The Raw Vegan: Part XCVIII, Life Really Is Short

Getting through Y2K without any problems at all was a little disappointing. We had been anticipating a semi-world meltdown but nothing happened which was good but anti-climatic. Driving to the airport was different. I didn’t want anything to happen. Fortunately, God granted my request for a safe trip there and back as well as an uneventful flight for DD.

My father-in-law was in the nursing home not far from where I live so I went to see him now and then. He still recognized me though he was somewhat confused. When I’d come in the front door, he would usually be seated next to it. There was a 70-ish woman who tried to be near him whenever he was out of his room. She would give me dirty looks as if I were trying to take her Man. I tried to be friendly to her but she would have none of it. My father-in-law was rather embarrassed by her attention. He said, “I don’t know who that young girl is but she should go on and find someone her own age.”

It was entertaining to go see how he was faring. He loved to sing and he’d break into song at the drop of a hat. The other residents loved having him around because he was great at conversation. He was in his element except for the “young girl”.

He was 98 years old and started failing. It was hard to watch. Our little hospital was where the residents were brought when they were sick. He’d been hale and hearty most of his life and the only time I could remember his being hospitalized was when he had blood poisoning. The nursing home called for an ambulance one day and he was brought in.

True to the usual protocol, he was put in an observation bed for 23 hours and when it was obvious he was unable to be discharged, he was admitted to inpatient. I visited him as often as I could but his confusion worsened along with his condition.

The offspring had been notified but two were too far away to get there and the one who was closest was ailing, himself, so it was up to me to sit by the bedside. One evening, I had stayed after work to post my vigil. He didn’t know I was there. I told the nurse I was going home and for her to call me if there was any change.

I climbed into my little maroon Honda Civic and took myself up the mountain. When I got into the house, I started preparing supper. I had some sour cream that needed to be used so I proceeded to make a large pan of sour cream gravy to go with the rest of my meal. There would be leftovers but that was fine. Even then, I took my lunch most of the time.

The gravy was cooking on the stove when the phone rang. My father-in-law had taken a turn for the worse. I should go to the hospital right away. I turned everything off on the stove, covered the gravy and set out.

Going down the mountain, I worked myself into a rage at DH. I yelled at him and screamed, “I shouldn’t have to do this! It isn’t my place! YOU are the one who should be going to be with your dying father!” I beat on the steering wheel and screamed some more. Then I started yelling at God. “Why, God?” There was no answer. Then I knew. It was up to me because there was no one else.

By the time I pulled into the parking lot and got into the hospital, I had calmed down. The nurse met me, shaking her head. He was gone. I asked if I could see him and she said it wasn’t good but it was okay if I wanted to go in. The sheet hadn’t been pulled over his head yet. His head was to one side with something that looked like coffee grounds running down his chin. I had been warned but I wanted to say goodbye. He had been a good father-in-law and I appreciated all he had done. He and his doll had taken DD and me in after DH had left and supported me in everything I had done.

I was sorry I had left him to go home and make gravy but there was nothing I could do to change things. It was sad that he had died alone, but he didn’t know the difference.

Slowly, I drove back up the mountain. When I got home, I finished fixing my meal and ate less than usual. I didn’t have much appetite.

The arrangements were made and my BIL asked if Mother and I would provide the music. I contacted her and she readily consented. My sister brought her over from North Carolina.

The service would be in the nicer funeral home in town. The chapel was equipped with a piano and organ, side by side at the back. I liked the arrangement because I didn’t like being in front at a time like that. She would play the piano, I would play the organ and, as usual, I would sing.

I don’t remember what I sang that day but Mother had her personal list of music she used for funerals. It was taped to cardboard so she could put it on the piano and refer to it when necessary. We both played by note and by ear but, for something like this, most of it was by ear. I don’t remember what all the symbols were for but at the bottom of her list, I added some pieces. The letters at the left of some of the selections indicated the first note of the melody of each song.

Mother's List of Funeral Music

When the time came, we took our places at the instruments and started playing. She was 96 but she could play circles around me. Her hands, gnarled by arthritis, ran up and down the keyboard and she brought music out of that piano like no one else could. She had played for many a funeral and she was always sensitive to the mourners. There was an expression in her music I tried to match without a whole lot of success.

She accompanied me when I sang and I always had more confidence when she was playing than with anyone else.

After the funeral was over and we were in a more or less private area, she looked at me, grinning from ear to ear and said, “That was FUN!” Many times after that, she told me how enjoyable it was.

DS1, DIL and my granddaughter had come for the service. The company DS1 worked for had sent a large plant. It was decided they should take it home with them. One of my co-workers had brought a ceramic cherub so that came home with me.

I had three days bereavement and then it was back to work.

2 Responses to The Raw Vegan: Part XCVIII, Life Really Is Short

  1. Lila November 30, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    Tommie, I just about cried when you were yelling at your DH. You were right, it was his place. Anyway, I am the one who drove Mother over, as I was already a widow. Not that it is important, just to correct the record. Love you!

    • Tommie November 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm #

      I knew she was there and the Couple brought her over now and then. Sorry I got it wrong. I’ll correct it. Love you, too!

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