Monday, December 8, 2008

Farewell, My Uncle

Uncle John passed away this morning.  It was just like John to start a new journey on a Monday morning-he's very orderly and conventional.  I felt him go-I was driving around the parking lot trying to compose myself and find a parking spot and "Poof"-the tension just left and I knew he'd just died.  I even giggled out loud-"You died while I was trying to find a parking spot."  My being late was a running joke with us.

I've never actually seen a dead person that wasn't in a coffin or a picture.  John pretty much looked like he was asleep, minus the shaking that was the calling card of Parkinson's disease.  His hand was still warm and his body relaxed further while I sat there with him.

I remembered reading that the body should not be disturbed so as to give the soul time to leave, so I sat there until I felt like he had really and truly left the building.  While I sat there, I talked to him about what I was feeling-and was surprised to realize that the grief I felt was for me not having my Uncle-I was truly glad he was freed from his body that had failed so. 

 Is that always the way of things?  Is grief an emotion for the living and not the dead?  If so, that doesn't make grief seem very noble at all, does it?

I admitted freely I'd rather sit with John's body than go tell any family members, and there was no hurry.  Grief can wait a few minutes more.  I told Mom and held her and comforted her, and went to Daddy and told him it was OK to cry.  My parents are neither one very comfortable with crying, so I led the way with some more tears and hugs, until it felt like it was enough for them.

I thought about how people put quantity values on tears-"she hardly shed a tear" but I know those few tears cost my parents dearly, and was a fitting tribute to a man they loved.

A few nights ago I dreamt John was at a party with me and was fat and happy. I gave him a hug in the dream and I knew at the time it was him telling me how he wanted to be remembered.  Mom agreed with me when I told her.

A few months ago I moved everything out of the trust and back into John's estate-when he's gone, I'm done and back to my own devices.  I will stay in Oklahoma and take care of my family still, but I am also ready to have my own life too.  No one ever intended for things to get the way they did, but they did, and since they did, that must be how they should have been.  But I'm ready for a new direction too.  John's off on a new adventure and so shall I be-and probably neither of us knows which way we are headed.

John was a good man, a kind man, without a mean bone in his body.  I know Dottie was waiting for him, I could feel her in the room with us, and there is always that part of me that wants to go be with them.  But now is not the time.

John, I miss your smile and your quiet humor....I miss you.

12 comments:

Fern said...

there's great healing in tears, isn't there?

my prayers are with you all.

soulbrush said...

i like the fact that you were parking the car when john died. it seems fitting to me and in the right order....you were so close to him and he knew you were outside in the parking area. you have been a fantastic niece to him and are a fantastic child to your folks. maybe now you can be a fantastic friend to yourself. i am sending you lots of hugs and condolences and warmth right now my sweet one.xxxxx

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Grief is what you make of it for the most part. You will work through it and in the end find a wonderful new beginning. My sympathy to you and your family.

MuseSwings said...

Beautiful and touching, my friend, and yes - grief is all about us - the living, the ones who are missing those who have gone the way of your Uncle John. But that's okay - it's all about love. Bless you and your family and rest easy, knowing he is free now.

Mim said...

Oh Honey.....

lots of hugs to you. what a journey you have been on....

I feel sadness and relief for you; and I truly believe and understand about the parking lot story.

Oh dear.....

Debra Kay said...

Your kind words mean a lot to me-I think the people who read this blog probably know more about how I felt about John-because it was here that I was able to articulate it best.

Grief is such a bizarre emotion-it comes and goes in waves-you cry it out, and then a little later, here it comes again. When I was at John's bedside I suddenly thought of Dottie and Bitty and I blurted out "it's all just too much" and then I laughed because I thought that that was probably the rudest thing to say to someone who had just DIED....I mean really, the man is dead and I'm moaning about all my losses. So, I apologized to my dead uncle "I'm sorry, that was rude, it's just that you're dead and I'm not" and then I giggled again. I tried to keep the giggling and crying down because I didn't want to disturb anyone or have them think I was cracking up-but it was really important to me to just have the opportunity to let the emotions flow.

Another thing that crossed my mind on the way to the nursing home was this-that we get all hung up about our roles in someone else's death, and really, the timing of it, the fact that it is happening is so beyond our control...and Johns' death was JOHN's death, not mine to orchestrate.

Teri C said...

Oh Deb, this is so sad and all I can do is send you some hugs and prayers.

Take care.

soulbrush said...

how are you today? silly question really! hope that the very act of daily chores with the dogs and oliver will help you through the next week. when is the burial? zillion hugs for you today.

Debra Kay said...

Today is OK. I'm just going to write a post about it.

studio lolo said...

Oh goodness, I didn't stop by yesterday.
I'm sorry for the grief you and the family are feeling, but like you I'm happy that John is out of his failing body and on to a new adventure. And I love picturing Dottie greeting him.
You're in for a lot of processing now my friend. I, for one am here any time you need to talk, cry, scream or laugh. You have an entire virtual family out here. You won't be alone on your next adventure.
XX

kj said...

i'm also sorry i didn't stop by yesterday. debra kay, i so support your freedom to begin again. i hope you are able to be there for your parents but inside your own circle, not theirs.

you are a good person and you deserve the best.

Michele said...

Deb, I'm so sorry to hear about Uncle John and sorry for the belated message. I've been away from blogs for so long. You were a great friend and caregiver to him. I'm sure he was truly grateful to you.