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Archive for December, 2013

Revelations I’m not sure helped


The day of Clara’s viewing was Super bowl Sunday.  We had lots of support during the afternoon viewing, but a bit less in the evening once the game started.  Even Zack and Mike asked they could go home to watch the game.  For some that may have seemed disrespectful, but to me funerals are for the living.  If that was not helping them mourn their grandmother’s passing, I was not going to insist that they stay.  Alice, Clara’s old aide that had become her good friend was sitting out in the hallway.  I went over to her as she was quite distraught.  She expressed that she felt like Clara knew she was going to die.  She said in December when she had come by for a visit, Clara asked her to get out her jewelry and take whatever she wanted.  Clara only had costume jewelry, and Alice was not a big jewelry wearer.  Alice felt like Clara wanted her to have something to remember her by.  I was shocked to hear this but made me realize when I wondered if Clara was in the process of dying, she was wondering the same thing about herself.  

In the evening, one of Clara’s granddaughter’s came over and sat down next to me.  She thanked me for the care I had given her grandmother for so many years.  I was appreciative to hear those words; I told her I was fretting wondering if they held me responsible for her death.  She assured me she did not.  Some time later, one of Clara’s daughters came over to me and asked to see me privately.  The tone of her voice made me feel like there was going to be some sort of confrontation.  I was completely wrong.  She told me that it had come to her attention that I was concerned that they blamed me for their mother’s death.  She firmly assured me that was not the case.  They knew that I had done my best.  I apologized that Clara fell on my watch.  It felt like that part of things was settled.  The next day was the funeral, it was very well supported.  I went into the room to set up my funeral programs and found Maria, Clara’s last aide sitting outside in the hallway.  She told me that she felt Clara knew she was going to die.  I asked her why she said that.  Maria said that for a couple of weeks before Clara’s fall, when Maria would be ready to leave Clara would say, “Maria, give me a hug, you never know, I might not be here the next time you come.”  This was comforting yet torturous information for me to hear.  The fact that Clara died under anesthesia continued to comfort me.  The thought of Clara agonizing about her own death, made me feel so sad for her.  I could not help but wonder how many hours she sat there by herself scared, or when she was helped to bed if she worried she might never wake up.  I decided to concentrate on the positive aspect of things, that Clara did not suffer long term.

My entire account is available at http://www.createspace.com/3469034 or at Amazon.com, just type in the title of my book, LIFE WITH CLARA – ONE CAREGIVER’S JOURNEY.  I appreciate all of your comments and wish all caregivers the strength they need to cope each day!  

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Days of the funeral


When we got home, Mike and Tanya had arrived and it was comforting for us all to be together.  Andy called his sisters to let them know the arrangements.  I talked with them telling them I wanted to get a collage of photos together to display at  the funeral, if that was alright with them.  They agreed and later called and said they had some pictures they would drop off so I could copy them and use them also.  It felt like the division was back, us and them.  I continued to wonder if they blamed me for their mother’s death, since she fell on my watch.  I was at the craft store buying a large frame for the collage, when they dropped off the photos at the house.  There were more than I anticipated, and with what I had, I needed a second frame.  It was therapeutic for me to do this.  Once I finished it was time to get the funeral programs together.  I wanted to do them myself; because I wanted to be sure Clara had nice programs at her funeral.  How do you sum up over eighty years of life in two pages?  I felt satisfied with the dignity of how Clara’s obituary came out.  Before Clara’s health really declined, we had a photographer come to our house for some family photos.  Clara was in some of them, and the photographer snapped a few of Clara by herself.  There was a perfect photo for the front.   

We arrived at the funeral home early so I could set up the two collages I put together and set out the programs.  To my surprise the rest of Andy’s family was already there waiting for the funeral director to finish the last details before the viewing.  I went upstairs to set my things up.  I felt a bit nervous, but I was glad when I saw Clara lying in the casket looking peaceful.  They did not cake on the makeup as I have seen done before, and she really just looked like she was taking a nap.  Then an eerie feeling came over me and I rushed back downstairs to join the family and wait for permission for the official viewing to begin. 

My entire account is available at http://www.createspace.com/3469034 or at Amazon.com, just type in the title of my book, LIFE WITH CLARA – ONE CAREGIVER’S JOURNEY.  I appreciate all of your comments and wish all caregivers the strength they need to cope each day!  

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The days of the funeral…


We went to bed, but it wasn’t long before I was up gathering the documents the hospital brochure said we would need.  Andy was up early the next morning, and while he was in the shower, I was on the phone calling around to different cemeteries to find out which ones had mausoleums.  Since Clara only had $1500 in life insurance and about $3500 in the bank, it was quickly becoming obvious we were far short of what we needed.  I was shocked to learn that a burial in the ground cost less than being put in a mausoleum.  I called the funeral home to make an appointment to come in that morning to finalize arrangements and made another appointment at the cemetery where my father was buried.  When at the funeral home, I expressed my shock at the cost involved at the cemetery.  The funeral director actually had the nerve to talk negatively about how the cemetery takes advantage of people during these difficult times.  I looked at the paperwork the funeral director just provided, at the list of charges from embalming, to various charges for using the funeral home, I had to bite my tongue because he offered no bargain himself.  When we got out to the car, Andy thanked me for keeping my mouth shut when the funeral director made his negative comment.  I laughed that he knew me so well.  The cost of the funeral home already exceeding any monies Clara had and we knew the rest was coming out of our pocket.  Through the years, money always seemed to be a dividing factor somehow.  Once Clara sold her modest house and moved in to live with us, whenever we would make a major purchase, Clara would tell me that one or both of the girls would express concern that we were using her funds for our purchases.  Andy was a hard worker with a good paying job so I could never understand the accusations.  I remember one time asking Andy if we should show them our prior years tax return so that they could see that we can afford the things we buy and he basically asked me if I was nuts, it was none of their business.  He said as long as they went to their mother saying stuff, he considered it gossip.  If they were really that concerned, they could come to him and he would address it then.  It always bothered me.  Even when Andy bought me a beautiful blue diamond ring for our 25th wedding anniversary, I did not tell Clara for months.  I knew she would be excited for me, and naturally share the news with her girls, and then the money complaints would resurface.  I wondered at times how they thought we could buy so many things and take so many vacations on the amount of money Clara gained from the sale of her house.  When Clara first starting going to the doctors, she needed so many medications to address untreated long term problems, her medications were quite expensive.  Clara’s savings dwindled down for a number of reasons, none of which was for our financial gain.  When Clara would relate something that one of her girls said about her money, I would ask her if she was concerned that we were mismanaging her money.  She always said she was not worried at all.  Eventually, when someone commented to her about my beautiful ring in her presence, she was upset that I never told her about it, (with her limited vision, she never noticed it).  I told her that I knew she would tell her girls and I didn’t want her to have to hear again that we were using her apparent endless supply of money.  Clara said, “Do you know how sick I am of hearing about that money?  Sometimes I wished I never got any.”  I knew how irritating it was to me to have these ongoing accusations made, but I never stopped to think how hurtful it was for Clara to hear these things as a parent.  It had to be hard for Clara to hear her daughters accuse her son, that she was living with, of stealing from her and not having her best interests at heart.  Of course, I don’t think they ever thought Andy was stealing from her, but that I was.  Clara told me once that it probably relieved their conscience that I did so much for her, for them to think my motive was for financial gain.  When Clara said that, I asked her point blank if that is what she thought and she said, “Michele, I know you take care of me because of how much you love me.”  Clara wasn’t sentimental in her expressions, so when she would make a statement like that, it would mean a lot to me.  So now we are heading up to the cemetery, we have already added $1000 of our own money to Clara’s proceeds to settle the funeral home expenses.  Obviously, the cemetery expenses would be all out of our pocket.  I about fell off of my chair to find out the cemetery cost would be close to $5000!  How could a one day viewing at a funeral home and a slot in a mausoleum cost over $10,000.00?  What a rip off.  I went into business mode at the cemetery and started questioning the validity of some of the charges itemized.  The cost of digging a grave, placing the casket, and filling the grave in, was less than the cost of sliding her casket in what amounted to me as a drawer in the mausoleum.  The salesman, oops I mean director tried to come up with an explanation, but then Andy interrupted and said, “Basically, it is what it is.”  The director agreed.  I realized that was my cue to shut up.  I’m trying to negotiate a reasonable price to honor his sister’s wishes, but forgot to be sensitive of Andy’s feelings.  This was not a business deal, but his mother’s final arrangements.  When we left I apologized for how I handled things.  Andy laughed and said that I turned into quite the business woman in there, but he could see that it was futile, the price was non-negotiable.  I apologized again for not being more sensitive to his pain, and he said that it was not a problem.  My entire account is available at http://www.createspace.com/3469034 or at Amazon.com, just type in the title of my book, LIFE WITH CLARA – ONE CAREGIVER’S JOURNEY.  I appreciate all of your comments and wish all caregivers the strength they need to cope each day!  

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