12/13/11

The Saga: Final Post

Back in the Midwest again, this time for my mom's funeral; as I said in an earlier post...deja vu. Rerun of a bad movie. I was again amazed at the number of people that appeared, people I went to grade school and high school with, some of whom I hadn't heard from in decades. As I said, I was a wreck. My brother wrote and read a poem about my parents' weekly, 10 a.m. Sunday phone calls which was thoughtful.

I read Auden again and some Emily Dickinson, sobbing as before. Really, really bad movie rerun. My bro' arranged for the same type of wooden coffin as dad's. He brought her favorite heels for her. They didn't fit her feet now. Diabetes type two had taken a toll on her feet and legs but damn, they were on her feet again (whether they fit or not) and she was going to be dancing her way into eternity in them if he had anything to say about it.

This time he had all white flowers, a voluminous cloud of them, draped above her head and across the foot of the casket. White pillar candles and votives nestled in the flowers. Her signature red lipstick highlighted her face just as in life. The fragrance of the flowers brought back memories of Locker's Florist in the village during Spring. Breathtaking.

Again, no religious entity. Just loved ones and friends sending her off through all the tears, even though it broke our hearts.

After a while we all said goodbye and retired to their house. My brother's in-laws had arranged for nibbles. It was far more somber than my dad's funeral. I think because everyone was still stunned...29 days! How unfair!

I'm glad I read the W. H. Auden poem again. The last few lines will be inscribed upon my mind till I leave this world.

My brother and I stayed on for a week, clearing out the food (dry goods were donated to a food bank) and clothing etc. sorted and donated. Basically getting the house ready for sale. We laughed and were quiet when we'd trip over a memory. Of course, going through the day to day "stuff" was like trying to cross a mine field without incurring casualties. The most insignificant thing could trigger a cascade of emotions. The permanency of death was slowly descending upon us.

We left all the furniture in place so the house would "show" better. We interviewed a real estate agent and put it on the market.

The funeral home hadn't even gotten my dad's ashes to us when mom arrived on their doorstep. So we told them to hold onto them and when mom was done in the oven, put her ashes in with dad's.

Sorry about the oven comment but to this day "gallows humor" can creep out when I least expect it. It must be a sanity mechanism of one's brain...you can laugh or you can cry and I keep choosing to laugh when possible.

Gallows humor first appeared when my bro' and I were both home in late February of the same year because mom and dad had heart attacks together. Matching heart attacks as it were, how "cute".  (Taking a deep breath.) We were driving to the hospital in their car and my brother started making jokes about the whole situation which in turn, got me started and like so many rides home from my Aunt's after Thanksgiving, we were laughing hysterically at anything.

As we approached the hospital, my brother said we should probably appear more serious. I said, I agreed, we didn't want to appear to be horrid "children" to the nurses, laughing at the miserable state of affairs. (We, the "children", were in our late forties at that point.) On the way home, he said it was gallows humor.

What is gallows humor you ask? Per Wikipedia:  "Gallows humor is the type of humor that still manages to be funny in the face of, and in response to, a perfectly hopeless situation.[1] It arises from stressful, traumatic, or life-threatening situations, often in circumstances such that death is perceived as impending and unavoidable." A perfect description!

That's pretty much it. Stopping for now. I may have a post or two down the road about further thoughts. Thank you for your patience, now go hug someone you love.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Joanne said...

I know what you mean about it being kind of sweet that they had matching heart attacks. Morbid, but sweet.

Such a lot for you to go through...I'm so sorry for your losses!

12/15/11, 3:49 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Thanks for stopping by and reading. It felt good to tell the story. Kind of freeing. I'm kind of glad I let the morbid humor slip in and didn't worry if people would like it or not. It means a lot that you understood the slightly askew humor that accompanied me through those months. Hope all is well with you!

12/16/11, 4:55 PM  

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