Tell Me the One About the Italian Mouse

tell-me-the-one-about-the-italian-mouseJamie called me this weekend. I have known her for about thirty years. She has a few weeks left to live. She carries the heavy load of 140 pounds of tumors in her body. Despite high doses of sleep aids, she can only sleep but an hour here and there. She lives alone in her New Mexico adobe house, managing to drag her laden body to whatever favorite desert plants, all for the purest pleasure of being a good steward or witnessing a flower bud or a new shoot sprout.
She was hauled off to emergency a few days prior and flat lined for a while, until being revived. She described to me a world of dancing atoms and radiant colors, shades unseen by the naked eye, peacefully pulsating to the sound of a delicate rhythm and harmony—she swore she could hear the music of the Universe. She said all she could do was remain in aesthetic arrest: watch, listen and flow to the sights and sounds.
“Words fail us,” she said over and over again in tears.
“They don’t do justice to the Unutterable.”
“Even the most sacred text or best poetry doesn’t hold a candle to what lies beneath.”
“The Truth is much too lovely to ever put into words,” she sighed.
“But I’m happy,” she added, in her Texan drawl, “and not afraid.”
After a few moments when her throat cleared and sniffles dried, she spoke of days gone by, good times and bad, without a trace of regret or longing—just gratefulness for having had a chance to see the wonder of the rising and setting sun over the high desert, to have listened to some great music, to have danced, sat down to a bountiful meal and dined with friends.
“This I will take with me”, she whispered.
“Now. . .tell me the one about the Italian mouse again,” she asked.

11 Comments
  1. I sit here and the tears want to flow because the words and spirit connected and it’s an easy release. But they stop because of her truth. Lifting your friend in prayer.

  2. Gino, you are so masterful in how your share such a poignant and potentially tragic moment with a dear friend and give us an unbridled front row seat with you text. We don’t know this lady, yet I can hear her voice and absorb her spirit. Thank you for sharing.

  3. So sorry to learn of this. Is this the lady who created the Animal Medicine Cards, Jamie Sams? If so, I spoke with her when I was studying with the Seneca people at the Wolf Clan Teaching Lodge where I worked as a housekeeper so that I could study with Grandmother Twila. The learnings and teachings were, are, and will remain relevant and Holy. I pray for a safe passage for her through to the unspeakable sanctuary of the great beyond. Words do always fail. Blessings, blessings.

  4. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful, enriching and moving experience. It’s a Crazy Life, the music and lyrics are dancing in my space. Peace and blessings.

  5. hi Gino

    When are you going to have your concert here in Manila, Philippines?

  6. I would have to agree with Tom Godfrey’s comment. What an absolutely beautiful way to describe a quiet conversation with a dying friend. I just recently rediscovered your talent. I remember rainy Saturday afternoons with friends listening to your music and I’m not sure at the time I grasped the full impact or meaning. Now that I’ve grown, lost those friends to AIDS and gone through a lot more life experiences I realize you truly are one of those souls that must certainly be old and clearly aware of what life is all about. Thank you, Gino Vannelli for sharing a most beautiful private moment.

  7. Thank you Gino.. Many of us have had to face times of uncertainty in our lives. I was an Army Helicopter Pilot flying in Iraq, so I have seen both sides of the rainbow. Fear of the unknown can often cloud our vision, but Jaime has clearly grown beyond that. She sees the crystal reflections on the ocean and doesn’t fear the waves that lie ahead. Jaime reminds us that the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t signal the end, but more of a new beginning. All our prayers to her and the hope that she finds true peace. Take care Gino, and we will see you in Austin in March.
    A fellow “adversary” to Father Time.. Steve Thomas

  8. What a beautiful gift she gave you with this. Sending love to her, to you and to all who/that she loved.

    When the time comes to say goodbye for now, please try to listen to Don Conoscenti singing “The Other Side”. It is simply beautiful. After what she said, I thing she would love it. (It’s on YouTube, but I’ll let you pick which version you’re drawn to.)

    … and don’t be surprised if you have an urge to buy a Hawaiian Guitar. Some of us have a weakness like that!

  9. Gino. My wife Charyn and I saw you tonight near Cleveland. Great show! I will pray for Jamie. Thank you so much for sharing your gift of music. Michael.

  10. Gino – We’re moved by the plights of this brave woman. But we’re also unaware as to how we can best help to alleviate any of her immediate needs. Some guidance would be greatly appreciated, sir. Your friend and protege, Todd.

  11. Thank you for sharing your beautiful inspiring story.

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