Funeral

My dad passed away nine days ago. We were packing and starting to move when it happened. My mind was focused solely on stuffing boxes and how quickly we could move.

On Thursday my sister called to say he had a heart attack and this time was bad. Our dad has had heart attacks before and frankly I wasn’t really concerned at first, he always bounced back. But she added he was on life support. If we could we should come see him.

Bear and I were trying to figure how we could schedule a trip out of town. Then my sister called Friday night, he was gone. They took him off the machines and he slipped away soon after.

I admit I’m still a little numb over a week later. I accept he’s gone. I went to the viewing, the wake, the funeral and the burial. I understand but I don’t feel anything except a small relief. I know he’s not been feeling well, he had trouble standing and walking. I know, I believe he is better off and much happier. I believe in Heaven, a good God, grace and that he is probably hanging out with his brothers and old friends he’s missed. He once mentioned most of the people he knew, including my mother, were dead. So it gives me a little relief thinking he’s not hurting any more. Another thing is once this news is delivered you no longer live in dread of it, its already happening. So we got that going for us.

It’s odd but I thought about this day 2 years ago, nearly to the day. It is and not what I expected.

https://quichepuppy.wordpress.com/2017/08/06/anticipation/

Advertisements

Tornado day

Today was the most dangerous day, the entire state was, still is, under tornado and thunderstorm warnings. Did not know this two weeks ago when I chose this as my day off.

I planned to go out of town with my family but as the entire state was under warning it didn’t seem like a good idea. So we went to the mall across town. Not long after we arrived we saw stores closing early.

We came prepared, my daughter-in-law made a bag, a grocery bag, of snacks. Originally for the road trip, we brought it with us. Seemed a shame to leave it. We hung out, walked around to see what was closed and what was still open. Then we had a picnic in the food court. It was almost deserted and nobody cared. I bought drinks at the Cajun place and we checked our phones for updates. So far nothing, just wind. Good.

The cliche “when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping ” happened. Stores are closing all around us, people are fleeing, there’s potential disaster outside and I’m buying stuff.

What’s left of the peach slices and salted chocolate caramels. Lady at the candy store told me her husband called and said his bank and the grocery store were closed.

I needed a pillow. Also half price

I rarely buy clothes outside of a thrift store but this looked soothing and comfortable and it was on sale.

It is raining now, and will continue most of the night, according to the Weather Channel. Most of the danger has passed, though there may be flooding. But we can deal with that later.

Cho Chang

My cat, she who woke me up at 5am, talked and purred constantly, is gone. I got her in December 2017, right before Christmas and thought she would live with me a few more years even though she was already 13. We would be cranky old ladies together.

She had surgery in September, there were tumors in her abdominal area. Thankfully they were benign but the vet told me they could recur. She fussed to me about her shaved belly but her appetite was good, the next day she was purring and waiting at the door for me when I came home from work.

Then she began hiding in the closet and sitting in the far corner of my room. She allowed me to pet her but not for long. I thought it had to do with Christmas and New Year’s. There were strange people and unfamiliar smells in the house. She did not like changes in her routine and I thought it was her way of saying so. She was also an introvert, another reason we got on well.

But a few days ago she was lying on her back and I saw red sores on her stomach. She wouldn’t let me look at them and retreated to the closet. I took her to the vet two days later. I should have done it the following morning but had to finagle time off from work.

I expected the vet to say she would need some surgery, maybe some drugs and send her home in a day. That was on my mind when I stuffed her in the cat carrier. She resisted it, more than usual. I should have noticed but didn’t.

It was a cold and icy morning, schools and the library were closed. The roads were nearly empty but slick. Cho complained all the way.

The vet hadn’t arrived yet when we got there. The receptionist took the carrier and cooed at Cho. They would call me after the vet looked at her.

I was in the grocery store with my son and daughter-in-law when the call came. The vet told me the sores were tumors. She had them inside, from her belly to under her front arms. They were cancerous. Then she said they could do surgery but it was likely the tumors would grow back. Cho was resting, they gave her pain meds and she was comfortable.

The surgery would be expensive, nearly $2,000. It would be hard on her. She would need meds for pain and antibiotics. She would probably have to do it again, the tumors were growing in her mammary glands. She could remove the tumors but not the glands. Mammary glands ran from her groin to under her arms, small tumors had infected the whole length.

So I thought about this. I hated that I knew the decision was already made. There was only one way to relieve her pain, to make sure the tumors didn’t grow back. I checked my savings even though I knew I didn’t have enough. It was to reassure me I tried, feebly but I tried.

Bear and I went to see her that afternoon. She was more energetic, perhaps anxious but I could tell she felt better. Pain meds were doing the job. He petted her, talked to her then left. I stayed with her awhile. I talked with her, held her awhile and petted her. She scrambled out of my arms and feeling better, started to explore the room. She was looking for a way out.

I had to pick her up when the tech and the vet came in. Cho didn’t resist, she seemed to understand. She tried to shake off the IV and twitched when the tech injected the sedative. Then the second injection. Her little body was still and she slumped after a minute. The vet checked her heartbeat and confirmed she was gone.

I am at that point of grief that hasn’t accepted the finality of death. I know it, I was there but it still hasn’t hit me yet. Even though I cleaned her litterbox and donated her food I feel nothing. Yesterday seems unreal, that it didn’t really happen. In another day or a week it will kick in, when I’ll realize she’s gone.

New Year’s 2018

This morning I got up and drove across town to go walk at Lake Hefner. A running club was going to run the dam before it’s closed for construction starting tomorrow,  probably forever or close to it. The Dam Run on the Dam Road in the Dam Cold. And it was cold, 10 degrees this morning. About 20 other insane people showed up, bundled up and did this thing. One TV channel even sent a shivering reporter.

I walked it, making me the last person in.  A turtle stampeding through peanut butter. I can also say I’ve peed outside at two locations now, there were no port-a-potties on the trail.

I bundled up, this is what I wore.

  • Underwear, the regular kind
  • Long sleeve knit top
  • Fitted fleece lined hoodie
  • Insulated jacket
  • Fleece lined leggings
  • Pants with mesh lining
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • Knit cap
  • 2 pairs of gloves, thin pair and fleece pair
  • Running shoes

I also took kleenex, my ID and money, my phone and earbuds. Got to have brunch then come home to watch the Winter Classic and my guy Lundqvist. It was colder here than NY.

Cho slept through the fireworks and guns shot off at midnight.

The full run was 10 miles but I turned back early. My longest walk since summer.

Icy lake water, some places were frozen.

Tiny Bear wishes everyone a Happy New Year and black-eyed peas.

ANTICIPATION 

I am in a strange state of anticipation. It’s not a good place, anticipating something I want or to earn. Rather I am waiting, monitoring, the health of my mother-in-law and dad. Both are elderly, unhealthy and I am preparing myself for the inevitable. In other words, I am waiting for them to die.

I am not a vulture, ready to inherit money or their possessions. It’s likely I may have to contribute financially, especially for my mother-in-law who has no savings. What my dad leaves will be mostly memories and a lot of junk (sorry, dad) in the garage. I’m not rubbing my hands together in greedy anticipation. There will be stories, memories and pictures, those we will share and carry with us. I know this because I’ve been through this before. With Jerry and before with other relatives, I know what to expect and I want to be prepared, as much as it is possible to prepare.

I don’t mention this, of course. I look at my sisters and wonder what it will do to them when our dad goes. They were young when our mom died and it affected them for years after; they missed her when they graduated and got married, and when my nephew was born. Our dad was able to be there for those occasions at least y u how much longer? I know they think about this too.

028

We all had lunch today with our dad; my sisters, their husbands, my nephew and me. It’s a rare thing for us all to be together but they made the effort because we all know our dad has one operating artery and there is nothing else the doctors can do but give him pills. He goes to his cardiologist on a monthly basis. He eats bacon and pork rinds without being scolded. While we were eating he casually mentioned the pastor he wants to do his funeral, he’s already asked him. I just swallowed some Diet Coke and choked a little. I know he’s made his arrangements, a military funeral and burial. I know, we all know, the funeral home handling the arrangements. He did this because he’s trying to be helpful, to make it easier on us when the time comes. My grandpa, my mom’s dad, did the same thing. Truly it did help but there are still details and hard moments, it isn’t easy. Grief is a layered business.

My mother-in-law is a contrast. She’s not planned for anything. Honestly I don’t blame her, denial is a pleasant place. She’s in Florida (God’s Waiting Room, she once called it) I talked to her and she was groggy on painkillers. She has heart problems too, but raises the stakes with a large blood clot in her left leg. She had surgery on her leg, the clot was bigger than they thought and now she’s recovering in a rehab facility. My brother-in-law is helpless and frankly useless. I ask him how she is, what the doctors said, what about her meds and treatment and he says she’s not good but that’s all the info he has. He’s never had to deal with stuff like this, I know he loves his mom but he isn’t a good advocate. Jerry did all that for them both, he was the steady and responsible one, taking care of them both from an early age. He’s not here now and neither of them seems to know how to cope, Ruth because she’s sick and weak and Mike because he never learned. Most of my info comes from Bear, who takes his dad’s role as protector seriously even when he’s 10,000 miles away. I dread getting a phone call from Bear about his grandma. I hope that when the time comes she isn’t hurting or alone and I hope someone is with my brother-in-law too. I am concerned that I may have to go to Florida, she once told us she was paying on a funeral plan with a funeral home but not sure she kept making payments and I don’t know its name.

family10 (2)

I don’t look forward to making arrangements, calling people, deciding whether to put it on Facebook (probably will for my dad), finding something to wear and dealing with the condolences, among other things. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again but I know better.

Bear messaged me and said he is thinking of visiting soon. His wife’s Visa is still being processed and they don’t know when it will be ready. He says he might come anyway. He says he misses Fall but we both know the real reason; he wants to see them both and say goodbye.

Snow

It’s a big deal here, huge. We get snow every year, usually after Christmas, and we lose our collective minds. We as a people forget how to drive on packed down snow and ice. We think we’re going to be snowbound for weeks and stock up on groceries and toilet paper. We close schools, cancel church and social events but there are still plenty of people out there sliding around on the roads creating havoc. 

I’m determined to not be a part of it. I am at home, with food, electricity, heat, running water and internet. There’s no reason to go out. As the news people say, as they are standing on an icy bridge or in the cold, if you don’t need to get out don’t. 

The snow here is about an inch, maybe two. Two at most. In other parts of the country or the world that’s nothing, laughable even.  I will survive, as long as I have Internet service and cat food.  

I have no plans to grill either.

Ending

Sedated at the hospital.

Last Sunday my lovely Olive was sick. She spent the night before on the floor instead of hogging my blanket and resting her little hairy butt in my face. 

She was lethargic but suddenly she began whimpering and thrashing about. She began frothing at the mouth and twitching. I tried to talk to her but she didn’t seem to hear me. The twitching stopped and she lay there. 

I managed to get her to the animal emergency hospital. It didn’t stop. The nurse asked me some questions but the only thing for certain was my dog was having seizures and no one knew why. 

She stayed at the hospital for 3 days, and they treated her with gentleness. They had to sedate her, the only way they could temporarily stop the seizures. She did not seem to hurt and she slept while I held her. I could feel her little body shake. She would wake up, lifting her head and seeming to chew for a few minutes before falling asleep again. The seizures never stopped, only slowed. The vets said there were tests they could run but they would only diagnose the cause, there was no guarantee she would get better.

When I left Tuesday night I had decided Wednesday would be her last day. No more seizures, no fear, no more wondering what was happening to her. I told Porkchop and neither of us slept much that night. 

I got Porkchop into the cat carrier and we went to say goodbye to Olive. I took him out of the carrier and he looked at her before he jumped off the table and hid under a chair. I admit I was disappointed and thought he would stay near her. 

The vet tech took her back to insert a new IV, brought her back and then injected her with a large syringe. It took 2 seconds for my girl’s spirit to leave her body. 

Some random events happened next, I took Porkchop home and drove 60 miles to Stillwater to my friend Lucy’s parents’s house. They offered to let me bury her on their land. 

Lucy’s dad dug the grave. The rest is still hard to explain, I watched and understood what happened but felt numb, like I was a camera recording the events without knowing whether it was real or not. 

They took care of me, a rare and wonderful experience. The thought of it overwhelms me, being allowed to do nothing, and letting someone else take charge. It’s foreign to me. I can never thank them enough. 

I miss my girl. Even though I still have Porkchop it’s incomplete. I have been through loss before, far worse than this, so I know I will be okay.  I also know it will take time.