Giving Thanks

7 December 2013

Counting my blessing! For the first time in several years, we had all of our children and most of our grandchildren together for Thanksgiving. It was great!

We actually couldn't all be together on Thanksgiving day, so we enjoyed dinner with our son, Bob, daughters, Laura and Susy, and their families plus Laura's in-laws. Then, on Friday night, we had pie (More than we could eat!) and everyone was able to make it for that. I had brought home 6 different pie tins from my Mother's house and as part of our "pie night" I gave each of the kids one of their grandmother's pie tins. She was well known for her pies - and used to make pies for us every time she came to visit.

The Saturday after T-day, Alice and Penny (Laura's twins) turned three, so, we also had cake with our pie — to celebrate.

A Big Transition

7 December 2013
We moved to this house when I was in the fourth grade

Just a few days after my August 19-post, my mother had a stroke — so, the time she spent in that nice, assisted-living home we found for her was cut very short. She was there barely two months. After a week in the hospital, she was transferred to a rehab center in New Haven, MO and after that, she pretty steadily declined until her death.

On Sep 28, I made a trip to MO to work with my siblings on sorting out and packing up our mother's home in order to prepare it for sale. Of course, I went to see Mom several times during the 10 days I was there. Once, as I entered the facility, I saw the back of a tiny, frail, white-haired woman in a wheelchair, near the nurses station, who was rocking back and forth and was bumping into the half-wall around the nurses station. I thought, "Look at that poor, little old woman." and continued past her to locate my Mom. Then, when I came back around, I realized that poor, little old woman was my mother. It was heartbreaking.

Even though we chose the facility we thought was the best in the area, it was still distressing. (The few on staff who are good, are doing such an incredible service — yet, there are not enough of them.) It's difficult, even in the best of these places, to get good care for a loved one. Seemed like we were constantly having to ask for the most basic of services. The biggest help seemed to be that my nephew is a doctor, so the staff was willing to do more if he asked. Plus, my sister-in-law is a nurse, and she was good at pushing for better care. Still, it was a constant battle.

Back at Mom's house, with me and four of my siblings working together, we made pretty quick work of all the packing and clearing. Unfortunately, since my brother, Jim, is the one who lives closest, he has to deal with finishing up everything. At least we got it to a point where it will be a little easier for him and he plans to contact an auction house to see if they will take what's left — before he puts the house on the market.

Mom died on Oct 25 and the viewing and funeral were held the following weekend, Nov 1 and 2. Bob and I flew to Missouri (my fourth trip since mid-May) and four of our kids were also able to join us there.

Thankfully, my Mom had prearranged everything, so, it made our task pretty easy. Her funeral arrangements were pre-paid, as well as her cemetery plot. The only thing we had to pay for was the fee for opening the grave. She had already written her own obituary and had outlined her funeral service, detailing who she wanted to have sing as well as who was to give the eulogy.

Me and my siblings, at the dinner held following Mom's funeral, Nov 2, 2013

Given the mix of various, potentially-volatile, family dynamics, I think everything went really well.

I was pleased that our son, John, was asked to give the dedicatory prayer at the grave site. And, I helped out by writing and sending out all the thank you cards for the family afterward. Most of the cards were mailed before we left Missouri, since I had time at the motel in the evening.

It's been difficult for me to get to the point of posting about this. It's a big transition knowing that I am now part of the oldest generation left in the family. I'm still adjusting. . .