Arline Helen Densmore Memorial Day 2020

Posted by on May 25, 2020 in All Blog Posts, LOVE LETTER, Medicine, Photo, Vintage Style, Vintage Video, WW2 Letters | 6 comments

Portrait of Arline Densmore

Arline Helen Densmore

June 25, 1924 – May 16, 2020

Dear Friends, This is a historic time. Years ago I made the decision to take in my mother, and provide her care myself. I nursed her through her delicate years right up to the process of active dying in the few days before she passed. A natural death was something I had wanted to witness. I wanted to see what a natural death looks like. I wanted to have a home death, a home funeral with a doula at my side. Natural, not medical. Natural, like a home birth. God blessed us both when it was time. During the last days I went in and out of her room to give her morphine around the clock for comfort as her systems gently went through the final shut down. I had put on some orchestral music. But it was not what I wanted. I had quickly looked for hymns, but the classical was peaceful enough. Then with family coming and so many things I had to manage, the same music was left on a couple days. As usual, I was left to manage everything alone, after hospice instructions and other basic support. My dear death doula was there for the important parts. She knows about flowers, brought several arrangements, helped facilitate Arline’s last call to my brother and his family to say their tearful goodbyes. And she helped me bridge to the sacred atmosphere with candles and oils. She also came to wash the body after. But she also needed a day off, the day Arline died. So everything was even, quiet, efficient, perfect, just the two of us as usual, softly passing shared hours. I had to change her position every few hours and be up through the night. Then on the last afternoon, with sunlight beaming through closed curtains, she opened one eye just a crack and seemed to be looking at me. She might have murmured. I gently changed her position from side lying to make her comfortable on her back. I stretched her legs, one by one, out straight over the sheepskins to rest them. She’d been in excellent health just a few days before walking on the road. I took pride that there was no scratch or scar left from the ordeals of slips, falls. With her looking at me I got it together to bring in her CD player. I grabbed a CD, Frank Sinatra hits. It had played through once. Then I came back in again to comfort her. This time I was singing with the song, whatever it was at that moment, dancing around her bed. With every kiss and words of reassurance I felt the keen awareness that just next-door at a nursing home the elderly are basically in lock-down in their rooms, room numbers are posted on windows to find them from the outside, their family members required to stay outside, doing their best to communicate through the closed windows which must always be closed. Weeks and weeks and weeks and that still goes to this day. So my kisses to my mother’s neck, my touch and whispers in her ear, our closeness in the moment was extra appreciated. Her breathing was regular. I massaged the back of her neck. Whispers of reassurance. Then in a moment her breath ceased. The music was swirling and I was telling her Morris was there, and Ruthy, the family names. Like we were all dancing at a wedding, and my father cut in. She passed away in my arms. It took a couple minutes to fully register. Yes, the pulse was gone. This was it. After some tears during some song or other suddenly “That’s Life” came on. It struck me, clear like a bell. Clear like a message from angels. She stole my heart! You just had to be there. The message. The synchronicity. It was everything I had wanted to know. It was just what she wanted to say to me, perhaps to all. God bless you Mom. We’ll always be together, a duo, but you, Arline, are the Star Queen. Such a class act. Love, Martha


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WW2 Love Letter 75 years past D Day

Posted by on Jun 6, 2019 in 1940s Life, All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, LOVE LETTER, Media, Navy, Poetry, WW2, WW2 Letters, WW2 Love Letter, WWII Letter | 0 comments

I wrote that I’d write. That plan didn’t turn out as well as D Day did. The good news is we still live in Brunswick, Maine and Robert Peter Tristram Coffin is still my favorite poet. And, Arline will be adding another clocked year here in just a couple weeks.

To honor the 75th Anniversary of D Day I’ve chosen to publish a complete letter my father penned to Arline from Bates, just a couple days after D Day, on June 9th, 1944. He was in Lewiston, Maine. She was in Portland. The distance between them was a world war.

If you read it you’ll see that his heart was just as sunk as ever. Against the back drop of the successful invasion in Europe, bringing hope and excitement abroad, Mose would none the less not be free. If he hadn’t enlisted in the navy he would have been drafted. He had no choice. At this date in his navy career Mose was enrolled at Midshipmen’s School at Bates. Next would be the Naval Academy at Notre Dame, then off to fight.

Being still a Bowdoin student, but enlisted in the navy and at Bates College, the arch rival of Bowdoin, was a time of emptiness and sad feelings. Old and best friends were leaving for the war. New friends at Bates were transient, many from out of town, out of state, there for just for a training period. So much disruption was crazy. But Mose did find some interesting things to say and some humor.

The Armed Forces had the Bowdoin boys play on the Bates athletic teams and wear the Bates uniform. Mose did this and had to play against Bowdoin. We have official photos of him donning the Bowdoin team uniform and Bates.

Arline helped me make peace with all this saying that the boys liked to play games and baseball, it was definitely an enjoyable sport for them, and good thing for them to do at this time regardless of the uniform they wore. They had fun. I’m sure she’s right, though Mose does mention some mixed feelings about it in another letter.

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Martha’s Merry Maine Christmas 2017

Posted by on Dec 24, 2017 in All Blog Posts, Bowdoin College, Holiday, LOVE LETTER, Media, Vintage Style | 0 comments

Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season!

Merry Christmas 2017!

Merry Christmas 2017!

America is having a come back. So are some Densmores. In September of 2017 I moved my mother back to Maine. We rented a farmhouse in Pemaquid a couple months. During that time we bought a house in Brunswick near Bowdoin. Our new house borders a 300 acre working organic farm. We look out upon a great expanse of land, beautiful pasture and crops.

One afternoon in the fall of 2017 I was driving Arline on a back highway here. It was Saturday. The Brunswick escrow had just closed. I was driving Arline back to our rented farmhouse.  It would be our last weekend there in the Hope Woods. I turned on the radio and flicked it to an AM station.

There’s a radio station here in Maine called The Memories Station. 1960s songs were playing.  Watching farms go by, many with American flags, frame by frame the purity echoed. So here I am in an Americana paradise. Classic like a Palm Springs cocktail in the 1950s. Like a Las Vegas travel ad in the 1960s. Like a TV Christmas special in the 1970s. Time never left this place. It’s never left. Back roads and farms and quaint old houses. She’s here breathing. Oh America, why did it take so long? Like an old love letter.

I’d just been contemplating Love Story’s slogan that love means never having to say your sorry. The theme of “Love Story” sung by Andy Williams started playing. The second song after I turned on the station. Then came “For All we Know” by Karen Carpenter.

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