Category Archives: dying

You Come From Good Stock

Three months ago. Saturday. 8:04 AM. Work rings. Never good. Answer phone.

“Dee’s mom called. His wife is a nurse and woke up and heard him gurgling. She called 9-1-1 and started CPR. They don’t know how long he was without oxygen. He’s at the ER now, but non-responsive.”

My heart sunk. We’d worked together 23 years. Dee’s a quality guy. I knew then I’d never see him again, not the same.  At minimal, brain damage from oxygen deprivation would forever change him.

~~Something awakened Dee’s wife, Alanda, at 6:15 AM.  She heard Dee gurgling from fluid filling his lungs. She flipped on the light, called 9-1-1 and started CPR.

Alanda saved Dee’s life. He’d crossed death’s doorway, but at the threshold, Alanda grabbed the tip of his little toe toenail and began pulling him back.

Five minutes later paramedics arrived. They took over CPR and used an AED.

One electrical shock to the heart. Two. Continue reading You Come From Good Stock

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Brahm’s Lullaby

In college I worked one summer at a funeral home.  Morbid? Maybe, but I wanted to be around the death process to understand, not fear it.

Sometimes though things, places, events — they change you, change the way you think, change the way you see and feel life.   That summer changed me, one night in particular.

I had two jobs that college summer.  As soon as I finished my maintenance job, I’d shower, put on my suit and rush to the 2nd job at the funeral home.

It was a visitation that night, just one body, with few visitors expected.  The funeral home owner told me he and his family were leaving town for a short trip, threw me the keys and told me to lock up after everyone left that night.

No one was there, so I went into the state room and was shocked to see the tiny casket.  Inside was a beautiful, eight month old baby girl.  Continue reading Brahm’s Lullaby

Swinging Pendulum

There is something beautiful about clocks, but they seem to move so fast.

It’s true time speeds up with age, or maybe, we just speed up busyness and slow down awareness.  I don’t know.

An early childhood memory is sitting still watching a wall clock and realizing that if you stare straight, stare straight and concentrate, you can see the minute hand move each second in the tiniest of tiny movements.

Not intentionally, I sit now staring at a clock deep in thought.  Slowly an awareness of time dawns. Continue reading Swinging Pendulum

Just For Crumbs

He hobbled slowly to a stone wall to lean on it, caught his breath to gather strength.  A few meters away, he half fell, half sat in a shady spot on the dusty ground.

His threadbare clothes were so tattered and thin that most people wouldn’t even use them for rags.

He carefully placed a beat-up cup within reach right in front of him.  He’d learned that given half a chance, other beggars more agile than he would snatch his few coins and run.  He was barely able to move across the street now, much less give chase.  He tried in vain not to close his eyes. 

There was just something about closing his eyes though that eased his pain.  Every joint in his body seemed to ache, right down to his bone marrow.  He wasn’t sure why, but sometimes sharp pains in his side doubled him over, causing him to curl up in a tight ball until the pain subsided.  Continue reading Just For Crumbs

Sweetie Pie

I’ve been thinking back about an older couple I knew when I was in college.  Loved them! Great, rock solid, influential people!

He developed cancer.  After a valiant fight, Hospice was called.  Hospice was there round the clock during his last days at home.

They were always a very kind, loving couple, quite expressive in their love and admiration for each other.  They used pet names, like Sweetie Pie and Sugar Plum, Honey Bear and Honey Bunny, along with other pet names as terms of endearment.

They would greet each other, usually in a higher pitch voice with great emphasis on their tones, sounding like they were talking to a bouncing baby or a favorite animal.

Their transparent physical, emotional and verbal affection for each other was fun to watch.  I learned a lot from them.

But that was in life.  Death was a little different. Continue reading Sweetie Pie

What Words Cannot Say

I put the rose from his garden in his rigamortis hand.  It didn’t look natural.  A snap of the stem to shorten it, then working it under his cold fingers and folded hands made it presentable.

Yes, that’s better.

I slipped a note I had hurriedly written, almost as an afterthought, and slipped it inside his suit jacket, hidden from the world, never to be read by anyone, not even the one it was written to. Continue reading What Words Cannot Say

A Rocking Chair of Life

She remembered an incident that happened years before and burst into laughter.  Instinctively, her hand went to the rocking chair beside her.  The blade of reality cut as she returned to the present.

She took a deep breath, closed her eyes to regain her composure, and settled quietly back into the rhythmic rocking of her chair.

For years she sat each evening with her husband rocking at sunset.  Sometimes they talked non-stop; sometimes they sat quietly.  Sometimes they even bickered back and forth like two school children, but there was never a doubt that they were on each other’s team.  In fact, they were each other’s biggest fan.

The years since he retired were some of the best and enjoyable evenings of all. Each knew, however, that the sunsets they watched from their front porch rockers were similar to themselves.

Even so, when he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer six months earlier, it seemed like a short time was cut shorter, for it was all too quick, too sudden, too complete.  Continue reading A Rocking Chair of Life

They Said

No doubt her hands were shaking when she wrote her suicide note.  Her heart was in a million pieces, pieces that apparently no one noticed, or maybe, cared to notice.

She tried to write her last words, words that would explain, words that will tell all and clarify her actions. She wanted to describe her feelings, and try to explain why she did what she was about to do.

Her heart spilled out of the pen onto the paper as she wrote her last words.  She tied a rope to a ceiling beam in her apartment, stood in a chair, tied the other end around her neck and kicked the chair aside.

They Said story

The police found her several days later when a neighbor became concerned.  Her suicide note explained nothing, yet said it all.  Her note contained two words…….“They said”.

Tragically, this true story happened in California and no one ever discovered who, how or what they said.  One thing, however, was certain, they said it.

The tongue, and the pen, can wield amazing power to make people laugh or be encouraged. Words can cause one to believe and hope, yet words can bring devastation, heartache and despair.

Words can be of instruction, construction or destruction.

There’s the power of life and death in words.  They can heal, or they can kill.

Look for opportunities to shut up. Converse wisely.  Talk gently. Speak life.

Too bad that’s not what “they said”.

They Said story

The 55 Plus Club

I turned 55 a few days ago. It’s the speed limit birthday, the double nickel, the best domino on the table!

They say 60 is the new 40, but it was an aging Baby Boomer who came up with that malarkey!

They also say you’re only as old as you feel! That’s no comfort!  I feel like a Model T!!

A redeeming factor about turning 55 is a “senior discount”!  Can I get an amen, or oh me!?

When Did I See You Hungry?

His frail fingers trembled as he took the nickel from the missionary’s hand.  The starving Haitian boy was wearing a pair of ragged shorts, threadbare t-shirt, and shoes that had worn out months before.

During the peak of the famine, homeless children and orphans looked for any way they could to survive.  If they could get a nickel, they could get enough scraps of food to live another day.

So when the missionary was walking on a road in Haiti and came across the sickly orphan boy sitting listlessly on the roadside, he gave the boy a nickel.  Continue reading When Did I See You Hungry?