For some reason, yesterday I found myself thinking about my Mother’s passing. The writing that I’m doing is stirring up so many memories and it occurred to me again, as it has before, what an honor it was for me to be present when Mom finally freed herself from this earth and flew home. I remember it was the end of June, 1998. I called mom regularly but I had missed a couple of days. It was the opening week of the Fur Peace Ranch. Rory Block was there. We were wrapped up in nascent Fur Peace-ness.

Over the weekend, I called and asked to talk to Mom. My brother Peter answered the phone and said, ‘If you want to talk to Mom, you better get out here.’ What could happen in a few days? She sounded so there when I spoke to here forty eight hours or so before. I told Vanessa bout the call and she said, ‘You have to go,’ and started making plans. I remember I played Rory’s song, Mama’s Blues,’ with her on our little stage in the workshop and I wept… not even knowing yet what I was going to weep for.

In any case, I’m a huge Gretchen Peters fan and I had had yet to really get into her album, ‘Blackbirds.’ For some reason, the song Jubilee called out to me… and there is was, those last days with Mom.

Jubilee by Gretchen Peters

I got nothing, to hold me here
My old friends have all moved on and disappeared
It won’t be long now, till I fly
But oh my dear ones how I hate to say goodbye

So I sing holy holy from this prison where I lie
My arms reaching up to touch the sky
I sing holy holy, hallelujah I am free
Come on down and join the jubilee

I don’t hunger and I don’t thirst
There is nothing that I need upon this earth
My body’s broken but not my soul
You know it’s love and only love that’s made me whole

So I sing holy holy from this prison where I lie
My arms reaching up to touch the sky
I sing holy holy, hallelujah I am free
Come on down and join the jubilee

I’m an orphan thirty years on
How I miss my Father’s voice and my Mother’s arms
I was you once, and now you’re me
It’s in this circle that we make a family

So I sing holy holy from this prison where I lie
My arms reaching up to touch the sky
I sing holy holy, hallelujah I am free
Come on down and join the jubilee

Gretchen Peters
2014 Circus Girl Music

Check this link of Gretchen performing her amazing song… and while you’re at it… buy this great record!

My Mother’s last words to me as she held my hand, were ‘My dear one…’

She is now free over eighteen years and it is to us to join the jubilee…

It truly is in this circle that we make a family…


  1. Comment made on November 2, 2016 by Andy Lilburn

    Monday i woke up and put a Gretchen Peters Black Bird t-shirt on. Then I got a GP newsletter. In the text it mentioned song writers and Jorma. I clicked on Jorma and saw that Gretchen’s song Jubilee was important to him. I clicked again and saw the lyrics and the link. A short time later my wife had to leave to be with a dying sister. I shared with her the lyrics and the song and it made the day so much better. As Louis Armstrong said: It is a wonderful world.

  2. Comment made on July 15, 2016 by johno

    @rich l
    Or – If he’s smart he’d say “My other arm would be for your name”

  3. Comment made on July 15, 2016 by rich l

    Sorry, I can’t resist telling this story also.

    After we finished a family dinner on one of the recent holidays, the subject of tattoo’s came up. We all were musing what kind of tattoo we would get. My brother says, “Easy. I’d get ‘MOM’ inked in a heart on my arm.”Some times, you can’t win for losing. His wife was sitting next to him and in a not so pleasant query asked “Why wouldn’t you get my name on your arm.”

    As Jackie Gleason would say, “a humna, humna, humna.”

  4. Comment made on July 14, 2016 by rich l

    Stephen Covey wrote something along the lies of, “The more personal something is, the more universal it is.”

    Reading the responses to Jorma’s post, were as good as the post itself. Without a doubt, the Good Lord’s greatest gift to me were two people called mom and dad.

    My mom is turning 88 this Friday – she is laden with a boatload of physical ailments – but still has a mind sharp as a tack. She raised nine of us bloomies – can you imagine the laundry, lunches, homework, cooking, chauffeuring, cleaning and on and on? When I look back at my childhood, I’ve begun to realize we might be considered have been considered poor by some standards.

    Oddly, I never had that feeling when I was growing up. We had food on the table, and played outside until the firefly’s lit up the night. I think my mom kept her sanity by having a cocktail with her best friend next door everyday about 5pm. When I talk to her now and tell her how I can’t begin to fathom how she did all the things she did for us, she surprised me with a reflection of her own. “When I look back, I realize that those days were the best days of my life.”

    Their are so many stories I could bore you with, but I’ll leave you with one.

    My mom was a tremendous cook – simple stuff, but scrumptdillyicious. (great scrabble word by the way). She’d make an afternoon feast on Sundays – and even after we all moved out, well, we kind of dropped by the house on Sunday afternoons. Trust me when I tell you, my mom made the best fried chicken north of the Mason Dixon Line. It’s something we all may have taken for granted at the time – just one of mom’s many responsibilities – but how we all miss those days now.

    If you ever seen the movie “Soul food,” the scene at the end of the movie pretty much summed up our Sunday dinners. No doubt, those great meals helped bond a family together. My goofy brother Bob made a huge mistake a few years back. My mom mustered up enough energy to make this great crown roast. When we were finished eating, my bro says, “I haven’t had a meal this good since the last time I ate here!” It would have been a nice compliment if his wife wasn’t sitting next to him!

    Mom’s, where would we be without them?

    You can have your Five Star Restaurants

  5. Comment made on July 14, 2016 by Sally

    Jorma, It amazes me how the perfect song comes into my life at the perfect time. A fan since the 70’s I had the joy of attending your show in Rifle CO two nights ago. I had a smile on my face the whole show and felt much gratitude that I got to see/hear you and jack once again. So I got on your blog and discovered Gretchen’s song….. Today is the 14th anniversary of my twin sisters passing and this song is just what I needed to hear as I continue to feel the storm and get the rainbow that comes when we peel away another layer…. Thank you and know that you are a huge gift to many!!!! In Joy, Sally

  6. Comment made on July 13, 2016 by johno

    Carol, I’m also not happy all the time either – but at times I am – it’s life and we must deal with our situation the best way possible. God has a date to call us each home – only He knows the date and time. Life is long but it’s also good and a lot of fun. Keep on smiling. My email address is in case you want to talk.

  7. Comment made on July 13, 2016 by Mark K

    This has got me thinking today about my Father. Today side by side with my Mother as it should be after they had nearly 70 years together. In the last years of his life he suffered from Alzheimer’s a truly cruel disease. He had been a Master Carpenter all his life, a true craftsman, an artist with wood. A gentle man and one of the nicest human beings I have ever known. As he diminished bit by bit and lost himself he eventually did not recognize his own children, did not know who I was. He became lost, confused and angry especially in the final year after our Mother passed. However the last time I saw him alive there was one final gift. For just a few minutes the light came back into his eyes, he was lucid and aware and for the first time in years he called me by name. Looking back now it still amazes me. But like all things, the circle of life closed for him and the rest of us keep moving forward

  8. Comment made on July 13, 2016 by Ham n Eggs

    I’m glad to see Jorma and Barbara responded to you.
    I lost my sister many years ago but in the past few weeks have had two dreams in which we were together. Your post brought them back to me and her memory more vividly.
    May Love, Light and Wisdom help you through your current troubles and may you experience laughter and smiles soon.
    Be thou Whole,be thou Healed, Be thou Happy in mind, body and spirit.
    Love All Ways


  9. Comment made on July 12, 2016 by Gretchen Peters

    Jorma, I’m so moved and honored. As it happens I saw your post about Jubilee on Twitter last night, just as my own mother, about whom I wrote the song, is getting ready to “leave the planet” as she puts it. It seemed as if the universe was sending me a gentle nudge. Thank you for your kind words, for sharing your story about your mother, and also for your brilliant music that has been part of the soundtrack of my life!


  10. Comment made on July 12, 2016 by Art

    “I believe the Greek man of culture felt himself nullified in the presence of the satyric chorus; and this is the most immediate effect of the Dionysian tragedy, that the state and society and, quite generally, the gulfs between man and man give way to an overwhelming feeling of unity leading back to the very heart of nature.”

    “Music is distinguished from all the other arts by the fact that it is not a copy of the phenomenon, or, more accurately, of the adequate objectivity of the will, but an immediate copy of the will itself, and therefore complements everything physical in the world and every phenomenon by representing what is metaphysical, the thing in itself.” 

    – F. W. Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy

  11. Comment made on July 12, 2016 by marcus

    Deep stuff brother,i last saw my mom when i was 18,im almost 50 now,about 4 years ago i found my lost brother who i hadent seen since about the same time,thanks to the internet,who told me mom had passed away about 2 years before me finding him (My Brother) at first it had been so many years since i last saw her it dident really hit me at first,sorta nummed out emotionaly but having a family myself and kids and all that over the years its been on the back of my mind that i never got a chance to see her again all grown up and able to process and have a adult conversation,no exchange of sorrys or goodbye nothing,the last thing she ever said to me at 18 was i never want to see you again why you calling me and commin over,well at that time i said ok im a adult on my own f it went on my way to the dead shows and never looked back,but years later Now it kinda bothers me inside i never got to see her again,guys and gals if you have a mother love on her,thank her,respect her,cherish her cause once there gone there gone for good.thanks for shareing this jorma,been thinkin about my mom lately aswell.

  12. Comment made on July 12, 2016 by Barbara Jacobs

    Here’s a bit more from the book in limbo:

    When I was six, mom and dad bought me a fantastic riding model of a “Farmall 400”.My playmates and I rode that thing up and down the street until the drive-wheel was worn off the rim. I was too young to help with the farm chores so I helped mom in the house.
    My sister went to college in the fall of 1957, so there were no girls to help with the housework. That was still considered “woman’s work”.My dad and brothers
    didn’t help with dinner dishes,laundry or housecleaning. My mom quite wisely refused to milk cows or drive a tractor. She would fix lunch for ten men, load it into the trunk of our ’52 Chrysler and drive out to wherever they were bailing hay and feed the whole bunch. Then she would go back home and take a twenty minute nap and then prepare supper for them. All on her own, except for whatever help I could give her.

    A few years ago when my mother was eighty-eight and suffering from Alzheimer’s, she couldn’t even change the channel on the television. I reminded her about all of the work she did and the big daily meals she’d prepare on the farm. She looked at me with an expression of surprise, “I did all that?” She couldn’t remember a thing. I remember.

  13. Comment made on July 12, 2016 by Barbara Jacobs

    Yes, time brings about the loss of family and friends. Sometimes children grow up and live in other states or countries and best friends may retire or move away for other reasons. The good thing is that it’s easier now to keep in touch with them.

    If you’re in the New York area and starting to get that feeling, you can give me a call here and we will arrange for you to visit us. We have every variation of
    empty-nesters, most of us are 50+ and quite a few have lost one or both parents at an early age.@Jorma

  14. Comment made on July 12, 2016 by Scott

    Wow, what an amazingly beautiful piece. I haven’t been to this site in many months and today for reasons unknown I looked and I see you posted a song and tribute to your mother. July 10th is the day my mother died 1n 1997. You posted this July 11, so yesterday I was thinking the same thing. Well done JK, well done.

  15. Comment made on July 12, 2016 by johno

    Amen to that Jorma

  16. Comment made on July 12, 2016 by Brett

    @John B


  17. Comment made on July 12, 2016 by John B

    Jorma every now and then you share something that brings tears to my eyes and the words of Gretchen Peters brought a flood.

    Thank you for sharing.

  18. Comment made on July 12, 2016 by mikie

    The loss of a man’s mother is certainly a unique grief that seems to linger, mine re-appears from time to time. I was honored to spend my mom’s last day with her. The morphine drip kept her pain free – poor dear hadn’t eaten in days – and her Alzheimers was shutting down her system piece by piece. I sat at her bedside and quietly picked nearly every song I know on my little Martin acoustic. We are heading to Tennessee this weekend to decorate her and dad’s gravesite, since our trip to do so for Memorial day was cut short by car trouble. They were both WWII veterans and I remain very proud of them. We’ll be at the Ranch Sunday for The New Riders, pls have a safe trip home. m

  19. Comment made on July 12, 2016 by Carol

    I listened to Gretchen Peters song and it brought about an incredible feeling of sadness and loss. My parents are also deceased and two years ago my sister died. My children live far away and my best friend moved away several months ago.
    I’m beginning to think that perhaps the time for me say goodbye is coming.

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