Last goodbye

I’ve always been one for symbolism, patterns and signs from the cosmos. When the stars align, everything feels “right.”

Of course, mom was there when I took my first breath. That I was there for her last and it was just the two of us at the end, felt right.

So, scattering mom’s ashes on my birthday felt logical, natural, symbolic, and “right.”  We said our first “hello” on the day of my birth; today, we said our last goodbye.

Mom has been set free, scattered where she requested. I kept my promise.

Oreo Speedwagon

I saw this cartoon on Facebook. It got me thinking about mom and her misunderstanding of lyrics she’d heard. It started with CCR’s “There’s a Bathroom on the Right” (“There’s a Bad Moon on the Rise”), through Jimmy’s ” ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy” (” ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky), all the way up to 3DD “F*ck Me Like That” (“If I could Be Like That.”)

She couldn’t understand The Song That Ate The World — a.k.a. “Smooth” — so I was reciting the lyrics as Rob was singing them. She accused me of making them up. I told her if I had made those up, I would be driving a nicer car.

Which leads to the cartoon. I still don’t know why I was talking music to her, but silly me, I was. I said something about Michael Stipe and his classic Muppets appearance. I said that I have always liked Stipe and his music.

Mom: I thought he was that guy you don’t like from the band you don’t like.

Me: You’re thinking of Scott Stapp and Creed. Michael Stipe is from REM.

Mom: Oh, I know that band. REM Speedwagon.

Me: Mom, please. Let’s not do this.

Four months

I’ve hit the four-month mark. Nothing seems so different from the one month, two month, three month mark. I’ve been doing “stuff.” I go to work. I come home. I’ve gone through clothing and possessions — except for photos. I can’t do that yet.

Two photos in frames that sat on mom’s bookcase forever are missing. One was of her dad and one was of mine. They’re gone. I take that as a sign of everyone’s displeasure.

I still haven’t scattered mom’s ashes. I will. It’s just that last bit of her and I hate to let go, but I must and I will. I’ll keep the promise.

The funeral bill is paid. I had a new (desperately needed) HVAC put in and that’s paid off. I’ve moved some things around, but I still haven’t moved into the bedroom. The large bookcase it going to be an issue. It’s too tall to get through the doorway in the upright position. If I walk it down to get it into the living room, how do I get it back to the standing position? I really want it out of there, but it’s particle board and laminate, so Centre Peace won’t take it. If worse comes to worst, I can take a hammer and dismantle it. Yes, in some ways I’m my mother’s girl and a 7′ tall bookcase is no match for me! Mom was great with a hammer.

I have mentally rearranged the furniture dozens of times. Now I want to do it for reals! I’m also planning the scattering, so I guess I’m moving forward at least a little.

 

Almost two months

Mom passed on March 2nd, 2019. I was holding her hand and stroking her face and hair when she passed. She had two very short moments of apnea and she was gone. The last two days, she was no longer responsive, but because I was cracking jokes and telling funny family stories, mom was laughing at very appropriate places. I knew she could hear me and was aware of what was going on around her.

The medical report said it was about 30 minutes from when she first experienced difficulty breathing until her final breath. It was more like two and a half and she was gone.

Then the guilt set in. There was always going to be guilt; there’s no way I would ever get away without it over what I did, didn’t do, should have done, etc. etc. etc.

She hasn’t been in touch. Not once. I take that as a sign of her displeasure in me. The photo of my dad and the one of her dad have disappeared. I take that as signs of their displeasure. It is what it is and I have to live with that.

The Wednesday before her passing she was still somewhat responsive. When I came home and walked into her room, she looked at me with such joy. I’m certain that she thought I was Dan. She had been confusing me with Dan for some time. She missed him so much. I’m happy she’s finally reunited with him in body and spirit. A portion of his cremains are now with Mom and I will scatter them when the weather gets warmer.

I like to think of her hanging out with her dad, my dad, and Dan. I’m sure she’s very happy and having a great time. Good! She deserves to finally just hang with her peeps.

 

What I did on my vacation

One of the things hospice and the comfort service impressed upon me during our discussions was the need for funeral arrangements. This did not come as a surprise, but it’s one of those things mom and I never got around to. We did talked about it, but we never actually made the arrangements.

While I was on vacation between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I decided it had to be done ASAP. I went to the same funeral home we used for my dad and Dan.

 

ales-krivec-623972-unsplashPhoto by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

Mom has a pre-paid plot next to dad, so finding a spot wasn’t an issue. Mom wants to be cremated and have some of Dan’s ashes added to hers. Mom wants to be sprinkled at various places she loved and enjoyed as a teen or we enjoyed as a family. So it’s all pretty straight forward, right? HA!

I sat down with the director who’s been there for years. He very subtlety asked questions about Dan. He thought there was something about Dan dying, but wasn’t certain, so he hedged around it a bit. Sweet man. 

Our conversation ranged from their old building (I worked in an office there when it was bought by the university) to Dan to my dad and then to mom.

There were questions for the obituary (paid directly to the local paper, not the funeral home), a discussion about putting an obit in her hometown paper (also paid directly to that paper, not the funeral home) and a discussion about a graveside service. Did I want a “viewing?”

The final decisions were based on what mom would want and with the understanding that funerals are for the living. 

I made the decisions of no obits. My friends and family will know. Mom’s friends are all gone. A death announcement is sufficient.

There will be no viewing. That is something she does not want. Once again, it would be for my very small family and we can get together in one apartment at any time to remember mom.

The memorial park where mom has a plot charges $900 just to open the grave. If mom and dad were going to be buried in the same space, they would charge another $1400 for second use, plus $900 to open the grave — all paid directly to the memorial park, not to the funeral home. Since mom doesn’t want her ashes buried anyway, no graveside service. Her name will be added to the marker alongside dad’s — another item already paid for when dad died.

So, mom cremated; her ashes mixed with Dan; I sprinkle the ashes — all for the low, low price of $3600. Not so bad when they’ll let me spread payments over six months. Now all I have to do is find another $600/month laying around.

I have no complaints about the funeral home or the charges. No one tried to talk me into anything and they are great at handling families in the position of dealing with the imminent demise of a loved one or whose loved one has passed.

It’s just … well, Yikes! I don’t have much cash in savings. My checking account is for monthly use. To me, this is a fortune.

This, my dears, is the reason to have life insurance that doesn’t drop you at age 85.

There was one humorous note during the meeting. I was telling the director about watching a Ghost Hunters a few years back. A young girl had lost her mother and was now living with her aunt. They had the mother’s cremains set in a little shrine in the girl’s room. Suddenly, they started having paranormal activity. One of the Hunters said that often happens around cremains. I looked to where I have Dan and I said, “Stay!” I could hear Dan in my head, laughing and laughing. The director said, “Just because it happens in your head, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.” I replied, “Thank you, Professor Dumbledore!” Yessir, I got the reference.

And neither he nor Dumbledore is wrong.