Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘death’

I come from a line of worriers.  Dad would faithfully watch the news each day and that would give him a whole new set of problems to worry about.  A car drove through a house somewhere in the country and now we must be on alert for rampaging cars.  A girl was attacked.  Then, we were going to be attacked.  He was sure of it as sure as he was that everyone was out to get him.

I’m sure he would have had a field day in this post 9/11 world.  He already avoided large cities because people were mugged in large cities, there was traffic in large cities and everything cost more in large cities.

My mother, having lived with my dad for well over fifty years, has absorbed some of his worrying.

The other day, I received a call from her. The doctor recently asked Hospice to begin attending to mother.  She lives alone, in an apartment and has not been eating well.  She has four very bad leaky heart valves and by the time she has buttered her bread, to make a sandwich, she is so tired that she has to go and sit down and rest.  It can often take her an hour to make a sandwich and by then, she’s just too tired to eat it.

The latest thing is that they are bringing her out a hospital bed.  She has trouble getting into her craftmatic, twin bed.  It is high and she has to sit on the edge and roll and grab the opposing side of the mattress to pull herself the rest of the way up.  This is fraught with the possibilty of her falling out, so a hospital bed can be lowered to a more amenable height for her.

She called me today with a question she has already inquired about two other times.

What happens, with Hospice, if I don’t die in six months?

My first response really wanted to be something like, “Just what are you going to do about this?”

But, mom doesn’t get my sense of humor and I really did not feel like her dying was a good thing to joke about.  So, I again explained that should she not die in six months, they will reevaluate her health status and then resign her up as needing care.  This is presuming that her heart has not miraculously healed itself in six months time.  Should that happen, we will bring back her craftmatic bed for her to use, as “yes, at that time, they would take her hospital bed away.”

There is no date stamped on her.  She may live six years.  We have explained that the doc is not saying, “You have six months to live.”  He’s just saying, “you need help to live a rich, full, safe, life.”  Just enjoy it, Mom.  After 89 years, you have the right to have someone come and help you make a sandwich and dust.

Surely, there are more important things to worry about than where her craftmatic bed is.

Read Full Post »

Were you ever in a relationship where you woke up one morning and said, ‘This person is making me old.’?

 

It’s not that they are actually making you old.  Mother Nature does a fine job of that on her own and when your genes add something like heart disease or cancer to the mix, it is scary. And, it is not that I am afraid of death, because I am not. And, someday I will explain that when I am feeling very psychic and ready to open my soul to the world (plus a death experience- not my own though).

 

What the thing is, is that I want to enjoy every minute of this life while I am here.  It is way too short not to.  I used to hike, picnic in the Dunes State Park in the winter, ski (cross-country and downhill), and just explore.  I went camping every chance I got.  Daughter-of-eleven and I once went camping with the tent and a roll of aluminum foil.  Seriously, I forgot blankets, bedding and utensils.  I stopped and bought a spatula and a blanket.  You can make a very good bacon and egg breakfast on foil, over an open fire.

 

I have visited every state in this union except Alaska. I have camped in Canada and spent two hours in Mexico.  That’s a whole other story.  I have whale watched and driven a large cargo van up a gravel mining road in Colorado.  That MAY just be what is wrong with daughter-of-eleven.  She was with me and never quite got over that adventure.  She did not mind going up so much, it was the backing back down the narrow, steep, drop-off, gravel mining road that did her in. 

 

The point is, and I am sure there is a point somewhere; I am not ready to sit in a rocking chair yet.  I have given up most things for years now because it seemed so unfair to my husband to do things without him.  He cannot help being disabled, but I realized a few years ago that I was getting older than I should be because of not living and it was not doing him any favors either, that I was declining.  He does what he can and I need to do what I can.  As I said, life is just too short.

 

I started out taking violin lessons.  It was something I had always wanted to do and I inherited my uncle’s violin.  So, the last year and a half I was in Wyoming I studied with Rainer Schwartzkof and, if I do say so myself, and actually, my teacher did; I’m rather an advanced case study on violin.  It may have been the years of music in school. and teaching myself to play organ.  But, by the end of the year and a half, we were doing Mazas duets and, oh, how I loved that.  I gave that up when I moved.

 

So, now that I am all better (my chest has been opened and my heart repaired) and I again have health insurance to get some rehab to help me get exercising again, I am anxious to get back to the violin.  My goal: to play Hay Una Mujer Desaparecida by Wolff; Three Pieces from Schindler’s List by John Williams and I have a book of Classical Solos to tackle.  I am also anxious to get back to painting.  

 

Until they get me settled in rehab, I walk (on our four acres), and I tend the garden (getting my pulse rate up a bit) and I take pictures, and I write. Irritating Chihuahua accompanies me and occasionally sneaks away, but when I am out of doors, it recharges my batteries.

 

Life is too short, not to live it.

Read Full Post »

There are some things parents should not do; naming your child after beaches and spaceships may be yet two of those things.  But, definitely, do NOT name your child the exact same, albeit not common name of a relative.

 

My brother was named David Merle VanVleck.  Mom wanted to name him Allen.  She had loved the name Allen since she was a little girl, but since she also had a boyfriend named Allen-before she met Dad, he would not agree to name my brother Allen.  David was decided upon and Merle was picked by mom, because it was the name of the one cousin who treated mom nicely in Dad’s family.

 

It takes awhile to accept a new wife in some families.  Suddenly, everything the previous wife (who is deceased-which is even worse, especially for her) ever did is wonderful and besides, the new wife is a floozy. She must be; as she wears mascara, lipstick, nylons and high heels.  It was around 1940, after all and her new sister-in-law did not think too highly of her.

 

So, this baby boy comes along and they name him David Merle VanVleck, without ever once thinking about the fact that Dad’s brother and his wife also named their little boy, who might have been a year older or not, David Merle VanVleck.  This would have been fine if my brother had stayed in Indiana and not moved to Illinois and a neighboring city to his cousin.  But, he did.

 

Let me put a disclaimer here; as with all family posts, there must be a disclaimer.  Don’t sue me.  There, that’s it, ‘cause I’m going to tell the truth, as I remember it and I don’t have any assets worth suing over.  Unless you want that laptop with VISTA.

 

Unlike my brother, the other David Merle VanVleck; my cousin, David, had a mean look about him.  I didn’t like the way he would glare at me, when I was a young girl, and say mean things and then smile. That smile, I was convinced had a mass-murderer type of aspect to it and I avoided him when I could.  

 

When my cousin grew up, he made a lot of debts he did not pay, and then he stole money from his father and who knows what else.  I don’t because I still stayed away from him. He also left his wife, who is a beloved member of this family yet and loved him (and even cared for him at the end) until the day he died. His current wife did not show up for his funeral.

 

My brother, having moved to the nearby town in Illinois, would receive his cousin’s bills and collection notices, and all kinds of other troubles.

 

What brings me to this place is that even yet, eighteen years after his death, I think it may be haunting him still.  One of my search terms the other day was:

david van vleck sucks

2

     

Two people, actually searched those four words.  Now, my brother’s name gets a lot of searches for it.  I know there are other VanVleck’s out there and some may even “suck”, but I gotta tell you that both of my families, the good and the bad, David Merle VanVleck’s are deceased now. Both from the cancer that haunts both sides of my family and both were way too young when they died.

 

But, I will guarantee you that my brother was not the David Merle VanVleck, who “sucked.” David was an outdoors, camping, camera toting, phlebotomist, computer nerd, Boy Scout Leader, and listener of The Irish Rovers that we all loved.   And, I am stating we all loved my brother, David, and not the Irish Rovers.  Thank goodness for head phones.

Read Full Post »

My dad and David during WW II

It is raining in central Indiana. Since I grew up in northwestern Indiana, this does not surprise me. It is the reason that all I want to do is stay in, drink hot oolong/Jasmine tea and curl up under a blanket with a good book.

 

Actually, I love the rain. One of my favorite memories is camping with my family in the rain. Sitting in my living room, I can smell the wet canvas and hear the sound of the tent zipper. My brother and I would play Cribbage by the fire, after the rain cleared, or while sitting at the picnic table, under a tarp. He also taught me to play chess. He loved games. I don’t.  I have a compulsion to create and, the whole time I am playing a game, I feel I am wasting time when I should be painting.  But, I do make an exception for Cribbage and chess and would give a lot to have one more game by the fire.

 

My brother, David, was under two when our dad went off to war. He, mom and our sister lived with our grandmother during this time.  David loved our Uncle Donald.  He followed him around like a puppy dog until Uncle Donald DeWitt shipped out. One day, he woke up from his nap screaming. Grandma and mom went running in to comfort him. He told them that Uncle Donald was hurt, and they put him in a jeep, and they drove him into the forest, and he was never coming back. David was inconsolable. My grandmother said, she knew right then that her son was dead. David’s dream was a warning for her.

 

It was true. Uncle Donald was fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. There was a company in the U.S. that ran out of gunpowder so they decided to try TNT (excuse me if I have the names of the powders wrong). Uncle Donald’s weapon exploded.  An ambulance was not available, so they put him on the back of a jeep to take him to the field hospital; through the woods. He was DOA.  When they received the death notice, the day of his death was the same day as my brother’s nightmare.

 

My brother was born six years before I was. I understand he liked to spoil me when we were little. I don’t remember much of that but I do remember that he was always there to listen, when the world seemed to be crushing me. I also remember him reading or listening to music. He would come to dinner with his nose in a book. In fact, one day he came out of his bedroom when mom had company, and the company asked her who the boy was, who was visiting. They had been to our home several times but he was always in his bedroom reading and they had no idea she had a son.

 

David went off to the Air Force and became a phlebotomist. Mr. Nasty Nice would draw blood, take bodily fluids, and test them. In those days, I believe they just put their thumb over the end of the test tube and shook it up.  However, you would incur his wrath if you took a drink out of his water glass.

 

 

When he signed up for military service, he got the deal to pick where he would be stationed after basic training. As any sane person would do, he chose Hawaii. He actually spent the last years of his service at Ernest Harmon Air Force Base in Newfoundland. The Air Force has quite a sense of irony, doesn’t it?

 

After he left the Air Force, my brother worked at a hospital lab in Illinois. His co-worker invited him to dinner one night and introduced him to her daughter, Terri. They married and had four wonderful kids. He was head of the lab at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Hammond, Indiana, until he got involved with computers.  It was a passion for him and when he became ill, he was able to work from home as he became more ill.

 

Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma took his life.  He fought it for two years.  As the disease progressed and the treatments took their tole, he developed a cough. One of the few things he could enjoy was eating lunch with friends in the hospital cafeteria. One day he was coughing in line and another hospital employee told him, “If you are that sick, you shouldn’t be here.” I kind of understand, but he wasn’t infectious and for the rest of the time he had left on earth, he ate lunch alone in his office.  Which was not right either.

 

People tend to panic on their fiftieth birthday. My brother didn’t.  He panicked when he turned forty. This was before they diagnosed his cancer. I joked that he should wait and get upset when he turned fifty. Something in him seemed to know he would never make it to fifty, and he didn’t.  He passed away in 1990. I miss him every single day; especially the rainy ones.

 

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.