Silly Grins

Monday, June 11, 2012


Context is necessary in order to drop in on the following wave of information. This message at the bottom of this post is what can be called a peripheral, sent out on request. The idea of having the message published is that this is exactly the kind of thing people need to know. 

Before the peripheral, my context must be given. Also, this explains a trip to the camera shop the other day (but not completely, not yet). I just made a special trip to say 'thank you' and explain that their services had helped me.

What feels like ages ago, but what must have only been a few weeks now... my good neighbor passed on. When I say good, I mean good in a way that few people may ever live up to. 

When my neighbor introduced himself, he crossed a line. He crossed a line where I was building my fence. A line that really wasn't there. Somehow he knew. His sincerity was completely disarming in a way that I can only recall coming close to maybe once in my life. 

When neighbor Good passed away, I was surprised to learn that he was 80. You see, his days were spent outside, beneath the sky, tending his garden. After more than 45 years of work and living in a flat in some big city that really could have been anywhere, after what must have been a few lifetimes,  he came back down for his last seven to tend the soil. 

Even though I might have thought he crossed a line when we first met, he was above it all. 

Later, I learned, that he'd spent his work-life walking the edge, steadily building those things that scrape the sky. He mentioned that when you are up to a certain level, you feel like you're somewhere special, away from the noise and chaos of the crowds. And if you look out over the horizon before a glance up at the sky, those lines down below all seem so pointless, arbitrary... 

The day we first met, there was something in his eyes. Maybe it was just me. He must have understood how beautiful the skywalk can be and how quickly we can fall. 

His fall was fast. From the time he was diagnosed till when his number was called was maybe two months. 

I'd taken a bunch of pictures of his garden and had them blown up to where he'd be able to see them with what vision he had left. Nobody was in his hospital room when I got there. It was one of the hardest things I've had to do. Not wanting him to strain himself on his way out for my sake, I held up a few of the photos for him to see and he croaked out a 'Thank you". 

We were planning on taking the kids in to see him the next morning. Which turned out to be too late.

His coffin was the first I've ever help carry. It was so light... so light. I was totally unprepared.

Just the other day, Wifey took me to be fitted for a double-breasted funeral suit. She said that I'd be needing to look good when we pay our respects next time and started naming off a long list of aunts, uncles, grandparents... 

I'm totally not ready for any of this. 

Now, for the periphery that was mentioned earlier. The following 'communication' took place between two people, one whose father was in what may be or may have been his final place. But that's not as important as what is in the message. 

(And, after having said farewell to neighbor Good, it helps me cope)



I remember from my time working at the hospital that often people would confuse letting someone die who was dying with killing someone.  Families would fight each other about pulling the plug (which is different than your scenario) and families would disagree about stopping food and water.  

If your Dad can make that decision, it would be best if he is the one to do so.  How to frame the discussion may be impossible now, if he really isn't clear enough.  If it was discussed in the past, it would be helpful. He may still be enjoying being with you all and that is good and it may prolong his life, which may still hold value for him.  In that case, he may be with you for longer than seems possible, given what you see.  The will to live can't be seen.

I mentioned before that if he starts swelling up it might be a time to really, really restrict water because of the discomfort.  If he keeps drinking, he could possibly last way beyond 3 weeks and everyone may need to be prepared for the possibility and think about what that may mean regarding getting some extra help. You could all be totally exhausted without some more assistance.

If he has said he is ready and really WANTS to not prolong the discomfort and can understand that he can choose to stop eating and drinking and that doing so will not be painful, but rather easier and that if there is pain for any reason, there are medications he can take and still be aware and alert, then it is kind not to force him to eat to keep his family happy.

Who are they doing it for?  

If he answers the simple questions and seems alert, ask him if he wants to talk, then give him space to talk.  Just letting him know you are willing to listen to whatever he has to say.


You or anyone else could also ask, "Do you want to rest or talk right now?"  You could ask that periodically, depending upon how alert he seems.
Again, if he is worn out and this isn't the end but the response to events, let him rest as much as possible and be quietly present.

Is your Mom able to just sit with him and hold his hand?  

A calming and comforting touch is to place one's hand slightly low on his solar plexus.  

And so it goes. Personally, I'm not counting on ever being so lucky. But it sure is nice to know that some people are. Until then, it's what we make of it that counts.



  1. Death.

    Some folks never appreciate the one until they get too close to the other.

    I got a funeral to attend Wednesday. Tuesday is an "unlucky day" on the 5 day cycle on the Japanese calendar. The day after I learned about that 5 day cycle I suddenly was hearing about it as why the crematorium is not open Tuesday in this town. It's called Tomo..... And it relates to friends but they will take you with them even after they are dead because they don't know.

    What a long fucking day and a short fucking life. I do not grieve well...I dunno what that even is? :(

    1. Grieving... the first time I heard it was from a group of women who'd coaxed me out of my hole to just have a few drinks. They said they'd make me an honorary lass for the night so, no expectations.

      A drink or so later, they got the story why I wasn't seeing anyone and hadn't really thought about if the past year I hadn't realized had just slipped by. They told me I was grieving...

      I had had no idea what I was doing. No clue.

      I think women are much better at it. Feeling it and then letting go and knowing or having faith that the feeling will somehow pass. Something which is scary.

      This is something I'm going to have to be ready for 'cause summer is closing in. Somewhere, there's a gray-eyed cat named Smoke, just sitting and watching. Will get to that post soon enough. It's one of those.

    2. I convinced someone to make a CD of all the music the woman liked..I got my way instead of a buncha classical stuff that folks thought matched the occasion...fuck that...let her go with some music she loved.

      Found this gem

      This little girl could sing. This song will be the last one as the take her body away.

      She loved it..I did that. I might post about it.

      I look forward to tomorrow now.

    3. Thinking how much has been lost tonight, listening to the waltz... for the first time.

  2. Pulling the plug when the decision is yours and yours alone... beyond words.

    I often think of Donnie Darko when conversations like this come up. I think of old Roberta Sparrow whispering into Donnie's ear, "Every living thing dies alone"...

    1. Not too sure I'm going to put my faith in what sparrows whisper, even though they might just be right.

      'Will' - he requested to be let go and lasted seven days with no food or water. And, I believe, he was alone.

      However, there was a fool who managed to be surrounded by those he'd shared the trip with when he went. Those eight or so months it took him to 'get there' weren't easy, but he wasn't alone when he finally slipped away.

  3. I'm going through the near death of a family member right now. After watching the first one go, which lasted around 8 months from start to finish, I just wish my relative could die so they don't have to deal with this anymore. He himself has told many people that he is ready to go and is just waiting for the opportunity.

    I don't think anybody is ready for that moment, but waiting for somebody to go is surely better, and slightly agonizing, than somebody close getting taken in a stupid way like in car accident, from a heart attack, or even a stroke.

    I think about a world without my relative, and I don't thinks of sadness, just a short time with the rug being pulled out from under me and then getting back up and ready to dust myself off. everybody is different though, and sometimes I am insensitive to that.

    1. The 'Periphery' involve(s/ed) a fellow a Lincoln away from the coveted triple digit.

      Eight months, start to finish... I am familiar with that time-frame.

      These things are hard on everyone. And even though it might not have to be so hard, it still is. Or so I am learning.

      We've all got our ways to dealing with what we can. When a person is old and goes, I don't think that's a bad thing at all. They've had more than enough chances to set things straight with all those extra years.

      Yeah. It's when younger folks haven't had a chance to clean up the messes they've made, bring it full circle that feels like a loss... to me.