At the age of 31 death began it’s parade in my life. I was 31, had a very young child, married with a big house we could barely afford and I was due to start a new job I was very excited about. I got a call, my grandmother had had a series of stokes. Off to the hospital I went. I was the oldest child it was my duty, my mother and her mother were estranged so it all fell on me. I gave up my evenings to go to the hospital and then to the “place she was sent after” I was young and naive. I had never had anyone this ill before in my life. There was no life left in my grandmother, she couldn’t feed herself and the staff just set trays in front of her as if she could. This went on a long time, or it seemed that way. My mother never asked how she was. One weekend day I set off for the visit, leaving my husband with our young daughter. I arrived, said hi to the nurses and went to her room. Her roommate gave me the strangest look and hustled out of the room. It was weird, there was a foam pillow under her chin and she was sleeping. It was a shock like no other to realize she was not breathing. I ran to the nurses station, their response “didn’t anyone call you?”. It seemed she had died sometime that morning probably just before I left the house, by the time I got the call it was too late, it was way early hardly anyone had cell phones and they were huge. So I got the surprise of my life. It was my duty to tell my mother, I was in shock my mother on the other hand just said ok and I don’t want to go to the funeral home, there was no service, nothing. Just a quick visit to the funeral home, for my sister, I’d already seen all I wanted to see, at least the foam pillow was gone. No mourning, no funeral just bam over, we cleaned out the apartment and done.
Fast forward a few years, my husbands mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. The nicest woman on the planet, my young daughter adored her, she saw them every weekend. While my mother in law was in surgery my father in law seemed really sick, a day or two later he was diagnosed with lung cancer. I don’t remember a lot my husbands sister took on that ordeal. I was on the sidelines and still a rookie at this whole cancer and impending death thing, both of my parents had death sentences handed out to them. Both of them were eventually moved to hospice facility, my husbands father was near the end and in fact it was only a day or two before he passed. My husband got the call to come to hospice, I went to work, on the way I got that feeling in my gut that he was gone and as I arrived at work my husband called to say he was gone. I said ok I’m coming, and headed to the bathroom because I knew I was going to breakdown. I didn’t make it someone in the office saw me and knew I was hurting, she just grabbed me and hugged me and I cried and cried, finally calmed enough to go to hospice. After that I don’t remember a lot, the funeral the reception after, many strangers to me.
My mother in law remained in hospice for a couple more months. My daughter visited frequently so we could all be there together. My daughter didn’t know any different and we had no idea how to explain what the situation was. It was beautiful at hospice the grounds were wooded, dear were often roaming around the staff was fabulous, you get to know them well when you are visiting for a months. The inevitable came, we were all present in the room when she took her last breath. It’s not as profound as you might thing it’s uncomfortable and sad and a sense of what do we do now. The grief in that room was palatable. I left after awhile to let my husband be with his sisters to grieve I had a child I needed to pick up. Then came the funeral and dealing with all the things that came after, my sister in law was amazing. We moved into their house, that was strange and exciting. It was a wonderful house full of a lot of things that belonged to my inlaws. My husband was the executor of both of my inlaw’s estates, most of that fell on me since he worked full time., for awhile I did too. Money has a way of making people crazy and my inlaw’s estate was large, who knew, they never came across as having extra. Insurance policies were part of their generation. We used the inheritance to buy my inlaw’s house. The rest of the money was split equally among my husbands sisters. What a mess that was, one sister and her husband changed a lot when money became a thing, there was a lot of it and they had never had that and they wanted it fast and then they wanted more. It became an insurmountable wall that came up between them and us, it has never been repaired.
END PART 1 – yes there is a whole lot more.
Death and Dying and All That Comes Between