Saturday, October 30, 2010

Baby Steps toward Recovery

A week?   Is that all?  It seems like forever since my dad passed.  Forever ago, yet not.  I can still stop in that awful parking lot at Oahu Care, trek up to the 3rd floor, clean laundry in a bag over my right shoulder.  ... No, we're beyond that now.  

Dealt with the mortuary.  Cleared away his personal possessions from Oahu Care Facility.  Saw the trust attorney.  Received some cards.  Took one small box to the thrift shop.

Answered numerous questions about "When are services?" with "Still pending".

Still need to pick up the ashes.

On the home front, nothing has changed.  Those changes happened two years ago when he was moved into permanent care.  My mother has filled what for so many years was His Room with her overflow of boxes, books, notebooks, and papers, stuff.  It is the master bedroom, but no longer a bedroom.  Just a catch-all place.

Paper grocery bags are filled and marked.  Salvation Army.  Goodwill.  Thrift Shop.  Friends of the Library.    Then heaped in His Room, since there is more to go into each bag.  There is always more.    My frustration level rises.

I remember how hard it is to part with many things belonging to Ray.  Open closet.  Look.  Shed a tear.  Close closet.  Can't do this yet.  Open drawer.  Remove object.  Handle it, cherish it, remember. More tears.  Return it to its place.  Shut drawer.  Can't do this either.  I understand that heap of bags and boxes.

The time will come.   I have to believe.

My brother and I will talk later today about  a memorial for our father.  Our mother says that should be when we scatter the ashes.  She doesn't want to do anything that suggests having a party.  No food.

The Church makes this end of life so much easier, both physically and spiritually.  Call the office.  Talk with my priest.  Schedule a service.  Choose readings.  Add hymns as desired.   Draw comfort from the liturgy and the continuity assured us by our faith. Stand awe-struck by the number of friends who have come to share this time.  Know that the ladies of the church will be there to take care of everything connected with food, from set-up to clean-up.  It magically happens. At least it does in small towns.  For friends.

Closure. The numbness wears off eventually.   Recovery begins.

Give thanks for the memories.  They add color and vibrancy to our life.

Pray for the souls of those who have gone on.  Pray for those left behind.

Hug someone you love.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thank you.

To all of you who are expressing your condolences either here or on Facebook in the aftermath of our father's passing, thank you.  It is immensely comforting to know that you are out there, reading and caring.

When I came home from the hospital, picked up the laptop, and sat in the dark writing the post made this morning, I was writing for personal therapy.  It didn't occur to me that so many of you would read it so quickly.   It was barely 8 a.m. in Hawaii when I started the round of calls to mainland family and friends.  Without exception, everyone I called had read either my post or my brother's this day, or been contacted by a family member who read it.  It makes the world a far more friendly place, and leaves me feeling not quite so alone and adrift.

My mother was more shaken by the news of my dad's death than I had expected.  We just never know until an event happens how we -- or another -- will respond.  It's tricky not to let those expectations get in the way of appropriate response.  To my way of thinking, my mother needs to shed some tears.  She is not there yet.  She may never be there.  Her tears may have been shed years ago.

Whatever the case, Mother is busy making lists, reading the Yellow Pages, still emptying closets, and directing the rest of us in the choices we should be making.
 "No."  This is used especially when a subject is distasteful to her.
To me, after listening to a conversation between my brother and myself about the canoe paddles in my father's bedroom:   "I want the canoe paddle with his grandfather's name on it to go to Kimo, not to some museum."
To my brother the photographer:  "Use an obituary picture that looks like he looked recently, like people will remember him.  Don't use one from when he was young."
and over our Chinese take-out dinner this evening, "I hope Ian picks out a good picture for the obituary."

Ian, are you getting her message?  :-)

Give thanks for the extraordinarily long and influential life of our father, John Montgomery Lind.  Give thanks that he was finally able to let go.  Don't forget to pray ....

Another Battle Over, Another Warrior Gone

My father, John Montgomery Lind, passed away just over an hour ago, at 1:50 a.m. HST on Saturday, 23 October, 2010.  He was only a few weeks from his 97th birthday.  His hair was still black, as it had been his entire life.  

He didn't make it to December 6.  
He clung tenaciously to life, difficult though this last month has been.  

Good-bye, Daddy.  Be at peace. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mending Relationships

When Julie, the social worker from Hospice, visited my mom last week, she left a paper titled "Five Things".

It is one of the few papers she has kept, not given to me to file away in the Hospice File.

I went looking this morning on the Internet to learn more about The Five Things.  They come from a book by Dr. Ira Byock, Dying Well:  Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life and are described more fully in another book, The Four Things that Matter Most.  They are:
I Forgive You
Forgive Me
Thank You
I Love You

I have put aside all hurt or resentment I might have had against you.  For all those hurts, large or small, I forgive you.

For those things I have done in my life which have hurt or harmed you, please forgive me.

Thank you for all the moments of light and friendship you have brought into my life.  Thank you for being my friend.  Thank you for being you.

I love you. Unconditionally.


They fit beautifully into the theme of the study currently ongoing in our church based on Dr. Timothy Keller's book The Prodigal God.  Keller talks about unconditional love, families vs. community, and the restorative power of forgiveness, building his message from the (mis-named, he says) Parable of the Prodigal Son.  It, too, is worth exploration.

Give thanks for those who love  unconditionally.  Especially those who love you unconditionally.  

Don't forget to pray.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Another Milestone

The milestone is that I am out of the laundry business.  That is a good thing.  I hate having to do laundry on deadline when working around the whims of the weather.

The reason is not particularly good.  My dad is no longer able to help dress himself.  He is permanently in a hospital gown. I don't have to launder hospital gowns.

My mother surprised me.  I don't want her to ever say that we -- my brother and I -- prevented her from doing something she wanted to do, either from ignorance or neglect.  So periodically I offer her the opportunity to visit my dad.  I know better than to expect that she will accept.  This afternoon she asked when I will go again to see him.  She has a big shopping trip planned for tomorrow morning, so my late afternoon meeting with the Hospice RN is less than convenient.

"When are you going after than?" she asked.  

I suggested that Friday morning would be good.  It just might happen.

Seeing her again, her giving him permission to move on, just might be what he needs to take that next step.

Fearless hearts.  Peaceful minds.  Give thanks.  Hug someone.  Let someone know you care.  Don't forget to pray.....

Letting Go

You need to read my brother's post at to understand my mood this morning.  It's titled, "Still too Strong for his Own Good".

Our dad is aware of what is happening in his body.  On the last two or three times I've seen him, he's said "I'm in bad shape."  He told me before the medical diagnosis was made that he had pneumonia.  He recognizes that coughing blood is not a good thing.  He knows what he can no longer do, no longer enjoy.  He knows there is no possibility he will enjoy those things again in this lifetime.  But he will not let go.

I think he is afraid.  It's a big unknown on the other side of that door.  Will he walk out into empty space?  Will he simply disappear from the universe?  Will he, as he was promised in those church-going years of his  youth, step into eternal glory?  Or eternal damnation?  Will he rejoin his parents and brothers who have gone before him?

Will he continue to live in the memories of those who knew him, who care about him?  Will he be remembered as a good guy, or a bad guy?  Will he fade out of memory and cease to exist, even there?

When my maternal grandmother was dying more than 50 years ago, her priest was a relatively young man who chose to follow his father's footsteps into the ministry.  He had a gift for working with the elderly.  My mother asked him one day why he, a vibrant young man, chose to work with 'old people'.

"When you are young," he said, "you need the church to give you something to live for.  When you are old, you need something to die for."

I continue to wish for my father a fearless mind and a peaceful heart.   Pray that he, and all those in a similar place, will find something to die for.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What a Difference a Walker Makes!

We put the new walker to the ultimate test on Saturday morning.  Can it do a craft fair?  Short answer:  YES!

I took my mom to our annual Daughters of Hawaii fair, an indoor-outdoor event featuring food, music, and a good selection of mostly upscale artisans and craftspersons.  She loved it.  And could never have done it without the walker.

To be fair, it would not be a good thing to turn her loose totally unsupervised.  There are little bumps like thresholds and fat extension cords and low curbs where it is nice to have someone unobtrusively pick up the front end of the walker to help it over the bump.  Down slopes need control, and up slopes need a little extra pull power.  Grass is not ideal.  Paved surfaces are great.  She would go,go,go -- then sit down to shop at a particular stall.  She could go where ever she wanted, meet people, enjoy being out in the world.

She shopped in "Dale's Attic", the rummage component of our fair.  She bought a bottle of marmalade, a lemon and a lime -- which look identical.  She tried on hats, looked at haku lei, exclaimed over the wiliwili lei made from a brilliant orange-red seed that you don't see much any more.  Maybe because an immigrant bug has killed off a large percentage of the population of wiliwili trees.  She looked at plants, and when I bought my Treasure of the Year (a gold and silver bracelet by Donna Cockett of Kauai, who happens to be married to a cousin), she bought one, too.  Different design, same maker.  I think she bought it because she liked the bracelet.  But she also bought it because the maker is 'ohana.
By 11:30, she was tired and ready to go home.  But she never would have gotten past Dale's Attic without that walker!

Give thanks for the openness that allows us to swallow our pride and invest in the tools and aids we need to live a full life.
Don't forget to pray!