Death

DeathDad loved his children and wanted to protect them from every harm. When the subject of death came up, Dad decided to keep it out of our lives. When our puppy died, Dad disposed of the corpse before we were around and explained the death as though the puppy had “poofed.” When our two remaining  grandparents died, they too just poofed.

One day my mother said out of the blue

Your grandfather died yesterday.

and off she went to Chicago.

Two or three years later, my dad said

Your grandmother died.

and off he and my Uncle Wayne went to Minnesota to attend the funeral. Not only did Lindy and I not attend the funerals, we were told that both people had died of “old age” (at ages 54 and 60 respectively).

Finally, the day came when we could be Father of Mineprotected no more. Aunt Bonnie (my father’s aunt) passed away. Lindy and I were ten and twelve years old, but Dad still didn’t want us exposed to the funeral experience. After two days with our extended family, Lindy and I were oddly enjoying the “family death” thing. There was lots of good food provided by all the neighbors, and we had numerous cousins who would play our game of “let’s throw clothing down the laundry chute and then run to the basement to catch it.”

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and decided (like we had earlier about going to bars) that “going to funerals” was pretty fun. Of course, we attended neither the visitations nor the funerals.

During college a friend’s mother died. Dad and I went to the visitation and he informed me this was a great thing to do because one could then miss the funeral without being noticed. Later, after college during Christmas vacation, I received a phone call about the death of a good friend’s husband. Dad (still trying to be protective) hid the local newspaper from me because it carried the news that another friend’s mother had died in a fire on Christmas.

Some time in January, Dad mentioned that my friend’s mother had died and I might want to send her a card. When I asked why he didn’t tell me, he just said I had too much to worry about with Ralph’s death. Dad was very protective of his children.

DeathI did attend one funeral with my mother as a child. A girl in my high school who I did not know very well died in a horse-back riding accident, and Mother announced that she and I were going to the funeral. Since it was my first time attending a funeral, I felt safe in going to that of someone not too close to me. Mary and I sat in the middle of the church. All of a sudden, I heard loud, seemingly heart-felt sobs coming from the vicinity of our seats. It was Mother and she boo-hooed so loudly during the service that people around us were staring in a not-too-sympathetic way.

It was one of the two funerals I ever attended with my mother. The other one, much later in life, was Uncle Larry’s which was another fiasco.

After watching both of my parents struggle with health issues and die after long final illnesses, I think the idea of “poofing” is a good one.

 

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