Showing posts with label death. Show all posts
Showing posts with label death. Show all posts

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Not the Reunion We Were After

          My Uncle Ross had battled cancer off and on for I don’t know how many years.  His last time in the hospital was majorly hard on his wife and children – but he kept up a positive attitude, I believe for their sake. 
          When he left the hospital, he was told that he would have no more than a year left on earth.  (Probably not in those exact words – but you get the gist)

          My cousin, Michelle, had sent out a request for an early “Christmas in July” celebration – hoping that we would all enjoy one last celebration with Uncle Ross and have those treasured memories as we had for mom.  Only her request came as a plea on my part: “LaTiesha is moving to Oregon.  Let’s have our Christmas early this year before she goes” She didn’t want to say what she really meant “before Dad goes”

          The date was set up for June 14th – though not everyone would be able to attend.  I don’t think we’ve ever had a “Christmas in July” party in which all of us were there.  And yet when we had celebrated in December, I don’t remember anyone NOT being there – even if it was just to put in an appearance (which seemed to become more popular as the family grew) 

          The celebration for this year would take place at the same time when my family attended Church – which is why I had announced in my ward that the 7th would probably be my last week (I was still tired from bus trip mentioned in my last post; wasn’t thinking clearly)

          On June 6th I was on the bus going toward Salt Lake.  I had the option of using my laptop but did not actually make the discovery until the last leg of the trip, but chose not to deal with it in such tight quarters as it was.  Corey had texted me in the event that I wasn’t on facebook.  Michelle had messaged family members to let us know that Uncle Ross had chosen not to fight anymore.  Corey had just seen him two days earlier, and though he had lost a tremendous amount of weight, Corey said that Uncle Ross seemed to be in good spirits.

          Less than two hours later I received another text.  Uncle Ross had passed.  At that point I didn’t have (nor expect) any details about the funeral.  It may not have been until Monday that I learned that there would be a viewing on Thursday and the funeral would be on Saturday, the 13th.  So of course we wouldn’t be having the “Christmas in July” on the following Sunday.  

          Roland had graduated from his collage courses and already had his diploma in hand.  But he had signed up to walk across the stage in a graduation ceremony that same Saturday – an activity that I was never truly excited about to begin with.  I would seriously rather attend a funeral than a graduation or award ceremony that always seems to drag and make me feel like death would be an awesome option for ending the many hours I feel like I spend at said ceremony.  But it’s not like I wished for it to happen just so I’d have an excuse not to go.

          Meanwhile, Roland seemed to forget about it as well as he planned to leave Utah on Friday night after he got off work to take a load of furniture and packed boxes to Oregon.  He didn’t attend either viewing or funeral.  He and Bill both work late on Thursday and so Bill did not go to the viewing either.  Kayla stopped by with their three children and we rode to the viewing address together.

          The viewing, without doubt, is the most interesting that I’ve ever attended.  Corey would have loved it, I think.  There was a “celebration of life” theme.  Nothing wrong with it – just different.  It wasn’t something that Kayla and I are used to.  It just felt irreverent when we first arrived.  I felt like we had walked into a cocktail party rather than a viewing. But it was a great send-off. Made it easier on my aunt and cousins – who for the most part, were out mingling amongst the “guests”.  Uncle Ross was left in a room by himself (for the most part).  Aunt Fern said it made it so much easier for her not to be in the same room with his lifeless body. 

          They had dressed him in golf clothes and he held a golf ball.  Kayla and I tried to visit with family members while taking turns supervising the children as Anna wanted to go in one direction and Gary in another and the food wasn’t as important as they thought.

          Anna wanted to go upstairs in a closed area and Gary wanted to stand near enough to the water to play in it.  BJ was very good, but after a while he wanted to get down and explore as well.  Neither Kayla nor I were willing to allow that to happen as he could have easily been stepped on.  Didn’t seem like a very kid-friendly environment – but than neither is the traditional viewing that we are used to. Children acting up or misbehaving seems more noticeable at a viewing than it does at Church services.  But given the amount of volume level amongst those who had come to pay their respects, their behavior seemed to be overlooked by everyone except me and Kayla. 

         I had asked Earl how they had found the funeral home or made the arrangements. He said that the family had been introduced to the services after an uncle had died.  His mom liked the feeling of “life” as opposed to the mourning for death.  The family agreed and made the arrangements.

         Kayla and I did not stay long as the kids really needed to removed from the situation at hand.  I think all of us were tired.

          The Saturday service was really nice.  Three of my cousins gave talks and shared memories of their dad.  Michelle’s husband played guitar while Corey sang “Landslide”, a song that neither one of them were familiar with, but I had heard it before.  Michelle mentioned that the song had been chosen as her family doesn’t seem to deal well with change – at least where death is involved.

           Golf balls had been purchased for mementoes to take for each person who attended the services.  One son-in-law works with the police force and made arrangements for a police (on motorcycles) escort to be with the old fashion looking Hearst.  People may have seen it and thought there must have been an important person in the casket.  It was indeed a great honor.

After the services were over at the cemetery, we all threw paper airplanes.  A balloon was tied to one to send on high.  Just a few minutes later many of us returned to the church to have lunch with the family.  I went around and said my good-byes to all of the family members who had usually turned out for Christmas dinner.  Some who said they couldn’t or wouldn’t make it to the BBQ for an early July Christmas. It was Uncle Ross’s final farewell and everyone turned out for it.  And it was great.

Now he is reunited with his mom and dad and brother and sister. This picture is my dad with Uncle Ross long before they were my dad and uncle.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Walking in Heaven

I don’t know when mom became an avid walker or how many years she and Pam Sanders had walked together practically every weekday morning.  I know that Corey was still in high school and driving because many times mom and Pam would end their walk at the high school and take the car.

            Once, as they were leaving the parking lot, a security officer from the high school pulled them over to see their ID – wondering why the car was being driven off the high school grounds during school hours.  I guess he figured out that they weren’t high school students. They laughed about the experience of being pulled over and stopped by a diner on their way home. 

            The girl behind the counter started to ring up their order.  I don’t know what they ordered, but evidently it was available at a senior price.  Neither one of them were of age at the time, but took the discount as they had been offended that they had gone from high school teenagers to senior citizens in the matter of only a few minutes.

            They didn’t always do the four miles.  Some days they would only do two.  Mom was in really great shape physically and sorely missed her walks when she had broken her bones one year and her leg was in a cast.

            I didn’t pay much attention to when mom and Pam got back into their routine or when they had stopped walking due to Pam’s ailing health – which seemed to come and go but lingered more as the years passed.

            Pam volunteered to assist with my wedding and worked in the kitchen and fixed plates for any guest who happened to the open house. 

            She and Jenna became fast friends when Jenna was two and three years old.  I remember giving her a picture of Jenna and she was thrilled. 

            As Jenna got older, Pam’s health deteriorated. I did not see much of hear or even hear much for that matter.  My own mom had her good days and bad days after she’d been diagnosed with dementia.  Pam seemed to have disappeared from her mind along with so many others she had known 40 – 50 years.  I stopped by a few times just to see how Pam was doing, but I never did see her again.  Her health had gotten worse.

            Today I heard that she had passed.  I don’t have the details.  I am hoping that I will be able to attend her funeral.  That makes how many that I’ve gone to in less than a year? 

            Corey posted a thought to facebook that perhaps the two of them are taking a walk right now.  What a nice thought.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

More Parallels

Railway tracks: No description

Mom was at Alta Ridge and
on hospice care.  It was
a Friday.

She passed on
a Tuesday. 

Her funeral was
on a Saturday. 

Harold’s daughter-in-law
called me on
a Friday. 

Harold was still at
Alta Ridge and on
 hospice care. 

He passed on
a Tuesday. 
His funeral services will be
on Saturday.

We don’t have reason for
returning to the
 facility anymore.

 I hope that I will
never have a reason
to return.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saying Good-Bye to Mom's Angel

I wondered which one of us (me or my brother Corey) would post about Harold first.  I came up with most of these thoughts and typed them in by 1:00 am this morning - but only drafted it as I had no title.

Last year we (my sibs and I) put mom into an assisted living program as she was in need of 24/7 care.  This time last year she was trying to escape.  She wore her coat and carried her purse and would walk around the doors and windows of the facility – looking for a way out.  She wasn’t happy there – not all the time anyway.

By mid April, mom had accepted her new home and was reading everything she could get her hands on.  She didn’t retain anything.  But she did read.

I don’t think it was until May when she developed an attraction to Harold and soon the two became inseparable.  I find it interesting that Corey created this post on June 3.  Mom has a boyfriend.  And just one month later I created this post indicating that he was not.  Depending on her mood.

Actually, I don’t ever recall mom referring to Harold as her boyfriend.  That was more from our point of view.  It really depended on mom’s mood and the turn of events that took place each day.

Harold had known that mom was diabetic and was not supposed to have sugar.  And some days he’d scold her or strongly advice against satisfying her “sugar eating desire” Those were the days when she would not even acknowledge Harold as a friend.  He became “that guy” – an intrusive resident. 

Other days (I’m finding in most cases) mom was infatuated so much that she would rather remain in the company of Harold than to have to leave him in order to visit with one of us.  Corey lovingly wrote this post about feeling like “second fiddle” – but not really.  It did seem somewhat comical at times.

In the beginning, Harold was just “an old man – old enough to be mom’s father” or so she’d say.  I figured there were probably a good number of years between them – nothing that drastic however.  I had asked Harold his age and learned it was a twelve-year difference.  The same as with my sister and her husband.

By August mom was beaming while telling people about her friend, Harold.  In her mind they were only five years apart.  I find it interesting that her mind had gone from one extreme to another in only two months.  For each month she lived there, she fully believed it had been another year.

Harold was quite bent over.  For the most part when I saw him, he was wearing blue scrubs.  He was very positive and always wore a smile on his face.  He and my mom were so very happy to have one another.  Funny how they never sat together for meals.  Except for mealtime, rarely was one ever seen without the other.

On September first, after mom was found upon the floor and rushed to the hospital, the staff told Harold to get rid of all of his candy.  Harold blamed himself for mom’s condition.  But it wasn’t his fault.  A few fun-sized candy bars would not have made her blood count go that high.  Two truckloads of candy would probably not have made her blood sugar go that high.

We thought she would die in the hospital.  Harold had made arrangements for one of his sons to bring him to the hospital to see her.  He was all decked out in suit and tie.  He came in to visit with mom and held her hand and talked to her with his loving voice. 

Mom didn’t wish to die in the hospital.  She wanted to return to the assisted living.  She lay in her room in a hospital bed and Harold would come to visit – knowing she would pass.  He was ever so gentle with her.  He loved her. And she him.

When he wasn’t in her room, he would visit with Joh and tell him things about his relationship with my mom.  Joh said it was my mom’s desire for she and Harold to wed and maybe have a child together.  Harold had reminded her that they both had spouses already.

At the funeral he rushed to the casket for one last good-bye.  I had never seen Harold move so quickly.  It was also the straightest I had ever seen his posture.

After she died, Harold tried to return to living without her.  He wanted to smile and help with the residents the way he had before.  And he did . . . for a while.  But in time the smile faded.  He missed mom!  There was no doubt about it.

Corey would call him.  Kayla and I would visit on occasion.  Jenna and I would take the bus.  We may have stopped when we no longer had bus passes.  But I would write to him and call him and let him know we would come see him when the weather cleared.

I thought we could go during Jenna’s Valentine/Presidents Day holiday – unfortunately she got sick.  And I am currently with my annual February sinus infection.  I planned to call him when my head cleared.  I guess there’s no sense in calling.  His daughter-in-law called me and told me that Harold is now on hospice.  That is a good thing really. 

The last two times that Jenna and I did visit was heart breaking.  Harold seemed so bent to the floor that it appeared his head was nearly in alignment with his feet.  He was banged up in different places each time we would visit.  He had taken I don’t know how many spills.  He would walk us to the door but he had slowed down.  But he’s going to be whole again pretty soon.  And he will finally be able to meet dad.  He and mom can have a reunion and the two couples can have a party.  It will be great!

I’m sorry that Harold declined so much after my mom passed.  I am sorry he became so sad.  He really didn’t enjoy living there.  And now he won’t have to anymore.  Thank you, Harold, for befriending mom and for allowing her to experience the joy.  May you share some great moments in the afterlife as well.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Preparedness (according to Wikipedia) refers to a very concrete research based set of actions that are taken as precautionary measures in the face of potential disasters. These actions can include both physical preparations (such as emergency supplies depots, adapting buildings to survive earthquakes and so on) and trainings for emergency action. Preparedness is an important quality in achieving goals and in avoiding and mitigating negative outcomes. 

Methods of preparation include research, estimation, planning, resourcing, education, practicing and rehearsing.

         It’s been eighteen years since BYU hosted the imperial tombs of china – an exhibit that my mom and I had gone to.  I found it odd that these rulers would spend their entire lives preparing for their deaths.  But then I suppose to some extent many of us experience a similar thing.

         Oh, we don’t design the interior of our tombs, or have servants weave the jade suit that we will be buried in, or spend billions of dollars recreating an army of statues or select people to be buried with us. Yet there are millions who will send a check to a life insurance company each month so that their beneficiaries may be able to use that money on their burial when the time comes.  Some actually plan out their programs, purchase plots, and even make final arrangements for themselves. And sometimes those plans are carried out.  Others are not.  And it’s not as if the deceased will really be the ones who benefit

         We are also encouraged to prepare to face disaster.  Keep a backpack near the front door so that we can evacuate at a moments notice.  It has happened.  An apartment complex had flooded and the tenants were asked to relocate.  Fires in various cities have kept the residence away – or rather it has been enforced.  
There are a number of reasons why we need toprepare.  We may have invested on creating a food or water storage for example.  We may need it when the weather is great and there are no elements to force us to leave our house. We may use your food supply during the time we are out of work and there is no income.  Roland and I lived off food storage and charity for two years.  And I am grateful that we had the sense to store the food that we had – for it was desperately needed.

         One day last week Roland and I had the opportunity of attending an emergency preparedness class.  I had made arrangements to leave Jenna with a friend, but she said she wanted to go to the class.  I had heard the “earthquake lady”’s demonstration before.  This video will give you an idea of how involved she is with emergency preparedness.

         For Christmas she will give “preparedness” gifts – and while it’s a wonderful thought, I bet the average receiver (grateful or not) would hope that she or he will never have the opportunity to use said gift.  I have a hard time collecting “stuff” that takes up space when I’m having a hard enough time finding space for the essential day to day stuff.


         We were advised to prepare backpacks for each individual in the family.  Jenna took her words to heart  – and though she couldn’t find a backpack to use, has put together the necessary items and had filled a handled bag.  If we were asked to leave the house right now, she is the only one who is physically ready.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Two Weeks

Two weeks after I started my blog I became part of a search party who went out looking for mom who had dementia and had wandered from home.  She could not be left alone.  Each of us worked out a schedule so that someone would always be with her.

Two weeks after this year started mom was released from the hospital and spent her last night at the house she’d lived in for over fifty years. It had been on a Sunday when Ellen found my mom passed out and called for Nate to assist.  Patrick ended up taking her to the hospital.  He and Nate were both dressed for church but stayed at the hospital all day. They did not go to Church that day. Patrick had chosen to stay with mom. On Monday mom’s four children worked together to fill out the paperwork to move mom into assisted living. On Wednesday Kayla took mom to her new home at the assisted living facility – the last place she would live. And Corey came from Las Vegas to assist and say good-bye to the house. 

Two weeks ago we lay mom to rest - buried beside my dad.  She’d been rushed to the hospital two weeks prior to that.  It was on a Sunday when she was found passed out on the floor. She'd been rushed to the hospital. Patrick met her at there.   He was dressed for church but stayed at the hospital all day.  He did not go to Church that day.  He had chosen to stay with mom. He took the next two weeks off.  And Corey drove from Las Vegas to say good-bye.  We all spent time with her for 7-10 days.  And then she finally let go.

Two weeks ago Corey and Kayla and I met Fern and Michelle at the Mortuary.  We watched Corey and the Mortician dress my mom.  Michelle applied some lipstick – that’s all that was needed.  Mom looked like she always does when she falls asleep. She still has her purse.

Two weeks ago we talked with family and friends who had come to pay their last respects.  Sunny offered a beautiful prayer before we all went into the chapel. I tied mom’s bow and veiled her face – my final act of service for her.  The lid was closed.  I think Brian cried the hardest. His sobs just seemed louder than the rest - maybe because he's a giant.

 Two weeks ago today we paid our last respects and shared our stories and beautiful thoughts for such a marvelous woman.  Daddy’s birthday was the day after the farewell services.  It was on a Sunday. Corey had planned to spend this week with mom. Instead she's spending it with dad.  We miss you mom! (and dad)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ode to David Smith

We all know a
David Smith such a
common name 

In my case you were
the boy next door
middle child
your mom and
my mom showed
pregnant bellies
three times the
same time – well maybe
just two and a half.

Tow headed blonds
we both were
neighborhood games
and school
Your family had
the only trampoline
there for a while

chain linked fence
separated our back yards
we grew
neither of us married
until our late thirtys

you had two daughters
I have one.  Wish we could
have gotten them together
before you passed on
a year ago last month

Your final act of
service happened when
you were only 49.  You
were in the basement of
your parents up 
on the ladder I believe 
and you lost your balance 
or your footing
and you fell and left this
earth life. 

Your family will keep your
memory alive and I
hope that your girls may
visit often and learn more about
who you were and
who you are now.