The visitation was a wonderful thing. Full of stories and laughter, nice chats with my mother's friends and our assembled family.
A couple of posts ago I whined about kicking 2011 in the butt at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, but am now backing away from such stupidity.
In hindsight, what has occured is a good thing. For mom, it is release from her condition and, for believers, a reunion with her husband. For those of us left behind, there is relief, too; for Ralph and Gayle it ends a terribly long spell spent with mom in varied nursing homes and care facilities. For me, it ends prolonged guilt that the two of them and mom were way out there in central Nebraska with me all the way East. A number of folks mentioned that very thing; her suffering is at a merciful end, and ours, too.
In an odd way, mourning is tougher for friends than it might be for us. I think people struggle (I have) in their well-meaning to find the right words or the correct way to phrase their condolences. It is just an awkard time. Still, all of what people did say is very much appreciated.
Much of the time that might be set aside for pure brief is waylayed by the practical matters at hand, i.e. coordinating airport pickups for Ellen and Tim, Reid, and my uncle Henry and aunt Mary and their escort, my cousin Barb from Texas. There were meetings with a lawyer (attorneys have a strong grip on the post-death process) and financial folks who tended to our parent’s estate, to say nothing of pouring over pictures and family items so Ralph and Gayle could reclaim a sizeable portion of their basement.
But there were a few moments when grief properly showed itself. As is the way of visitations, my brother and I got to the funeral home two hours early to make sure preparations were in order. Once we agreed that mom looked was we hoped she would (she did), and that there were no typos in the annoucement brochure, I found myself in an empty pew in the parlor. That’s when events crowded in on me. The other was during a walk in the rural country just west of Grand Island. The third was on the second leg of the flight home. For some reason the idea of traveling still further away from mom and dad swept over me. I’ll have to go back once mom’s marker is in place so I can say hello to them together.
September 26, 2011
Ellen/Reid: The phone was with me all weekend in the event the call would come about your grandmother. Usually the phone is set to vibrate or silent, but this time the volume was turned up. I find myself with this increasing sense that combines doom, inevitability and sadness. Not a very good combination of three things. I worry about your grandmother and what is going through her mind during these days. What is she thinking (if she can think)? What bothers me the most is that she is alone. Your uncle is there often enough, but she’s still alone. That is the big thing; she is there and I am here, leaving her to fend for herself, no one there to give her comfort as often as she needs it or could certainly use it. It doesn’t give a very good feeling as a son to not be there with his mom. For all these past weeks I’ve thought I would be pretty stoic about things but last night it just began to hit me that her end will come and I won’t be there to at least hold her hand.
That must be the guilt part of it seeping through. I’m not sure what she would vocalize about it. She’s had a rough last few years and now I second guess myself about not getting out there more often, especially over the summer once I knew her condition was slipping very rapidly. It just makes me feel pretty shitty about things. Now, there’s no going back and trying to make amends all over again. There is no time. Instead I’m down here playing golf and lolling around when I could be up there to help her out in her final moments. It just makes me angry to think about my negligence. The final good byes from a few weeks ago just aren’t enough. I’m just not handling it was well as could be done. I told John about my misgivings and doubts, and he assured me there was no right or wrong way to handle such situations, especially if the person (your grandmother) has a diminished capacity to recognize us or anyone else. That was comforting to some degree.
The obituary is my responsibility and there’s been almost no progress on it. In fact it hasn’t even been started. There’s been not a lot of thinking put toward it. It most certainly won’t be as long as your grandfather’s but when the time comes I’ll put my full creative juices into it. Usually there’s no problem in at least mentally piecing together items like this but now there’s a big case of writer’s block. I don’t know how to start it out and what the middle and ending parts will be. What do you say about your mother that you haven’t already thought about on your own? We’re about to find out. Ralph and Gayle will most certainly edit it so I have to take that into account. Obituaries aren’t for the family but for the circle of friends. I’ve been looking at some in the paper here in Charlotte but there’s just no feel for how it should come together.
Someone mentioned a few days ago that when his mother passed away, he told his sister that now the two of them, both in their 60s, were orphans. That was an interesting way to look at things even at their age. There’s some truth to it. Not that it applies to either of you because you’ve been on your own for quite a while and have made you own ways, admirably so, but when your grandmother passes there won’t be a final lifeline for advice and counsel any more. That will all be gone, just as it does for every generation. Not to be morbid about it, but these are just the things you think about, it seems to me, when the torch is passed. The flame doesn’t go out but it’s instead just handed off to whomever comes next.
The phone will remain on high volume for however much time it takes for this unhappy predicament to pass. You might stay on alert for at least a text message that a call is about to come your way. The rest of the planning is already underway, but the call will be your sign that the plan is being put to use.