I woke up early yesterday thinking about my father and mother and how they each died. St. Patrick's Day marks the tenth anniversary of my father's death and the six month anniversary of my mother's death, so it's no wonder my thoughts were on this subject.
When my father faced death, I remembered how social workers talked with me and Jean saying "this is the dying process for your father." The finality of it was shocking and it had suddenly hit me that just as we all learn to walk, learn to read and write, find careers, fall in love, so we all eventually face the dying process. For some it hits quickly and they are suddenly gone, but for many others it is an actual process, in some cases quite lengthy. Of course I knew this intellectually, but it wasn't until my father died that I really knew it emotionally.
As my mother approached death we did all we could to pull her back, to give her every hope for more productive years. She knew what was coming but I couldn't begin to see it without the wise advice of my sister-in-law, Kathy, who had been down a similar road with her own mother. And I really didn't face it until my grand-niece, Tamara, a trained social worker, visited my mother, recognized the signs, and gently but honestly told us that "the process" was well underway. It was hard to face, but having faced it we could begin to truly help her.
As I thought of all this, I was comforted by the fact that both my parents died surrounded by the loving care of their family, and that while we all in the end face death alone, they began that journey knowing that people who loved them were by their sides.
Later in the day I met Jean at the Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery, where our parents are buried. We checked out the new grave marker which now recorded both names and left a bouquet of the spring flowers they both loved. It was a beautiful warm and sunny day.
And then I did what my mother had done so often, simply enjoyed the beautiful day and my family. I had a nice picnic lunch with Jean and then went home to meet Ben's brother and his family. My sister-in-law,Dawn, and I and took the boys and Paul's friend, Evan, to the neighborhood golf course to drive some balls....
...and visit on the patio.
Then we went back home where the adults enjoyed a wonderful dinner of corned beef and cabbage with Irish Soda Bread.