I realize that the subject of death and dying is thought to be a somber conversation. Lately, I’ve been wondering if it needs to be. My father passed away when I was very young (16). He was born with a defective heart and he left this earth way too early (55). The last verse of my song, Tears on My Pillow, is about the loss I felt (check out my “Heart Song page). He had open heart surgery about 7 months before he passed away. We (my family) never spoke of his illness nor his impending passing. I remember seeing many tears in my mother’s eyes and my grandmother’s eyes. I felt pain but did not fully understand why I felt it. I understand now, that by not talking about the inevitable early passing of my father, my mother sought to protect me from pain. As a result, I have always had a horrible fear of “death.” So much pain throughout my life caused by unresolved “issues.” Perhaps I do not fear my own passing (although I think about it more and more as I try to deal with my RA) but rather, the passing of those I love. The fear of loss often cripples me. As parents we do the best we know how. I no longer blame my mother for “making it a better transition,” but instead I now look to her to teach me how she’s doing it.
Several years ago, while visiting my mother (then about 88 years old), I was admiring a paper weight that had belonged to my father. When I turned it over, I was surprised to see a label that read, “When I die, this goes to Peggy.” Hmmm, I began to look at other things in the house only to find out that she had “labeled” almost everything! At first, I though it rather morbid and told her so. Now, we laugh about it and it has begun to make more sense to me. My mother (soon to be 92) is a strong, dignified and proud woman. There was no doubt that she would handle the planning for her final years the way SHE chose to. Many times I felt her decisions to be wrong (for any number of reasons) but I have come to realize that we should all have the right to make our own choices for as long as we are able. By making choices early on we are able to make them with a sound mind. I am beginning to see the wisdom of her ways. The sooner we begin to discuss our inevitable passing the better not only are we but the better are those we will leave behind. (That is a story for another blog day). Mother will be 92 very soon. She herself has forgotten her plans but has left them in the hands of someone she trusts to carry them out. This too is a subject for yet another posting.
Death is a part of living. We leave this life to become a part of another. Perhaps it is time to think about and plan for how we want to travel.