Posts Tagged ‘death’


If we were having coffee, I would not be my usual upbeat self.  I’m in a sad and pensive mood.  Early yesterday evening, I learned of the death of a friend.  Her name was Sallie. We went to high school together and while I don’t remember her very well from high school (she was a year ahead of me), I got to be her friend over the past few years, through the Facebook group for graduated from my high school. We shared a background, a school, teachers, and friends. We had a few meals together on my way through her northern California town during my trips back and forth from Oregon. And, just last month, she asked me for a ride to our high school reunion so I stopped by and picked her up and we shared the 2 1/2 hour drive.  We talked. We laughed.  We vented.  It was so much fun.  Sallie was just getting back on her feet after being homeless for a year. She had found a home.  She was feeling great.  She had big plans for the future.  We talked of her coming to visit me.  We chatted on Facebook over the past month.  Then just a couple of days ago, she had a massive heart attack and now she’s gone.

If we were having coffee, I would talk about how this serves as a reminder that we just don’t know what is in store for us. We shouldn’t refrain from telling people we love them.  We shouldn’t put things off.  We should appreciate one another. We should grab every moment and make it count.  We should.  We might even do it for a few days then we’ll forget again.  Don’t forget.  Keep it fresh in your mind.  Live every moment.  Laugh often.  Love much.

If we were having coffee, I think I might just be cutting it short today.  Perhaps I’ll come back on Sunday with a proper coffee share but I think that’s all I’ve got for now.

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As I talk to my mother since my father’s death in mid May, I get a bigger picture of what he was like in the last months before he died. He had Alzheimer’s. I don’t know all that much about the disease, other than what I have seen portrayed in movies and on TV and in novels so some of the things she has told me are surprising to me.

He forgot so many things, but at the end of visits, he would ask when his sons were going to come visit him. he would ask for them by name: Carlos, Richard, and David. All three of his sons preceded him in death, but he forgot. What is interesting to me is that he remembered that he had sons even when he forgot everything else.

He forgot who my mother was. As they sat and talked about their children and their pasts, my father found it funny that they both had 7 children, 3 sons and 4 daughters, and that his kids’ names were the same as her kids’ names. She would try to explain to him that the reason was that his children were also her children but he didn’t get it. He found it funny that they had lived in the same cities and on the same streets and never met!

In the end, he forgot how to speak English. He spoke only Spanish.

And the one thing he never forgot was the name of his children. He remembered all of our names: Carlos, Richard, David, Sylvia, Corina, Irene, and Gilda. Even in the last couple of weeks, when he could barely speak, he was asking for each of us by name and wanting to see us.

In the end, his mind was clear. His memory was back. He knew who my mom was. He knew who my sisters were. And he knew that I could not come to see him because of my illness. I’m glad he knew that much. I would hate it if he had died thinking that I did not want to see him. It’s bad enough that I could not be there. At least he knew and understood that I could not be there.

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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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