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Archive for the ‘dying’ Category

Mom & Dad: March 2006

Yesterday marked one year since Dad died. Actually Saturday felt more like it, since he died on a Saturday. Even this year my stomach and body were tight all Saturday as though he were dying all over again, until just about the same time he died, around 6:30 p.m. Then somehow I became relaxed.

Last year, I had stayed up most of the night to be with Dad so he wouldn’t be alone were he to die during the night. So I was really tired on his last day, as I had sat up until about 4:30 a.m. when I finally caved in and leaned forward on his bed and did a face plant and slept for 1½ hours. He awoke at 6 a.m., and as soon as he did I gave him some pharmaceuticals to relax him since he seemed to be miserable. He was done talking at this point. The meds relaxed him. He stopped putting his hand to his head every couple of minutes, which he had been doing even as he slept.

Time does heal wounds. I recall dreading going to Mass the day after Dad died. In fact, my brother and I left early. We just couldn’t take it.

A year later, my family and I looked forward to attending Mass together, which was the feast of Christ the King, which goes along so nicely with how I feel about my Dad. I couldn’t have picked a nicer or more caring man to be my Dad and mentor.

There are still reminders around Mom’s home of Dad, aside from pictures. Mom now sleeps in his hospital bed, the bed he died in. She has physically declined so appreciates the help getting in and out of bed that a hospital bed affords. She also hangs out mostly on Dad’s chair, a glorified lazyboy.

I can still smell Dad in our towels as I dry off after a shower, even a year later. Just last week, Mom had most of his clothes taken away and spread hers around to fill up his closet. It was very emotional for her to give away his suits. I think she would have liked to know who was going to wear them.

I have been going through family pictures for the last couple of weeks and have pulled out my favorites to scan into my computer before the quality degrades further. I have so many memories of good times with my family and friends, so going through pictures is enjoyable!

Yesterday we got up at 6 a.m. for 7:30 a.m. Mass. This was particularly hard on Mom. She almost couldn’t keep her balance first thing this morning, and I wasn’t much better since I had insomnia so had slept very little. We made our way through Mass. There was no singing or exchange of peace so it was recitation of prayers throughout. Our priest is one of my favorites and remembered Dad with warmth as the Mass intention right at the start of Mass.

We were sorry our priest couldn’t join us for a very delicious breakfast at the Hay Adams. It was yummy and Dad would have enjoyed it, and breakfast was his favorite meal! The Hay is a happy place to eat as it’s airy, cheerful, with white walls and lots of windows and white orchids. The service is excellent, which makes you feel so welcome.

Well, we got through this year without Dad. I had hoped I would be done grieving. I still miss him. I think you will always miss a parent you love after they go.

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You cannot judge the value of a life by its quantity. It is by the joy that you are

feeling. The more joyful you are, the longer you live. Let yourself relax and

breathe and be free and be joyous, and romp. The optimum physical life

experience is to have plenty of things that stimulate you to desire, and an

awareness of the way you feel, so you’re reaching for thoughts that feel good

so you’re wide open, so you’re tuned in, tapped in, and turned on.

We promise you, the timing of your death is always chosen by you.

Chicago, IL — 9/7/02 — Abraham

Excerpted from the workshop in Chicago, IL on Saturday, 9/7/02, 2002 #423

Our Love, Jerry and Esther

Week of May 2, 2010

This message from Jerry and Esther resonated during the last week of April. We got past dad’s birthday, the first one since his death. It’s the first day we didn’t celebrate his birthday ever since I can remember. He would have been 92, and he did have a lot of joy in his life which he shared with us. He had a strong desire to live life to its fullest, even when it wasn’t so full and his world had become small, confined to the downstairs of my parent’s home, and he required help to get around, and couldn’t think too clearly anymore.

He still found a lot to be grateful for in daily living and always thanked us for the little things we did to help him out.  He was so thankful and un-demanding that everyone wanted to help him. As he was tiptoeing towards death I recall how we tried to make him the perfect, soft scrambled egg so he could easily chew and swallow it without choking. When he was reduced to baby food, we would put it into a teacup so it could be presented nicely and he could forget what we were feeding him.

We watched a lot of TV in those final days since that seemed to keep us from facing our sorrow that we were losing dad. He did decide when he wanted to die, as he didn’t want to eat or drink one week before he died.

Mom and I had a nice phone call the Sunday after dad’s birthday, and she was strong enough to go to church. The key message at church that week was to love one another as God has loved you, and care for each other in the same vein. It’s really the essence of what keeps the human race going that we care for each other.

I had called mom on dad’s birthday, and she hadn’t brought it up so I suspected that she didn’t want to go there. However, on Sunday she mentioned that one of my brothers had called her on dad’s birthday so I figured she did want to talk about dad now.   I suspected that all the talk about love at church probably reminded her of dad. It sure reminded me of him too.  I was on my own at church, amongst a huge congregation in Richardson, TX as Rodgers was at the Cottonwood Art Festival selling his oil paintings. The warmth of the Texans was evidenced in how they engaged in worship, participating in the oral recitation of prayers in strong unison and the choir had some operatic and melodic voices.

I only shed a few tears at Mass, but I shed a few more as I listened to mom talk about the love she experienced from and with dad.  They had so many romantic times together: one anniversary they had a dinner on a cruise along the Danube in Austria. They traveled so many places together including China the year they turned 80. As they grew older they had to travel on tours, and they would buy all the optional packages to see the most they could…that’s how they happened to be on the cruise on the Danube. She told me about another time when they were in Athens and had a romantic meal with the Parthenon in full view off in the distance.

So we are pulling ourselves through our grief by sharing stories, listening and prompting each other to share more. When dad first died, we just couldn’t talk about him that much. They dying process was too fresh and painful that we had witnessed, and we just needed to internalize a bit before we could talk about dad as he was before his steady two year decline in health.

I look forward to more happy talk about dad as we continue to grieve and bring our spirits back up again.

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“When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
Khalil Gibran

A few days ago when I read this on Robert White’s Extraordinary Minute blog, I skeptically thought, “yah, right”.

Well yesterday I awoke to a new experience of my dad since his death. I awoke with the vision of my dad, albeit just a quick mental glimpse, as a younger, middle-aged man! Wow, it was a warm feeling that drifted through my body. I could feel the energy of his younger body and spirit as I peered into his face and his soul, almost disbelievingly.

You see up until now, I only dreamt of my dad as a dying man, and often had flashbacks about what he looked like in death. That experience was just too much out of the ordinary and somehow got sketched and implanted deep into my visionary and emotional memory. While intellectually I am certain that this must be a normal, human experience, I know it is up to me to move past it, while not denying it. I was blessed to be with my dad and our family as he crept towards death and died in our midst, surrounded by love and care.

Just last week I had received an email from a dear cousin who had lost her dad a few years ago. She said when she suddenly thought about her dad, she still cried for him.  However, she now remembers him as a younger, more vibrant man, also without Alzheimer’s, the disease he and my dad shared in their later years.

I wanted to share this since dad had been dead for 4 months and 10 days before I had this gift of life, of who he was most of his life! As this was my first emotional glimpse, my feelings aren’t that well developed. I just saw a happy man which my Father was! This is a good start and I am grateful that my grieving process is progressing and I got to feel and see dad as the more vibrant, happy and intelligent man that he was for most of his life! After all isn’t it better to remember someone you love—more as you saw and felt them—before they became so weak, old and memory poor?

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