Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Be thankful.
Thank all of you for your kind words and support during these past few months. Life is emotionally difficult for me but I'm am healing.
I should say that I feel some better now and that is the only reason I can post this. It was too painful before. The rough draft of this was written each evening as the events occurred. I am still grieving, but I am healing too.
I thought I'd try and share part of the story with all of you. The photos aren't that great (almost all are cell phone photos) and I didn't size all of them correctly. Death in a small town
The day One knew would come is here.
The call comes at 2:30 am. Confused, One dresses and rushes to Ones parents home to find mother standing by fathers bedside. He isnt there anymore. Ones mind imagines he takes a breath once in a while. No, it is illusion.
A family member and the minister arrive before the ambulance.
Finally an ambulance gets there.
The paramedics walk casually to the bedside and do their test.
They call the coroner.
Two police cars arrive from a town nearby. They ask questions. There is massive confusion over which police jurisdiction it is. Other police are called. Seems none of them want to do the paper work.
The coroner arrives and asks questions. Turns out the coroner and the deceased are friends. The coroner is also the funeral home director.
Different police arrive followed by two vehicles from the funeral home, a truck and a van.
It is 3:30 am and the funeral home guy is in a suit. They ask more questions.
Forms are filled out and signed.
The deceased is carried away and the family is left at the house with more forms to fill out.
Burial insurance policies have to be gathered.
Clothing for the burial must be selected.
Which suit should we use? Which tie? Should we clean the suit? Shoes and socks are optional.
Who has the sermon the deceased wanted shared at his funeral?
What to do with his extensive library?
Where is his wallet?
His favorite chair sits hauntingly empty.
The children go through the papers pulling out the burial and life insurance policies. They each assume different, oddly familiar roles: the roles of childhood.
Who does what and who calls who is almost instinctual?
The new widow wanders the house dazed and confused moving small objects from place to place attempting to create order in her broken world.
But it is too soon.
Someone goes around turning off lights and shutting doors. Someone goes around turning on lights. The daughter mindlessly sorts things on the end table by his chair.
Outside in the darkness, the children huddle silently separately together with their grief.
Someone goes for food which is eaten without interest.
Emails are sent to distant family.
Condolence emails begin to come within hours. News spreads fast in a small town.
Time passes slowly as they wait until 2 pm to make the funeral arrangements. More choices and decisions have to be made by people who can barely think in this surrealistic haze.
How long can you watch the weather channel without going crazy? Seems it is about an hour and a half. Then on to closed captioned news talk shows. Why cant we turn up the sound? No one seems to have an answer or the ability to do that.
The funeral home director is quite pleasant and helpful.
After many, many questions and lots of decisions about times and places it is time to select a casket.
The door opened to the casket showroom. There is a wide selection to look at, each costing more than the one before. Money is discussed. Finally, a casket, cards, guest book, and program are selected. The price is settled on. How odd to haggle over these things.
Two hours later they return to the widows house. One of the children brings over more food. Dinner and conversation until 8 and then everyone returns to their respective homes except the daughter who spends the night there.
Day 2 Coffee, soda, and sandwiches
Today was a day of hanging out together as a family, lots of naps, conversation, reminiscing, feeble attempts at frivolity, and snacking.
There are long discussions about insurance, bills, and then there is the great Bible search. The Bible is still missing. The widow wants to hold it. It is the deceased oldest and favorite Bible. Family and friends come and go. A friend brings food for dinner and everyone wolfs it down. It is a long, sad day. The youngest son stays the night with his mom so she wont be alone.
Day 3 Coffee, soda, tea, and a covered dish lunch
Today begins with the two sons gathered at moms. Mom is still sleeping. She always sleeps late. After about an hour she wakes up and starts moving around. She has a banana for breakfast. They chat about this and that. A life insurance company calls about arranging payment. That will take at least a week to settle they say. The younger son listens in on the conversation to protect his mother.
Lunch is provided one dish at a time by the widows Sunday school class. The cars come and go each with a story, smile, condolence, and reminder of the family's loss. Intermingled with them, the rest of the family trickles in. They gather for lunch. The food is really good. How will we ever get all this in the fridge? Who sent all this food? We must send thank you cards. Who brought the bean casserole? What about the 7 Layer Salad and the pecan pies? The questions, answers, and guessing go on until each is listed and assigned to someone. Flowers arrive. Laughter. Its from one of the sons ex-wife. Who told her? She read it in the newspaper.
Grieving pest extermination. Let the mouse in the house so we can kill it with these nifty, high-tech, mouse traps.
The family disperses to change clothes for the viewing. Here, take this food home with you. There isnt room in the fridge for it. Will you take some of the Bibles for tonight? When does it start five or five thirty? Five. OK.
At the funeral home
Two of the bereaved stand outside smoking, avoiding what is to come. Finally they go inside
and enter the parlor.
Look at all the pretty flowers.
These are from your friends. They sure are. It was so nice of them to send flowers.
There is the veterans flag from his time in the Navy.
Individually and by twos and threes they view the body commenting on how the deceased appears. He looks so good. No he doesnt, he looks dead.
Then they sit and stare at each other. After some discussion, the doors are opened admitting the world of comforters. Hugs, whispered kindness, handshakes, and memories are shared for hours. The minister arrives and moves through the family sharing his worn and practiced words of kindness. Humor is an unwelcome guest. One family member cant help but try. He is weary of the accepted rituals. The minister tells him to try and behave in the service at the church tomorrow.
At last the friends of the family disperse and the family once more returns to their separate homes to prepare for the final event.
Day 4: Funeral , chicken, biscuits, and pink stuff
Leave for the church: 9:30
Church at 9:45 to view the body
Service at 11:00
Lunch at high noon provided by the church (where will we put all the food they are going to send home?)
Drive to cemetery at 2:00
Grave side service at 3:00
Gather at moms to eat supper: 5:00
The family had a long day today.
At the service, the minister awkwardly stumbles over his almost comforting words. Songs are sung by a friend of the deceased.
The church is really full with friends and family coming from miles around. It is odd to feel so alone in the midst of all those caring people.
The food provided by the church is delicious and plentiful. Based on what people do to help, it seems food and flowers are considered the cure for grief. Ones favorite food for grief is there. One eats the pink fluffy mystery food he has turned to before in times of sorrow. Seems it is always there to comfort him in times such as this.
The hearse waits outside.
It is a warm, sunny, fall day when the small group gathers by the grave to hear the ministers final words.
The death relatives who magical reappear for funerals appear once more.
It is just the family now. The words are said. The casket lowered. The deceased has finally been laid to rest in a town an hours drive away. The family has had a plot there for many years. They drive away to gather again at the widows home for supper.
One and his son stop for a beer on the way to dinner at moms.
A song loop plays in Ones head,
Put the keg on my coffin
And think of me every so often
Have a loser's day parade for all my friends
Drink up life like a river
til the pizza man delivers
Smile and know I loved ya til the end. ~ Chris Trapper
The other family members arent there. It violates their religious beliefs.
Back at mom's there is more eating, memories, sorting papers, and laughter One returns to his house spiritually and emotionally drained. There is another thing left to do before sleep. An obligation must be fulfilled. One strikes out again. Two hours later, at his house again, One finally gives himself to the void of his old friend, dreamless sleep. Maybe it will last more than a few hours tonight.
Day 5: What happens now
One spends the gray, rainy morning sitting around in a haze of cigarette smoke. His thoughts rove the landscape of his mind in useless wandering seeking a peaceful place to rest, a reassuring voice, a shoulder to cry on. Time flows by slowly when waiting. The two four-legged house guests lay on the sofa and stare at the parrot in his cage.
Ones sister calls. She wants to know where the deceaseds billfold is. It is right where we put it. She forgot.
Finally, the waiting can end and things begin to happen. Off to moms for lunch and sorting through bills. All is fun and going great. Things are getting organized and done. Then there is the big family wrecking fight. So sad. So useless. What a waste of love.
: Rebuilding lives without friend, husband, father, grandfather
Sadly, the rebuilding had to wait. Mom died two weeks later.