Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Family Endings, Family Beginnings

I'm still working on coming to terms with the endings and beginnings in my own personal life. More than four months after my father died, it still hits me in unexpected moments. I miss him. And, much as I'm likely to be unable to avoid it, I don't want to go through such a situation again.

Maybe part of that is that I'm still going through it again and again, just being on my job. Part of what I do is deliver medications to hospice patients, sometimes at home, sometimes in facilities. Seeing the other trucks delivering hospital beds and oxygen equipment while I'm heading to the door with a bag of pills, knowing that here is another family going through what I just went through, brings an emotional wince. It's seldom as bad as the two times I was sent on my way with the meds refused because the patient had just died. The most recent of those I was greeted by the new widow who told me she thought I was the coroner ringing the bell. They were still waiting for him to show up.

I so know what they're dealing with.

On the other hand, I'm still getting used to being with Steve, being back home, back to the new normal that is close to indistinguishable from the old normal. I think that's good. The old normal was pretty damn good, thank you, so I'm just not quite sure why I think the new normal should be somehow different, as in better. Perhaps it's just the security of the relationship, on both our parts.

I do find I have to knock some silly ideas out of Steve's head. The other day his son and granddaughter picked him up to go fishing. Yes, fishing, in Minnesota, in mid-March. It's that weird a year. No fish committed suicide on their hooks, but that in no way diminished their enjoyment. When they returned, Lance assisted Paul in cutting, sorting, and generally stacking the winter tree trimmings in preparation for backyard bonfires. (There are still bunches of piles left. Paul did a lot of trimming.) That was followed by one of those bonfires, along with a brat roast. Steve thanked me later for "letting them" go fishing before tackling the yard work. I had to insist that there was no way I was in any position to "let" him go fishing, nor to prevent it either. I'm his partner, not his boss.

We'll work on that.

In the last two days I've gotten two pieces of news from different parts of the family regarding other endings and beginnings. In the interest of ending on a high note, I'll start with the bad news first.

My dad's oldest sister, Jeanette, raised her family down in Austin, Minnesota. They were the cousins most close in age to my parents, and the ones they often socialized with, even in later years. My cousin Virginia called to let me know that her brother Darrel's wife, Carol, had just died. Apparently she had multiple health problems complicated in the last five months or so by rapidly progressing alzheimers. It was one of those deaths often called "a mercy". Carol's own mother had alzheimers for about 20 years, so one can easily concede the point. Still, it's a loss. For anyone interested, the funeral will be Saturday at the 1st Methodist Church.

They called me because in the olden days they would have called my mother, and she would have contacted everybody. I'll have to work on that: apparently it's an inherited position.

On the other end of the emotion spectrum, I finally got in touch with my granddaughter. We knew Dustin was intending to propose on Valentine's night, after they left our wedding. We hadn't heard anything. He promised to contact us. Nope. Did we dare call her and ask? What if he'd chickened out? What if she'd said, "No"? Would they even still be together? Would an inquiry wound an already broken heart with awareness of our expectations?

OK, you know me. I'm not going to let it go for long. It just needs a tactful way of asking and letting the answer speak for itself. So once I finally got hold of her, the conversational gambit was along the lines of, "So, anything new and exciting in your life these days?"

Her answer was, "Oh, you mean this ring on my hand?"


So, for details, it wasn't that night. She fell asleep in the car on the way home. Plus her mom was doing the driving, and three's a crowd for that sort of thing. But sometime later, somewhere in Hastings he did the big down-on-one-knee production, and she accepted. The plans as of now are to move in together in June. The date they both like is April 13. Partly it's away from all the other family and holiday special dates, something uniquely their own. Plus there'll be nice weather.

What? Did I hear that right? Hey Jordan, did I ever tell you about the April 14th blizzard/whiteout where I got stuck in the freeway center median for a couple hours after hitting a patch of ice before help came along? At least I'd brought my taxes along with me, planning to work on them during any down time at work. I had plenty of time to finish them. So good luck on that weather thing.

They haven't picked out a year yet, just the calendar date. Not this year, anyway. And McDonalds is planning to send her to manager school in May, assuming she keeps her nose clean. Plus she thinks there's some kind of tuition assistance program, so she can finally get that college education she so deserves.

Endings. Beginnings. Life will go on.

Thank goodness.

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