Posted tagged ‘Dying’

Funerals

April 23, 2017

Today Paula went to the funeral for the former organist/pianist from Ocean View Baptist Church. We asked Mary if she would like to go. We explained who she was and that Mary probably knew her at one time. But of course, the name didn’t ring a bell. Showed her a picture of her. Nothing.

Here’s the thing. Right now at this time in her life Mary does not like going to funerals. Doesn’t matter who the person was. She doesn’t want to go. She won’t go. Period. End of discussion.

Normally I would have gone with Paula, but I decided to stay with Mary.

So what is it about funerals with Mary? We have tried on many occasions to have a discussion with her on what she would like for her own funeral. We get nothing. We get stonewalled.

We ask cremation or not? Where would you like to be buried? The only guidance we got was that she wants Harold’s ashes buried with her. (Harold died in 2009 and was cremated.) That we can handle. So many questions.

So Paula and I are the ones stuck with the decisions. Paula is an only child. So there’s no sibling to talk to. Somehow, we will come up with a plan. That’s both a blessing and a curse. No one to argue with but at the same no one to share the load.

I found a blog a few years ago that I thought gave me some thoughts and insight. The blog is called “The Inspired Funeral“. Take a look.

RIP Dick Nicoll

August 16, 2016

Dick at Jake Wirth’s before Grand Lodge Quarterly in Boston.

Our good friend Dick Nicoll died on Monday. Dick was a past master of Thomas Talbot Lodge in Billerica, MA and a past district deputy grand master of Massachusetts Grand Lodge AF&AM [ A note to men who are reading this: When was the last time you had your PSA checked? PSA stands for prostate specific antigen and indicates the possible presence of cancer in the prostate.] Early detection is so important in saving lives. Sometimes early detection only delays what is inevitable. For Dick, it probably meant a few extra years to be with his family. Here’s the link to Dick’s obit.

The above picture is the way I like to remember Dick when he was healthy. I would rather not remember Dick as he looked after suffering the ravages of cancer. The picture was taken at Jake Wirth’s which is a pub that is [conveniently] around the corner from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Thomas Talbot masters and wardens would meet there for lunch every quarter for the Grand Lodge Quarterly. Good times indeed.

jake wirth

Whatever Dick did, he was all in. He was actively involved in Lodge, Boy Scouts and Church. Whatever Dick did, he did it with a smile on his face.

Dick and is wife Carol shared many happy years of marriage. Both were very interested in their Scottish heritage. He served as an officer in multiple capacities of the Clan MacNicol Society. Over the past few years Carol and Dick enjoyed several trips to Scotland.

After Dick’s diagnosis, Carol retired early to assist in his care. With his doctors’prescriptions and an exquisitely healthy diet, he was able to live six years longer than his doctors had originally expected.

Dick’s wake and Masonic funeral service will be on Thursday. It saddens me that I cannot be there for Carol. This is one of the problems I have with living on the west coast and friends who live on the east coast. Attending funeral services would be expensive. Air fare, rental car and hotel would cost upwards of $2,000 for the two of us. It’s just not in the budget. In addition to the travel costs, we would have to arrange care for Paula’s mother and that’s not cheap either.

So Dick was 69 when he died (born in January 1947). He was about a year older than I am. It bothers me no end when members of my generation pass away. It bothers me more when friends who were 10 years younger than, I pass away. Living a long life is such a blessing. Of course it is also a curse in that you see your friends die before you.

So mote it be.

Joe

Mary, God and the Conversation

July 6, 2015

So do you remember article in the New York Times that I wrote about a couple of days ago? The one by Eleanor Goodman? Yeah, that one. What you didn’t read it? Go back and read it, I’ll wait. Click here.

Yesterday, I had printed a copy of the article for Paula to read. So the printed copy was sitting on the dining room table. So Mary picks it up and starts reading it. Indeed, she is studying it. Front to back, back to front. Then a few hours later she looked at it again.

So I ask her what she thought about the article. She replies that she is talking with God about that. Okay, Do you think you could share your side of the discussion. No, that’s between me and God. I told her that God might not be sharing your discussion with us and it might be helpful if Mary would talk to us about that. Nope.

So that reminds me of an old joke. There was a great flood throughout the land and a man was sitting on the top of his home waiting to be rescued. So the man prayed to God, “Please God, save me”.

So a while passed and a lifeboat came by and the life boat crew asked him to get in and they would save him. Nope, the man said, “I am waiting for God to save me”.

Then some time passed and there was a Coast Guard helicopter hovering above the man. The helicopter pilot asked the man to get in and be saved. No, the man said, “I am waiting for God to save me”.

So maybe, by this point you know where I’m going with this. Eventually, the man drowns. So he reaches the pearly gates, the man asks God, why didn’t you save me?” And God said, “I sent you a life boat and a helicopter, but you decided not to get in. What was I supposed to do?”

So my point is (and I do have a point) sometimes we have to recognize that sometimes God sends someone to help us. We need to recognize this. Paula and I are the crew of the lifeboat. We just need Mary to get in the boat.

On Dying

July 4, 2015

So Happy Fourth of July to everyone. We will be going to a pot luck picnic at our Masonic Lodge in San Pedro. The lodge has a spectacular view of the LA Harbor. It is an excellent spot to watch the fireworks. It is familiar territory. We try to avoid big crowds with Mary. She doesn’t do well with them. I will post pictures tomorrow.

So this morning I read an article by Eleanor Goodman on dying. Eleanor Goodman you might remember (or perhaps not) as a columnist for the Boston Globe. The article’s title is “How to Talk about Dying”.

The article really hit home for us. For example, she says,

 

 

 

 

Yes, my mother and I talked about everything — but we didn’t talk about how she wanted to live toward the end. The closest we ever came to discussing her wishes was when she would see someone in dire straits and say, “If I’m ever like that, pull the plug.” But most of the time there is no plug to pull.

 

Right, no plug indeed. She also talks about something the experts call executive function, where one loses the ability to do ordinary things like deciding what to eat or how to turn on the TV or make a phone call.

Mary is certainly heading in that direction. She gets stuck in a rut on what to have for breakfast. For a while, all she would eat would be Cheerios with blueberries. Then all of a sudden, she starts eating Raisin Bran. She probably switched because we were out of Cheerios, so now Raisin Bran is the new normal.

Slowly but surely, we are taking over those executive functions on what she eats or what medicines she takes to insure that her last days are the best that they can be.

So back to the column. Ms Goodman is working on a non-profit called “The Conversation Project”. Here’s the pointer to her piece in the NY TImes.

And here’s the link to “The Conversation Project“. Go take a look. You won’t regret it.