My 90 year old mother with vascular dementia for the last 6-7 years died early Wednesday morning, Aug 3 (one day short of four weeks in the local nursing home) quietly in her sleep. Her kidneys had failed & she was fairly unresponsive the day before so it was no surprise. My poor father was just beside himself watching her so frail but unable to do much of anything to help but hold her hand.
I saw her Monday for “lunch” (barely some thickened liquids), but I’m not sure she really knew I was there. She looked so bad, I could barely stand it. And she reminded me WAY too much how bad Jeff looked before he died. However, we didn’t know it was finally her time & I needed to return to Branson. So I hooked up & pulled out Tuesday morning so I could make a Walmart run & Wednesday leave Kira at the local vets to have two small bumps lasered off her right front leg. They appeared to be growing slowly but she licked on them some & I wanted them gone. My dad called me at 7:15 Wednesday morning to tell me mom had died quietly in her sleep during the night, so when I left Kira at the vet’s barely an hour later, I was really stressed (one raw nerve). I’ve never been comfortable when one of my critters is anesthetized for a procedure, always fearing they won’t wake up or something will go horribly wrong, so I wasn’t doing too well. At least I learned that human anesthesia can now be used on animals so they wake up faster & without many side effects. In deed, Kira was bouncing around when I picked her up that afternoon. After dropping her off tho, I drove to Springfield to spend the day with my girlfriend (since the 8th grade) – the one I called at 2 am after my brother died & where I spent the night after Jeff died. She’s my surrogate sister & Kira’s godmother if something happens to me. It was good spending that sad & stressful day with her.
I posted on Facebook about my mother’s death & was blown away by all the prayers & condolences. Everyone’s support was extremely helpful & comforting. What an amazing way to communicate. I remember using the old party-line phones that hung on the wall, so using cell phones from anywhere (with texting) & internet (emails & Facebook) is nearly too easy.
Thursday, I hooked up again & returned to the small campground outside my hometown. My mom’s funeral was Friday morning in the church they attended, across from the house they used to live. I borrowed some appropriate clothes from my girlfriend who drove up to sit by me during the funeral so I could squeeze her hand. I had always expected to have Jeff for comfort but she was a good substitute. A number of my classmates attended but overall, most of mom & dad’s oldest friends have already passed away so not that many people are left to attend. After the graveside services, we returned to a dinner given by the church for the family. As soon as possible, I had to change into my uniform (tshirt & shorts) but at least I hadn’t embarrassed my dad at the funeral (he has to live here). Since I woke up at 3:30am that morning, I was seriously wiped out when I returned to the trailer that afternoon.
My parents were 25 days away from being married 73 years, but my dad has been amazing during all this. He could barely leave her alone in the nursing home, as he said, he didn’t have anything else to do. Although he hated to loose her, we both knew she had been leaving us by inches for the past few years, especially in the past month, & she was ready to be with her parents, siblings, & son (hopefully Jeff too). He’s sad but relieved now & basically just doing what I did when Jeff died – suck it up, continue living, & find friends & activities for distractions – you can’t bring them back or change anything. At least he’s starting to think of things to do now, like going for coffee with the guys every morning & attending church again, since he doesn’t have to stay around to watch after mom. The church pastor lost his wife 6 years ago & calls on my dad often, plus the neighbor guy’s wife has been in the nursing home for several years. Yep, birds of a feather stick together & help each other get thru the sad times. That’s what my new & old friends have done for me since Jeff died. That’s when you really learn who your friends are.
Funny tho being around normal people, you know, those who live in the same house, city, & state all their lives & absolutely, positively have no idea why anyone would not want to live in a house, in a neighborhood & town, to see the same people & do the same things over & over again every day, for years or a lifetime. I had one not too close of old friend who doesn’t understand my journey of being a nomad say that with my mom’s death, maybe I could afford to get a house now, or at least a bigger RV. Ummmm, that’s not the issue & that person definitely doesn’t have no clue. I wouldn’t settle down or live in a house if someone GAVE me one. Too much work & I don’t want to watch the seasons change in the same spot . And I certainly don’t want to pull around (or have to backup) a bigger RV, especially not a slab side or stick-built. My little molded fiberglass travel trailer holds it’s original value, is tremendously road- & weather-worthy, lives big but is cozy (I’ve always liked cozy even in houses), & is real close to maintenance free. Besides, without having wheels under my bed, I couldn’t change my neighbors, the scenery, or chase the weather when needed/wanted. OMG, talk about stuck in the mud, to be stationery. And it has nothing to do with money. My only exit strategy is to hire a guy with a pickup to pull my trailer to my winter spot (probably Quartzsite) & then to my summer spot (somewhere in elevation in AZ, NM, or CO) while I follow in a Jeep or something small. I love meeting up with RV friends & stay in touch with many just as easy as living down the street from them. Conventional life is just too boring – & actually much more expensive. Plus, living small & simple keeps me disciplined, something to do with that rule about always having a bit more ‘stuff’ than you have room for”.
Oh, & there’s also the comments about me finding another husband or companion. I don’t want to care that much about anyone again. Or become a caregiver or watch them suffer & die. Or compromise & try to understand moods & behaviors. I learned I can’t control or change anyone else; I can barely control my dog or myself, & I’m tired of accommodating someone else’s wishes. I hope I don’t sound bitter, just realistic, appreciating what’s important to me & knowing where my boundaries are. I just want to continue enjoying previous & new friends on the road, without regrets or worries, & looking forward to new adventures. Just a rolling stone. . .
I’m going to stick around my dad’s all month tho to see what he needs help with & visit enough that he’ll get tired of me being around. My Casita buddy from this winter (Wendy) is planning on stopping by later this month on her way from Minneapolis to Denver (via a slight detour to me). I need some serious time with my tribe (those molded fiberglass types). And I’ve got more (old) friends around here to visit with than in Branson, so I’m fairly comfortable here – well, except for this horrible heat & humidity (air you can DRINK). In fact, I haven’t really felt comfortable at “our” campground in Branson this summer. There’s just too many ghosts (memories) behind nearly every tree, & there’s lots of trees around there. My dad’s health & mind are pretty good so I hope I don’t have to repeat this past month ever again, but at least not for a few more years. And I’m chomping at the bit to get back out west. Missouri may be home but not where I belong anymore.