Posts filed under ‘death’

Jan 3rd,2019- Mystic/Magic – Chris Ritchey

Another year dawns, this past one has not been pleasant for the most part. No further answers to  the question we all really  want to know what happens after our body  fails. Is there an “essence of life” that continues? The life “energy”  that makes us unique to  ourselves , can that be destroyed , gone, obliterated ?

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/energy-can-neither-be-created-nor-destroyed/

Questions that have been asked and answered in  various religious beliefs for a few thousand years. But , when you  get right down to  it you  won’t really  know till your own body  fails. YOU  KNOW,  my  darling Chris, my  mum –  now knows.

Mum and Balcony

Mum, who  lived a full 99 years, a voracious reader, travelled , lived in three different countries, met hundreds of people of varying walks of life. She would listen to  the religious leaders, watch them on the Sunday  shows, in her youth  questioned them at length.  In her last days she would talk to  the Hospice Nurses as to  their belief as to  what would happen but she had no  answers in even those last days .

As I  sat beside her , holding her hand , watching and trying to  ease her final “body life” moments , there was no  answer for me, she and her  life energy  slipped quietly  away.  The same with  you  -although hooked up  to  machines , but by  the time they  disconnected you  I already  knew you  had left hours before.  Somehow, a mother knows when her child is no  longer with  her, at least I  did.

We all so  need the mystic and magic, hope that there is more somehow to  our world, my  thoughts segued to  my  earliest beliefs and tiny  child’s  belief in fairies.

I lay  awake in today’s very  early  hours, wracking my  poor brain as to  who  first told me about magic and fairies and a world beyond that had nothing to  do  with  religion, that came later when my  mother would drag me to  church  in Canada.

I couldn’t for the life of me remember , it was as if I  had always known about the possibility  of a  “magical” realm I so  wanted to  believe in. As a tiny  tot I would play  for hours in the  garden rockery ( rock gardens were a staple part of the garden and the place where fairies loved to  dwell) building fairy  homes, looking for fairy  circles  in the morning dew, positive they  existed and wanting to  catch  a glimpse. I told my  children about fairies and then my  grandchildren ( before they  got to  the age when they  think I  am dotty).

 

I went back in my  mind , trying so  hard to  remember my  grandmothers telling me stories of fairies . No,  the one used to  recite romantic and adventurous poems  and tell stories of unrequited love. Mum’s mother , tired and worn from life, would tell me stories of the happenings of her children, my  father- science fiction, space aliens and travels to  the stars. My  mum never told me fairy  stories, so who? And then it dawned , my  reprobate of a “grandfather”. A memory  from the mist, taking down a saucer of milk   whilst everyone in the house was asleep, woken from my  tiny  bed, slipper-less feet, cold on the  tiled kitchen floor quietly  putting the saucer down for the hedgehogs  as they  carried the fairies to  dance in the moonlight.

I  realize now, he was drunk again probably , he was an inebriate that is for certain. I supposed going through  the trenches in France and being a professional soldier he may  have had some issues we would recognize today.

Fairies a gift from Chris

All I do  know , is that as angering and annoying he was to  the rest of the family  and his children- HE was the one who  came home with  kittens and the odd baby rabbit or two   in his pockets for me, flowers from his flowers shop , never were his pockets empty , little gifts.  He taught me to  love the flowers in the garden and only  pick certain ones  , to  leave the blue bells ( the fairy  flowers) in the woods.

As I  lay  there in the half light of a New year  my  mind  wandered to  when he was he was in hospital, I  had only  been married a few weeks, we went to  see him . He woke long enough  to  squeeze my  hand and say  ”

I  can go  now- “maggot” ( his nickname for me )  I  have seen you. 

We left the hospital and on the short ride home I could still feel the pressure of his hand  and I  knew before we got to  my  Aunt’s house he had gone without her having to  tell me.  He had said goodbye  and with  him went his “magic”, given to  me only ???  and a memory of an old man , not well loved who shared  a bit of the mystique of this world.

One memory  triggers another and I was back in your hospital room  your stats were fluctuating , nurses and techs adjusting machines and then your hand squeezed mine so  hard – I  didn’t know what you  were trying to  tell me but I think  I  do  now……. you  were saying goodbye ……..

But then the magic of you  continues……….

 

 

January 3, 2019 at 10:29 am 2 comments

Dec 3rd- crumbling walls- Chris Ritchey

Although  I  write about you  every  3rd day  of every  month as a way  to  release my  grief, love of you and so  you  are not forgotten, December 3rd is looming. The dying days that start at Thanksgiving – the day  I sat alone in the waiting room as you  were put on the vent.  I  relive that day  and that intensive care waiting room  every  year  dreading I won’t be able to  hold myself together amidst all the joy  of turkey , pumpkins, pies and laughter.

The circus that ensued  that terrible Thanksgiving Day  at the Cleveland Clinic thanks to “those others” (Lombardi)  who  finally  came to “wait”, share  dry  turkey  and cold mashed potatoes and discuss recipes whilst you  were fighting for your life  sickens me still. I  could never understand their reactions of party hearty   , picnic time- it is a wonder they  didn’t bring celebratory  wine. Respect and kindness to  your family as we tried to  deal with the losing of you   certainly  wasn’t on their menu .

artwork Chris Ritchey

It starts with  Thanksgiving  , the defense walls are reinforced , more to  protect others from the volatile emotions that are churning within me. They  deserve and need their happiness, they need not be reminded of dying days. I so  wish I  was  strong, I  am not.

These days leading up  to  the day  you  died leave me , even after the years of trying to  train myself to  avoid the trigger moments, weak and bereft of control.  I had a relative who  used to  take to  their bed when there were situations they  couldn’t handle. There is no  respite for me  there in amongst the down pillows. I lay  awake fighting down the  emotional agony  of remembrance of those days .Finally  exhaustion will bring sleep  but the mind  continues and all the building of walls to  keep my  emotions and thoughts in check are breached. Down pillows  become wet with tears.

Honestly  I  don’t know how my  heart has kept beating, there are times choking back sobs I can’t breathe.  but your  beautiful sister and two  little boys  whose excitement  at the season acts as an antidote  enabling me once again to bear the unbearable.

 

Your Chris Miss presents to  Gavin and Braedyn will once again be delivered  and I will reinforce the walls ….. I love and miss you  every  day  but  December 3rd will find the walls tumbled into  nothing and I will hide from the world until I  can function again.

Artwork Chris Ritchey

“Heartbreak is a heavy  burden to carry as a soul weakens”  I  love you  Chris

December 3, 2018 at 12:29 am 1 comment

Nov. 3rd- tale of two – grief- Chris Ritchey

Chris Ritchey Source

Just three days after I  wrote the October 3rd  remembrance of you  your Nana joined you. I would like to  think  that you  were there for her. I  know  how much  you  loved her.

It has been almost a month and the grieving for your  Nana is so  different. I feel like a vessel full to  the brim with  sadness but inside this vessel  the grief at the loss of you  and of my  mum meet . The grief I have for you  plunges , rolls, rises up and is pushed back down. It takes will power not to  drown in its depths but it can overwhelm me at times. It is  cold , tearing at my  brain, heart and gut taking pieces of me as it rages on. It is a monster  and no  parent should have to  feel its presence.

Your  Nana , I so  miss, I spent every  day  with her for the past 34 years , she was part of all decisions made as a family. And for the past 8  years shared this roof and kitchen. There are many  things that will bring tears but somehow they  comfort  as release. It is a gentle grief. Nana had lived a full life – fuller than most- her 99 years apart from the past few months saw her enjoying life, having her wits about her  and  good health. She had grown tired  wanted to
“get off the planet”  more and more as her health deteriorated. Her passing was with  dignity, love and was  understandable. She embraced the “transitioning” -her life force spent  not from disease but just being old. and wearing out. Her passing was logical, the grand order of things and the grief I feel does not leave me questioning WHY???? or looking for answers.

 I understand the loss of my  mother  but not the loss of you  and my  heart and brain rails  against the WHY!!!

Source Chris Ritchey

 

 

November 3, 2018 at 1:24 am 1 comment

Sherrod Brown and Hospice THANK YOU- Lorain

This blog has been all about death  and dying recently – more so  than usual. It has been a long 6 months since my  mum was put under Hospice Care. I have to  give a shout out to  Mercy New Life  Hospice – Kolbe Road. https://www.mercy.com/locations/specialty-locations/hospice-care-palliative-care/mercy-new-life-hospice

because their nurses and aides helped me keep  my  promise to  my  mum that she would stay  in what became her home here with  us.

It was NOT easy, anyone that tells you  that being  a  “carer ” 24 hours a day  7 days a week will not leave you  drained, frustrated , emotionally pulled in so  many  directions has not walked that path.

I found myself having to  do  things for my  mum in those last weeks that I   hated doing and she hated having done. She could tell by  my  face  that I  was struggling with  things. I  was never cut out to  be a nurse , never wanted to  care for the ill but you  do  things you  never thought you  would  because of love.  There were times I  didn’t think  I  could keep  my  promise as lifting and being “on duty” 24/7 took their toll physically, my  husband and I  were the walking wounded to  begin with.  Thank  goodness for my  daughter who  stepped up  to  the plate on more than one occasion.

And then all of a sudden she was gone, my  job was gone as well, it has taken many  days not to  listen for the sound of her “chimes”  calling me upstairs  to  help  her. Not to  look at the clock , not to  wake at 3 in morning and get up  and check on her. The days of trying to find something she could eat or might tempt her to  eat  put aside. Tea was her elixir of life in this house.

I am grateful to  the Doctors , nurses and aides because those last months  she and I  didn’t have to  worry  about  the prescription coverages, the medical bills.  WHY because she was covered  by  insurance and why  was that ?

Regular Readers will remember this time last year I  was fighting the gatekeepers . Kasich  , the Governor of Ohio , had done away  with  the  medical program under which  my  mother was covered and paid into  for decades. People who  should have known a way  forward  did not help this 98-year-old woman , bureaucracy  abounded and for months I  fought and cajoled only  to  be turned away  by  the local Social Security  Offices ( Medicare) – Job and family  Services – all this is documented  and one day  I will write in-depth  the whole sorry  fiasco.  I was at my wit’s end for so  many  weeks – I  was helpless – ME who  can cut through  the crap  to  solutions  stymied , lost in a healthcare limbo,  not knowing where to  turn next.

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/the-gatekeepers-keeping-us-out-part-one/

On November 6th  we will be voting , I am in a quandary  as to  how most of my  votes will be cast BUT there is one person who  will receive my  vote as well as  that of my  family  Sherrod Brownhttps://www.brown.senate.gov/

 

 

Why????  because his staff in Lorain and “his” caring , expertise and knowledge of the medical system, federal programs   cut through all the gobbledegook I  was facing  and pointed us in the direction of HELP when not one other agency  or politician  would or could.

Still the confusion  with  bureaucrats and up jumped Muppets of Medical abounded  BUT  now I  had people with  knowledge to  help  us through  and that was totally  thanks to   Sherrod Brown and his offices.  Because of that my  mum  and I  only  had to  deal  with  “dying” and could  access the medical assistance she needed .

So  yes this is a political “Vote For” post  but I know in my  heart of hearts this man and the people he employs CARE  and cared when I  needed the help  the most.  I  am not a Democrat or Republican  and haven’t ever before asked anyone to   “vote For” but I  am doing so  now and I  take this plea  very  seriously  please vote for Senator Sherrod Brown thank  you ………..

October 28, 2018 at 5:21 pm 1 comment

The Dance ended- the room emptied- Mum 2018

 

Will you  write about me? What will you  say? You  won’t forget me ?

Yes mum I will write about you , but not an obituary  after all how could I put into  200 or at the most 450  words the life lived for 99 years ?  I could fill that space with  just the last 5 months.  I did write a special post on your 97th  birthday  which  covered some highlights  of your  life

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/in-the-pink-97-years-and-counting-mum/

My mum is gentle , sweet, never sees the bad in people ( sometimes a failing), can bake for Britain, loves people with a depth beyond knowing, always makes excuses for their not so nice behavior, and has a strength to her that has sustained her for 97 years.

I don’t know what I  will say  I never know until I sit down at the keyboard  but I  am sure  nothing I  can write can do  you  justice to  people who  do  not know you  or know you  well.

You  won’t write the bad bits will you? I  didn’t put the bad bits in my  book

Cover Design Chris Ritchey

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/long-time-passing-gone-to-fighting-everyone/

“ROY (  my  father)  was on leave from the Navy for 4 days. He phoned on the Sunday and we were to be married by special license in the little church on the Ridgeway , Mill Hill on the Monday.
What a day for a wedding France had surrendered and our guests were more concerned with the war news”
SOURCE
After the reception we left Roy’s home to “go away” Where? we had no idea . Uncle Jack had kindly lent us the Humber. As he stood at the door waving us off he said: “You look such a couple of kids no one will take you in” I was silent as we sped along the great North Way – this was June and the last time I had seen Roy was the previous Christmas when we became engaged”

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/long-time-passing-gone-to-fighting-everyone-part-three/

I promise  I won’t add to  what I have already  written and you  have already   seen and read. I have written reams about you  every  birthday for the past 10 years, your life with  us, I will not add to  what has already  been written of those times .   BUT  mum those bad bits and terrible times were your finest hours the adversity  and pain you  faced  showed your absolute courage and strength of purpose.

‘No  , not the bad bits that only  you  know…

Ok mum  but what about the artist that wanted to  paint you  nude?

NO certainly  not I only  found out in time he wanted to  paint my  breasts as a back splash for the hot and cold taps in his kitchen .

There are hundreds of people all over this world whose lives you  touched in your 99 years.  You  always found the good in even those that hurt you and caused life changes , you  were  so  different from myself. I could never forgive those that caused you  pain. I  did put up  with at least one of them for your sake, you  never made or wanted fuss and confrontation.

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/what-are-they-thinking-the-thought-process-stops-here/

 

The only  people you  never forgave was the Tim and Sue Lombardi  clan and their offspring ( Angela Lombardi ( Ritchey) Murphy, ( she has a steel rod up  her back were your words just a few days ago , very  cold)  so  unlike you but they  caused this family  great hurt and in your words were unconscionably cruel to  your loved ones  in the passing of your long-awaited grandson Chris .

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/an-open-letter-mama-sue-lombardi/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/dec-4th-how-cold-is-cold-lombardi/

It was the only time you  didn’t tell me to  “forget and forgive”, probably  knowing as well that is never going to  happen.

No  mum we will never forget you , you  were a stabilizing force in all our lives, kind to  a fault, funny  even in those last days trying to  bring a smile to  those having to  watch  the Danse Macabre  .

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2018/10/03/oct-3rd-danse-macabre-chris-ritchey/

You  were always so  worried that you  would have to  go  into  a home,

“I am not afraid of dying  it is what you  have to  die with  that worries me”

She hated the thought of a long drawn out death  that she would not be in her own bed. and would be surrounded by  strangers . I promised her that she would remain with  us in this house, in her own bed and she would always be clean and her bedding fresh  but there was nothing I could do  about the months it took for her to  slowly  disappear . She hated the loss of her independence , such  an independent  little soul, not to  be able to  contribute to  the work load around here  but was adding to  it .

Mum tried every  day  to  “help” even when her little body  was less than 60  lbs.

Finally came the days when she was bedridden and needed help  to  do  the simplest task such  as eat or drink, no  longer having the strength . No  longer could she sit among the flowers on her balcony , only  viewing through  the window in her bedroom.  She did not deserve to  have to  wait for her death this way and I  am angry  that she lost the things in dying what she so  treasured in life, privacy, independence  but I  tried my  utmost to  give her the dignity  she so  deserved that was denied my  son, in that at least Nikki  and I  succeeded.

“I am so  tired, exhausted, I know I  won’t see those little boys grow up , I  love them so  much  they  are held in my  heart , make sure you tell them. Make sure they  always have a Christmas present from me.

My  mum  made her arrangements in 1992- and nothing changed -she once again thought of others even those long years ago  , just as she had made life easier for me as her daughter in life , she did so as she passed.  I got to  hold her hand , sing her the songs of my  childhood , songs she sang to  me to  quiet my  bad dreams or pain hoping that it would help calm her journey and take away  the fear we all must face. She slipped past me quietly without fuss or drama , her granddaughters words of love bringing a quiet smile.

No  mum we won’t forget you , how could we you are in your granddaughter’s eyes, Braedyn’s laugh  and Gavin’s kind heart……………..You  are in the collective memory of nieces nephews, some of whom are in their 70’s and 80’s whom you  knew and held as babies, who  came to  stay  with  you  over the years, of friends who became family……  as for me I  cherish your spirit and always will……. til we meet again……..

A mother understands what her child does NOT say

 

 

October 18, 2018 at 5:30 pm 13 comments

Oct. 3rd -Danse Macabre- Chris Ritchey

 

Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin /Source 

Once again,  I am locked into  a performance with  death. I am exhausted and angry  as I  watch  this thief of life steal everything that is and was your Nana and my mum, just as I  stood helpless as you  too  were locked into  this grim  dance of reality  that faces us all.

The purloiner  of life has taken the light from her blue eyes, made them red ringed and pale, her smile just a memory ,  as she waits , she has disappeared within her own body  as it stubbornly  clings to  life and the loved ones around her . She is  caught between the notes as the music of death  is played, no  longer having the strength to walk , sit or feed herself  without help , her pride of independence, privacy, modesty  gone , slowly drained buy the vampiric interloper and yet it seems that is not enough-  still the dance partner of death  continues the performance, sapping her of what is left of her , cruel in its movements  as the tune reels and swirls, no  respite or quarter given.

 

The difference with  you, my  darling son  there  was another dance partner , who  lent strength  to  my  body  and soul- that of HOPE.  Hope was my  partner,  the hours of driving, the meals, the days and nights of  care, the medicines  , doctors and trials  would work . Parallel days with  the dance I am  once again intertwined , unable to   find escape cold grasping fingers refusing to  let  me go, crushing my  heart. Another August, September , October and the dance continues , the music raucous and disjointed – a cacophony  of jarring notes , breaking the peace.

October 3rd , the last time you  were home  with  your family, filled with  hope that Houston  would be the answer to  stopping the dance, but hope, although strong in our hearts, was not enough to  combat the “danse macabre” …… and now once again the robber of life  has entered our home and our very  beings..

and ripped from us joy , hope and laughter.  I love you  Chris  and I  know you  will be here for your  Nana  as this final  dance ends…………

Chris Ritchey Source

October 3, 2018 at 10:38 am 4 comments

Paula Tobias – A Woman of Worth- 2018

Paula Tobias,  my  dear friend, one who  fought  bravely  the obscenity  of ovarian cancer  for 5 years.

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/you-have-cancer-paulas-journey-shared/

Paula,  had  written about many  varied things over the years  just type Paula Tobias in the search box. My  dear friend  knew she would only  be able to  keep  her fight going for so  long, the disease and the treatments took their toll on her  more than she let the  outside world know.

A year before she passed she asked me to  do  two  things for her, to  write and give her eulogy at her celebration of life and to  oversee  the placement and landscaping of a bench which she had chosen . “Come Sit With  Me” that would look out over her beloved Lake Erie and the east side of Lorain.

Following is part of the eulogy  for Paula, so  those that read this blog outside of this city  will hopefully  understand how we have lost a woman who  was of “worth” not just to  her friends and family  but to  her community :

 

“I loved Paula and she was “there” during my worst days- my strength-, helping me through my darkest hours

a self-portrait Chris Ritchey

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2009/12/25/christmas-the-day-after-chris-miss-christmas/

Paula- kind, loving…… and there.

Her words “anything I can do? Were her mantra, it didn’t matter how busy or what was going on in her own life she was there.

The loves of her life Frank, Jean and Liz were always first in her thoughts and actions. Paula fought so hard to beat the obscenity that is cancer, not just for herself but for them, her mom and the rest of her wonderful family. Paula put up a fierce battle with grace and quiet strength just as she had done throughout her life.

 

A life that touched so many of us….. in such positive ways , she would see a need and would try her best to meet those needs. Paula saw a need in Lorain and the nurturer she was…. Ran in 2007   as mayoral candidate for Lorain……. She called me from her car ….

“Luvvey! I am on my way   to the BOE to pull petitions for Mayor – this should be a surprise to some!!!!!

http://blog.cleveland.com/wideopen/2007/09/profile_paula_tobias_lorain_ma.html

Unknown in politics, she still managed a very successful campaign as an “Independent” running 2nd to the Democratic candidate and overtaking the sitting Republican candidate. Both parties having great respect for her –  her commitment and love of her community. She added class to   the campaign

 

Such was Paula’s influence and respect among all political parties she continued with soft-spoken strength crossing over and through political parties making a difference in this city she truly loved.

Always an advocate for Lorain… There she would be at City Council meetings   and reporting on them …. holding up placards when the Bascule Bridge took so long in getting repaired to filling potholes…She researched  a new machine and introduced that machine to Lorain by bringing ii into the city  .. Pitch Patch Paula putting on overalls and her personal hard hat and filling the test pot holes herself. . It took a while but Lorain has now a similar machine.

 

Paula turned her hand to being a blogger….. her thoughts and hopes for Lorain are still there on the internet waiting to be acted upon.

Paula was also on the Board of Directors for the Lorain Port Authority   bringing with her historical knowledge, passion and common sense. Paula was involved in so many of the situations good, bad and beautiful because she was “there for her beloved Lorain. She wanted the visitor to Lorain to be welcomed with inviting neighborhoods.

https://locophotogblog.wordpress.com/category/paula-tobias/

YES! Paula was there, her style was quiet determination, softly speaking sense – little notes baked goods and chicken soup if needed accompanying her lovely smiles/ .

I will so miss the lilt in her voice as she would call

“Luvey??? Do you need anything/”. I still hear her voice in my mind….

In all those terrible months after her diagnosis not once did she complain to me about her battle, the physical and emotional cost.

Paula, truly remarkable in her compassion for others asked not for sympathy for her own plight, putting on a brave face and smile. Paula became a volunteer to help other cancer patients through their journey as she fought her own battles, I remember saying to her-

I just don’t know how you are doing this you have much more bravery than I

she smiled and said I just want to help because I KNOW the journey they are on…..

How many times she offered me quiet respite from my life- to join her in her beautiful home for an afternoon by her fire or a summer evening on the lake .

Oh the days her dining room and sun porch tables fair groaned with the weight of delicious foods as she invited people to share the beauty of the lake and the hospitality of her family. Paula, nurturing, loving, protecting and intensely passionate with all she held dear.

I have–.. to remind me of her… and those times.. a small antique dining room side board,…… goodness knows where my husband purchased it……… BUT I realized whilst helping myself to food at one of those banquets that Paula and Frank had the rest of the dining room set…. my little side board was a perfect match for her set.

We laughed about my having the missing piece .. a coincidence or fate? the missing piece– her dining room set not complete…. and now my darling Paula is the missing piece., our lives will not be the same   and we are now incomplete .

Paula my words cannot do justice to the gracious, inspiring , loving and kind woman the epitome of a “lady” I came to love so very much – I know your pain has passed— which is our only consolation as we have to say goodbye. I love you as does everyone who was touched by your very soul and that is a wonderful legacy … Fare well my friend…………

The Bench — to  be continued.

September 19, 2018 at 8:26 pm 5 comments

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