MY DAY: Thank you…

My personalized thank you cards will arrive next week.

In the mean time, I wanted to be certain each and every individual who contributed something to my life, these past several weeks, understands how much your thoughtfulness meant.

From “hearts” or praying hand icons on social media, the loving tributes to Mother on social media, the numerous cards, emails, text messages, thoughtful gestures and gifts, friends driving several hours for the visitation and funeral, all the family and friends who visited Mother at Pleasant View Lodge, those who participated in the Life Celebration, Pleasant View Lodge, the Dunnichay Funeral Hone family, Linda Kane and the Pizza King crew, and the countless hugs… oh, I treasure each of the hugs these past several weeks.

My sister, Dena, was the perfect power of attorney, making so many strenuous decisions and advocating so beautifully on Mother’s behalf. Sis was the consummate juggler of Mother’s affairs, running her home and family, and starting a new business throughout Mother’s illness and passing, and I am so grateful for each and every effort on her part. She was magnificent.

Words cannot express my heart’s ever deepening affection and gratitude for the countless kindnesses shown me during the weeks of Mother’s illness and her eventual passing.

Know you are loved…

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MY DAY: In my old swing

It’s mid August, and this is my first visit to Riverscape where I’ve climbed into my favorite swing over looking the Great Miami River.

I spent some time near the river scape pavilion, listening to the swing band and watching some of the couples dancing.

I’ve missed my familiar perch above the river, the gorgeous sunsets, and the breeze blowing off the water’s surface. Tonight could not have been a more perfect night.

One of the reasons for grabbing this swing, the past two years, was to write Mother who was in her first nursing home. I wrote her about the weather, the colors of the sunsets, and about my day.

I don’t feel sad.

Just tired on all levels of mind, body and emotions.

Having this week free from teaching has allowed me to rest, enjoy reading through the many generous comments about Mother on social media, and continually recognizing how blessed I was for 54 years.

And, what is more… I still am.

And it was a pretty pink sunset, tonight… a shade of pink Mother would have loved.

Know you are loved…

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MY DAY: Turning the page…

The first major sign defining Mother’s passing is not seeing her daily Facebook “likes” for my posts, a commentary on a post, and always followed by “I love you” or “Love you.”

It’s almost surreal realizing she’s no longer here. I’ve found myself, these past several days, thinking, “I should tell Mother this…” or “Mother would love this story about… [one of the dogs or students she was always asking about].

The page was turned and now I seem to be staring at a blank page. I know the blankness is temporary and it’s only requiring me to lift my pen, but the weight of the pen, for now, is extraordinarily heavy.

I returned from Indiana, late Friday evening, and spent the large part of Saturday in bed, only rising to tend to the dogs, eat or use the bathroom. Sunday, I taught six lessons and a few on Monday. It was a haze.

The alone-time, since greeting so many on Friday, is rewarding. Even speaking with a waitress was exhausting, yesterday.

Fortunately, I had already scheduled Tuesday through Saturday to not teach. While the timing of this break was perfect, I’ve not achieved any sort of accomplishments.

The one good thing is that I’ve finally achieved “deck time.” It’s been either too hot or raining. My dog sitters have used it far more times than I have.

The sun is setting on this Wednesday. It’s 8:04 PM and I’m exhausted from exhaustion.

This, too, shall pass.

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MY DAY: It’s still Monday

It’s still Monday.

I’m passing through the Oregon District where the mass shooting occurred early Sunday morning.

Television news crews line a section of the street across from where the shootings occurred.

A gathering of folks surround a makeshift memorial for those who died. Tears are still freely flowing.

I’m heading to my regular Chinese buffet haunt just a few hundred feet from the Oregon District, where I will eat and work on Mother’s funeral service.

It’s still Monday, August 5, 2019. Just over 24 hours ago nine people lay dead and 25+ others injured. It’s so damned surreal.

Dayton is now a familiar name in the national news and headlines.

It’s still Monday, August 5, 2019. Just about 16 hours ago, Mother slipped away from this world. It feels like it’s already been days ago.

I have brain fatigue. Emotions are rather dried up for the moment.

It’s still Monday.

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MIAGD:

MIAGD: Make it a great day

Make it a great day!”

I am more than certain Mother would not want it any other way.

There is still a day to be lived. This is a new day that requires not only work at my career, but another opportunity to make a difference.

I’m glad to have spent the last 3 1/2 hours of my Mother’s life, sitting by her bedside. Those 3 1/2 hours were very calm, even uneventful. My sister and I simply watched her inhalations until they ceased at 1:05 AM, just one hour in to August 5, 2019.

When my grandmother died in 1992, I was holding her hand and heard my cousin, Debbie, say, “she’s gone.”

I turned to look at all the faces gathered around my grandmother’s bed and noticed Mother standing at the foot of the bed, looking upon my grandmother’s face. Mother had replaced her anguish and tears with a content, weary smile.

Tonight, my sister sat at the head of the bed, holding Mother’s hand. Like my mother at her mother’s death, I positioned myself at the foot of the bed.

By 12:30 AM, the rhythm of Mother’s breathing was no longer consistent and even, but sporadic and labored.

At 1:05 AM, she took a break. As we had done for the past several hours, we searched for, even expecting another breath to follow.

There were no more breaths to come.

I looked upon my mother’s face. The strained, anguished features of illness were completely gone, magically transformed within minutes. Mother’s body was finally at peace.

After making several calls and sending texts, Dena and I busied ourselves, packing up Mother’s room. As our natures, we promptly transitioned into shared laughter. It was lightheartedness as we packed things, often glancing over to the tiny figure lying in repose, thanks to the nurses who prepared her for removal.

By 2:15 AM, Jordan Cannon from Dunnichay’s Funeral, Elwood, pulled into the parking lot. Moments later, Dena and I saw the gurney bearing Mother’s body moving down the dimly lit hallway.

We finished packing up the room, bid farewell to the night staff, and said our good byes and “I love yous” in the parking lot.

Exactly at 4:00 AM, just two hours and fifty-five minutes since Mother’s passing, I was headed eastward to Kettering, arriving at 5:30 AM.

My quartet of dogs did not bark nor demonstrate their noisy, physical exuberance upon my entering the house. Tails wagged but the full burst of enthusiasm was amazingly subdued.

The week will be committed to teaching, prepping for a new school year, adding final touches to the funeral, and finally, making the trip back to Elwood for the funeral.

I’m at peace.

She taught me how to live, how to laugh, and how to love.

Mission accomplished, Mother. You raised three children who followed your instructions and examples, individually creating our own fascinating worlds of living, laughing, and loving. You should be proud of this accomplishment, alone.

Know you are loved, Mother…

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MY DAY: The Watch

The helplessness of watching someone in the final stages of dying…

The frustration of watching someone in the final stages of dying…

The heartbreak of watching someone in the final stages of dying…

I’ve often read the phrase, “cancer sucks.”

Yes, indeed. It sucks, big time.

Aunt Joyce and Mother

Mother cannot get comfortable in her sleep. She grabs at the blanket, writhes and moans in pain from her Kennedy ulcer, her back, the cancer, and her tiny body shutting down. Her face is now distorted, masking her lovely, familiar features.

Nurses have been in to visit Mother, crying and sharing stories of how much she touched their lives. Mother made certain the nurses, front desk personnel, cleaning and kitchen staff were personally greeted each day, and told they are loved.

My sister, Dena, has been a saint in all she has done to assist Mother’s needs and communicating with the staff and hospice nurses. She’s done such an admirable job balancing her children at home, heading up the role of Mother’s medical executor, and all while starting a new business. Sis’s tireless caring and attention has been a blessing throughout this transition.

Mother’s room is filled with laughter as my sister and I share stories and joke with one another. The night-shift nurses often stop in to join in the merriment.

My sister went to the restroom and I’m alone with Mother. I gaze upon the face I’ve known for nearly fifty-five years and barely recognize but a few features.

I will especially miss her sparking smile that made her eyes seem to dance. Her fifth grade teacher (also mine, twenty years later) at Washington Elementary School, Garnetta Brugger, always told Mother she had “smiling eyes.”

All the recognizable features are blurred and her voice and laughter are now in the past.

Since there are no monitors to alert us, we rely on studied glances to observe movement in her chest cavity or listen for the labored breathing.

It’s now 5:00 AM, the third day of August.

It’s been exactly six months since our brother Destin’s suicide. We’ve wondered if she might have selected this date for departure.

The watch continues…

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MY DAY: Waiting in the wings…

67739088_10107035130389308_8323528864529645568_nBy the time this post appears on social media, I shall be on my way back to my mother’s side as the curtain lowers on this final act.

Mother’s spoken lines are now hushed, her movement stilled.  The breathing is much slower and a bit labored.  Soon the stage will be cleared and the Ghostlight in place.

Several times, these past few weeks, I believed I was bidding Mother a final farewell before those departures.  However, the dear woman put in a few more curtain calls.  As the hospice nurse indicated, this afternoon, there probably will be no further curtain calls.

The grand dame will shortly take her final bow.

My sister and I are waiting in the wings, holding Mother’s hands, waiting for the final curtain so she can quietly slip out the stage door.

It’s surreal knowing my mother will soon depart, but I am at peace.

I am so proud of all her quiet accomplishments and her deserved victories.

I will always know how blessed I am to have been her eldest son.

“A bell is no bell til you ring it, A song is no song til you sing it,

And love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay; love isn’t love til you give it away.”

                                       Oscar Hammerstein II, 1959

Thank you, Mother… you were amazing.

Know you are loved, eternally…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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