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. 

I didn’t think we were here yet

I got mom home for the holidays. She went into the hospital on December 3, 2018, went from there to a nursing home until everything could be put in place to bring her home. December 22, 2018, she came home on hospice. For the holiday break from work, I stayed home. I was able to spend some time just hanging out with her.

There are people who come in while I’m at work and the hospice aide comes in 5 days a week. A hospice nurse visits twice a week. Things have been ticking along.

Until Sunday.

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Refrigerator / Washer — same thing

Living with someone suffering from dementia is never boring. Tragic, frustrating, absurd, funny — yes. Never boring.

Mom has suffered from dementia for 14 or 15 years. It’s not a condition that gets better. It’s a slow, downhill slide. It became noticeable when she had surgery in 2001 or 2002. The anesthesia and the beta blockers she was given really altered her and my mom never really came back to herself.

Several years ago, she had a heart attack. That mentally alters just about everyone. She slid further. Last year she suffered another one and once again she slipped further away.

Over the years, she has suffered the loss of a husband and the loss of a son. Again, that’s something known to cause stress and affect memory.

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