Monday, June 22, 2009

Some Thoughts on the Process of Dying

Some Thoughts on the Process of Dying

Sorry I have been silent for almost a month. Had to go up to Seattle to be with Nan, my terminally ill sister. She is still with us, but cancer is a tough enemy to battle. It is a day-to-day thing. Nice to be in our northwest home for a while.

Gotta clean out the gutters. Those are things at the edge of NW roofs that catch millions of needles from the firs so that they can’t handle water.

I am not obssessively focused on death, even though I have written about it recently. I'm a guy who is all about life, but the recent loss of 4 friends and the stress of my dying sister has made me reflect more on it than I really want. It has kept me from blogging because I haven't wanted it to impact my writing. But, this morning I give up and will just get it off my chest.The whole process of dying is a complicated one. That is especially true when there are kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, siblings, nieces, nephews, close friends and all the care people. We had to set up a visitation schedule. At least everyone but me.

After one of our recent visits, my wife said that I was avoiding eye contact with my sister. I hadn’t realized I was doing that. I guess I was having trouble facing what I was seeing in her eyes. My wife said she needed that eye contact, that connection.

She was right. Hard as it has been, I keep strong eye contact with her. Even through her tears. Mine, too.

The doctors gave her until last January. Guess that’s why they call it ‘practicing medicine.’ We brought her to the desert that month and took her all around. Spent a week on the coast. She moved to Seattle from Upstate New York and had never been there. Had a wonderful luncheon at the Ritz Carlton at a window open to the ocean.

We watched the movie, ‘The Bucket List’ and she put one together and we spent a week doing all of the things we could.

She told me she wanted to ‘hang on’ until her birthday in April. I asked her why everything always had to be about her. I told her that just once in a while she should think about what I wanted and if she wasn’t so selfish, she would ‘hang on’ until my birthday in November. She is tough enough to maybe make it. I should have said Christmas.

I really appreciate the people from Hospice. Never met one I didn’t like. Soft hearts. Real sweethearts. I don’t think they ever get used to losing the people they care for and grow close to. But, they come back for more. Gotta be a special place in heaven for these people. They deserve crowns of glory.

My sister has the same Hospice nurse that took care of our mom a few years back, on her way to heaven. Whenever she gives her care givers trouble about something they tell her this nurse said for her to do ‘it.’ She snaps to it immediately. She is not going to mess around with mom’s nurse.

We will be back in the desert as soon as things take their course. I’m ready to be back to my regular blogging this week.

We took a side trip to Tulsa last week. I spent 6 days with my wife and her three sisters. Amazing how four grown women can carry on four separate conversations at once, for hours and all be involved in them all and understand everything that is said. I won’t even mention the mealtimes.

We had Navajo code speakers in WW2. No one could break their codes. If the need ever comes up again and we run out of Navajos, I’d like to volunteer my wife and her sisters.

Old Ned

1 comment:

  1. HI,my mom passed away from complications due to bladder cancer on March 23 of this year. I am her only daughter, i'm 45 years old. I am having a hard time accepting her death and i've been all over the internet looking for 'I dont really know what". Something or someone to tell me that my mom can see and hear me, that she hasn't really left completely. I hope I can find some comfort or understanding of death in reading your blogs. Thanks