I have often written posts about my parents, known here as Nana and Paco. I’m sad to tell you that Nana passed away last week. After months of declining health due to congestive heart failure, she had a few days of rapid decline and died peacefully with my older sister with her and the rest of the family able to gather quickly for some final time together with her.
Over these last few days, my sisters have been staying at Paco’s apartment and taking care of him, while my spouse B and I have been tending to preparations for the funeral, which will take place mid-week.
We are very fortunate that this week is a week off for my son-in-law L, who was able to fly here from London to be with daughter E, granddaughter ABC, and all of us.
I admit that my mind has been richoting from one subject to another. Now that the funeral plans are all in place, I’m hoping I can calm my mind a bit, but it remains to be seen.
With so much happening, I’m not online very much, so I may not be able to keep up with responding to comments. Please know that I appreciate all the thoughts and prayers that you send on behalf of Nana and our family.
This was our first Christmas season without Grandma (my mother-in-law) who passed away in March.
It was also a quiet Christmas for a number of reasons which I won’t enumerate here.
It was sometimes difficult to navigate the season, trying to balance happy memories of how much Grandma loved Christmas, especially decorating, with how painful it was that she wasn’t able to be here with us.
I think each of us had at least one crying jag in the process.
Some things just felt right, though, such as putting the carol singers that she made for us on the cupboard filled with her teacup collection that now sits in our dining room, instead of on the mantel in the living room.
And making her pecan puff recipe.
I am also thankful that last year, our daughter E and her husband L were here celebrating Christmas with us. It was a precious time.
None us knew that that Christmas would be Grandma’s last.
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “first/last.” Join us! Find out how here: https://lindaghill.com/2016/12/30/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-3116/
Today, my mother-in-law, known here as Grandma, would have turned 85.
Instead of buying flowers or her favorite truffles from a local sweets shop and making plans for her birthday dinner, we are faced with the six-month anniversary of her death and the beginning of a new season without her.
We have already been through the first Easter and Mother’s Day without her.
On August 15th, we didn’t buy flowers in remembrance of her and Grandpa’s wedding anniversary.
In the months ahead, there will be the first Thanksgiving without her and the first Christmas and the first Valentine’s Day.
We won’t be bringing her flowers on March 17th to celebrate Evacuation Day, an inside family joke that originated with Grandpa’s years as an elementary school principal.
A few days later will be the first anniversary of her death.
And then a year of seconds.
I am pleased to share the this link: https://eunoiareview.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/fifty-four/ to my poem “Fifty-four” in Eunoia Review. It is a reprint of the poem which first appeared in Wilderness House Literary Review. Before that, it was a finalist in a Binghamton Poetry Project contest. It was written about me and my friend Angie.
I usually write squealing posts when a poem is accepted, but this was different. It was a very sober time in our lives, as we were dealing with the continuing process of grieving Grandma’s death. By sad coincidence, in January, Eunoia had published “The Last Night“, a poem I wrote about the death of my father-in-law. It felt surreal that they accepted another poem of mine that involves a death at a time when we were again mourning. This feeling has only multiplied as the losses have continued to mount this spring.
I do hope that you will take a moment to visit Eunoia Review and read my work. I would love to hear from you, either through comments here or at Eunoia.
March 25th, 2016 was Good Friday.
So was March 25th, 2005.
The only reason I remember that fact was that that was the day my friend Angie died.
When she died after fighting cancer for over four years, both of B’s parents were still alive. His dad died in July, 2005, also from cancer; his mom, on Tuesday of Holy Week, just a few days before the 11th anniversary of Angie’s death.
In the early morning hours of March 25th, when I couldn’t sleep, I visited the website of the the charity that Angie’s family established in her memory. I always make a donation on March 25th and on October 25th, which was Angie’s birthday.
This year, the paypal link was broken, so I emailed to ask about it.
Her eldest son sent me a reply and set about getting the link fixed. He also sent me a wonderful photo of his daughter, whose middle name is Angeline, after the grandmother she will never meet on this earth. In the photo, she has a marker in her tiny hand. She may be an artist, like Angie.
Life goes on.
Yesterday, there was a memorial service at the senior community where my parents and, until recently, B’s mom live. They hold one every quarter for residents who have died in the previous three months; this time, there were eight.
This service marked the first official commemoration of Grandma’s death. She did not want to have a wake or funeral; there will be a graveside service later in the spring back in New England.
By coincidence, the service was almost exactly a month after Grandma’s death. It made me think of a Month’s Mind Mass, which is from my Catholic faith tradition. Grandma was not Catholic and the service was not a mass, but it was comforting to me.
The service was the first time I have been a bit teary. I have been so busy concentrating on doing everything that needs to be done and on supporting others that I haven’t really done much mourning myself.
Reaction to loss follows its own path…
Today marks four weeks since Grandma died.
The time has passed in a blizzard of paperwork, phone calls, sorting, packing, and hauling. As if to add to the surreal sense of time, we had a springtime siege of cold weather and snow, following a winter that was much milder than usual. Had Grandma been alive, she would have heartily disapproved of the turn in the weather. She liked things to proceed in an orderly fashion and was inclined to take inclement weather as personal affront.
One of the hidden blessings in all the sorting and cleaning out has been that we came upon so many reminders of her life. Photos from the decades of her life, including a newspaper clipping of her modeling a fur coat back in the fifties. Playing board games with our children. Writing the weekly menus in calligraphy so that she could stay in practice. Her favorite authors and movies. Her love of decorating for every possible season and holiday, including three drawers of candles in a range of colors to match the decor.
We reached a milestone yesterday. We turned her cottage back over to Good Shepherd Village so that they can ready it for the next resident. Grandma has been the only person to live there, as she moved in shortly after the community opened in fall of 2009. It was bittersweet for B and me to walk in for the last time, having stripped it back to the bare walls and floors, looking much the same as it did when we first saw it.
The window treatments and the dents her furniture had left in the carpets were the only visible reminders that Grandma had made her home here near us for her last six years.