Sunday, September 16

In the Midst of Life...

For some obscure reason, I have been thinking about death. Of course it is with us every day, even though we may not think about it, on a conscious level.

I suspect that my thoughts were jogged by a view of the 'bones' of cactus over at Granny J's "Walking Prescott". I found this very interesting, & it seemed to tie in with my thoughts of death, & how it has affected me, at various times in my life, when loved ones have died.

When my beloved maternal grandmother died, it was a shock. She had a massive stroke, & we travelled, full of fear, to the Hospital in another city, to visit her. She never regained consciousness, but we felt she knew we were there, & waited for us, before dying.

My mother was paralysed with grief, & could not bring herself to attend the funeral, so I stayed with my mother, & didnt go to the funeral either. I have sometimes regretted that, but felt my mother needed me more. It was a terrible loss to us, as we had lived with her for a best part of my life, & of course, it had seemed she was invincible.. I know my mother grieved until she died.

The death of my stepdaughter was just horrendous. It took a long time to learn to live with that grief, & it will still catch me at times, with sudden tears, at the memory of her loss. And her little hand in mine, when I first met her. Her trusting brown eyes, when I told her she didnt have to call me Mum, when my Mil was insisting she did.

The next significant death, or the one with a severe impact on me, was the death of my Father in law. I was not particularly close to my Fil, but it just seemed so sad. He had had a stroke, & my MIL who was in early stage Alzheimers did not tell anyone. Consequently, he was in bed for a week, with no treatment before her brother found out accidentally what must have happened, & he called my SIL. She organised to get Fil into hospital, but didn't tell us any thing about it. Her husband went behind her back, & rang us to tell us he was very bad, just before he died. We never got to see him, & when we attended his funeral, it just seemed so horrible to think, we could have visited him before he went, if only my Sil had not been so spiteful.

Our fist instinct was to make love, as if the act of procreation, could somehow stave off the reality of the death. I have been told this reaction is quite common. A sort of primal instinct to reaffirm life & living.

We had to make hasty plans to fly to NZ for the funeral, & it was a sad journey. I cried all the way home in the airplane. It seemed worse, as they had cartoons on the screen in the plane, & my Fil had loved his cartoons. He loved to watch them with his grandchildren.

I had recently undgone a hysterectomy, so I suppose that, combined with Fil's death caused a sort of breakdown mentally in my health, & I just couldn't stop crying about it all. It was a truly awful time.

We had recently found out our daughter was having her first baby, & it seemed our new little granddaughter filled a serious gaping hole in our lives. Cuddling her, was like reaffirming life, & I am sure her appearance in our family had a great healing effect.

When my father died, I was devastated, not least because I didn't know him well. It was a sad funeral for me, & I wished I had had Gom with me. He had only met my father once, so he didnt really know him, & he felt he was needed here in Oz. I have blogged about meeting my half siblings for the first time at my father's funeral, which was a very bittersweet event. I knew for certain that I could never get to know my father then.

My Mil was the next to go. We had found out finally where she was, & had gone to visit her, luckily. We asked to be informed of any change in her conditon. She had advanced Alzheimers, & didnt really know us. Though, I felt she knew Gom was there, when I saw the tears come out of her eyes. We were let down over her death, & made a hurried dash to the funeral, & returned to Oz almost immediately after. It seems so sad to me, who has family ties so tight & close, that Gom & his only sister are estranged. A strange woman, who, in many ways has had a very sad life.

No one ever wants to think about the death of their mother. That will probably be one of the most devastating death's of all, for any person to cope with.

My Mum had a great sense of reality. She used to tell us in detail, what she did or did not want in the way of a funeral. She was very adamant there was to be no religion mentioned. No matter how hard you try, the buggers will always try to sneak it in!

Mum would have us in fits of laughter, in the end, about what she did, & did not, want in funereal farewells. Though it was terrifying to live through, I think that fact that we had had many discussions, & much laughter well before she died, was a help, in dealing with the actual funeral.

This post has turned out rather sad, which was not my intention at the beginning.

I have had a great outing with Gom & my Daughter J. We went to a seaside Market, & I cursed myself roundly for not taking my camera. Next time I will, as the building is lovely, & quite unique. It has been restored & is a fascinating place to see, even if we didnt buy any of the wares on offer.

We did have a lot of fun people watching, & were several times forced to choke back laughter.

It was strictly No Dogs Allowed, & we were greatly amused to see a very crabby looking old couple, with a little black & white dog sitting between on a chair, at a table. When I bent to admire the little dog, the womans face was transformed into wreaths of smiles, & she said "She is waiting for her dinner". And the old man beamed with pride upon 'his daughter'.

I will add it is an outdoor venue, so the dog was technically not inside. There were quite a few little dogs, clutched lovingly in arms, & they were all very well behaved.

There was a wonderful free puppet show, which had adults as well as children, enthralled. The characters were different & unique, & were very well made, & the variety of voices the puppeteer managed was quite incredible. We wished SG had come with us, but he had decided to stay home.

As we came round on our second lap past the puppet theater, he signed off, & said he would return in half an hour. DJ & I hung about wanting to catch a glimpse of the 'magic man'. After intently watching the back of his little tent, bulge, & sag, & bulge & sag again, we wondered what he could be doing in there. DJ finally concluded he was getting dressed! So off we went conjuring up images, & reasons why that should be so, & we never did get to see him!

On the way home, there was a sign for a Scout Garage Sale, so we called into that. They were on the last bits & pieces, but everything was half price, & you could fill a bag with books, for a dollar. DJ got some lovely books for SG, all in really good condition, & she gave them $2 for them. I got a box of puzzles, & games with some stuffed animals for $3, so SG scored the puzzles & games, & Leo will no doubt make good use of the stuffed toys.

It has really been a perfect Spring day here, light breeze, & 27 degrees of beautiful sunshine.

Hope you have all had a good weekend.
I have probably bored you witless with this longwinded affair, but since I didn't get on here yesterday, you might forgive me. I write it for me, in case I develop Alzheimers!

Janis Ian, Aftertones


Tanya Brown said...

Oh, goodness. It sounds like one of those days when the whole mortality business is weighing heavily on one's mind. I have those. I suppose death is as natural an event as birth, but so are mosquitos, and I don't like them very much either.

Bless your mother for being wise and responsible. One's own death is so hard to face, yet we do our loved ones no favors if we leave things in a muddle. (Written by the woman who has a small child but no will, sigh.)

Alice said...

Rest assured, Meggie, your posts are never boring, though they do conjure up just about every other

The death of a loved one is hard enough at the best of times but you had so much trauma attached to all of yours. No doubt it all made you stronger but there must be other ways to gain

Leigh said...

I love the way you write Meggie.

bluemountainsmary said...

Again again that movie in my head whenever I read your posts and this one was sad as you said and then lightened by your day out. I have lost my father as you know and will not think about losing mum. Maryx

meggie said...

Tanya, I was worried about Wills when our children were.. well children. As it happens they are adults now, so I worry less. But I do think Wills are important. As I feel it is important to talk about death- ours or theirs.
Alice, In hindsight, I suppose they did serve to make me stronger...but as you say, I could think of better ways!
Leigh, I have contacted you. Thankyou for your kind comment.
Mary, Please write to me via email. I would love to talk to you! I cant find an email address for you? I love your posts too.

Bren said...

Just recently losing my Grandmother, the death thing is fresh. For me, because of my faith, the death can either be bittersweet, as with my Grandmother or agony as it would be with my Father...eternity is somewhere.

Pauline said...

But this was a wonderful post - no apologies needed! One always ought to be able to unburden oneself without explanation - and those of us who are present to listen can be thankful that our own emotions can still be stirred. Change form day is never easy for us to accept and yet the other choice is worse. What we cannott accept, we suffer.

Your family day sounded such fun. So glad you write for you, and that I get to read it!

joyce said...

My Dad talked quite a lot about funerals etc so we knew what to do. The one thing he always wanted that we couldn't do was to be at his own funeral to visit with all his old friends and relatives. He would have loved his. And I agree. You need a will.

Jeanne said...

DH and I still have all four parents living -- they're all in their upper 80s, so I know the next phase of our life is going to be sad.

sheoflittlebrain said...

A moving post, meggie. My Grandmother had her affairs neatly planned and always said she hoped that she could view her own funeral to see how many of her friends were in attendance!

Granny J said...

I am sorry to have touched off such sad memories, Meggie. You wrote of them movingly. I too am glad that your day moved in a different direction at the Seaside Market.

Ian Lidster said...

For me I think it's an age thing -- it's all gone too damn fast -- and I find I must scrupulously avoid thoughts of death because they drag me down. But, your post didn't. It was honest and perceptive.

ancient one said...

Your stories, (posts) are always so interesting. I think death is part of life and your mom was wise to tell you exactly what she wanted. Last spring my mom was frantically looking a dress to wear to a grandson's wedding. She hates the dresses that come to your ankles. Told me she wouldn't be caught dead in one, so I said well I guess we know not to put you in that type of dress when you die... she laughed... later after she found the dress she wanted for the wedding, she told me I could bury her in that one... My mom is 82 and for the most part pretty healthy. She looked good in her dress. I told her I hoped that one had long rotted away before we had to bury her. I reminded her that she had sisters that lived to be 100 and for her not to do anything less than that. This was all said in a light hearted moment, but you know I will remember it if anything happens to her.

Your outing sounded fun. WE had company drop in Saturday night. Youngest of husband's Brothers and his wife. Then today we had company again. Oldest of husband's brothers and his wife. Missed my Sunday afternoon nap before going back to church tonight... So very soon I'm heading to bed! LOL