Where have the days gone?

It’s like resurfacing after a long deep sea dive.  Of course, I’ve never been deep sea diving, so I’m only guessing here but I’ve paid attention during movies featuring deep sea dives.  And I feel like I imagine one would feel after resurfacing.

If you follow my creative writing blog, you know that my mother-in-law died early this month.  As we’ve been saying, it is a sad event, but not a tragic one.  She was 94, enjoyed a long, happy, and mostly healthy life, and left it peacefully with her family gathered around her.  It’s what I hope for myself.

It’s the aftermath that lingers in my mind like the effects of that plunge to ocean floor, those endless surreal days of details, details and more details, most of them costly.  If you’ve been though it (the aftermath, I mean, not the actual event), you know about the business of death.  Yes, business.  And oh, what a business it is.  We tried to keep her send-off as low-key as possible, because that’s what she wanted.  But every time we turned around, there was someone there with a hand out.

Along with the services one expects from those involved in the business, there were others that came packaged in guilt.  You know.  Of course we want the best and most lavish (read expensive here) of everything available accompany to our loved one into eternity.   The flowers have to be the lushest (read showy, out of season and, yes, expensive) possible or people might think no one cares.  Even the priest managed to work a pitch for donations into his sermon “because she was committed to philanthropy.”  (I should mention that he’d never met her.)  For the most part, the family was able to resist all these elements of commerce, and the resulting final goodbye was simple and elegant, which is just what she wanted.  But, even so, I was appalled at the list of fees included in the final bill.

But then there’s the family.  That was the good part.  It was a joy to have the entire family, some from afar, gathered.  It’s not something that happens often.   It’s a shame that it takes a funeral to bring us together.  Given the occasion, everyone was on good behavior. (Oh, there were a few exceptions, but I can make allowances for grief.  Mostly.)  My mother-in-law was Irish-American, and I know she would have enjoyed to tenor of the proceedings.  It was most reminiscent of a true Irish wake.

And now it’s finished.  As things return to normal, I realize I’ve let just about everything fall by the wayside for a few weeks.  I haven’t even write a word on my blogs, let alone visited any of those of my friends.  Time to shake it off, move on, and pick up where I left off.

Perhaps I should start with the bills…


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9 Responses to Where have the days gone?

  1. I’m glad you started with your blog and not the bills, Patti. Given my ancestery, I’ve been to a lot of Irish wakes and enjoyed most. Good for you all for going with simple and elegant. So glad to have you back (and me too).

    • PattiKen says:

      Glad to be back, Mary. And the same “welcome home” to you too. I know you must be glad to be back in beautiful Italia again.

      BTW, congrats on your Jacksonville run. I suspect it was a piece of cake for you.

  2. Titanium says:

    The financial mayhem in the aftermath of a sudden loss is just comprehensively overwhelming. I’ve thought of you many, many times in the past couple of weeks and hoped that you are holding up okay. It’s good to read your words again, to hear your virtual voice and know that things are okay.

    • PattiKen says:

      Thank you for your thoughts, dear friend. I am fine, as is the rest of the family. There are so many things the experience was, as you can imagine. Too many to really describe. It wasn’t awful, but I’m glad it’s over.

      Thanks for being you.

  3. Tara R. says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mother-in-law, but it sounds like she had an elegant farewell. I really should get with my parents and in-laws to make sure we know what arrangements they want when their time comes.

    • PattiKen says:

      Thanks, Tara. I’m so glad we knew her wishes. It made everything so much easier. There were three of her children involved in the arrangements. I can only imagine the mayhem had we not had a clear picture of what she wanted. I think it could have been really awful.

      P.S. Love your accent!

  4. Oh, yes. This is so true. Do you remember Jessica Mitford’s expose many years ago: The American Way of Death. Disturbing. I’m please for your family that you were able to keep things dignified.

    • PattiKen says:

      Yes, I do remember that, Jamie. At the time, I remember reading an article about people doing “natural” burials (burying the dead in a hole in the ground — no embalming, no casket, none of the expensive falderal). Before writing this reply, I looked it up and today there are natural “cemeteries” or burial grounds around the country. One web site spoke of the family bringing the deceased to the burial ground, digging the grave and doing the burial themselves. They said a biodegradable casket could be used, but many just used shrouds. The land is then allowed to return to its natural state with wild flowers and grasses.

      To me, returning to the old ways, the ways the “savages” used to do it, sounds so much more civilized to me.

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