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Mar 162010
 

I had a rather disturbing thing happen on the way to work and quite frankly it was a horrible way to start my day.

I was speeding along the turnpike as usual when up ahead I spotted a little groundhog trying his hardest to make it across the road. He got across the first lane of traffic fine only narrowly escaping the Mack truck only to be struck down by the SUV in the next lane.

His, hopefully, lifeless body came tumbling towards me at a high rate of speed coming to rest up against the cement medium.

I still can’t shake that image. It really messed me up most of the day. Poor little guy. Even if he had made it across where would he have gone? Upon reaching the middle of the road he would have been met with an insurmountable cement wall. Why don’t they make them with a gap in them every few yards? Or make the mediums out of cement columns instead of solid walls? Something.

Jan 232010
 

Mom has been gone for over a year now…still hard to believe she is gone.

Still every time I get a hair cut and walk into the house or visit her grave, I half expect to her in a disappointed tone, “You’ve cut your hair again.”

That was our normal greeting every single time I got a hair cut. I always hated that, but now, that I will never hear it again, I miss it.

Guess I always will.

May 252009
 

My grandfather used to call Memorial Day, Decoration Day. It was the day they would go to the cemetery and decorate the graves of the service men and other family members. So I thought I would wish everyone out there a happy Decoration Day and hop that you took some time out today to remember the reason you had off work today.

Someone on Twitter sent me a link to an interesting article on Memorial Day/Decoration Day (they say Decoration Day was a southern thing, but my grandfather was a PA Dutchman through and through). The article, Memorial Day bivouac of the dead: hallowed, haunted Gettysburg, was written by MaryEllen O’Brien and has a more spiritual angle than military.

I just watched a really good program on PBS called Hallowed Ground. It is all about the US cemeteries through out Europe that mark the finally resting places of 40% of the men and women who fought for freedom in WWI and WWII.

I did not know so many cemeteries were over there. It would make a very interesting group tour sometime.

Feb 272009
 

War Dog MemorialThe Hartsdale Pet Cemetery near New York City has made it to the Top 10 Places of Rest list “alongside the Taj Mahal in India and the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt” according to ZooToo Pet News website. Lonely Planet published the list in their book 2009 Best of Travel (I assume it is a book of lists about traveling in 2009). I don’t know about the rest of the book but this list in particular interests me quite a bit and I will be adding it to my TO DO LIST (which may or may not ever get done).

The Hartsdale Pet Cemetery is the world’s oldest operating pet cemetery started way back in 1896 by Dr. Samuel Johnson. It also happens to be America’s first pet cemetery.

Poking around their website they have a war dog memorial at the cemetery that I would really like to see at some point. Maybe this summer we can take a trip up there (if my car can make it that far).

Jan 302009
 

It has been a month since Mom’s funeral. It is kind of hard to believe it has been that long already. I know it will take time.

I don’t know how I did it, but I got back to work the following week. Tried to keep myself busy. Tried to be there for Dad and keep him busy (although I have been a big slacker in that area this past week).

It has to be the hardest on him. He doesn’t have family here. They are all in Virginia. He spent his life devoted to Mom. He seems so lost without here. We all are.

I miss her terribly.

Jan 222009
 

Bob MayBob May, the man who fit inside the B9 Robot of Lost in Space fame has passed. He died January 18th. He was only 69.

According to the WashingtonPost.com, “May died Sunday of congestive heart failure at a hospital in Lancaster, said his daughter, Deborah May.”

He will be greatly missed by fans.

Stop by the Bob May website to send the family your condolences.

http://www.robot-b9.com/

Jan 192009
 

KhaaaanRicardo Montalban passed away. He died January 14, 2009.

As posted over at the Huffington Post, he is often remembered by things like: “Fine Corinthian leather,” Khan and, “Smiles, everyone, smiles.” The “Fine Corinthian leather” dates us all. Perhaps the younger generation better remembers him saying “carne asada” in a Taco Bell commercial a few years back.

Check out the very nice write up on Ricardo Montalban over at the Huff Post and be sure to watch the TCM movie marthon (7 in all) starring Mr. Montalban.

Jan 052009
 

I had to go to the hospital for tests (more ultrasounds on my legs because of the accident) the Friday after mom’s funeral. It was hard enough going back into a hospital only days after my mother just died in one, but given the reception (or lack there of) at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Reading it is a wonder I did not snap. My appointment was at 1pm, bad time because most likely everyone takes there lunch from 12 to 1. When I first arrived there was no one in the reception area that I was directed to for patient registration. So I popped out to ask the person at the window I had just passed, but she was now gone. As I was going back into the waiting area a couple was coming in as well. I held the door for them and said something about nobody being here. Just then a lady popped out of an office a started to take the couples info. When I spoke up about being there first she got downright nasty to me saying she saw them come in first (DUH, I held the door for them as I came back in the room). After a little argument with her she finally took me in first.

Yes, I could have waited a few minutes, but as I said it was bothering me even being in the hospital in the first place and her treatment of me become a real issue for me. Why would any hospital have someone with such a horrible disposition working the desk where patients need some kindness and compassion? She had no idea why I was there or what my back-story was yet she treated me like dirt. I could have been there for a very serious test and been extremely worried about my health and the outcome of said test. If that were the case I certainly should have been handled with kid gloves not in the harsh manner that I was. In fact ever person walking into that room should be treated in a kinder, gentler manner than how she addressed me since you never know why they are there in the first place.

Once I was finally registered (by another person thankfully) I was directed to another unmanned waiting area. After my last experience I decided to stay put this time and wait to see if anyone ever bothered to show up. Someone eventually did and took me back for my test.

The lady that gave me my ultrasound that day was so kind and personable that it almost made up for the treatment I received when I first walked in that hospital. While I was back there they called a code blue (you all know what that is) and I got really upset as the memories flooded back to me. I told her that my mother had just passed away to explain my tears. She reached out and touched my leg telling me how sorry she was. I could tell that she was showing genuine compassion for me. She also told me if she were me she would not be having this test done. (But I knew Mom wanted me to find out why my legs are still so bad even a year after the accident, so I went.)

After my test was over I thanked her repeatedly for her kindness and for explaining what she was seeing during the ultrasound (techs won’t usually do that they leave it to the doctors who don’t really tell you anything). I just wanted to make sure she knew how much I had appreciated her that day.

Now St. Joe’s needs to find a few more of her to deal with the patients as they walk through the door and get rid of that grouchy one they have now.

Dec 312008
 

We got to the church early, but Mom’s oldest sister had already beat us there. I asked the service director to take photos of the flowers but could not bring myself to take them or to have him take any of Mom. (I know this is odd coming from someone, whose family, Dad’s side, does this and who also collects these photos. I just could not think about looking at those photos ever again. Besides I have a great photo of Mom and Dad together from two weeks before that I will also keep near by.)

The church was still decorated for Christmas but she loved Christmas all her life so it was fitting. The flowers were beautiful. The small church filled up quickly. I apologize to everyone that came I was a bit numb. We do appreciate your coming and all of your kind words. I just can’t seem to remember them all. The one that sticks out the most is my cousins little boy (he’s five) giving her a Doc Hudson car, they had a little joke between them where my Mom said she was Lightning McQueen and he said he was and she was Doc Hudson (cause she was an old guy). Mom continued to laugh about that for the past few years since he said it. He also said the other day when he was told Kaffy died, that “she was and angel now and that’s the best.” So true.

So many people came to celebrate Mom’s life and to share their sympathy with us. At one point I glanced out the window and saw people lined up outside the church in the cold to come in and see us. So many people from Dad’s work came, Mom’s lifetime of friends and people she had touched had come. My best friends came and all the people in my office. I was overwhelmed by it all.

The service was very touching. Her granddaughters both took part. The oldest read a poem about grandmothers that was so fitting and the youngest played one of Mom’s favorite hymns. The pastors both knew my parents and knew what to say. That fact alone made the service more meaningful than having someone just repeating what we told them in an interview the night before. It was so touching to have the minister get choked up during the service because he truly cared for the person he was there to speak about.

The graveside service was brief as it was so cold and windy. We had a bagpipe player playing while we came to the grave and she played Amazing Grace as we left.

This has been one of the hardest and saddest days of my life and I made it through it, mostly.

Dec 302008
 

I woke up feeling worse and with white spots in the back of my throat so I called the doctor and made an appointment, even though my preferred physician was not available. They did a culture and I was told I did not have strep throat. Good not contagious. But I did have to go have blood drawn. So I headed back into town to have blood tests. Mom would not have liked me letting myself get sicker.

Boy, today was hard. I kept wanting to pick up the phone and call Mom (I guess I will never stop feeling like that). We headed over to Dad in the afternoon. We went through pictures to make collages of Mom for people to remember her during the service tomorrow. We made two (could have made a bunch more).

In doing this I decided I am going to finally sit down and scan all our family photos into the computer. That way I have copies and can look at them anytime and my nieces can one day get the originals. Scans are fine with me. I told Dad I will come over and do them there. No need to drag it all off to my house, besides we can sit down together and go through the memories together.

After we got our posters done, mostly, we headed out to the funeral home for a private viewing with Mom. The viewing and service will be together tomorrow. She looked really good (one of the advantages of having people who knew her work with her at the end). Her hairdresser came and did her hair for us. The flowers were very nice.

I got through this far. I might be able to get through tomorrow. But what about the next day or the day after that?

Dec 292008
 

We met with the funeral home today, Labs Funeral Home.

The folks who are running the funeral home go to our church and know mom and dad well. This was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do only hours after watching my mother die. I am glad we were there for Dad. It has to be hard for him to do this after loosing his wife and best friend of 45 years. He just seemed lost as we all were.

I came home and asked Beth if thought her brother could step up when the time comes for her to bury her mother as I know she will not be able to do it.

This experience tells me a couple of things. Plan your funeral out from beginning to end what casket, what vault, service, everything. Don’t necessarily pre-pay just pre-plan. As some small funeral homes like this one simply go out of business before you die and you and your family are out the money paid for a service that cannot be done. So set up a funeral trust with your bank and/or get at the very least 10 to 15 thousand dollars of life insurance to pay for your final disposition.

Other than buying a new car or home paying for a funeral will be one of the most expensive things we’ll ever have to buy in our life times. And for the most part those of us that have to go through with it will be numb and unable to make cost effective decisions. We were asked over and over again what Mom would have wanted. We had some idea and we had each other to bounce our thoughts off of otherwise we would have been lost. I don’t want anyone to have to go through that for me. So sometime this year I will be pre-planning and setting up a trust to pay for it.