Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Didja miss me?

I have had a very busy summer.  Not much of it was good, sadly.  Last we spoke I'd been to the fair with the grand off spring.  Three days later I was in North Carolina.  My mother-in-law (Mary) had surgery and as Steve was in the middle of his annual fair deal at Solano Co. I was elected to be the family in situ.    The long and short of it was a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer on July 29 and a very short time till Mary Frances Libby Hales passed away on September 16.  God Speed Mary.

It was a difficult time for everyone, but the days spent with Mary were extraordinary.  I wouldn't trade that time with her for anything.  Steve was able to come out during the recuperation and we three spent a lot of time laughing and remembering.  We left North Carolina on August 14 and returned in a hurry on September 7.  And well you know what eventually happened.

A word about Hospice.  I hope none of you ever have a loved one who needs Hospice.  But Hospice Facilities are a refuge and while the usual out come is the passing of a life, the atmosphere is not dreary or depressing.  Somehow the feeling is one of acceptance of death and not resignation to it.  You learn, or I did anyway, that death is a part of life and the journey does not have to be one of sadness and angst.  Steve, his sister, Sandra and I spent many hours with Mary during that last week.  I don't remember many tears but do remember a lot of reminisces and laughter.  The hospice nurses told us that even though Mary was not participating in the conversations and stories, she could hear what we were saying and we talked to her constantly.  At times we could tell something made an impact, or at least we like to think so.  The nurses and aids were without fail kind and willing to share their experiences.  They were not afraid to let us know what certain things meant when breathing patterns changed, or the skin felt cold, or there were weird sounds.  It's all a part of it.  My own parents both died quite suddenly and I wish I could have had the few weeks with them that I had with my mother-in-law. 

A word about post death.  Funeral homes are creepy.  The voices used there are hushed and intended to be comforting.  I just wanted to ask them to speak normally.  And get rid of the unfortunate wall paper border in the "room".  Basically funeral homes serve an unpleasant duty.  And they are paid handsomely.  The funeral directors have had very little time with the deceased and while I'm sure they are trying to be respectful, the usual feeling is not one of true compassion.  If they have had any interaction with the departed, it was to exalt the virtues of this service ($cha-ching) and that ($cha-ching) in order to "make it easier on the survivors"..  ($$$ching ching ching)  Hooey.  They go under the heading, "gross jobs I'd never do in a heart beat".  I was most uncomfortable with the breakdown of charges rendered for the appliances used during the storage of the body, the cremation, how much a death certificate costs and especially the fees for running an obituary.  I understand the funeral home is not responsible for the costs charged the family to run an obituary in a newspaper, but they are the messengers and you know what happens to them...The San Francisco Chronicle wanted over $1000.00 to run Mary's obituary.  The Monterrey Herald charged $100 for the same article.  It is fairly gross how institutions and people (clergy included BTW) take advantage of the family of the deceased.  Emotions are high and judgement is poor as a rule.  So if you saw the death notice of Mary Hales in the SF Chronicle and thought it was short, that is why.  While all the funeral home stuff was deeply weird, perhaps the most onerous part of the whole post death scenarios had to be the church stuff.  Mary planned the whole service, which in itself is morbid.  She also made several handsome bequests to her beloved Holy Cross Church over the course of time.  When it came to the interment of her cremains, it became clear that no interment would be happening until the hostages ponied up I mean the  priest and deacon were paid their tithe.  I believe the tithes totalled over $800.00.  Hallelujah! 

In the middle of the North Carolina trips I went to England for 18 days.  I love England.  Love the food, the weather, the small streets, the little villages and the people.  I had the opportunity to go to Burghley  for the Horse Trials and as ever, it was a fantastic event.  The best riders in the world competed and it was a privilege to watch them go.  I had some friends competing too,  especially one of my favorite people in the world,  Kate Hicks.  She was there with her mother, husband, adorable son and a few friends.  In spite of the challenges of competing, Kate was a star and gracious to all.  She did not have the best competition score wise, but at the end of the day she finished the most difficult horse trials in the world and never let her nerves get the best of her.  She remembered her dressage test, jumped cleanly around the cross country course and finished the show jumping in good order. She braided her own horse and pitched in with all the day to day stuff of caring for a horse and accepted that some days the competition was not her to win.  She didn't blame anyone for her scores and was pleased with her performances.  She was a happy and positive force in our barn aisle.  I love you Katie.

So that was my summer. How was yours?  Oh, I almost forgot, we have a new dawg.  We adopted Mary's chihuahua, Lili and brought her home with us.  I know quite a few of you know my precious baby Emma the killer of all that moves.  We were very concerned that Emma would see Lili for what she really is, a barking squirrel.  But from the start and from the safety of her Southwest approved dawg carrier, Lili put Emma in her place immediately.  When they were allowed to meet face to face, little Lili growled and snapped at Emma and just confounded her.  They are romping in the back yard as I write this.  Lili loves me and I am Emma's personal person, so every now and again there are some territory issues, but I believe all is and will continue to be peaceful, well as peaceful as can be with two Jack Russells and a Southern Belle.

Cheers and thanks for letting me share,


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