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/

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Moving

The electricity and air conditioning went out. We called an electrician and he told us we needed to replace a box and our wiring needed to be replaced too. We discussed fixing it sitting in the hot house and after some time decided it made more sense to move. It would be cheaper overall and we would have air conditioning and electricity.

So we found an apartment, packed our stuff and moved.

Moving day, my daughter-in-law and the UHaul.

My moving work clothes. I wore the tshirt 4 days and the jeans 3 days. Be grateful you can’t smell this picture

After moving feast and celebration dinner

My room. We spent 3 days bringing small stuff and 1 day the big stuff

It is official

Although I have really slacked off (it’s been cold) I have proof I am (was) a runner. Perhaps runner is presumptuous, walker is more honest. Here’s proof I did whatever, for awhile. I lost my first toenail.

Not pretty but now I can add “lost a toenail” to the list, which includes “peed outside.” I’m not doing the Memorial race this year because my future is uncertain. Which means I have no goal or motivation to get up and just go.

I will be moving, probably in May, due to taxes. So my thrifting has slowed down, knowing I need to get rid of instead of accumulating stuff. Also the race is the end of April and I will be packing and doing the drudgery of moving instead of concentrating on training. Some people may be able to do both but my ability to focus is limited.

But it’s not all bad, Tiger is growing bean sprouts and they are thriving.

I took her to the river and made her walk in the cold and wind with me. She was a good sport.

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.

Not Sure

I am not sure about some things– whether or not I should wear pink, if microwaving counts as cooking and where I’m going to be this time next year.

The house where I live has overdue taxes I can’t pay. It will go to the county and be auctioned off. There is no clear owner, none of my family wants the place since they all have homes and the house needs a lot of work. Unless I win the lottery that’s about it.

I’m not sure how I feel about it either. A variety of emotions are floating around inside, colliding with each other. Right now I’m a little numb, and dreading the packing.

It’s not the first time I’ve had to do this. After Jerry passed away I had to leave the old apartment. I couldn’t afford the rent and I didn’t want to be there even if I could. That’s how I ended up here. Even then I knew it was temporary but that was 3 years ago. Because of that I still haven’t unpacked all my stuff. Good thing apparently.

I told Cho and she listened. She seems okay with it, as long as she has treats and I keep her box scooped out the rest is unimportant. The occasional belly rub too.

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I have considered trying to stay but I can’t afford the repairs and taxes, I’m not eligible for loans, which I really don’t want to take out. I admit I’m not that emotionally attached to it, which surprised me. If it goes I know I’ll survive, I have before. It may suck rocks but it’s not the worst thing that ever happened to me. Being a widow and being old gives you that assurance.

One thing I will miss will be these guys.

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.

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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.

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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.

Kitty

Porkchop was an excellent cat. He was really my son’s cat but after Bear moved to Asia consented to live with me. He was an old cat, I told my cousin he was 15 but when I thought about it, realized he was 20. If he were human he could vote.  EDIT: Porkchop was 16, not 20. I’m just losing it here.

He was sick, he started sitting in the tub during the day then his appetite declined. He stopped eating and I took him to the vet on Friday. He lost weight, had trouble standing and walking and then stopped using the cat box.  

The vet said he was anemic and they would run tests but didn’t sound encouraging. The tests showed he had kidney failure and his body was shutting down. His temperature was so low it didn’t register on the thermometer. I called Bear in Saigon and told him. He took it well but asked if I could bring his kitty home to die. I said I would try. I would go to the vet clinic in the morning and ask. 

Yesterday morning the receptionist ushered me and my cousin, who came for moral support, into an exam room. A vet tech came in and told us he had passed early that morning. I made arrangements to have him cremated, per his boy’s wishes. Later I cleared away his things and cleaned the cat box for the last time. It occurred to me later that Tuesday was the 3rd anniversary of Jerry’s passing and Porkchop passed four days after. I like to think of Jerry hearing his meow and looking down to see Porkchop and asking “When did you get here?”