Not the best of weeks
Last Wednesday afternoon, my stepfather passed away. That same night, John’s mother went into the hospital with a pulmonary embolism. In layman’s terms, that’s a blood clot in the lung. She died Friday morning. The two of them, less than 48 hours apart. The week before Christmas.
Ho ho ho.
It’s difficult enough dealing with this sort of thing any other time of the year. But during the holidays, it’s almost grotesque. The grief, juxtaposed with endless streams of Christmas carols, decorations, holiday ads and specials and Madison-Avenue cheer, seems to have nowhere to go; it doesn’t belong. So you bury it within, because you don’t want to rain on everyone’s parade, put a damper on their festivities. And because everyone seems to have their own brand of holiday stress, so you don’t want to add to it.
John and I took care of each other this weekend. Aside from his sister on Saturday, when we went to her little restaurant for lunch, we didn’t see any of his family. I suppose some sort of memorial will be ahead, along with the inevitable battles over inheritances and what to do with his mother’s antiques, her Waterford crystal, her old-fashioned grandfather clock. I really don’t care about any of this, other than that I don’t want it to be stressful for John. And I hope he gets his just share and proper acknowledgment. He was the only one of his siblings who gave money and things to his parents after he was grown, instead of taking them. He went to visit his mother and take her to lunch nearly every single weekend for the past 9 1/2 years, since she was widowed. I went with him for seven of those years, until my own mother died and I couldn’t take it anymore.
My stepfather will be cremated and scattered at sea, as fishing was one of his life’s loves. There will be no memorial, as far as I know.
I just want to sleep for a while. Like two weeks. I have no work, and probably won’t until after the holidays. I wish I could go away somewhere, with a laptop, a TV and a ton of books, and be left alone, except to be brought meals and maybe get a few massages. And sleep.
And while I’m in wishing mode, I’d like to wave my hand and have John’s heart valve replaced, his sleep apnea cured, and his energy and vitality restored. Then we could face anything together.
But for now, all I can do is my best, one day at a time. It could be a lot worse, in so many ways. I just have to move through.
I don’t like thinking about a world without my stepdad in it. He was a very good man, one I didn’t always appreciate. I didn’t want any part of him for a long time when I was a kid, because he wasn’t my father. But he was the best thing that ever happened to my mother, all the way to the end, through all her terrible years of dementia, when a lesser man would have walked away. He was funny, good-natured, smart, and well liked by everyone. Unfortunately, he outlived his wife and all his friends, and ended up mostly alone.
Still, he had good times. He had hobbies he loved; he adored his fishing, his music, travel, sports. He saw much of the world, had many adventures. He had a career that paid him a good pension and took care of him in his later years. He laughed a lot, and made others laugh, with his dry wit and his spot-on delivery of jokes and one-liners. I will miss his twinkling look at me and his deadpan, “So, do you think you’ll ever amount to anything, Erica?”
I did amount to something, M. Just not exactly what you and Mom had in mind. 🙂 It’s best that you never found out.
Anyway. Onward. Watching The Sound of Music, which I’ve always loved. Although I could have done without reading about how much Christopher Plummer (Captain Von Trapp) actually hated the movie, called it “The Sound of Mucus” and said working with Julie Andrews was like being hit over the head with a Valentine’s Day card every day. (sigh)
Hope everyone had a good weekend.