Rain

rain falling gently now

I do not sleep

Freddie said “I love to hear the rain” and I said “I do too.”

To walk through his house again to smell the smell of his house and the redwood trees to visualize him pushing his walker down the hall stopping briefly at the living room door where I slept on the couch to say “Mom I am sorry about the things I said last night.” and I would answer “I am sorry as well for my behavior. I love you.” and he would go into the kitchen to make his breakfast or take his medicine.

To see him feed his worms; work in his tomato pots on the gorgeous deck, in the sun; eat watermelon with his friend, Ron, who came for an hour each Wednesday. He did not have many visitors dropping by because of his illness.

I wish I had not said “Stop playing with your phone and try to sleep”

The phone was his connection to the world; I should have known because it was my connection to the world as well, then as now. Oh, that hind sight could be zero and present sight could be 20/20.

to hear him call me during the night “Mom, I am going to be sick”

to hold the basin and clean it after he vomited

to pull up the syringes for him even though I simple could not bring myself to give him the shot, rescue shot, in the abdomen. I wish I could have but it hurt me to much to think about it. My fear of hurting him. He hated giving himself the shop but he needed it to live.

i could have learned on an orange.

I must tell all the stories before I forget.  I have to write my way through this if I am going to live.

Where Do I Go From Here?

Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where –‘ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘–so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

 

Kathy dropped me off at home. After being with Freddie at his home since July, everything seemed not real anymore. Why do I have so much stuff? and where should I sit?  where is everyone? anyone? No, it is just me and Freddie’s ashes. My thoughts are still back in California. Freddie would be there. This is just all a dream.

____________________________

I thought I would be the one to plan the service for him. I had contacted two of his church friends and asked to meet with them on Monday to get things worked out. We had to wait for Freddie’s family to come from across country. So, I thought I would be the one to get everything together. Then, Dan Baker called me and very coldly told me that the wife was planning the service and he could not meet with me. Stunned, I hung up.

What to do? Nothing. All I had to do was wander around his home and wait for my daughter to arrive. It was a long wait and when she got there finally, she quickly informed the wife to “step back” that she was taking over, being the executor of his estate.

During my wait, the wife tried to evict me from the house twice by email. Once by her and once by her attorney. Fortunately, I had read about eviction laws in the State of CA and had advised the attorney of my rights and asked him if he had missed the day they taught that in law school. I was not leaving until I was ready to leave and not without Freddie’s  ashes. I have no idea how I held myself together against such evil forces, or so I thought. She did come and change the locks on the doors, even after I had given her all the keys and said it was not necessary for her to go to the trouble. She could come and go as she pleased with one exception. I needed to be notified before she came.

I remember the Memorial Service. It seemed unreal. I sat on the back row, not wanting to sit near his estranged wife, who acted like the grieving widow, in my opinion. Perhaps she was sad. My daughter introduced the family. She left me off the ones there because I was on the back row and she did not quite know what to do about everything. I felt sad for her being caught up in such difficult surroundings. The wife could not come and see him while he was alive. Why did she have to show up now? For appearances sake? Everyone who knew me and Freddie knew the situation. Strange that families can be so divided.

I sat with Wilma, his caretaker. There were others there whom had been with me when he died. They were the only ones who mattered to me other than my daughter and her family. I remember Ric singing, Freddie’s friend. I had never met him. I remember Dan Baker, yes, the same Dan Baker, saying something, I do not know what he said nor anything else. I remember his best friend, Craig Smith came from Knoxville, TN. There were others who came, i.e.his half sister and brother; his dad and step-mom; the CEO of the hospital, a friend of Freddie’s as well; Marcello, his friend who owned a shipping company. I could look at the guest register and see who was there but I have not done so. It is not time.

Alone in a crowd. The reception yet to go. The beautiful sunshine pouring though the windows of the Chapel. Wishing for Freddie to be there.

The Chapel

img_1503

_______________________

Only a few days ago we were together. Yet, Jackie had asked that I make photos of his body. I said I would and made arrangements to see him before he was cremated.

The funeral director met me and showed me where Freddie was…there on a long cold table with only his hospital gown on. Why had they not asked me for some clothes to dress him? Why did I have to see him this way? My broken heart was now even more shattered. Such a humane thing to do to dress him. He would have wanted to be dressed.

I made the photos. I held his hand and touched his forehead. Then, I bent over and kissed the top of his forehead as I had done every morning as he left for school. I was saying my last goodbye to his earthly body. He was already far, far away, well and happy. He could not take me. I left knowing that this image was seared into my heart and brain. Why had that not dressed him?

_______________________________

To smile without feeling. To Be; and somehow get through this day, this Memorial Service in CA. I thought only two more to go. One in Huntsville and then the last one. Finally, it was over and we went back to Freddie’s house, Jackie, Jim, Christoper and I. His son came for a little while but did not stay in his childhood home, going to his mother’s apartment instead. We would remain there until Jackie, Jim and Christoper left and I had the ashes.

__________________________________

I paced the floors and went from room to room?  I had lost so much weight, I felt lighter than air. Maybe I could find Freddie somewhere. He seemed so close, yet so far. I wanted to go back to his house. I did not belong here without him. Did I have any friends? To whom could I talk about Freddie?

Leaving California: My Soul Took to the Sky

The Driver crossed the railroad tracks and Freddie’s house disappeared from my physical, visual sight forever. I would have my photographs and memories.  I asked him to drive me through Felton and Scotts Valley for one more look at the places Freddie and I had gone together: the post office where he had cast his last presidential vote, the shop were we purchased honey and essential oils, bread and other items on into Scotts Valley past the Walgreens where the last medicine was purchased and the K-Mart where his last Christmas Gift had been frantically purchased the day before he died, as well as the warm clothes I had gotten to wear having taken none in July from Huntsville and then onto the freeway speeding to San Jose.

When we arrived, the Driver helped me and my precious son into the airport where he left me and wished me well. I thanked him and smiled as bravely as I knew how as he departed. Alone now to wait only with my thoughts to keep me company before I boarded and headed to Dallas/Fort Worth. There I would catch the connecting flight to Huntsville. I wondered how many times Freddie had waited there alone and what he had thought about while he waited. I wondered how many times he had waited there during the last six years of knowing he was dying praying that he would live; how many times he waited there to fly to see another doctor, only to be told he would not live.

I thought of the early life of my son and how I had failed him in not pursuing many other doctors to discover what was wrong with him. Had I not given up, Freddie would have had a life so different and possibly long. We never know, do we? But I gave up searching and now Freddie was dead.

The flight attendant came and informed me that I would board first. I was surprised, however, I had to let security know that I had human remains in the metal box I had in my suitcase. I had to tell them it was my son.

So, I boarded first with the flight attendant taking the suitcase from me and storing it in the overhead bin. I was rather anxious that Freddie would not be happy up in that bin but the carry-on was to large to place under the seat. As I settled in for the flight, the Captain came out to talk with me and ask if I needed anything. He removed his Captain’s hat and held my hand when he told me how sorry he was and said if I needed anything to let him know. He also advised me, I would be first to leave the plane in Dallas/Fort Worth and someone would stay with me until I boarded the plane home. I thanked him for his kindness and said I did not need anything but I would let him know, if I did.

The ride, this cool December day, was smooth. I watched the clouds and sky wondering if Freddie were with me in spirit. I think I prayed all the way. Sometimes it escapes me exactly how I made it home that day.

We arrived in Dallas. The Captain came on the speaker and asked that everyone to remained seated. Word had spread throughout the plane. I do not know how. There was complete silence as my bag was handed down and I was escorted off the plane. I thanked the Captain and crew as I departed with my escort to the next waiting area for the final leg of my trip.

No, I did not have to go to the bathroom; no, I did not want anything to eat. I had my water from Freddie’s house. That was all I wanted. We waited in silence as I began to cry; it was a short wait before my next flight arrived. I was handed off to the next flight attendant and the next Captain to repeat the same in Dallas/ Fort Worth as in San Jose before leaving for Huntsville.

Everyone was so kind and I could hear Freddie’s voice “Mom, be kind,” when I would be upset with the doctor’s and not so kind at times. I would have liked to scream, “Freddie, I want them to save you.” I guess I thought screaming at them would get the message through and later realizing what my Mom would tell me, “You catch more flies with honey.” Perhaps they would have been kinder if I had displayed sorrow for my impending loss, rather than anger.

Once again, the flight was smooth as I kept to myself staring out the window wondering how I would get through the next days without Freddie. I knew my best friend would be there to meet me. Then what?

The house would be empty. I would be alone. The ashes would go on his bed. He would be home.

…to be continued…

Leaving California

December 28, 2016

I walk around Freddie’s house taking photos of every corner. I did not want to forget because I knew I would never be back to this house that Freddie and I shared for the last months of his life. I could feel him there with me saying, “Mom, it is time to go.” But first, the photos were so important to have for me to remember. I go out on the deck to look one last time at the beautiful redwood deck backing up to the redwood forest. I hug a tree and look for his deer. Freddie would say, “Mom, look for my deer.” I never saw the deer. I made sure everything was as he would have wanted. Clean and pure. I breathed in the smell of that cold crisp morning wondering how many time he had done the same. He loved this place; his home for so many years. He loved CA and the ocean. I think his spirit must have felt at home as he drove the 101 Highway. I never could remember how to get there.

I knew the limo would be arriving soon and I had everything that was mine ready. Some of my things I had shipped with his things…the box I gently placed in the carry on suitcase. He was making his last journey home; with me; in a cold metal box.

His Ashes.

Wilma, his caregiver, came to see me off and to lock up the house. We had said all that could be said. She had cared for him so tenderly; prayed for him; kept the house clean; cooked for him. He loved her and I did as well. I wonder how many times I had hurt both of their feelings. I think I was jealous of the closeness they seemed to have and how alienated from reality I felt, so often. No one to talk with except Freddie, when he felt like talking and me, being a mom, sometimes scolding him for being on his phone so much. I only realized to late that it was his last connection to the outside world. His friends were on the other end of the connection..his last connection to them.

The black limo came and Wilma and I hugged as we said goodbye. I looked up at the towering redwood trees and beyond to the clear blue sky; back down to the lawn he loved and the lemon and orange tree. There were oranges there. The driver took my bag and opened the rear door. With one last look back, I sadly smiled at Wilma as he closed the door. He backed out of the long driveway as I leaned toward the window, placing my hand on the cold pane, for one more look.

I was leaving. Going home with His Ashes.

Unfortunately, the estranged wife shows up to give me a jacket because she thought I might get cold on the plane. It was one of those jackets that you buy at a roadside collectors place where you get gas. Blue and red stripped; I thanked her knowing I could not take it with me after all the things she had failed to do for my son. The driver rolled the window up and we pulled forward as I turned to look and watched her make her way back to the house she left my son to die in, alone. Now, today, ten days after he had died, she comes back.

I do not know what Wilma said to her. I never asked. We topped the steep hill and bounced over the railroad tracks and his home was no longer in view. We had started our long journey, cross country, home.

Next, the airport, San Jose and  the plane trip home.

—to be continued—

Sporadic Thoughts

The flowing fountain soothes the mind into nothingness. Sitting still, I think of the past and when Freddie would break the ice so the gold fish could breathe. I remember seeing my Mom, Dad, Brother-in-law and Sister leave from that inside patio so many times and Jackie going out the door on her first date, posing by the fountain for a first photo. Her first date was Mike Brown. I thought they would marry but they did not and I am glad he found someone else, as did she.

I feel caged in from both sides now. The concrete on one side and the stucco on the other side; both large homes. Mine is a simple brick rancher not renovated into a behemoth. Big enough for me at 2204 square feet. I liked it better when all my neighbors lived in similar homes. I wonder why one person needs such a large house. I missed my window of opportunity to leave and make a new life in 1983. I did leave and teach for a while at  the school where my brother coached. Unfortunately, that did not work out so I came back over here to this house and have not left. Well, that is not true, I left for short periods of time, always returning to this house. The trees are mostly gone; my friends in this neighborhood all died and that leaves me here sitting between concrete and stucco.

Maybe, I will plant rows of tall green shrubs on either side.

I stop the random, sporadic thoughts to return inside to make breakfast. The TV is off because I do not like to see America Burning and wonder if I should research another country to live in. Has anyone found one? Do you think we survive 2020? So many questions, with no answers.

I hope those of you who chance by here are having a good day. The sky is still blue; the birds are still singing, the baby rabbits still come out and play as do the baby squirrels. Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I had blue birds and cardinals in the back. You see, I did not weed my flower bed by the back fence, letting it grow wild and all the little animals and birds love the area. Do not know, nor care, what others think. These tiny creatures help me tolerate the concrete and stucco golf cart house.

Albert Camus/Viktor Frankl

“To decide whether life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question of philosophy,” Albert Camus wrote in his classic 119-page essay The Myth of Sisyphus in 1942. “Everything else… is child’s play; we must first of all answer the question.”

I often ponder this question. What is the meaning of life and is it worth all the trials we go through in becoming ourselves. I have not suffered like Viktor Frankl in the concentration camps losing his family; however, he survived. How did he find meaning?

He states by reading and humor and by chance or pure luck and  in his study of Camus he wrote the now forgotten book Man’s Search for Meaning. I have read and reread this book, searching for meaning in my life.

In the end it matters not how many degrees I earned; how much I accumulated; whom I knew in high or low places. It only matters if I have found myself and who I am. It matters if I am comfortable being me and accepting those things I do not like about myself as well as those things I like and knowing that I am.

Today was a very long day by my perspective. The same waking hours seemed to go on forever and I wished I could go into that parallel Universe created when ours was created except time flows backward in that Universe. Often I speak of parallel Universes and Worlds within World’s. I know that my family is there waiting for me in that other Universe and there is meaning if time flows backward. It gives one the opportunity to have a redo of sorts.

Why these thoughts today? I have to remember that we are meant to die when we are born. Nothing is forever. Not the beautiful flowers or birds or trees…they each have their season and die to be reborn at another time. Therefore, I prepare to face not only my death but also the death of those that I love because nothing is forever. I cannot stop, nor would I, the progression of this earth and God’s work which to me is the same as the Universe.

I often wish I could write like Frankl or Camus  or other great philosophers, but they were them and I am not they.

Maybe some of this will make sense to just one person who is struggling with all the deaths and loneliness; the loss of so much. Remember if you lose something perhaps it can be found but if it is death, death is eternity.

So, live each moment as if it were your last. It very well may be.

Quote

“Remind thyself, in the darkest moments, that every failure is only a step toward success, every detection of what is false directs you toward what is true, every trial exhausts some tempting form of error, and every adversity will only hide, for a time, your path to peace and fulfillment.”

— Og Mandino