"These happy golden years are passing by, these happy golden years." Laura Ingalls Wilder

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Death With or Without Closure? (Update below)



Yesterday I had a message on my answering machine from my bio dad. He never initiates a call ... always says he was just about to call me after he answers my phone call to him (once every three months or so). So to hear his voice on my recorder saying, "this is your old man, give me a call tonight" ... left me thinking someone had died. And sure enough, his wife (my step mom) of 30+ years had died after a lengthy and painful case of stenosis of the spine ... plus she and been a heavy smoker her whole life. She apparently removed her oxygen mask during the night, as that's how he found her in the morning. Soon the coroner and sheriff's department arrived ... and a short time later a (medical) university van arrived and took her body away. You see, she and my bio dad have made arrangements to leave their bodies to science. I'm not sure why ... just don't want to pay for a funeral ... or ... have some great humanitarian quest to help the med students. I rather think it's the first suggestion quite frankly. When I finally returned his call he was finished with the arrangements, had plans of working today, and didn't want me to send flowers or a sympathy card. There's to be no memorial service ... nothing ... she's just gone ... no closure ... nada. I mentioned if he felt sad or lonely to give me a call (we live in different states so I can't just go pay a visit). I'm sorry ... but I need closure. I'm going to respect his no flowers or card wishes ... but I am going to write him a letter. If nothing else, I can find a bit of closure myself by doing so.

Update: Last night I gave my dad a call and we must have talked over 90 minutes. This was the longest conversation we have ever had (we have only seen each other three times since 1990). He was able to give me more details about their final arrangements that made more sense than just casually hearing for the last ten years that they are leaving their bodies to science. The university does have memorial services a few times a year and family members are invited to them. The deceased are given a memorial plaque somewhere on the grounds in a specified area where ashes are buried. He went on in detail how caring for her had been very difficult and mentally draining on him and how much pain she had been in and all the medications and surgeries she had endured. She was a character of a woman ... always opinionated and bossy with a fiery temper ... he is laid back to a fault. With all of her brassiness, I do, however, believe she had an enduring love and belief in Jesus. And I pray she is at peace with Him now.


Rest In Peace
Marie
July 1, 1927 - January 24, 2008

12 comments:

Amrita said...

Sorry to hear about Marie. How is your dad taking it? Maybe he needs someone to be with himn for a while.

Sara said...

Sorry to hear of your family's loss. Will pray for him and all of you guys. Closure comes in many forms for many people I suppose. Regardless of wishes expressed, we all appreciate the gestures of support in whatever form they take.

Becky said...

my dad donated his body as well. in prayer as well.

Constance said...

Please accept my condolences. We had something similiar when my MIL passed away. No funeral, no nothing! She had fought cancer and had been in and out of the hospital more times than I can remember. She was instantly cremated and that was that! My Sweetie and I did drive home the following weekend to spend time with my FIL and Dave's 2 brothers. When my FIL passes, it'll be the same thing only they want both of their ashes spread around their property. Whatever! It's not what I would do but I don't have any sayso in the matter. I think sometimes the dearly departed forget that the ones that they leave behind, need something so that we can move forward!
Connie

Pat said...

Having just gone through this with my Mother's passing - I can tell you that it's a very personal thing. My only desire was to honor what would have been my Mother's wishes, which I believe we did, but there is also the part that address those left behind - which is so important. It's a fine line to make sure that all are included, and honored. I'm glad to read that there is a little more to her arrangements -and still honor her last wishes. My deepest sympathy to all.

Saija said...

i hope your bio dad finds peace and solace after his years of caring for her ...

((hugs))

Idaho Escapee said...

I don't think there's ever anything that resembles "closure" as far as a death is concerned. No matter what you decide to think, they're still dead and life goes on. My dad and I were basically enemies; he's been dead since 2001 and I don't miss him at all. Mom passed away a couple of months before him...and I do miss her, a lot. Finally, it's amazing the mind games that go on between family members; I've had family members hurt me more than friends ever could. I hope you work through all of this, and remember you do have a right to be happy. After my parents died, it was 2 or 3 months before I dared laugh at a joke; I felt like I had no right to smile.

Janet Rubin said...

Hi Mrs. Mac, Just wanted to let you know that I stopped by and read. Not fun at all. I'm sorry about all of it. God bless, friend.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss in your family. Ie seems like no matter what the situation among families, there is always an emptiness that follows death. May God be with you, guide you and give you wisdom at this time. Praying for you... Gramma_s

Maggie Ann said...

How sad. You have my sympathy...

Julie said...

I'm sorry to hear about your step-mom. I'm praying that your dad will find the necessary closure he needs...and rest as well! My grandfather cared for my grandmother on his own for a few years (she had Alzheimer's) before putting her in a home. Six months later she was gone. Their arrangments were a "bare-bones" burial with no obituary or service (many members of my family don't speak to my grandfather) so he didn't even want us to tell them Nana had passed away.

Needless to say the crap hit the fan but we did manage to convince him to have a memorial. A handful of us went to the gravesite when she was buried but it was different. While I have had the closure I needed, I wish there had at least been an obit and a visitation...family members need the support and comfort of those who knew and loved the deceased. I found that many people felt bad that they didn't know she had passed away...but it was their decision so what can you do?

Anyways...not trying to ramble on. Hope your doing okay...haven't been here in a while to check your blog. Looks like you've got more snow than we do right now...we just had 20cm dumped here yesterday!

Terry said...

Dear Mrs. Mac...This is so sad!
I have just come to look for some pictures of the Gift and I came across this post.
Oh! You have not seen your dad for 18 years. This is sad too. I am so glad that our whole family other than my brother Teddy live just a very few miles of each other, the furthest being sister Gail who lives about 120 miles away.

It is way too sad that there was no funeral plans. This seems to be the fad nowadays and it leaves a lot of saddens I think because this is the only time that family seem to all get together.

Ecclesiastes 7:2
It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

Please accept my sympathy Mrs. Mac...Love Terry