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Re: A SAD MEMORY.

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Message 11 of 22
Dear PattyDiane... I cried and cried as I read about your daddy. So much love in your heart for him... what a true blessing to have had him in your life. Thank you for the beautiful way you told this story.
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Re: A SAD MEMORY.

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Message 12 of 22
Thank you Sara for posting this story about your brother... very difficult for you I am sure.

After sharing about my friend's suicide in February I haven't been able to bring myself to visit my usual social gathering places. Losing a loved one this way takes you down very deep into the carefully hidden caverns of your soul... where grief resides and waits for us to visit. Life and all of its activities keep us so busy that we rarely give grief the time it deserves. I haven't been able to enjoy my usual activities since the day she took her life and where I usually try to keep my perspective positive and cheerful, it's been an unusually difficult few months doing so since then.

Every loss changes us... I don't understand the why behind the losses we experience but I do know no one escapes them and they are a large part of who we become. People with heart and compassion. Characteristics I see and love in the members of this group...

Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your beautiful brother... I think I would have liked to know him.
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Re: A SAD MEMORY.

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Message 13 of 22

Sara:  Please don't be sorry that your posting brought back my memories.  It is a gift when these memories are triggered and we can pull them out and take a look at them.  For me, writing about them is very cathartic.

 

I actually wrote this about Daddy a couple of years ago when my step children lost their mother and even though I'd had no contact with her for many years the news brought up a lot for me.  That, too, was a gift.  I could not have written about it when it first happened but it was very healing for me to be able to write it and then you reminded me of it again and I enjoyed pulling it out. 

 

I like to think that each time on of us posts something, we are not only letting someone get to know us better  but that they will be reminded of something in their lives.  It makes it even better when they write about it and share.

 

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Re: A SAD MEMORY.

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Message 14 of 22

Dear PattyDiane:

I am sorry that my 'Sad Story' brought so many sad memories to you. There are certain things we keep in the back or our minds because they hurt so much. You described in such a beautiful way the memories of your wonderful father who was there for you all the time and the thought of him losing all his abilities to function at the end of his life brought tears to my eyes. The only comfort we have when we think about our beloved ones is that they will always live in our hearts and putting in writing our memories about them is a tribute to their kindness.

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Re: A SAD MEMORY.

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Message 15 of 22
Thank you for your kind words Frances. Unfortunately many people can't cope with their problems and feel isolated from the world. Once they decide that there is not other way, there is nothing anybody can do or say to help them. I still miss my brother after so many years.
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Re: A SAD MEMORY.

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Message 16 of 22

That was very traumatic losing your father at such a young age. When you mentioned your last memory of him sitting in a chair smiling at you as you left haunts most of us as we remember the last time that we were with a loved one before death. Your fathers' death was very sudden, though, where the memories are frozen in time. 

 

My mother passed away almost 6 years ago, but I remember her telling me how she remembers losing her father when he was only 45. It was in the early 1930's when she was only 14. Their family had gone to a Catholic church on a Saturday for confession which was a common practice at that time. Her father was sitting in the church pew when he began feeling very ill. He told them to finish their rituals and to let him rest. When they returned to the church pew, he was dead. It was probably from a heart attack, but it changed things drastically for them as he was the breadwinner of the family. Her mother had to go to work cleaning houses and taking in sewing to make ends meet. 

 

It's shocking how insensitive people can be at a time like this as when your neighbor only focused on her own loss in the past. If only they could just say, "I'm so sorry for your loss" and offer any help. 

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Re: A SAD MEMORY.

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Message 17 of 22

Your story captured all the memories so clearly with Christmas as we once remembered them. I think the "dread" of knowing what's happening and what's to come is the worst. Even though we know that death is imminent, we are never ready for it. Looking back, these times of facing death are like being in a dream in that we go through the motions of being there and trying to make sense of what's happening, but it's like watching ourselves perform. It all seems unreal, but we must smile and make conversation with those who are present during their last days or a funeral. It's good to share this with others who know that they're not alone. 

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Re: A SAD MEMORY.

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Message 18 of 22

Hi Sara, I'm just getting back to this new forum. Your story about your brother was very moving. We just never know what others are going through or we're unable to help in some way. A woman at a senior group recently lost her middle-aged son to suicide while another lost her teenage grandson the same way. It's frustrating and shocking as it was a choice that they made while it was the furthest thing from our minds. It's good that you've written about this as many others have gone through it. 

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Re: A SAD MEMORY.

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Message 19 of 22

Frozen in Memory


My father died when I was eighteen and a freshman in college. He was forty-one and died of a massive heart attack while helping my sisters mow his mother's yard. The ambulance was called but it had a flat while making the five mile trip to my grandmother's home and my father was dead before the ambulance arrived. It must have been a traumatic event for my sisters who were teenagers at the time. I have never asked them about that day and we are close; both in spirit and in location. Why? I don't know.


What was it like for my sisters to watch our father die? What was it like for a mother to see her only remaining son die? My father's brother had died of an apparent gun accident a few years before. Even from this distance of many years, I still find that time surreal. The wake was in our living room and as I would walk through the room filled with neighbors and relatives and see my father in his coffin, I pictured him asleep. He often slept on the sofa that was usually located in that spot. I thought he would get up soon and resume his life.

 

The last time I’d seen him alive had been the month before—on my maternal grandmother’s front porch. He'd been sitting in a white wooden porch chair. Other relatives were around him—it was a family Sunday dinner or afternoon visit with my grandmother. I can't recall what the event was—it may have been Easter as he died in May. That memory of him is frozen, as if it were a snapshot. He wore a white shirt and khaki pants and his thin, light brown hair was blowing across his forehead. He smiled at me in an acknowledgement of my leaving. I was returning to college.


I never finished my final exams—interrupted by my father's death. I was an A student and the professors gave me a waver. A college friend had been planning on spending the first week of the summer with us. She continued with the visit as planned and this helped all of us get through those first few weeks. She was a distraction and kept us from dwelling on our sorrow. My mother grieved but she was a strong person. She immersed herself in her work and in her church. There were people who called or came by to visit and all this helped. The only person who did not help was this neighbor who felt it her duty to recount her own sorrow about the loss of her own husband twenty years before. She didn't seem satisfied until she had my mother in tears. Eventually my mother stopped crying and then the woman stopped visiting.

 

My father's death, and the weeks that followed all are a distant memory now—frozen in their own time but still accessible in my mind today.

 

Frances a.k.a.

Starimage.jpgSparkel18

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Re: A SAD MEMORY.

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Message 20 of 22

Thanks for your post, Sara.  It has made me think of something that has been on my mind a lot during the past few days.  My father's birthday was April 9 and he would have been 104 this year.  Daddy's birthday was always special.  We forgot it one year because it fell on Easter and he had his feelings badly hurt and reminded me of a little boy.  We never forgot his birthday again.  As an adult, and after some therapy of my own, I realized we probably did see Daddy's "little boy" that day.  I'm certain, as the oldest child in a family of nine.  I'm certain his birthday was forgotten more than once and that must have hurt.

 

The following is something that I wrote a couple of years ago when my step-children lost their mother.  Knowing thier sadness made me feel my own, even though it had been almost 30 years ago.  You are right, writing about it helped and it helped to re-read it this morning.

 

 

It was Christmas Day when I walked through the front door of the house where I had lived since I was eight years old. How many Christmases had I spent in this house with the tree in front of the window? The lights had changed and the decorations had become more expensive. No longer were the bulbs on the tree those large things in primary colors combined with a lot of paper chains and strings of popcorn mixed with a few glass balls collected over the years before children became involved. Now the tree was silk and the lights small and twinkling but it didn’t matter because it was almost covered by the number of gifts, not only on the floor, but also on every convenient flat surface. There was the smell of turkey and dressing mixed with all the other familiar odors of the holiday. It looked and smelled the same, but it was all wrong.

 

All the familiar people were there, my sisters, brothers-in-law and my nieces. We were all trying to act like everything was normal. I had dreaded this day. Since I lived out of town I had not been there since Thanksgiving and that had been a difficult weekend. I had been shocked at the demise of my father since I had last seen him. I feared what I would see this time. I had done all my usual holiday activities of gift buying and wrapping. It was the Christmas cookies that got to me when I realized Daddy could no longer eat them since chewing was a problem. I wondered if he could manage the Swedish Spritz with bright colored frosting since those almost melted in the mouth.

Nobody acknowledged the fact that Daddy was not at his usual place at the table when we had dinner. We all knew it would be too painful for him to be there since he couldn’t eat. I wondered if it would be more painful for him or for us. I don’t know who made the decision to leave him in the bedroom because he was also past being able to verbally allow his wishes to be known.

 

He was wheeled into the living room for the traditional gift opening, even though he could no longer manipulate his hands to open his pile of gifts. I don’t remember who opened them for him and held up the contents for his approval that he was unable to give. His head was hung down and his shoulders rounded. When I looked closely I saw tears running down his now sunken cheeks. The only other time I remembered seeing my father cry was as he walked me down the isle on my wedding day. I didn’t ask him what the tears were about on that day either.

 

I was so happy to leave that day even though I had the feeling I had just said good-by. The doctors said it would be April before the ALS prevented him from taking his last breath. Mother said they were planning to insert a feeding tube after the holidays, because even swallowing was becoming difficult. A visiting nurse was also supposed to be coming to take over some of the things that Mother had been doing.

 

The call came early in the morning on January 2. I got to Atlanta as fast as I could. By the time I got there all the arrangements had been made and the only thing left to do was to get through the coming days. I’d had car trouble on the way there. The windshield wipers had stuck in the midst of a terrible storm and I felt guilty to have to worry about a car repair at a time like this. Thank God for AAA who could come and pick up my car. I just needed to figure out a way to pick it up. Maybe Mother was grateful to have something else to focus on other than the death of her spouse of over 50 years. She said she didn’t mind taking me to the garage to pick up the car after a new wiper motor was installed.

 

I was alone with Mother for most of the time during the day before the funeral. I never saw her cry so I felt I needed to act like everything was normal too. The phone rang a lot but she wanted to answer it herself. I had a hard time trying to figure out what to do. A few people came over with food which Mother accepted graciously but nobody stayed more than a few minutes. There was no need to prepare food and Mother said she wasn’t hungry. I wandered around a lot feeling like a stranger in the house where I had grown up.

 

I kept thinking that Mother would finally show some emotion and somehow that would be permission for me too. She finally did the morning of the funeral, but it was not what I had expected. She received a phone call and when she hung up she was very angry. She said a woman at the church was going to sing at Daddy’s funeral as her gift to him and his family. I said I thought that was nice and then Mother flared up at me. She said that Daddy thought she had a nice voice but it gave her a headache. I realized that was what she used to say about me too so I just got quiet but I was anxious to know what the woman sounded like. It turned out to be one of the few things I remembered about the funeral and I thought she had a beautiful voice.

 

We met at my sister’s house after the graveside service. It had been a wet and cold day. I had seen people I hadn’t seen since childhood and probably would never see again and I had met people I had never seen before. They all rather blurred together and I was anxious to just get through the whole episode. I could tell I was close to loosing it and I hoped I wouldn’t explode at my sister’s. I wasn’t entirely successful.

 

It was on the way back home when everything hit me. I no longer had to put on a front for everyone else. I wasn’t even certain what I was feeling. I wasn’t sad for Daddy. I knew he was miserable with the life he had left. I felt he might have even chosen to leave his life since it had come before expected. I knew he was in a better place. I wasn’t even really sad for myself since it had been so hard the last few times I had seen him.

 

I guess I was feeling the loss of the Daddy of my memory. I missed the one who had tried to help me with a science project and ended up having such a good time that he had done the whole thing and then had to teach me about refrigeration so I could try to explain it to the class. I missed the one who had taught me to drive after Mother had tried and yelled at me so much that I almost wrecked the car. I missed the one who let me play with his electric trains with him and showed me how he had made grass with sawdust spray painted green and the water tower made of a tin can on a stand and painted red. I missed the one who had taken me to get my first car and signed the paper with the bank so I could finance it. I missed the one who had built me bookcases to exactly fit the space in my room and ran out of lumber for the last shelf and had to piece it. I missed the one who helped me put together the chest so I could have something to put my clothes in when I moved into my first apartment.

 

It hit me again when I walked back into my own front door. My dogs were glad to see me as they had always been. My house looked the way it always did. My Christmas tree was still up and everything was how I left it. I wondered how that could be. I felt different. The world felt different and I was aware that it would never be the same again.

 

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