In Loving Memory

This was something I posted on a different blog of mine.  I wanted to include it here simply because if I rewrite it, I relive it, and I’m not ready to keep crying.

In my religion, we don’t really think of death as “going to heaven,” but more, going home. We also tend to believe that before we enter this life, we choose the timing and means of our death. That we’re here to learn and help others learn. And when we return home, to the gods, eventually, we come out to a new life again. And why wouldn’t she want to go home, to walk again, to talk in her normal voice (she lost it and never really regained it)? I cry for me, more than her. She’s probably happier than she’s been in a long, long time.

My mom is the youngest of six – her mother died when she was little, and her father died when she was 11. Her other sisters – three of them – took care of her the rest of her childhood. She eventually found dad, got married, and on my aunt Sheila’s birthday, she had me. My aunt Sheila, she lived with us for a short while; and she always spent holidays around. She worked as a nurse on the night shift. As an only child of two working parents, taking care of me was shared by three people beyond my parents: my aunt Sheila, my uncle Denny(dad’s brother), and my grandfather (dad’s dad).

When I was nine or ten or so – sometime in the nineties – my aunt Sheila lost part of her foot to diabetes. She never gained the ability to walk without assistance after that. At first it was a walker; we got her up to a cane but then it was back down to the walker and eventually a wheelchair. A combination of failures (Physical Therapy, bad medicine combinations, etc) took the life right out of her over the years.

I won’t say she gave up – though she did at times. The important thing is, that she hadn’t given up when she died. Mom said she was on an upswing. You know, talking, laughing, etc. We had her placed in a nursing home back in January so that if there was an accident, there was someone around to help. She was just settling in, even “showing the ropes” to the new residents.

I remember the last time I saw her. December 30th or so, we visited her in the hospital (she had fallen, hence the move to the nursing home). We chatted for a while, then I said goodbye, said I’d be back in a couple of months (as always) and left. We spoke a few times on the phone after that.

I got a call two weeks ago Friday, from dad, saying aunt Sheila had fallen and she dislocated her shoulder; but she wasn’t breathing right so they had to put the tube down her throat. She should be fine.

On Tuesday, my friend Joanna texted that she had broken into my house (she has a key, lol) and she was playing with my puppy. My friend Trevor texted me, asking if I knew why my dad was facebook-messaging him. It was my mom’s birthday, April 5.

I got home and mom called and she told me that Aunt Sheila wasn’t gonna make it. She had called Joanna and asked her to be here with me. I guess aunt Sheila had an infection in her bowel that had turned to dead tissue. She had lost consciousness when she entered the hospital and never really regained it.

Joanna let me cry for a while; then business mode hit, because I was headed home the next day; we eventually ate (read: she forced me to eat) and then she went home and I pretty much spent the night bawling and wailing and making other weird noises while attempting to understand what was going on. Wednesday was spent like that, too, especially when mom called at 10 and said she had finally passed away.

I made it home without crying to random strangers on the plane(s)… Didn’t make it tear free while at home, although I was definitely more reasonable – just tearing up here and there.

Aunt Sheila stayed here on Earth long after she felt it was time for her to go – and it was because of me and mom. She held on for us as long as she could. I thought we had more time with her. I really did. I thought she’d have an upswing in the nursing home and live out the rest of her life eating ice cream and playing Wii with other oldpeople. She was only sixty years old.

Pretty much every weekend since her foot was taken, excepting vacation weekends, college move-ins, and other events, mom and I went to Aunt Sheila’s, took her out to lunch or grocery shopping or to the mall or something. When I moved away for college, Mom continued. Despite mom’s back problems, she lifted that darn wheelchair into the back of her SUV 2-4 times a month so that Aunt Sheila wouldn’t be trapped inside her apartment forever.

My other aunts… One lived two minutes away from us, at one point, but never found the time to drive ten minutes out to see Aunt Sheila. Visit her. Take care of her like we did. The other’s always lived an hour out… It’s slightly more forgivable. They never offered to pick her up or take her home on holidays. One had the audacity to ask for some stuff she had given Aunt Sheila, back.

Aunt Sheila ceased being a person to them once she could no longer drive or walk. They treated her like she was five. If she didn’t respond… They’d repeat whatever they said louder, like she couldn’t hear them.

And when she passed, they turned around immediately and apologized for never spending time with her. Like somehow, an apology to my mother would make what they had done to us AND to Aunt Sheila would make it better.

Those two took the flower bouquets at the memorial service, too. One wants ashes. So she can bring them to Christmas. And leave them on the table like a flower vase.

My mother was cornered and given a speech by one of them on Sunday, thanking her for doing all the hardwork while she sat on her fat, lazy butt and got disability for preventable (and most likely imaginary) diseases.

If Aunt Sheila had had it her way (She was always feisty 🙂 )… I doubt those two would have been allowed at the memorial service. She probably would have burned the stuff that the one wanted back. In fact, even on her cloudiest, shakiest, most asthmatic day, I’m pretty sure it was only mom and I that kept Aunt Sheila from giving those two a big, giant, F-you.

I miss her. Well, actually, I’m anticipating missing her. I cry because I know that on my birthday, when I fly home, and for the first time it’s just MY birthday (not OUR birthday)…. its going to suck. I know that when I come home and mom is just kinda… doing nothing on weekends, instead of sighing about taking aunt Sheila out to lunch… its going to hurt.

In my religion, we don’t really think of death as “going to heaven,” but more, going home. We also tend to believe that before we enter this life, we choose the timing and means of our death. That we’re here to learn and help others learn. And when we return home, to the gods, eventually, we come out to a new life again. And why wouldn’t she want to go home, to walk again, to talk in her normal voice (she lost it and never really regained it)? I cry for me, more than her. She’s probably happier than she’s been in a long, long time.

Eventually, the tears will stop. I’m not sure it’s really hit me yet, and it’ll only be those random times, when we should be taking aunt Sheila out to lunch, or picking her up for the holidays – that I realize that she’s gone.

Anyway, I needed to write this, somewhere.

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