Tag Archives: Death

Thoughts on Dying

I’m not afraid of dying.  Though I have never liked the end of the story is an unknown.

Even if you have a disease, you get a range of time the end may happen.

I don’t like the idea of leaving unfinished business.  But that happens sometimes.  Especially in the case of accidents. People are drying crazier than I’ve ever seen.

Approximately half my loved ones have passed on and half are still here.  It is strange being in the middle.

I don’t know that I can say that I’ve figured out why I’m here.  I get glimpses.

If you asked me right now what is most important, it is relationships.  Others are the only thing you get to have on the other side of the veil.  No stuff.  You leave all your stuff behind.

And this thought is really helping me de-clutter as I prepare for my son and his family to live with us until they get established .

Some stuff I have had for a long time.  Haven’t done anything with it and yet still kinda hard to let go.

Won’t have a choice when I’m dead. So I think I’ll try it now.

Seasons of Life

tree

Recently, I lost a dear friend.  Unfortunately, the last time we interacted, it did not go well.  We stopped communicating at all.  He died less than a month later.

I am more aware that part of his mis-behavior was due to him being more ill than he let on.  It is hard to be your best self if you do not feel well.  I was not as understanding as I did not know the extent of his limitations.

The 8th has been a special day for us. So I took some time yesterday to remember him and honor what was good about him.

I went to the spot at the lake where we hung out several times.  A very good place to remember good times.

I tried to sit on a blanket under ‘our’ tree but it was too cold and windy to do so for long.  I retreated to my car which had the same view.

The tree we had chosen still had green leaves. It looked just as we always saw it. I think it is a Live Oak.  I watched birds and the little white caps the wind created on the lake.

The ice princess blue sky was a perfect backdrop for my mood. White with a tiny touch of color.

My life seems like a blank slate right now. The touch of color, a bit of hope.

Not far from our tree is the one pictured. It is large, gnarled and without any foliage. I didn’t get close enough to see if it had buds.  I trust it does.  I hope it does. I’ll come back in the spring to check.

This tree was covered with leaves and green parrots the last time we hung out at the lake.  I counted at least 10 parrots as they cavorted. I didn’t believe my eyes until I discovered they migrate through, in preparation for winter.

But in this season right now, this minute.  Without it’s finery, we can see what was hidden.

My heart feels like this tree. Twisted, bare, and stark.

Before I left, I reminded myself that this too is a season.  This too shall pass.  The best thing I can do is remember the good of this relationship, honor it and know that if we had known we had less time than we thought, we would have affirmed what was really important.

One Year Anniversary and Counting

I have had this blog post hanging over my head for several months now.  Gpa died last year in January.  I have been dealing with all sorts of emotions and life events.

I haven’t wanted to talk or write about them.

The first year after a loss of a loved one is hard.  At times it is unbearable, but we bear it anyway.  At times there is surprise there is something to look forward to or laugh at now.  The first year can drag on.  Here comes another holiday or event we used to celebrate but now it’s different.

Then after the first year anniversary of the death, time speeds up.  This year, 2014, will be the 20th anniversary of my mother and grandmother passing away.  20 years! ? ! Where did the time go.  That can’t be possible.

And now for a whole new set of emotions and life events to deal with.  My grandchildren will only know them through pictures and stories.  And they live across the country.  I’m not sure when and where I’ll get to share all the things about these women I’d love for them to know.  And I’m not sure I have the words to convey the very essence of who they were.  After all, a lot of time has passed.

And how does one celebrate the 20th anniversary of the loss of a loved one?

A Promise to Keep

The home health care nurse told me that Gpa was wanting to know that I would be OK if he leaves, that I would keep doing the music, painting and juggling.  When I did tell him, it felt like a promise.  Oh, Oh.

I had mixed feelings about telling Gpa something of the sort.  It meant he’d be closer to leaving, I am still not sure about him not being here.  But I don’t have a choice in it.  Death is as irrevocable as cremation.  Since he has done both, it’s twice as much a done deal.

It is important to me to keep the promise for by keeping it, I’ll be honoring him and the love we shared.  The bond between a grandchild and grandparent can be very strong.  And in our case, very special.
 So Wednesday I did something that felt very crazy but very right.  I had found a seminar on the steps after making a record.  Since the band is recording our first three songs on Monday, I thought it would be fitting.
It was in Houston. That’s OK, I have a friend I haven’t seen in a while, I could stay with her.  But she didn’t get back with me and I had already paid for it.  So I got up early, real early and drove down.  When it was over, I drove home.  That was the crazy part.
The workshop was awesome.  I learned so much, took lots of notes and met a lot of great people.  And the workshop has given me a lot of action items.  Lots of ways to keep my promise.  And something to keep me busy until I see Gpa again.

Life and Death Goes On

This morning, I went to Gpa’s old church to plan his service for his friends in Ft. Worth.  Because I needed to stop at the funeral home, I got there early enough to attend church.  It brought back memories when they called the kids up.  I’ve done gone up front before.  That is how long Gpa and Gma have been members.

While I was waiting for my appointment, the couple who joined the church in the service and announced they were getting married, came into the office to meet with a different pastor.  When the pastor I was to meet with took me into the conference room, we were asked if we could share the room.  A couple were meeting another pastor for a baptism.  Their baby was so little.

It was hard being the one talking about a funeral.  It kept me from asking if I could hold the baby.  OK, that and he was so little.  I forget how little babies start out.

It was nice to see that there were people who were making plans that are happier.  And the mom said it was nice meeting me even though all we said to each other was hello.

 

Quieter Than a Mouse

I’ve been asked if I’m sleeping better.  Well, yes and no.  I don’t sleep through the night but I have grabbed a nap or two.  I also go to bed at 8pm if I’m tired.

I don’t have to get up and take care of Gpa, but I am still listening for him.  Or maybe it’s the quietness that is waking me up.

And then there is the scritch, scritch of the mouse or mice living in the oven.  I hear them just fine.  I have set a trap and we’ll see how long it takes to catch the critters.

My daughter thinks the solution is to get a cat.  Um, no, I’m not ready to add any new responsibilities.

One daughter will be moving her things out this weekend and the other next weekend.

The house will continue to increase in silence.

That will take some getting used to.

To View or Not To View

I was seven years old the first time I saw a dead body.  My paternal grandmother had had a heart attack.  She lived in Missouri and we lived in New Mexico.  My parents loaded my sister and I into the car and we left as it was getting dark.

Usually when we traveled we would leave as it was getting light. So as we set out, it had a bit of adventure to it.  And not for the first or last time, my dad had to tell me, “Laura, be quiet and go to sleep.”

I do not remember how long my grandmother was in the hospital.  This was during a time when children were not allowed in.  So those of us too young, had endless days of passing time, waiting for adults to get home to give us a report.

I complained to my mother that I wanted to see my grandmother.  My mother replied, that grandmother had just come out for a visit and I should be happy with that.  It was not the same thing.

For the next time I saw my grandmother was at the funeral.  At the appointed time, we got in line and walked past the casket. Even with my limited knowledge of death, I could tell that my grandmother was not there.  This was just a body.  And it looked sad and forlorn.  I did not know where my grandmother was, I just knew she was not here.

We didn’t have a viewing for Gpa, he wants to be cremated. At least one friend has expressed sorrow for not being able to see him one last time and I am sorry for that.  I hope the posters with his pictures and time spent talking about him will help ease her grief.

I did see him one last time.  I wasn’t expecting to have to look at him when I went to the funeral home.  But I guess they needed to verify they were going to be cremating the right body.  (Like how many bodies did I have at my house?)

They were so busy, they asked if I would be OK viewing him in the make up area, which was right there as you stepped off the elevator.  I didn’t want to wait for a room to open up.  I had already be there much longer than I thought I would.

Yes, it was him.  Or more specifically, it was his body.  He was not there.  It was sad to look at him.  He didn’t have his hat (cap) on his head.  I can’t remember the last time I shaved him so he had a scraggily beard.  And his face was gaunt, full of angles.

Maybe it would have been better to let others see he isn’t here. And to say good-bye.  Hopefully the celebration helped.

A Celebration of Life

Today I’ll be making some posters for tomorrows celebration.  I also plan to make a bread pudding with the last of the cookies.

At the last moment, I’ve been telling people to wear red, which is Gpa’s  favorite color, or to wear their favorite color.  I am going to go through his clothes and pull out all the things that are red.  If someone didn’t get the message, they can pick out one of his things and wear red after all.

My daughter told me yesterday that people are most worried about her and I being the most upset.  But we aren’t really.  Partly because it isn’t really true yet, and partly because the end was as good as the life he lived.  This isn’t a tragedy, there isn’t anything to mourn.  He lived and died the way he wanted to without bringing harm (or much) to others.

He has truly set a high standard, one I hope to continue.

We’ll be on the pavilion if the weather is nice otherwise we’ll move to the kitchen where he spent many happy hours drinking his and other’s coffee.

Come and go Celebration of Life for Grandpa on Sunday from 3:30-6:30 at
Our Saviour Episcopal Church
1616 North Jim MIller Rd
Dallas, TX  75217
in lieu of flowers make donations to
Our Saviour Community Garden
1616 North Jim MIller Rd
Dallas, TX  75217
Hope you can come.

A Little Self Care

When a loved one dies, the to-do list shifts.  Gpa had created a book shortly after grandmother died(94).  It had all the information in it  that we would need at the time of his demise.

Um the directive wasn’t enough to keep the paramedics from having to perform CPR.  I felt that since he thought it was a DNR, that should have been respected.  But I didn’t argue,  they were just following the rules they have to follow.  Fortunately, Gpa was already gone.  He would have hated being in the hospital hooked up to machines and tubes and such.

Anyway, Wednesday was filled with going to the funeral home and making last arrangements.  Yesterday, a couple of friends wanted to come over so I only scheduled  to make calls in regards to Gpa.

For me, the house is in such a state of ‘do it later’ as I cared for Gpa that the piles waiting for attention are overwhelming.  I told myself I only had to pick 2.

So the computer chair in my room covered with clothes I can’t wear, and the bedside table that is stacked so high, I would knock my glasses or phone to the floor, were what I had to do.

The computer chair was easy, I got a back and wrote ‘Give Away” on it and put the clothes in it.  There were a couple of items that I thought the girls might like so I set those in Gena’s room.  There was also a Land’s End polo the wrong color/size for me.  I’ve set it aside to see if I can return it for something more suitable.

Last night I started to get hungry and wondered why.  I looked at the clock and it was 5pm.  If Gpa had been here, I would have already been in the kitchen cooking.  So I took a break and ate.

This morning, I put the bed linen in  the washer.  I cannot say when they have been changed.  I know I have but it’s been a few months.  They are drying now and I”ll put them back on the bed.

It is strange to just have myself to look after,  and it’s nice to be getting the piles in order.  Today I’m going to clean off the front table that has become a staging area.

And I’ll make a few more phone calls and maybe make the posters for Sunday.

The best however, has been taking time to visit with friends and family and share stories of Gpa.  Laughter has been ringing in the house.

 

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

Following are some pictures the kids have posted on Facebook.  Plus the one I took on Saturday.

Gena also posted the following on Facebook.

Hard to believe this picture was taken almost four years ago(pic below with her and Gpa in hospital).
I’d say his last year was one of his best: Horseback riding, eating cookies all day every day, taking his great grandchildren to Disneyland and riding rides with them, celebrating his 101st birthday, eating homegrown vegetables from his garden, flirting with everyone, learning how to juggle bean bags, daily car rides were one of his favorites, pop-tarts being the best food ever, and having his granddaughter play his favorite song “In the garden” On her ukulele while he passed away.
RIP GRAMPS! 1-15-13
gpa and gena 4 years ago

4 years ago

Gpa and Cagney

Gpa and Cagney 1 12 13

in front of the chicken coop

in front of the chicken coop, last month

in California with Rocio

in California with Rocio

family portrait

family portrait, the picture on the wall, Gpa painted in 1964

incognito at disneyland

incognito at disneyland