The Discourses of Epictetus

The heading: That we ought not to be moved by a desire of those things which are not in our power, Epictetus writes:

“Who is good if he knows not who he is? and who knows what he is, if he forgets that things which had been made are perishable, and that it is not possible for one human being to be with another always”

Epictetus proceeds to offer a meditation on loosening the grip of grief in parting permanently from someone we have loved:

“When you are delighted with anything, be delighted as with a thing which is not one of those which cannot be taken away but as something of such a kind, as an earthen pot is, or a glass cup, that, when it has been broken, you may remember what it was and may not be troubled…What you love is nothing of your own: it has been given to you for the present, not that it should not be taken from you, nor has it been given to you for all time, but as a fig is given to you or a bunch of grapes at the appointed season of the year. But if you wish for these things in winter, you are a fool. So if you wish for your son or friend when it is not allowed to you, you must know that you are wishing for a fig in winter.”

These two passages give one pause to think about ones own grief at the death of a son. The Universe loaned him to me for 54 years. Those 54 years were his season and he was not mine to keep forever. I remember Freddie for what he was; the gifts he gave to all who knew him; and all the joy he brought to my life while he was my son. I am grateful the Universe loaned him to me for those years. It is difficult to think that was the plan.

 

Freddie and Fluffy

Freddie, with his cat Fluffy,
At Mothers

When Freddie left for College (Tulane, New Orleans, LA), his cat left with him. He loved his cat.

I wish the story ended there. It did not.

He had to take his cat to my Mothers to keep because the school did not allow cats in dormitories. Mother and Daddy lived closer to Tulane than I did. So Fluffy lived with them for the majority of his life.

I wish the story ended there. It did not.

Time passes. Daddy loved Fluffy. Mother loved Fluffy. Daddy dies and Mother is left with her Momma cat and Fluffy.

I wish the story ended there. It did not.

Mother’s mind deteriorates and I take a leave of absence from my teaching position at Calhoun Community Coliege to go and care for her. Her hallucinating mind saw snakes and people who were not there, everywhere, which is a different story. So, every night we had to leave the farm and go 8 miles to my brothers home to spend the night. (Durant,MS) At 4 o’clock every afternoon we had to leave. My sister-in-law was a saint and welcomed us each afternoon. The next morning, we went back to the farm.

Somewhere along the way my brother took the two cats to his home in Philadelphia, MS.

I wish the story ended there. It did not.

Mother, after I came to stay with her, wanted her cats back so we go over to get the cats however, my brother would not give the cats to us, even though I pointed out that Fluffy was my sons cat. Did not make him any difference. We could not have the cats so we got back in the car and left.

I wish the story ended there. It did not.

In the early morning hours, I heard the cats crying and a car driving off. My brother brought the cats back in the dark of the morning. Mother asked me: Why did he not come in? I said: I do not know. He just left and we have the cats.

I wish the story ended there. It did not.

As autumn approached, I knew I had to return to my teaching position. So, I called a family meeting and said I had to return to Huntsville and my job because I had bills to pay and now I was $20k in debt. I did not take any of my Mother’s money during my time there. We decided to divided up her property and she would spend her time between her favorite eldest son, the minister (the one who had the cats) and my sister. She would take her favorite things with her.

I wish the story ended there. It did not.

Fluffy and Momma cat went to my sisters house. My sister does not like animals in the house so Fluffy, who was a house cat, became an outside cat. He was fed and looked after. Momma cat lived to be about 27 years but not Fluffy. I wanted to bring him back to his first home, mine, but I was not allowed to bring him back. Mother might want to see both cats when she came to my sisters house.

Somewhere along the way Mother dies, the cats live and Fluffy never gets to come home or see his owner, Freddie.

I wish the story ended there. It did not.

Fluffy disappears one day never to be seen again.

The story ends for Fluffy.

Freddie had other cats. As you may recall his last cat was taken by his estranged wife and put to sleep by the vet without telling Freddie. She kept saying she would bring him back. Freddie’s friend and two daughters and I went to her apartment to get Spunky. We had a policeman go with us so she could not accuse me of wanting to harm her. She was not there so we left. Finally, Freddie calls the vet and they tell him that Spunky is dead. His scream and the words he said still echo in my mind: she killed my cat.

This story ends. I wish this were a happy story.

Please do not judge my brother nor my sister for their actions. They did what they did. There is more but this story ends.

Jackie

Freddie’s second surgery was when he was 3. The doctors waited for me to deliver Jackie and recoup for 6 weeks. That is why he went into the hospital the day after his 3rd birthday.

Jackie only weighed 5 lbs 7oz when she was born. I only gained twenty pounds during the pregnancy and weighed 120 lbs the day she was born and then the next week I weighed 110 lbs. She was so tiny when I left her in the care of her two grandmothers. Then when I saw her next she was plump. I think they fed her too much!

Uncanny 02/02/2020

Freddie left his worn out body on a Sunday at 3:05 pm. Today, as I was watching TV, waiting for that time to pass, something uncanny happened.

Two photos below reveal how uncanny this particular afternoon was for me

Usual view
Only Jackie highlighted
Full of life
Freddie dimmed
His light shines
In the stars.

Fire

Mother said, “a house is burning.”

I tried to explain to her that it was only the sun reflecting off glass on the mountain.

Every day we had the same conversation. The once pristine surgical nurse was no longer visible. An empty shell of my Mom remained.

No fire left in my Mom’s eyes.

Domino’s Pizza Horrific Failure

“Believe in yourself! If cauliflower can become pizza, you can do anything.”

— Author Unknown

I do not even like cauliflower and have not eaten pizza since December 17, 2016. I do believe in myself and my ability to survive whatever life throws my way, even though it has not been easy to survive the death of my son.

I will never eat Domino’s pizza again for the rest of my life. The last night of Freddie’s life, after dialysis ended, he was hungry and it was late. He wanted Domino’s pizza. I did a search for Domino’s pizza and found the place I thought was nearest the hospital. I placed the called and was told that they did not deliver to Dominican Hospital; therefore, I asked if they could give me the number to the one that could delivery to the hospital because, as I told them, Domino’s had delivered to us before. The young lady was very snippy, in that California kind of way and said, “I do not know,” and hung up.

I beat the phone on the cot and put my head down and cried. Freddie said, “Mom, don’t cry. Maybe the hospital can give me another one of those cold turkey sandwiches.” He hated those sandwiches and I knew he did but that was all we could get at that time of the night. I even walked to the cafeteria area looking for anything that would taste better than that awful looking turkey sandwich but found nothing. I did make some hot tea for him, I think. I do not remember.

What I do remember is that he never took a bite of that sandwich and after he died the next day, it still was on the tray in his room. He died at 3:05 on a Sunday and as was customary the hospital brought all kinds of fruit and cold sandwiches and whatever; I do not remember. All I could think was where was all this food when Freddie was hungry. Why now? I did not eat any of the food. The two friends (not really, I had just met one of them but at least she was a friend of a friend and felt like a friend; someone not originally from California) took the food with them.

I would ask that you not eat Domino’s pizza but that would not be fair to you. I just ask that you not expect me to ever eat their pizza again. I turn the sound off when their commercials come on because it makes me sad. The last meal my son wanted…and they failed to deliver.

 

The Far Hills

img_1620

Like Freddie

I gaze to the far

hills.

My mind

replays:

He said,

“Look, Mom, can you see

those hills?’  We lived

just over there

just beyond the

tree line, on

Thurber Lane”

I never saw that

house.

Yet I said,

“I see son, the trees

and beyond the

hill

to Thurber Lane.”

Wondering what

thoughts he had.

His son came home

to Thurber Lane.

His wife lived

at Thurber Land.

Was he happy

at Thurber Lane?

I never asked

the question.

What did you

love

about Thurber Lane?