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  • And death shall have no dominion.
    Dead men naked they shall be one
    With the man in the wind and the west moon;
    When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
    They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
    Though they go mad they shall be sane,
    Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
    Though lovers be lost love shall not;
    And death shall have no dominion.

    And death shall have no dominion.
    Under the windings of the sea
    They lying long shall not die windily;
    Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
    Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
    Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
    And the unicorn evils run them through;
    Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
    And death shall have no dominion.

    And death shall have no dominion.
    No more may gulls cry at their ears
    Or waves break loud on the seashores;
    Where blew a flower may a flower no more
    Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
    Though they be mad and dead as nails,
    Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
    Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
    And death shall have no dominion.

    Dylan Thomas, “And Death Shall Have No Dominion” from The Poems of Dylan Thomas

    The cheer and clarity of Rosemary's eyes riveted me as I read "Godspeed, Rosemary". She must have been a remarkable presence.

    Reading Pete's account brought me back to my own mother's last days seven years ago. Sophie took a little more time to fade away, but before that she was on top of everything, caring about the world and making sure that her friends and relatives were paying attention.

    Another similarity is that at age 90, Sophie got lung cancer, after having cancer twice before. She hadn't smoked in 60 years and blamed it on my dad and his damned cigars. She almost died in the ER and her lungs had to be pumped out twice, once in her hospital room. But she got this medicine that totally banished the tumor, and became well in two months. That drug only worked on 15% of patients. They needed to have a certain gene in a certain place for it to be effective, and Sophie was that one in seven.

    Speaking of one in seven, it must help Pete that he has six siblings to gather around. I am an only child, and did hand-holding too. I don't know what Rosemary's attitude was in her last days, but Sophie thought wasting away was the pits. She refused to give up and as she grew less independent became more irritated. She always wanted whoever was around to fix it.

    Sophie did not go gently into that good night, and her remonstrations about her situation kind of unraveled the social network that she had painstakingly built, starting even before my dad died in 1982. It was hard to take, because she was so new-age-spiritual a person who tried to embrace the universe as it is. It was as if she couldn't accept a universe that she couldn't be part of, or to witness her granddaughter Deniz grow up.

    When we had a memorial service for my mom in her beloved church, dozens of people showed up and many testified. I insisted that the recessional anthem be "All You Need Is Love" because Mom would have wanted it that way.

    Godspeed indeed, Rosemary ... and Sophie. We miss you dearly. Who can replace you?

    @image: Sophie and Deniz Dutton, November 2001
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