The Powerbear Press

A peek into a perhaps non-typical California mind


Saying Goodbye

The usual assortment of classes, rehearsals, and weekend plans over the last few weeks have has again reduced my online literary presence to short posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. This time another there was another factor as well. Around the middle of last month, my mother’s health took a turn for the worse – worse enough that I made a trip to Florida, possibly to say goodbye. Then last Friday, not wholly unexpectedly, she passed on.

When my father passed away 15 years ago, they were living in Largo, and were both active: volunteering, going on trips, visiting friends, etc. He walked two miles a day up until he fell off a ladder resulting in a lengthy hospital stay and eventually his death. Friends and family said goodbye with all the usual elements. There was a viewing at the funeral home, a Mass in their parish church, the procession to the cemetery, and a graveside service.

After my father died, my mother did OK for a while. Then she could no longer drive, and her world shrank considerably and her mood darkened. When she moved to the retirement home in Bradenton, things improved a lot. Suddenly there were new friends and lots of organized activities. She seemed like her old self again; it was like saying ‘hello’ al over again. On my visits, we would take excursions all over Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota. Still, her “range” decreased gradually – first Largo was too long a trip to make comfortably, then she didn’t want to cross the Skyway at all, then Sarasota became too far. The last few years I would visit in her apartment, with possibly a trip to my brother’s place.

As the medical issues piled up, the options for treatment diminished. At 95 years old, some treatments are riskier than the disease. So this most recent time she was admitted to the hospital, we knew it could be the last. In one of her more lucid moments, we had all three kids in her room at once. Most visits I took a picture of her; I didn’t on this trip. I didn’t want to remember her that frail.

She had lived in Bradenton for ten years. She had outlived her friends at the retirement home. She never wanted people to make a fuss over her. So, we had a simple graveside service, just the kids and our spouses, a deacon to lead it,and a soloist. Very dignified, very beautiful, very touching. Then, just as the soloist was finishing “Ode to Joy”, we heard a thud – a opossum fell out of the tree nearby, looked at us, then scampered back up the trunk. I could help but think that while we were saying goodbye, my father sent it to tell her hello.

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