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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Hardest Part is Not Being There



                Uncle Ted passed away yesterday.  He and Trudy were our eldest living relatives (here). This year Uncle Ted celebrated 100 years of life.  His goal was living to 105.  Now Trudy survives alone.  She is a lot more frail than the last time I saw her.  Her health has declined since we have moved to Oregon.  My cousin has scheduled different family members to rally around the clock so that someone has been with Ted and Trudy at all times.  I wasn't there to assist.  And now Ted is gone.  I cannot even get back for the funeral. 

            We overspent when we went back to Utah to attend Jeanie's funeral and show our support to Biff.  We've also had the demolition of our house, but not a full restoration  and so it probably wouldn't be wise to leave it unattended.   Even if we could afford it, I doubt we would go.  My body has decided that it no longer wants to travel (even though my mind would like to)

            Myrtle Creek Festival starts today and Jenna and I have been assigned to man the booth between 4 and 6.  That will leave us time to attend the pre-solar party in Riddle today.  Hey, maybe this is the year we will actually be able to view sky.  Every other time we have tried to view whatever sky event was taking place, it was always overcast and the clouds were in the way of whatever spectacular view we were supposed to see.

            Good-bye, Uncle Ted, have a great reunion with all of those whom you outlived!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

DelEv Blueberries



          I don't know how long it's been since Del Blanchard started his blueberry farm.  I don't know if it was his dream or how just how he got started.  The public hadn't been invited to pick until the year that we moved in.  Evelyn had made some flyers and posted them around town.  Roland saw the one that was hanging at the Pizza Palace - where we had gone to get something to eat.  We copied the address and went blueberry picking the next day.


          That first year we dealt solely with Evelyn - who teaches school and I believe prefers it over the blueberry farm.  Del had been sick off and on and so we had to call first to make sure somebody would be there to let us onto the property as there were several days when Evelyn had to take Del to the doctor.

          Summer seemed to get away from us last year.  We didn't go as often - probably because we got more pounds from just one bush in 2016 as opposed to an entire row of bushes in 2015 - thus they lasted longer.  I finally met Del, but do not recall having seen Evelyn last year.


          I had mentioned that Jenna and I had gone last Thursday.  We returned with Roland on Saturday and picked over 30 pounds - bringing our grand total of blueberries to just over 46 pounds (still haven't gotten the 50) and Evelyn told us that Del had passed in March.


          Her nephew John had come to be with them.  His profession is in nursing, but now it appears that he has run on the farm - at least during one season.  I am happy that he is there to assist her.  I feel honored to know John and Evelyn.   

Thursday, June 29, 2017

If Dead is the Look they were Going For, They have Succeeded


          Though I have had a small hand and say in making funeral arrangements, I have not had the opportunity of having to find a mortuary nor have considered every financial expect.  Before either of my parents had passed, there needed to be a record of what funeral home to contact should they expire.  My dad lived out his final days at Cottonwood Hospital in Murray, Utah.  Ironically, he had also been born there (or so I was told) but at that time it had been called Cottonwood Maternity Ward and wasn't the full blown hospital where he had died.     
          Mom had used a local mortuary as a contact I’m guessing because it was familiar territory as it had been used by other members of our ward.  Before mom passed, Corey had made arrangements for Premier Funeral – though none of us had heard of it before, it really does seem the most economical way to go. 

          Premier doesn’t offer a chapel or a show room in which members can walk around and look at caskets.  They offer a catalogue – which I suppose doesn’t go over well with some people, but Corey and I were fine with it.  Premier has a lot to offer – for one thing the body is embalmed right away – at least where it is possible. (autopsy would be an exception)



          Jeanie was already gone when the paramedics arrived.  Possibly before she fell- or why she was falling.  Her mother said that seven clots had been found in her lung(s) and not just one.  I don’t know what shade she was when the paramedics arrived or how pale she must have gotten in the morgue.  It feels a bit morbid wondering. 

          I was not impressed with the makeup job - but I have no idea what of Jeanie's facial condition when she arrived to the mortuary.  Perhaps they had done a marvelous job with the "canvas" given - I just didn't see that.  Mommy and Daddy had looked so natural, so peaceful, as though they were sleeping.  Jeanie looked like a corpse – like in a really low budget movie when everything looks fake.  It appeared that she had jaundice underneath the make-up.  It was hard seeing her like that.



          Biff had never been involved with any plans concerning funerals – except when we had asked him to be a pall bearer at my mom’s.  But that was the extent of it.  He had never gone to look for a casket or a burial plot.  I’m sure the funeral home they went through was the same one his in-laws had used when they had buried their other two children.  It was right next to – perhaps even part of the cemetery.  I think Biff just went along with what they wanted.  What did he know?  They had been through it before.  Roland and I have both gone through it, but we weren’t there.  We weren’t involved with the decisions or give advice or hold our son’s hand.



          I don’t know that his in-laws would have felt comfortable using Premier as they had the viewing in one location and the funeral in another.  The mortuary was in a familiar place where family and loved ones had already gathered.  They would have had to make arrangements for another chapel with Premier. But I think they would have saved a tremendous amount of cost.

          My son, Randy, had set up a fund for Biff and his daughter – a plea to help pay for expenses.  The goal was to hit 5,000.  3,000 had been raised in eight days by 62 different people. I cried every time I would see donations being made.  I know there were many who knew Jeanie personally, but still many that did not know her at all.  Some hadn’t even known Biff for that matter, and that touched my heart.  My nephew, Brian, was the first to contribute to the cause.




          I don’t know how many chapels and "comfort" rooms the funeral home offered.  I would guess at least seven.  It felt as if there had been seven different viewings all scheduled for Sunday night.  Perhaps there had only been four or five.  We had to pass them all in order to get the room where Jeanie and family were waiting.  The lines were long.  I’m sure that is why they had put us at the end.

          When mom died, we had her at the Relief Society room in the building where she attended church.  We were there Friday night and the mortuary took her away and brought her back the following morning and then we moved into the chapel. Premier had driven her back and forth.  I'm not knocking the full blown centers but am in favor of using Premier again.  They did an awesome job for us.  I was overwhelmed by the amount of traffic involved with Jeanie.  I never felt overwhelmed with Premier.  The situation was always calm and respectful. 



Monday, June 19, 2017

Reasons to Hate June

               Two years ago this month, we were contacted by a property rental with availability.  I have a friend who had said she'd be driving to Newport the following day.  I talked her into leaving a day early so that I could ride with her and she could take me to my destination. 

                Two years ago we parted ways.  After securing the rental, Denise dropped me off at the gas station where I planned - and eventually did catch a bus.  I was somewhere between Boise and Salt Lake June 6, 2015 when my brother called to let me know of my Uncle's passing.

                Facebook memories have provided memories of the trip and of Uncle Ross's passing.  My daughter-in-law Jeanie passed away exactly two years later.  She is the third child of her mom and dad to pass away within the last eight years.  Her brother and sister had each been 32 when they passed.  Jeanie would have been 34.  All three children died in June.

                After the funeral, Jeanie's mom had invited everyone to their house for "refreshments" - it was more like a potluck meal.  Jeanie's dad announced that Jeanie's mom might have to leave as her father is in the hospital with cancer and was taking a turn for the worst (although leaving your mortal body is sometimes really not the worst - though that is often how it's expressed) but she was still there when it came time for us to leave.

                Roland's sister and husband grilled Jeanie's parents to make certain that Biff would be alright.  They seemed satisfied which I was grateful because it helped back up my own thoughts which I had tried to relate to Roland (I am much better at sorting my thoughts out on paper than verbally in my head).  We came home without Biff or Ally - which is fine.  I truly believe that Biff needs his space right now that Roland unintentionally might not allow.  Biff has to cope at his own pace - not anybody elses.  His in-laws have at least been through this before.

                Biff didn't know that it is proper to ask others to participate with the funeral - assigning them pall bearer or for prayer or whatever.  Randy, Tony and Roland all fulfilled their roles without question.  None of them knew they were involved until they saw their names on the program. 

                We listened to a program on the way home.  The speaker was relating an experience where a man had been away from his family for three years.  "Three years is a long time"  Jeanie and Biff were married three years ago in April.  "Three years is not a very long time".



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Life Changes . . . and Connections



        Before we moved to Tri City, I had a premonition that one day Roland and I would be involved in helping to raise Ally.  It's not that I was trying to write Jeanie off into the next life - although it wasn't unexpected.  There was concern that she would die before Ally had finished school.  Ally will be two in August and therefore has not even started school.  And just because I had that premonition doesn't mean Biff will be packing up and moving to Oregon any time soon.  It may not be in his plans to come to Oregon at all - unless Roland talks him into it.  Biff does have other options - or will have. 

        His mother comes from a rather large family, and although half have now moved on to the other side, he does have family in Wyoming.  One aunt wrote me to say that Biff is welcome to stay with them.  At first it puzzled me.  Why would she offer to put up this young man that she doesn’t really even know?

        She and her husband have two daughters.  One of them had actually been named after Biff’s mom.  His maternal grandparents had raised their eleven children on a dairy farm. When Roland had gone back to visit, he went out with the family to milk the cows and feed and whatever other chores are involved.  They thought he was a hard worker and had actually offered him the farm for his future.  But Roland was a city kid.  He was having fun at the farm, but wasn’t confident or even had an interest to take over.

        I hadn’t thought much about it until now.  I know there was a brother who lived in Ogden who had planned to move their with his wife and take over.  He had coached the high school wrestling team and taught classes during the school year.  By summer he would take off for three months to go boat fishing in Alaska.  I believe it would be the last Alaskan adventure he had lined up before the move back to Wyoming.  Only he went to his bed sometime during the time that the fishing boat was in the water.  One of his comrades had gone to wake him and learned that he had passed during his sleep. Wyoming wasn’t meant to be for that brother.

        But now I wonder, maybe the request came not just to assist Biff, but allow Biff to assist them at the farm.  Biff said cows just happen to be Ally’s favorite animal. 

        Before he and Jeanie were married, he spent a lot of time in Syracuse with her family.  He practically lived with his in-laws before they were married as we'd see him less and less.  Because of Jeanie's health, and then her mom's health, and I'm certain that finances were a factor, they had never moved out from her parent's house.  I would think it would be awkward for all of them to have him continue living there. But I don't know. 
       My brother-in-law Bill is really good friends with his late wife's family and keep in touch.  Even Kayla has become friends with her family. I know I have mentioned on at least two posts, that Roland and I have actually had more contact with his late wife's family than his own.  So there are possibilities. 

        I sent an email to his mother's oldest sister (this is not the same one as the one in Wyoming) to let her know.  She was actually the first person I contacted - even before my own family. I can't even explain why - except that it felt important to let her know.  Perhaps Ally and Biff could stay with her while he's adjusting to transition.  I think she lives the closest of all of his relatives - including his brothers.  Perhaps that's why I felt impressed to write her.

        Of course I had to tell Kayla.  Both of our husbands have been in Biff's shoes.  Biff was six when his mother passed away.  There will be a viewing tomorrow night and the funeral is set for Monday.  Two locations so far apart from one another.  Probably an equal driving distance from the ward where our three boys finished junior high and graduated high school. I had asked the bishop to post a link on the ward page in facebook (as I, myself do not have access to it) He wrote back to say not only would/did he post it to the pages (plural) but would announce it in sacrament meeting as well.  I hadn’t expected that.

        There are so many thoughts flowing through my brain right now.  I hope to get at least half posted.  May Biff find the strength that he will need to carry on and proper guidance and assistance from the rest of us.  We all have been truly blessed.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Honoring the Memory


                The school held a hat day sometime last month.  Jenna couldn't find any of her fedoras and so she took the plastic tiara that she had received during a young women's lesson earlier that week.  Meanwhile she found a fedora but ended up taking the plastic crown anyway. 

                Through the course of the day she would ask guys to try it on and take pictures.  On February 10 she posted pictures other friends on facebook.  At least nine guys proudly wore that crown.  One of them was Andrew.  She did not get one of Nick.  The last words she said to him was to ask him to put the tiara on his head.  The last words she had said to Andrew was to let him keep a pencil that he had borrowed.

                Someone had taken several facebook pictures to make a collage.  Her photo of Andrew was included in the tribute that was passed from wall to wall.

                I have been disoriented, so it's not hard for me to imagine being so out of it that I don't know where I am or how I got there.  I've also been sedated.  I have watched enough sci-fi movies to imagine what it must be like to open my eyes only for a second to have someone stick me with a needle to put me back to sleep.  I can imagine what it's like to wake up in a hospital and wonder what I am doing there. 

                I can't imagine being told that six members of my family were lost in a fire during the wee hours of the morning - while the majority of the community slept.  I don't even know if they were aware of the fire or just who called it in. The reporters didn't say how the fire was discovered.
           
                It hasn't even been a week since my last post, and yet it feels so much longer.  Nick's life was lost with three other children whom he treated like brother and sisters.  Andrew and his mom passed away the next day at the hospital in Portland.

                The father figure is still in critical condition.  I don't know if he will survive and continue his life on earth or if he will be called to return along with his family. I can't even imagine.  How would I react if I was left alone to survive without them?  How strong am I that I would have the courage to go on and face life with an attitude pleasant enough that others would continue to want to be there for me.   Would I blame God?  Would I blame myself?  Would I constantly be in denial and wish it was just a horrible scene from a televised movie?  My prayers is for this man to find the strength that he will need.

                Jenna says the attendance at school has been less than half.  Coffenberry changed the facepage to profile the two boys who had attended that middle school.  Now they are selling tee shirts in honor of their memory.  They will not be forgotten. See here and here.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Let's All Wear Red Tomorrow



            Our local news comes from Eugene - located in Lane county which is north of Douglas.  The news stories usually start off with some criminal activity in Springfield or Eugene.  Sometimes human interest stories in Eugene.  Rarely is the focus ever on Douglas.  Except this morning.  And updates throughout the day.

            Tri City recorded population is 3,931, but Myrtle Creek says 3,439.  I would guess both cities put together fall somewhere between the two numbers as we use the same zip code.  The city of Riddle lies just south west of us.  Their recorded population was 1185.  That number has gone down by four due to a tragic fire.

            I first heard about it after Jenna returned home from school.  She reported that one of her classmates was killed in the fire, and another in critical condition at Legacy Emmanuel Medical Center in Portland  which is more than four hours away by car. I don't know how they (his mom and dad also survived) were taken. 

            I remember a helicopter landing in the parking lot of the church that I lived across from in Kearns, Utah.  It was there to life flight a victim to Primary Children's hospital in Salt Lake.  Life Flight was offered, along with a lot of convenient medical options.  The options don't seem so convenient in Oregon - at least much of it.
   
            There is so much devastation in our small little community.  The names of the family members had all been released to the press.  The children who lost their lives were 4-year-old Gwendolyn Howell, 7-year-old Haley Maher, 10-year-old Isaiah Young and 13-year-old Nicholas Lowe. 

            Jenna said that all the kids at her school are wearing red in Nick's memory and perhaps to show their support to Andrew who's still alive - we hope.  Our prayers are with the family.  





Thank you to all the men and women who serve as firefighters.  Thanks to all of thos who are willing to serve on the volunteer fire departments.  God bless you all.


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.