Thursday, June 1, 2017

Attending a Lovely Memorial Yesterday Was An Invitation to Grieve by Swaneagle

Today i attended the memorial for my dear friend Nina Murano who died April 30th of COPD and other chronic conditions at age 82. This moving event was held at Church of the Holy Spirit across from the Community Care Center, where my friend Joy Goldstein lives on Vashon. Both she and Nina were the mainstay of our Vashon Women In Black Group until Nina became ill about 4 years ago. We started our vigil in August of 2010. Joy and i had vigiled the day before.

This memorial was so beautifully and heartfully done that i was moved to tears for the first half having to use my scarf to mop them up. I had never been in the church itself but had been in the basement where i did childcare one Easter Sunday about 6 years ago. I also have eaten the delicious vegan vegetarian Wednesday night dinners there several times over the years. The church has such a large window behind the altar, it appeared that the trees were inside with us. Along one side are more windows, so during the memorial the light changed along with the movement of clouds, periodic full sun and rain augmenting the atmosphere inside. From the Prelude thru the opening song Gracias a La Vida beautifully rendered by Erin to the Yeats poem read by Nina's granddaughter, to the Psalm read by Nina's oldest daughter Deirdre, the Homily by the Rev. Joseph, prayers, then sharing by Nina's youngest Ann-Marie, the Holly Near song sung by Mary, concluded by the Northwest Viols strings and postlude on the organ, the spirit of Nina's diverse concerns with justice as well her musical inspirations were captured uniquely and very powerfully. It was all concluded in the Memorial Garden where we talked with each other before many ended up eating and socializing celebrating Nina's life at the home she shared with her husband Bob for so many decades.

I heard about Nina years before i first met her. I worked gardening and house cleaning for a dear Irish woman named Terese O'Halloran. She would tell me about her trip to El Salvador with Nina Murano in the '80's. So of course, i knew i needed to meet Nina. When i finally did, i really was so inspired that i did what i could to connect with her. Oh i am so grateful i was able to spend time with her. She was genuinely deeply devoted to human rights. The stories she told me were profoundly inspiring. She confronted prison guards who were abusing human rights activists in a Haitian prison. She confronted the notorious Kaibiles US Special Forces trained death squads in Guatemala who were threatening human rights workers while on boats in a river. She used her inheritance to go on so many human rights delegations in Mexico, Central and South America that i do not even know the sum of them. I could talk to her about anything to do with human rights. It was a very precious relationship for me and i shed tears as i write because it has been such a lonely path to care as intensely as i do for those, especially women and children, who suffer the most under policies of ecocide, feminicide and genocide.

Nina invited me to go with her to an art exhibit of the work of Selma Waldman after Waldman's death at the Gage School of Figure Drawing on Capital Hill. It was a stunning exhibit portraying the suffering of solitary figures who were in concentrations camps, Abu Grahib prison and other situations of hideous abuse. A slide show of her work was shown by her family illustrating how she would post articles that caught her eye on her walls and create art surrounded by the news of human atrocity. She had visited Auschwitz in Germany before drawing her works. She had also been part of Women In Black vigils in Seattle.

One day Nina invited me to go with her to a gun control rally at Seattle Center. She was part of the Raging Grannies and they performed as part of the event. NRA members were there in all their well armed glory. Anytime a speaker began their presentation, NRA people would start talking so loudly that no one could hear those on stage. When Nina joined me after singing with the Grannies, i told her the NRA had been behaving rudely. She immediately walked into their midst and soundly scolded them for such. It worked. Nina in all her wondrous grandma glory!

We went to eat Ethiopian food after that and then she took us a community center on 15th Ave. near Yesler where we listened to Iyad Burnat show raw footage of the nonviolent resistance he and his comunity in Bil'in have carried out for 14 years now. It was striking and powerful seeing how the people so courageously stood against the Israeli Occupation Forces and the illegal settlements as well as the apartheid wall that separates Palestinians from their customary lands, olive trees and farms. Several Zionists began heckling Iyad causing a severe interruption in his presentation. To top that off was another heckler giving Iyad a hard time about being committed to nonviolence while the Zionists claimed he was violent. It got so out of hand that several of us simply spontaneously formed a human block between the Zionists and Iyad. They finally left.

We listened to Iyad for a short time longer, then Nina needed to get home. I placed an envelope of some of my art and writing on the table where Iyad was standing. He looked at me with a questioning expression. Then we left. Little did i know because of this event i would become friends with Iyad and organize a speaking tour for him in Seattle and on Vashon during the week of Thanksgiving of 2016.

Later as we headed to the ferry, she told me i was brave to participate in blocking the Zionists. Well, i told her how brave she was to take on the NRA earlier that day. Such a precious memory.

Over the next few years, i had the pleasure of working among Nina's flowers and herbs. When i would finish for the day, we spent hours talking. The scope of her awareness was so broad, i always learned so much from these precious times we had. She gave me bags of wonderful books to read that heightened my literary pursuits. She also would share some of the political publications she subscribed to. Her knowledge was vast. I am a better person for having known this deeply courageous, outspoken, loving, humorous and gutsy woman. Nina you will always live in my heart.

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