One word best describes the ghost of my mother, her people, and her land:
Those long cold dark winters.
The earth, mostly mountains.
The heavy arctic sea.
The dazzling but brief summer light.
All of these elements are climate conditions that created “bone in the nose” of its inhabitants.
My mother is gone. But she has left us “this strength…this example of grit” to return to.
You feel her presence at her cabin. The presence of my grandparents whispers in the wind. You don’t have to duck your head in shame at loss–as with my father–because though my mother’s heritage is chipped and beaten, there it still stands… rugged and, in some places, quite tall.
That’s Mom as a young woman at the front of the line of skiers, waving her ski pole in the air.