Posts Tagged ‘death’

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If we were having coffee, I would greet you at my door and hope that you had a big hug for me. It has been a really rough week and I’m needing some hugs. So come on in, sit down and we can have a talk.

It has now been four weeks since my surgery. This time last week I thought I was beginning to feel better and I was starting to look forward to being well and able to leave the house and get on with things. Then after I wrote Saturday’s coffee share post, I got word that my dad died. I thought I was prepared for it. We had known for a few days that he was nearing the end (he was in “in home” hospice). When word came, I realized I wasn’t ready. And I was all alone in my memories and my grief. I have no family nearby except my daughter who was at work. I didn’t want to get her upset at work so I decided to not tell her until she got home. I got through it. Then each time I spoke to either my sister or my mother on the phone, I would get more details and the tears would spill again. I still feel pretty sad about it.

Two days later, I got the bill from the hospital and although it was discounted by 60%, I know I will be paying them for a long, long time…maybe for the rest of my life. Another blow. The next day my incision began to leak some kind of drainage. I watched it for awhile and took my temperature then finally called the doctor late that night. I spoke to the doctor on call (who fell asleep in the middle of my account of what was going on and I had to keep yelling “hello hello” into the phone; eight minute nap until she woke up!). She said I should just keep an eye on it for 24 hours then we could re-evaluate it. But by the morning, I knew I couldn’t wait 24 hours as things had gotten worse. So there I go back up to the hospital where they did a CT scan and send me home because it was too late to get the results until the next day. Finally I got word the next day that it is an abscess that is draining. Luckily, it is between the outside layer of the abdomen and the incision so we just need to let it finish draining. Fun. Not.

So I have been kind of down this week. It seems that just as I am starting to feel like I can plan on having a normal life, I get hit with something else. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get to feeling like myself again. Or will they keep finding other things wrong with me. (The CT scan showed a “spot” on my liver that was not seen in the March CT scan and there was a recommendation that it be investigated. However, because my doctor at OHSU is in the OB/GYN department, I’m sure no one will be doing anything about it.)

In any case, I have not felt much like blogging this week. I don’t know if I will feel like it during the coming week but I do want to try to get around to some of the blogs, even if I only “like” and not comment. I’ll try to do better than that, though.

I didn’t read much this week. I think everything I read seems to be coming up flat. It may just be my current frame of mind. I’ve been watching that old TV show, thirtysomething, on Hulu. I used to love that show the first time it ran in the late 80’s. Now, in watching it this time around, the first season struck me as having a bunch of whiny want to be grown ups griping about every bump in the road of their lives; some real childish stuff. I’m now on season 3 of 4 and it’s now better. The characters have had a chance to be developed and their stories are much more real and sympathetic. I’m currently watching a storyline about one of the characters, Nancy, who has ovarian cancer and it has been good for me to watch it because it has allowed me to think about some of things I have been feeling but not allowing myself to think about or express.

Our weather has been cold and cloudy and rainy. Except, of course, on the days I have been stuck inside the house. Then it has been sunny and warm. But I haven’t been able to get out in it. I did get out to drive to the drugstore the other day and right back. It was nice to be able to do something on my own and for myself. But I’m supposed to be “laying low” until the fluid stops draining so no more going out for me for a few days.

How’s your weather? What have you done for fun this week? What roadblocks have you come across? Tell me. Tell me. You’re about my only contact with the outside world!

I guess that’s it for today. I hope that next week I will be feeling a bit more like myself and I do plan on visiting blogs more faithfully this week so please bear with me. And I hope to be more myself next time around.

Have a wonderful week. Enjoy whatever weather you are having. Until next time.

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I knew since last Wednesday that his death was imminent. The word came today.

Dad, San Jose maybe 1955

Dad, San Jose maybe 1955

Dad around age 50, 1980ish.

Dad around age 50, 1980ish.

Dad and Mom with me at Junior Miss Pageant, 1973.

Dad and Mom with me at Junior Miss Pageant, 1973.

This is me with my Dad the last time I saw him, on Father's Day of 2012.

This is me with my Dad the last time I saw him, on Father’s Day of 2012.

You can read some of the posts about my dad here:
Tall Tales
What I Want To Remember About My Dad

And a post I wrote the last time we thought he was about to leave us in 2013

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Love Never Dies

I’m re-posting an entry originally posted in 2008. I’m in a place right now where I’m thinking about people I miss.

David always stuck up for me. Always. When I was in first grade, David was in fifth grade. One morning we were got to school and as we walked across the playground, a big kid yelled at me to get out of his way then he threw the baseball at my head, knocking me down to the ground. David made sure I was okay and he got me to the office then he went and beat the kid up. He didn’t care that the kid was a lot bigger than him. He just beat him up for hurting his little sister.

The following year we went to a different school. I was the only one in the class that was new to the second grade group and they didn’t like me. David was in sixth grade and was on the school Safety Patrol. One day, he was near my building when I was out at recess. I was on the spinning thing they called a merry-go-round and I was losing my grip. I yelled for them to stop so I could get off but they laughed at me and went faster and faster. I fell off and no one would stop it or slow down. They were kicking me in the face and I was crying. My mouth filled with dirt and tan bark. All of the sudden David was there, blowing his Safety Patrol whistle and yelling at the kids to stop. He pulled me out and got me to the Nurse’s Office and stayed with me until I got cleaned up. When I got back to class, I found out that David had gotten the kids in trouble for not stopping when I was down under everyone’s feet.

Throughout our time in school, at least once a month David would come home with a torn shirt because he had been in a fight, sticking up for us, his little sisters. He even got in a fight sticking up for our other brother that was two years older than David. David was fierce when it came to protecting and defending his brothers and sisters.

I miss David. I need David. Sometimes I go to the cemetery and talk to him. I took my kids with me to introduce them to David when they were babies. Now I sit and tell him about what is going on with me and with my kids. I ask him for help and advice. Sometimes I cry, sitting there telling him how I miss him and how I wish he were here to help me and defend me. I ask him to help me make decisions. I know he hears me.

When we buried David more than 25 years ago, there was a tiny little pine tree next to his grave. That tree is now huge and nine times out of ten, when I go to see David, after I’m all done talking to him and asking him to help me, a single pine cone drops from the tree and lands right next to me, even when there is no wind or breeze at all. It makes me smile and although no one else seems to think so, I know it’s David letting me know that he’s there with me, listening, and getting ready to go slug it out for me!


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I’m currently reading End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James Swanson (don’t run out and buy it; it’s not the best book out there on the subject). Today I am at the part where the body is brought home to the White House and preparations are made for the funeral. Although I have read a myriad of books about this and saw so much of this unfold on live television in 1963, it is always heart wrenching and tears follow. Needless to say it has been an emotional day.
I’m struck by the timeliness of this reading as it is not only coming up on the 51st anniversary of the assassination but also because today is day of the dead, a day when people welcome their lost loved ones as they return from the dead to comfort their live family and friends. It is believed that to forget a departed friend or family sends them to true death while remembering them keeps them alive for as long as the memories are alive. I’m one that believes that the dead don’t leave us. They are always with us in spirit and in our hearts and minds.
When someone like President Kennedy dies, the entire world knows about it and mourns the passing and remembers them in history books. Their loved ones are accompanied in their sorrow by strangers who loved and mourn them. Indeed, even when there is no more family to mourn them, they will go on in history books and on the Internet.
What happens when someone dies and they are unknown except to their friends and family? Are they any less worthy of being mourned and being remembered? Is it only the famous and the infamous that live on in our memories? Is their death any less significant?
Everyone is worthy of being loved and remembered and mourned. Everyone. Every death is significant, if not to many, to a few. Every death.
I’m thinking now of those I’ve lost. Maybe only my family remembers them. Maybe only we still mourn them. But they go on in our hearts. I know that each of my brothers is with me as I go through my daily life. Something will remind me of them and I smile. Sometimes the memories bring tears, but that’s okay. Tears are not always bad; not always sad. When I see my nieces and nephews, I see my brothers in them. When I see their grandchildren I know that they live on in those children. I know that they are here, not just on the day of the dead but every time someone thinks of one of them, they live on.
Maybe they weren’t important and maybe they won’t be in a history book but each of my brothers, David, Richard, and Carlos, lives on. I feel them with me at times. They walk the earth. They live on.

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Note: This is a story written in the point of view of an eight year old child.  Although I wrote it many years after that horrible day when I was in second grade, I hope I have captured the day as I experienced it so long ago.


After eating  lunch, I went to wait outside the classroom door with Lydia and Denise, my best friends.  Our teacher, Mrs. Baumann, let us into the classroom every day after she finished her lunch.  We helped her correct papers and get things ready for the rest of the day.

We had been waiting for a long time.  She never took this long.  It was getting cold.  We got tired of waiting so Denise went to the door and knocked.  The door opened and Mrs. Baumann came out.  She looked real sad.  Her eyes looked wet.  She let us in.  She gave us papers to staple and went into the back room with one of the other teachers, Mrs. Quail.

The girls and I were really excited because our second grade class was putting on the Thanksgiving assembly later that afternoon.  Some of us had Indian headdresses to wear and some had Pilgrim hats and two of the boys had turkey feathers to wear.

The teachers were whispering in the back room.  The phone rang.  Mrs. Baumann talked for a little bit then we heard her hang up.  They whispered then the two teachers started to cry loudly.  They weren’t even trying to hide it.  Something terrible must’ve happened because the phone never rang.  It was only for emergencies because we were so far from the other classrooms and the rest of the school.

The teachers just cried and cried.  We looked at them.  I asked Mrs. Baumann what was wrong.  She said we would find out later.  Just then, the bell rang and she went to the door to let the rest of the kids inside.  She didn’t even wait until they were all quiet and in a straight line.  She just let them in.

When everyone was in their chairs, Mrs. Baumann tried to stop crying.  She couldn’t stop. As she cried, she slowly started to talk.  She said that President Kennedy, Caroline’s daddy had been shot earlier that morning.  She said she had just gotten a phone call from the office saying that he was dead.  We all looked at each other, then at her.  We could tell that we were supposed to be sad but I don’t think any of us was sure.

Mrs.  Baumann had us put our heads down on the tables and pray for Caroline’s daddy and for Caroline because she didn’t have a daddy anymore.  I  was sad when I thought of Caroline not having a daddy anymore.  Then Mrs. Baumann said that we might not have the assembly that afternoon because of what had happened.  Almost the whole class started crying, especially the first graders that were in our the class.  We had all worked so hard to do a neat job cutting and pasting our costumes.  It had been very hard to learn all those songs for our program.  Some of us had parents coming to watch.  Lydia’s  mother was coming and so was Denise’s.  My Mommy was supposed to come too.  I was sad because she was going to walk all the way to school with my little sister and there wasn’t even going to be an assembly.

Mrs. Baumann asked us to sit quietly with our heads on our desks and think about what had happened in a place she called Dallas.

The phone rang again.  After she hung up, Mrs. Baumann announced that we would have the assembly after all.  We were all happy about that.  We stopped crying.

We had the assembly but some of the classes did not come.  We walked to the auditorium, put on our headdresses, hats, and feathers and sang our songs.  We did a real good job.  We all smiled proudly as the audience clapped.  Not very many parents came that day.  Denise’s mother didn’t come  and Lydia’s mother didn’t come.  My Mommy and my little sister were there.  Mrs. Baumann said I could go say hi to them when we finished the program.  I was proud that they had come to see me.  My Mommy must’ve been proud of me too because she was crying.


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Today I watched the memorial service for Teddy Kennedy.  Speaker after speaker told wonderful stories of Teddy’s love for life; of his generosity and genuine concern for everyone he met, whether a friend or a foe.  In that room (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts) there was so much joy and so much sadness.  Today was a day to remember the things and people that he loved so much.j

I came away from with a new respect and awareness of Teddy Kennedy as a person.  Today I came to love him and miss him even more.

I think, too, that in that room we were able to see that the dream will live on.  He instilled in his countless nieces and nephews, in his own children and grandchildren, and every Kennedy relative, the need and the duty to serve the American Public.  That’s Me and You.  I think each of us should bow our head and thank the Powers That Be for sending us Teddy Kennedy.  He showed that all of us, regardless of how imperfect we are, have the capacity and the duty to leave this earth a better place.

I think that the younger Kennedy generation has learned that lesson well and will make their uncle/father/grandfather proud as they follow in his footsteps.

What a wonderful send off.  What a beautiful celebration of a man’s life.

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I’m still quite stunned at the passing of Teddy Kennedy.  I feel an emptiness inside that I haven’t felt in some time.  It’s a sort of hopelessness.

Like millions of Americans, today is the first day I have lived that there has been no Kennedy brother alive.   I grew up with Kennedy stories everywhere.  I remember having my own little “All the way with JFK” button that my dad got for me at a rally when JFK was running for president.  I remember his election.  I also remember the terrible day in 1963 when I was in second grade when JFK was killed.  I remember watching the coverage and I remember watching as Jack Ruby walked up to Lee Harvey Oswald and killed him.  And I remember watching as Caroline and John John visited the casket then the funeral procession and the eulogies.  I remember it all.  And there among the multitude of Kennedys was Teddy.  When I was in fifth grade I remember Bobby running for president and I remember wanting to go see him when he came to campaign in our town.   I remember fantasizing that one day I would marry Bobby Kennedy Junior who is a year older than I.  And I was awake on that June night watching the election returns when Bobby was killed.   I remember watching the train that took Bobby’s body from California to Washington D.C.  I remember the words and the voice and the emotion Teddy showed in eulogizing his brother.  Teddy became the face of the Kennedy’s then.  We saw him take charge of the Senate and I knew that as long as there was a Kennedy brother in D.C., there would be someone fighting for the rights and concerns of the Every Day Man.

I could go on and on but it’s all been said, especially in the hours since he passed.    I will probably have more to say at some point when I can collect my thoughts and put them into words.  For now, if you haven’t seen it, let me leave you with a link to Joe Biden’s words about Teddy which are probably the best and most sincere description I have heard of Teddy.

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This afternoon I watched my neighbor’s body being taken from his house in a body bag.  He died alone and no one even knew it for a couple of days.  He died sad and depressed and empty.

When I decided to move away from everyone and everything I knew, this is the one fear that I had for myself.  I feared that some day I would die alone and no one would even know it.

Today reinforces that fear.  To say the least, I’m shaken up a bit.

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I ran out to run an errand this afternoon and on the way back, I drove by the local high school.  Out on their electronic marquee, was a note of condolence and support for the loved ones of 16 year old Ashley Wilks, who was killed by sniper fire at a local underage club last weekend.

I’ve been thinking about her and her school mates.  The high school years are such a difficult time.  Kids walk through their daily lives in pain and some in numbness.  To have something like this happen can send many of them over the edge.  I hope this incident doesn’t destroy any more lives than it already has.

It also made me remember the school mates that I lost while I was in high school.  There were several that didn’t make it through the four years of high school.  My younger sister’s best friend and “honorary brother” was killed one early summer evening a week before school let out for summer.  His name was Greg and he was a freshman.  Greg was the baby of his family and only son.  He had five older sisters.  On that evening, he was on a motor scooter in front of the house.  He hit a pot hole and was thrown into the air, breaking his neck.  The whole neighborhood was watching, including his mother.  He was killed instantly.  When I was a junior, my class lost two on the same day.  Brad and Greg cut school one day and went to Greg’s house to hang out.  Somehow they both ended up being shot when they were playing with Greg’s mom’s gun which she kept to feel safer in a house alone with her children.

One that I won’t forget is Rudy.  Rudy and I shared a last name but were not related.  He hung with the wrong crowd.  I had stayed away from him but one summer we both worked at the high school under the Neighborhood Youth Corps, a program to help low income youth gain job skills.  I worked in the office, doing secretarial work and Rudy worked with the custodian, Howard.  We got to know each other that summer and it turned out that Rudy was a really neat kid.  He was quiet and shy; a follower, not a leader.  Up until that point, he had chosen to follow the wrong crowd.  At the end of summer, I gave him a ring I had been wearing all summer that he had admired often.  It was a little cluster of tiny cow bells.  It kind of jingled as I moved my hand and Rudy liked it.  I took it off the last day of work and gave it to him and made him promise he would be more careful who he hung out with and that he’d come and ask me when he needed help with his school work.  During the school year, we’d run into each other and stop and talk a bit or wave from across the courtyard.  Neither of us cared that we didn’t “belong” to the same group of friends.  We were friends and we kinda looked out for one another.  When I graduated, Rudy was still in school.  He was a year behind me.  Over Labor Day weekend Rudy drowned at one of the local lakes.  He was there with his family on the crowded lake.  It took several days to find his body.

These classmates and others have not been forgotten.  It has been many years; several decades, but they’ve not been forgotten.  They’ve been remembered and missed and thought of often.

I know Ashley Wilks will be missed and thought of and remembered many years from now.

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One Last Time

It was dark yet there was no denying that I had found the right house. It had been painted two different shades of green and there was a wheelchair ramp in the front but it was still the same house I had seen the last time I had been there to see Grandma, twelve years before. I was here to see her one last time, to say one final good bye.

Corpus Christi has some very beautiful sections. I love the oceanfront. That’s my favorite place to visit but this time I was not here for a vacation. I was here to bury my Grandma and to help my mother get through the loss of her mother. This was the toughest trip I had made in a long time. As I parked the rental car, I took a deep breath as I braced myself for the difficult days ahead.

Two days later, when we found ourselves with a block of time before we had to be back to the funeral home for the rosary, Mom asked Uncle Joe to drive us to the waterfront so that I could see how it had changed. I enjoyed that short tour of the T-heads and the waterfront, and the historic-homes-turned-museums, but there was an underlying heaviness and sadness marring the excursion. Somehow, underneath it all, I think each of us knew that we would never return here again. That unspoken knowledge weighed heavily on our minds as we each tried to soak it all in and engrave the view onto our minds.

The sky was a clear blue, just a couple of shades lighter than the ocean. The wispy clouds mirrored the foam on the sea’s waves. Palm trees bent in the wind. A tug boat pulled a barge through the narrow inlet of water. Seagulls screeched as they swooped around us. The traffic rushed by on the bridge high above us. We were the only ones aware of our pain, grief, and the heaviness of our hearts as we walked to the car and headed back to the house that held Grandma’s presence even though she would never be there again.


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