Yesterday, at 6.22, Mark’s father passed away.
I had gone over in the morning to give Dianne an hour out of the house, just to get coffee and breathe. In the afternoon, I took Sonia, Mark’s mother, out for a pedicure and manicure. This was just an excuse to pry her outside where the sun still shines, and to give Dianne a break. Sometimes, what people need most is just some touching, and she did say that the pampering “saved” her.
When we returned, we could see Bill was failing, so I went to get Mark at the house site, and the kids and we all visited for an hour. Then, quietly, his breathing got shallow with long pauses in between, and eventually it just stopped. It was very peaceful – with all his loved ones nearby (although, regretfully, Denver came a short bit later due to the fact that we had to call her at work). I don’t suppose it could have been any better, considering the circumstances.
I’m glad my kids were there. They were sad, of course, but they handled it well, and it gave them a chance to ask questions. I don’t want them to be afraid of death and it doesn’t hurt for them to see their dad cry or the last exchange between a man and his wife after 60 years of living together. It is all a part of life and serves to remind them that “how” we live is very important.
After someone passes away in the intimate surroundings of their own home, Hospice must arrive to declare them legally dead and then the funeral home will come to take them away. That means the body remains at home for a few hours. It was lovely to watch family members stop by to stroke Bill’s hand or kiss his head. And about an hour later, I see that he has some small flowers in his hand. Apparently, Neva went outside to cry, then picked flowers and put them in his palm and a few on his chest. It was touching.
I told her I was proud that she wasn’t afraid, and she leaned in to me and whispered, “You know, Mom, that isn’t really Grandpa anymore.” And she rolled her eyes upward as if to remind me where Grandpa was now. Obviously, the talking is good.
It was a quiet day, sad yet satisfactory too, one that reminds me of how precious life is and how fleeting. Amazing how our lives, our presence, affects others and influences their experience of living, even if you aren’t attempting to do so.