoe
We loved them all, God knows

The hemlock branches shade their rest
For this and time to come
The Door Of Summer’s opened wide
So they can play and run

They say no heaven can heaven be
If my dog’s not there to welcome me
I know this saying makes some sense
In Heaven’s realm there’ll be no fence.

And when my life comes to an end
On the other side, I’ll be with friends

I got to thinking about when the Bull Terrier clan went to rest and I was reminded of the Derek Walcott poem a friend sent me about Oddjob, a Bull Terrier

The silence
is stronger than thunder,
we are stricken dumb and deep
as the animals who never utter love
as we do, except
it becomes unutterable
and must be said,
in a whimper,
in tears,
in the drizzle that comes to our eyes
not uttering the loved thing’s name,
the silence of the dead,
the silence of the deepest buried love is
the one silence,
and whether we bear it for beast,
for child, for woman, or friend,
it is the one love, it is the same,
and it is blest
deepest by loss
it is blest, it is blest.

As time went by we lost cats, and more dogs and if there is ever a second coming, a lot of our four footed family will rise from that yard on Kingsbury Rd.

On The Grassy Hill

On the grassy hill in my backyard
Two of my best friends lived and played… Hazel and Nana
Occasionally, Napoleon… the littlest friend from the house would join them and
They would sit together as friends are wont to do
And regard the Universe with quiet love

They filled it with that powerfully gentle compassion
That only true friends can muster
They barked at the wind in the trees as it gently came
Down off the hill to visit them in their world
Which in it’s own way was more complete
Than the world of humans could ever be

Our time moves fast enough and theirs faster still
We must chase them through the stars to try to learn
To love as magnificently as they do in their natural state of
Perfect Grace.

Hazel is her name and I say is because she will always live in my heart
And in that place is more than enough room
For them all…
Those who have gone before are as present to me today
As they were when as puppies they took their first stumbling steps before my amazed and wondering eyes

In her life she has travelled almost the full measure of two decades closing in on the last quarter of the second
G_d has indeed bestowed yet one more blessed gift of love upon us
Would that I were home join Vanessa on that last walk yet I can see it in my minds eye.
Run free pretty girl, run free
You filled our world with love
Your Door Into Summer is open
Run free!

… and now on the grassy hill there is only Nana

And then Nana was gone… and then we moved… and life will continue until it doesn’t, and that too, is as it should be. I think of a song I wrote in 2003.

Blue skies in the afternoon
Breeze it starts to still
Two dogs sleeping, in the sun
They lie upon that grassy hill
At such a time, you think you’d find
The way to show your heart
But though you’re reaching, for her hand
Still you walk apart

The dogs have passed through their Door Into Summer and the hill no longer belongs to us. As a pilgrim on the road of life I know I am not alone.

It is a good day to be with family!

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

Prayers For Pomeroy As Jorma Travels On

February 19th, 2018 Jorma 35 comments

I’ve been out on this road trip for a week now. A week is not so long but for some reason this one seems like a lifetime. Back home, the vicissitudes of winter have been vicious this year. Normally we’re just about mud and wintry mix. The worst that usually happens is mud in the yard and a dirty vehicle. This year, however, there’s been sub zero temperatures, lots of snow and ice and even more snow days at the Middle School than our daughter would like… and then it started to rain… and rain, and rain and rain. Anywhere one lives in the good old U. S. of A. you are burdened by some sort of local natural disaster. With the ongoing climate change we have had more tornadoes than ever before. One hit the Ranch a year ago February and did what tornadoes do… destroy lots of stuff. Over the year the natural disaster that dwells with us has always been floods. Pomeroy, this little town where our Zip Code resides is right on the Ohio River and is no stranger to floods. Pomeroy has had a love/hate relationship with the Ohio River since 1804. The river has been a commercial thoroughfare since the French and Indian Wars. I’ve heard people who live in safe havens where nothing worse happens than a missed day of trash collection look down on folks who live in disaster areas and won’t move. These are our homes, and anything worth having is work fighting for.

WSAZ Pomeroy News.

The Ranch is on the top of a hill and tornadoes hit us, but the flood does not. The fields below our property are now a sea of muddy waters. It has happened before, and it will happen again. I heard the the Ohio River will crest later today 50 above flood stage. We know when these things will happen as the Army Corps Of Engineers has to open the flood gates in the dams periodically to release some of the pressure. I am thinking of my friends and neighbors at home and pray for their safety and well being.

I was reminded by a friend who lives in Houston that after the hurricane and flooding they experienced there were email posts from mutual acquaintances in California who claimed that Houston residents deserved this because Trump got elected. As my father would say, ‘Why are there so many more horses asses than there are horses?’

Nuff said on that for now.

And so it begins with a nap

And so it begins with a nap

Foto by Myron Hart

On this trip there are only three of us on the bus. Myself, Myron my tech and Phil my tour manager. The bus company was out of band busses so I got what the call a Star Coach which has a stateroom in the back. Never had one before… kind of cool. All that being said, and mind you I’m not complaining about my gig… I’m beyond being blessed… still and all… it’s still work. At my age I am well aware that the day of the superstar is over. I used to take my physical abilities for granted… not any more. Every show requires a level of preparation that would have been unheard of in my youth. That’s just how it is, and because I can still do what I need to do to maintain the level of performance I require… it’s all good. I’m reminded of my Uncle Art, may he rest in peace. After my father passed in 1997, his cousin Art would call me once a year around Christmas because he liked calling someone named Jorma. He would speak to me in Finnish and laugh when I couldn’t understand him. He would switch to English and we would talk and talk. When I would play the Iron Horse in Northampton he would sometimes come with his kids and grand kids and we would share family. I remember one of our last phone calls. ‘Hello Jorma,’ he would say. We would exchange pleasantries and then at the end of the conversation he said, ‘One of these days these call will stop, so I will say hello and goodbye now.’ Indeed, one of those days the calls stopped and he was gone… the last goodbyes said.

So I’m working here and I love my job, of course. I missed my daughter’s first dance in middle school. I did get to see quite a few of her volley ball games, but I will miss most of her track and field. Like they say in the movies, ‘This is the life I have chosen.’ That’s the deal. It ain’t all beer and skittle, but then what is?

Space, the final frontier

Space, the final frontier

Foto by Phil Jacobs

So the first gig was at Space in Evanston, Illinois. I love this place… a sold out show and good food!

Jorma Kaukonen 1, 2018
Jorma Solo
Space
Evanston, Illinois
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

First Set:
1. Ain’t In No Hurry
2. Second Chances
3. Hesitation Blues
4. I See The Light
5. Barbeque King
6. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down & Out
7. Hear Temporary
8. Let Us Get Together Right Down Here
9. Sea Child
10. Watch The North Wind Rise
11. Death Don’t have No Mercy
12. San Francisco Bay Blues
Second Set:
1. The Terrible Operation
2. How Long Blues
3. Serpent Of Dreams
4. Candy Man
5. Things That Might Have Been
6. Come Back Baby
7. Trouble In Mind
8. Living In The Moment
9. Sleep Song
10. Good Shepherd
11. I Am The Light Of This World
12. Dime For Beer
13. Keep On Trucking Mama
14. Keep Your Lamps Trimmed & Burning
15. Encore: Water Song

Hanging in Space

Hanging in Space

Foto by Phil Jacobs

Space is really a delightful venue. Great folks, great food… and great sound.

Green room sights...

Green room sights...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Then after show an overnight drive to Minneapolis and the Cedar Cultural Center

Where the Patriots ate bitter rice...

Where the Patriots ate bitter rice...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Our hotel was right by the stadium which was kind of cool since I just watched the game.

Cedar Marquee

Cedar Marquee

Foto by Phil Jacobs

I’ve been coming to the Cedar Cultural Center for a long time… and I’m very fond of it and the folks who run it… Before the show we had some of the tastiest and different Indian food I’d ever had.

Malabari... don't miss it.

Malabari... don't miss it.

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Jorma Kaukonen 2, 2018
Jorma Solo
The Cedar Cultural Center
Minneapolis, Minnesota
February 14, 2018

First Set:
1. Dime For Beer
2. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down & Out
3. I See The Light
4. There’s A Bright Side Somewhere
5. Waiting For A Train
6. Barbeque King
7. How Long Blues
8. Sleep Song
9. Watch The North Wind Rise
10. Let Us Get Together Right Down Here
11. Death Don’t Have No Mercy
12. San Francisco Bay Blues

Second Set:
1. Ain’t In No Hurry
2. Hesitation Blues
3. Too Many Years
4. Serpent Of Dreams
5. Been So Long
6. Re-Enlistment Blues
7. Come Back Baby
8. Sea Child
9. Trial by Fire
10. Good Shepherd
11. Bar Room Crystal Ball
12. I Know You Rider
13. Encore: Water Song

The next day we drove on down to Stoughton, Wisconsin and the Opera House. This is another of those truly great venues and the folks in Stoughton are so lucky to have it!

Nice Marquee Poster

Nice Marquee Poster

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Another great vintage ceiling

Another great vintage ceiling

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Jorma Kaukonen 3, 2018
Jorma Solo
The Stoughton Opera House
Stoughton, Wisconsin
February 15, 2018

First Set:
1. Ain’t In No Hurry
2. Second Chances
3. Hesitation Blues
4. Been So Long
5. Barbeque King
6. River Of Time
7. I Am The Light Of This World
8. Sea Child
9. Trial By Fire
10. Death Don’t Have No Mercy
11. Let Us Get Together Right Down Here
12. Trouble In Mind
Second Set:
1. Candy Man
2. Serpent Of Dreams
3. Things That Might Have Been
4. Nobody Knows You when You’re Down & Out
5. How Long Blues
6. Mama Let Me Lay It On You
7. Whining Boy Blues
8. Come Back Baby
9. Sleep Song
10. Watch The North Wind Rise
11. Good Shepherd
12. The Terrible Operation
13. Bar Room Crystal Ball
14. Keep Your Lamps Trimmed & Burning
15. Encore: Water Song

Go towards the light

Go towards the light

Foto by Phil Jacobs

It’s nights like this that make it all worthwhile.

One great room!

One great room!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Then is was an early call and off to Kansas City, Missouri to the Folk Alliance International. I had a short showcase on Saturday night, but there was lots of press, hanging and lip flapping.

Taking the shine off the forehead

Taking the shine off the forehead

I ran into some of my favorite people.

Me and Mary Gauthier

Me and Mary Gauthier

Foto by Phil Jacobs

I got to hang with Dar Williams, Gretchen Peters, Barry Walsh, Hans Theessnik and lots more. It was great!

Late night short program

Late night short program

Foto by Phil Jacobs

Jorma Kaukonen 4, 2018
Folk Alliance International
Kansas City, Mo.
February 17, 2018

1. Ain’t In No Hurry
2. That’ll Never Happen No More
3. Barbeque King
4. Sleep Song
5. Death Don’t Have No Mercy
6. San Francisco Bay Blues

After my little gig, I got to hear Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley. Good stuff… very good!

Me, Trey and Rob

Me, Trey and Rob

Foto by Phil Jacobs

Then the magic of the International was over and we began our drive to Denver.

The Colonial on I-70 in Oakley, Kansas

The Colonial on I-70 in Oakley, Kansas

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

We stopped in Oakley for lunch. Oakley used to be the home of the World’s Largest Prairie Dog and the Rattlesnake Farm with the giant rabbits and the six legged cow. These tidbits of Roadside Americana were gone, sad to say.

The only snakes here are now living free.

The only snakes here are now living free.

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

I love Roadside Americana… progress is a two edged sword.

This evening here in Denver I’ll be playing a sold out show at the L-2 church and then on to Santa Fe.

I’ve gone on long enough here… Onward.

Boak’s Bash In Easton, PA

January 8th, 2018 Jorma 24 comments
Frigid Friday Sunrise

Frigid Friday Sunrise

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Yet another sub freezing morning as Myron and I loaded up the Jeep to head to the State Theater in Easton, Pennsylvania to be part of Dick Boak’s retirement gala. Dick’s history with Martin Guitars is… well, legendary. Over a decade ago it was Dick who sat us down at the Pizza place across the street from the Martin factory and there on a table napkin the Jorma M-30 was born.

A star is born!

A star is born!

Foto by jorma Kaukonen

David Bromberg got me started with his fine Bromberg Model… and then it was my turn. Anyway, after who knows how many years Dick will move into Emeritus Status and on his way he put together an amazing night of music with a gaggle of his friends.

What a magnificent room!

What a magnificent room!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Hanging out in catering...

Hanging out in catering...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

With folks like NIck Forster and Lawrence Juber, Ernie Sites, Steve Miller, David Bromberg, John Mayer, Craig Thatcher and Trevor Gordon Hall it was a night filled with music and fellowship!

The old dog spins a yarn...

The old dog spins a yarn...

Foto by Phil Jacobs

I played Sleep Song and Living In The Moment and then called Craig Thatcher up for a duet on good Shepherd.

Old friends...

Old friends...

Foto by Phil Jacobs

Then David Bromberg joined me for Death Don’t Have No Mercy and Come Back Baby.

When we weren’t playing… it was a non stop hang!

Jorma, Nick and David

Jorma, Nick and David

Foto by Myron Hart

Ernie Sites, Steve Miller and Craig Thatcher

Ernie Sites, Lawrence Juber and Craig Thatcher

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

I got a chance to meet John Mayer. I felt like I knew a little about him from his reputation. Chatting with him for a while I found him to be a most genuine artist and a gentle soul!

New friends... always good.

New friends... always good.

Foto by Myron Hart

All in all… Happy retirement Dick… although the thought of you retiring from anything is utterly alien. Thanks for inviting me to your amazing party! I think you should retire every year… and always count me in!

Categories: Diary, Thoughts, Venues Tags:

2018… It’s Here At Last

January 1st, 2018 Jorma 33 comments
Every day is a gateway to tomorrow

Every day is a gateway to tomorrow

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

Indeed every day is a gateway to tomorrow so why should the 31st day of the last month of one year be any more meaningful than the first day of the first month of the next year? I guess it makes it easier for us humans to make sense out of the otherwise stochastic movement of life. We could probably pick any moment for this to happen, but our long time relationship with the Gregorian Calendar gives us a sense of order we can all easily share. Every year seems tumultuous and 2017 was no more so than any other. Life, death and the passage of time are always with us.

Court Street in Athens, Ohio

Court Street in Athens, Ohio

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

The small towns in Ohio were dressed in seasonal finery. I have been home for this holiday season and this is so rare I have treasured every day. As Dorothy said in the Wizard Of Oz, there is no place like home!

The old A frame on a -2 degree day

The old A frame on a -2 degree day

Foto by Jorma & Vanessa Kaukonen

It was cold outside last night but warm in all our hearts as we visited Kevin Morgan and his wonderful family as we have for the last decade and a half. The kids are all growing up and we are all getting older and that is as it should be. Izze shamed us into staying there until the fireworks at midnight and it was more than all good. Our pal Grateful made a run to Michigan and got some industrial strength displays and the hills and hollers were bathed in sound and light. We didn’t get home until about 0100 or so which made it necessary for me to sleep in until 0700. That’s late for me when I’m home.

One of man's best friends... sleeps in too

One of man's best friends... sleeps in too

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

A fine way to start the New Year… Let’s make it a good one!

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

Chrismas 2017… A Little Whiteness…

December 25th, 2017 Jorma 18 comments
Not exactly a wonderland...

Not exactly a wonderland...

Foto by jorma Kaukonen

But all things considered, a bona fide winter morning!

Morning peeks through at the Ranch

Morning peeks through at the Ranch

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

Time for a little minor snow removal…

The Workshop and Library by morning...

The Workshop and Library by morning...

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

Very cold… but lovely!

And so came the dawn...

And so came the dawn...

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

It must be my ancestry. I love this weather!

A man and his leaf blower

A man and his leaf blower

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

The leaf blower before the shovel… makes life easier.

Some might complain about this weather, but not I. Every day is a day closer to Spring, but I’m enjoying this season as it comes!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

Looking Back… Looking Forward… 2017

December 22nd, 2017 Jorma 40 comments
Morning at the Ranch...

Morning at the Ranch...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Thoughts On Seventy Seven

Birthdays come like it or not and require some measured moments of reflection. For me they are a reminder that the present is not the end result of a life in which each day is like a drop of water… a Chinese water torture of time. As both my children have observed at some point in their young lives, the only constant is change. Nothing is ever one way, good or bad… it just is. I guess what has brought me this far has always been being able to make the most of any situation, self-inflicted or not. I don’t live in the past, but I do not run from memories. They, and the events that spawned them are what have made me… me.

Tonight Vanessa and I went to the memorial service of a friend of mine. We were really more of acquaintances but we liked each other so in the end, I guess that made us friends. I have been to a lot of memorial services here in Southeast Ohio over the last decade or so and since I live in a small, rural community I see the same faces. I see a friend who I almost only see at memorials. ‘We’ve got to stop meeting like this,’ I tell him. We both laugh and move on to extend our condolences to the family. ‘And so it goes,’ in Tralfamadore speak.

As for me, for some time my goal has been to see both my children as adults and to do this with Vanessa by my side. That is indeed the main course, and everything else is desert. I continue to be blessed and not for a moment do I take this life for granted. I am committed to making the most of each day. Whether at home or on the road, it is my duty to be always present.

Tomorrow I will go to the Lake Hope State Park and enjoy a steak dinner with friends and family overlooking the lake. Perhaps I will take my drone with me and take some aerial shots. Perhaps I will just enjoy the moment unencumbered by gadgets. In any case… so far so good. As some wag once said, ‘It will be the oldest I’ve ever been, and the youngest I’ll ever be.’

I’ll take it!

The end of the day...

The end of the day...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

It Was The Last Night Of…

December 20th, 2017 Jorma 17 comments

Hanukkah last night!

Beauty by the Shade River

Beauty by the Shade River

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

It was still in the high 40’s last night as the Kaukonen household celebrated the last night of Hanukkah. As the setting sun heralded the end of the Festival Of Lights we were able to spend a peaceful moment with the Menorah on the back porch overlooking the Shade River.

Zei gesundt… zei gesundt!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

There But For The Grace Of G_d…

November 16th, 2017 Jorma 10 comments
Sunrise at the Ranch... sailors take warning...

Sunrise at the Ranch... sailors take warning...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

I got up yesterday morning and went out to walk Maverick The Big Dog and I was greeted by this most lovely sunrise! Back in the house I got to thinking about my dear friend Robert Lee back in Northern California. Robert is an amazing man. He has dealt with some measure of adversity in a most noble and productive way. He has always gotten things done. He and I worked together in my little wood shop some thirty years ago. We made stretching frames for a school that taught needle point work. On a much larger scale, Robert is an amazing luthier… an instrument builder to be reckoned with.

Robert Lee and his beloved hot rod.

Robert Lee and his beloved hot rod.

Foto from Robert himself

When the fires swept Northern California some weeks back, they took everything from Robert and Sue except their lives, and the clothes on their back.

After the fire...

After the fire...

Foto from Robert himself

Obviously this tragedy of unimaginable proportions touched more people than I can count, but I know Robert and Sue and so I would like to do what little i can to help them rebuild their lives. Here is a link to their You Caring Page: https://www.youcaring.com/robleesuefairstevecrotty-978238

The storm is passed... and yet remains

The storm is passed... and yet remains

Foto from Robert Lee himself

Their are lots of causes and humanity in need and we all do the best we can. Robert and Sue are my friends.

Just sayin’

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