Sunday, November 1, 2015

Life Changes

As many of you already know, my mother passed away on October 15th.  She had survived
the worst of the move and seemed to be settling.  I was definitely feeling better about the care she was getting.  I went over at lunchtime and took her cornbread to have with her lunch.  She ate it all.  All was as usual with the exception of her having a build up of mucus in her throat.  I notified the nurse and she checked her immediately and helped remove it with a siphoning machine.  My day proceeded as usual until around 7PM when I received a call from Sue, the person on duty with Tidewater Hospice. She said it happened suddenly without pain, which was a blessing. Sue was as sweet as could be and gave me all of her contact numbers so I could call her at any time, if needed. She then went over to Ridgeland Nursing Center and took care of all of the details. Their chaplain and social worked contacted me before bedtime, but I asked that they come over the next day, which they did.

At that point I was just trying to get myself together to go to North Carolina for the service.  Mama had long ago filled out a form from the local funeral home specifying her wishes for her service. Taking a cue from a family member of Mrs. Baker at Bloom, I had also written a sketchy obituary for Mama.  The obituary along with other pertinent information, collected poems...and the two photos shown here were in a folder, so I didn't have to run around trying to collect everything I might need. The top photo is when she was gussied-up and looking good...and was used for her obituary.  The other is at home, on her porch, with her Smokey.......where she would really want to be and how I would want to remember her. She had wanted two soloists, but one was out of town; so, my cousin's husband, Julious, sang two songs that she had specified.  Another was used for the processional and my only addition was to have "I'll Fly Away" sung as the family felt.  The service was conducted by two ministers from her church who knew her well.  The only glitch was that Mama had managed to outlive many of her suggested pall bearers, so I had to extend the circle, but everyone asked was kind to comply. All in all, it went well and I felt good knowing it was what she wanted.  AND, I had Smokey cremated when he died and he was put in her casket!  I thought she would have liked that.....I plan to go with all of mine that have gone before!   Before I go farther, I would encourage all to specify what you would like done at your service.  I can't tell you how much help that was and how comforting for me to know that it was as she wanted it.

Her obituary is HERE.
The Order of Service is HERE.

I stayed with Laney and Julious from Sunday to Wednesday.  All the relatives on both sides were supportive and kind. It had literally been years since I'd been home and it was good to see everyone again. After the service about nine of the cousins got together at Laney's for homemade pizza and a catch-up.  Mama would have liked that, too, and it seemed strange to be there without her.  Laney sent me home with a car load of food and my friend Chris brought over a delicious Pumpkin Soup, a scrumptious Broccoli Sweet Potato Salad, and a yummy Orange Almond Coffee Cake.  I didn't have to think about food for most of a week, gave me time to notify those who required it and do the odd things that needed to be done.  Though I expect things to crop up over time, I hope most of the obligatory tasks have been done.

I'm doing okay after suddenly realizing that so much of her had already gone before she took her last breath.  If was mostly a matter of letting go of the body, on both her part and mine. It truly is "the long goodbye".  Her last months were so difficult, exacerbated by the sudden move,  that it was made easier by knowing she was not going through all of that any more.  I like to think of her as being whole again.....happy, at peace, and with those she loved. I'm focusing on how fortunate I was to have her this long: to have the time to live my life and come full circle and be able to help her, and put some of our demons to rest before the end.  I didn't see her but for a few minutes before the visitation.  While everyone else seemed to think she "looked good", I thought she looked dead!  My preference is to remember her in her prime, rather than the shell at the end.  There are moments of sadness, but overall I'm okay.

I've resumed feeding the feral cats, and Ana and I are getting together for zentangle on Tuesday.....first time since August 25!  I've also gotten involved in a neighborhood canasta game due to my inability to think quickly on my feet!  They actually play weekly, which is far to regular for me.  Now they've found someone to play full time and I'll be a sub, which worked out well.  There is still Drinking Liberally, Liberal Ladies of the Lowcountry (meeting this coming Friday), and the Progressive Ladies' Group.  Chris and I will also be putting down another batch of wine for the holidays. Any creative holiday names for the label??  I'm wanting to make a special label but have no creative ideas.

I've even had a meetup with Cheryl, her mother and Nancy this past Friday at our usual Subway at Exit 8 on I-95.  We were so busy talking and laughing that we totally forgot to take a selfie!!  it was great to get together!

And then there's Rosie!!  I can't tell you how happy I am that I have her.  She is a delight and is settling in well.  We had to drop out of puppy class, but we will pick it up again soon.  Even so, she has gotten so much better on our walks and is a real snuggle-bug in bed.  If I'm quiet, I can go in and get a cup of coffee and my iPad and come back to bed without waking her.  She wakes up lazily....stretching, yawning, snuggling.  But, once she's awake, it's full tilt.  While I was away, the Tidewater Social Worker, who is also the daughter of a friend and a neighbor, kept Rosie with her two doggies. There was some growling and snapping when I took Rosie over and I was a little worried, but she sent photo updates while I was gone and they had become good buddies by the time I got back.  Even so, Rosie was very happy to see me, which made  me feel good.

Thanks to everyone who sent condolences by phone, cards, email, text, etc..  It means a lot to be thought about in times like this and I do appreciate your concern and good wishes. I know I owe lots of emails and I'm working on it.  In the meantime, I hope this will suffice.