Thursday, September 20, 2012

Funerals in September

I just looked at my last entry:  July 26th.  There is a reason for that.

On July 29th, my mother-in-law Edith was showing such clear signs of congestive heart failure (fluid retention, breathlessness) that we had to take her to the Emergency Room in the hope and expectation of draining off the excess.  The next day she had a major heart attack instead, one which her cardiologist expected to kill her within a day or two.  As it turned out (and we should have known this), she was much tougher than that.  After nearly two weeks in the hospital, she was moved to hospice care in a nursing home near us.  On August 30th, she passed away peacefully at 4 in the morning.  We held her funeral on September 5th and buried her with Gene,  a few feet away from Thomas.

Since then we've been going through her things, giving away a lot of clothing and trying to figure out what's salvageable in her jewelry.  She had tons of pictures, including one that I'll try to post here of her husband during World War II.   He was a SeaBee in the Pacific (he and my dad probably passed each other a few times on the high seas!).  It is so different when an older person dies.  The contrast with Thomas's death has just taken our breath away.  We are still trying to go through the rest of Thomas's possessions, we still miss Thomas daily, we know that his death was a tragedy, whereas her death was expected in the natural course of events.  We miss her, but more in the sense of trying to figure out how our lives without elder care will be different.  We are slowly clearing out the room that she was living in with the expectation that probably Richard will use it as an office eventually.


This morning I went to a funeral at Arlington for four airmen killed in a plane crash in Africa last February.  As more remains are identified, they are buried.  One of the families had asked TAPS if someone could come to be supportive.  One other member of the other Montgomery County families and I went.  It was a perfect day for this in one sense:  sunny but not hot, a light breeze. We proceeded by car to Section 60 where they put the casket containing remains from all four victims on to a caisson pulled by horses:  we followed them to the burial site where the families were seated.  A chaplain read a reflection.  A volley was fired, Taps was played.  And then a flyover, the Missing Man formation.  I cried.  In fact, I ended up sobbing on Nicki's shoulder, remembering.  But, I pulled myself back together and spent a little time talking with the mother of one of the airmen.  I feel like I was clunky and needy myself (Edith's death seems to have had more of an effect than I realized).  But I went and I hope that I can offer some support to others as time goes on.

Eugene W. Doerflinger, World War II


At September 22, 2012 at 12:42:00 PM PDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a great picture. I expect he had better accommodations awaiting Edith when they were reunited this month.

God bless you all.



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