Friday, October 6, 2017

Funeral Pre-Arrangements Part Three

I am sure there are many books and websites devoted to preparing you for all of this but I haven't looked at them. Maybe it's time.

I knew this day would come as well. I knew it was going to be delivered. I was on my way to the post office and saw it from the road. I look towards the plots as I pass by the cemetery a couple times a day.  Suddenly, there it was. I slowed and pulled in the driveway of the cemetery.  I parked the car and just sat in the car looking at it.  It was a gorgeous sunny day. I got out of the car and walked over to the headstone.  The dirt around the stone base was fresh and there was grass seed sprinkled on it. I don't know what I expected and didn't know what to feel. I was overwhelmed simultaneously by sadness and the beauty of the day. It was a strange combination.

I looked at the surrounding graves and made a mental note to dig up some Shasta Daisies and Black Eyed Susans and plant them on either side of the grave before it got cold. I walked back to the car with the sun shining brightly on my face.  I got in the car, drove to the post office and picked up my mail.  I stopped by Russells and decided to get an ice cream. I guess I didn't realize that I had been crying in the car because Bea just looked at me funny.  Maybe, I just looked stunned or something? My eyes burned. I paid for the ice cream and stepped back into the sunshine and got into my car. I unwrapped the ice cream and started the car and drove slowly back home.

Funeral Pre-Arrangements Part Two

I knew this was going to be a very difficult day for me.  I thought I had prepared myself to go and make the funeral arrangements for my Mom.  Step one was buying the cemetery plots.  Step Two - to meet with the funeral home director and make burial arrangements. I drove over to Delhi to Macarthur Funeral Home and met with Paul.  I realized I had seen him before.  One night, as I was dropping some stuff off to my Mom at her home there were an ambulance and gurney out in front of the building.  A tall man came out of the building and took the gurney inside. Someone must have died and I sat outside waiting. I did not want to go inside and witness this.  The man re-emerged from the front door with a covered body on the gurney and loaded the back of the ambulance vehicle with it. That man was my funeral home director, Paul. 

Paul was a very nice guy, a little long-winded, but that was part of his charm.  Paul was great. We talked about the arrangements and picked out a burial urn, signed papers, wrote checks and got to know each other. He was so considerate and I got through the entire conversation without my lips trembling, crying or shaking.

I thought the worst was over when all of a sudden he asked, "now, what about your Dad?"  I didn't know where he was going with this as we had discussed the headstone and I gave him both my parent's information.  He asked me if my Dad had been a veteran and I told him he served in the Air Force and in Vietnam for 20 years.  "Then, he will get a Veteran's honor guard and burial," he told me. I guess I had prepared myself for my Mom but I was completely unprepared to discuss my Dad. My poor Dad's death has been totally upstaged by my Mother's illness and care.  I don't think I have been able to grieve for him properly because of everything I have gone through for the past three years. When he started discussing what the government provides Veterans, my chest started heaving and I started crying in front of him. I guess the gesture of kindness from any stranger at this stage in the game would have set me off but I wasn't prepared for this.  After I stopped crying, I apologized and tried to explain myself. He passed me a box of tissues and I have never been more grateful.  He was extremely polite and nice about it. I was mortified. We finished discussing Dad and I walked out to the car. I sat behind the steering wheel and didn't move for what seemed a very long time.

Critter Moment

Taking time off to be with my Mom this summer has given me quality time with her and time for projects. However, I miss Tim during the week and our babies. Tim sends me pics that our cat sitter takes along with ones he takes as well. Here are some of Atticus and Sookie just being cute. 

Florida Room

I keep a massive workbook list of projects. In that book, for every project, there are lists of to-dos, to buys, to research, and how to build.  We have these two large outbuildings on the property which were originally the two cabins we camped out in before we built the house.  We finished the first cabin interior and insulated it and ran electric to it.  The second cabin was not completed.  We used the first cabin as a seasonal fourth bedroom when we had parties at the house and needed it for the overflow of house guests. It wasn't the best use of the space.  When I inherited all of the wood shop equipment, we put all of it the second, unfinished shed because we didn't have time to finish out the second cabin. I have been working with electricity run from a power cord from the other building.  Not good. Over the summer, we discussed how we could better use the two cabins.  So, next Spring, we will move all of the wood shop equipment to the first building which has a substantial floor, insulation, walls, and electricity already installed.  This will solve two problems. We will have electricity for all of the saws, sanders, and routers.  It will also allow us the time to finish out the second cabin as we have time to do it.  We decided that in order to get more use out of the second building was to make it more of a Florida room rather than just an extra bedroom.  It has a porch and patio door window but still, needs additional windows.  On the way home from Delhi this week, I passed a house on HWY 28 that was being remodeled.  The contractor had put several large windows on the curb to discard.  I picked out three windows and threw them in the back of my pick up.  The windows are the perfect size and proportion for remodeling the shed.  The three were part of a set - a large picture window with two book-end casement style windows. I will use the large picture window for the cabin to add to the existing windows and will use the two additional windows for when I enclose the back porch.  I love when my hoarding instincts kick in.  I love a good bargain.  This will save me hundreds of dollars on windows for both remodeling jobs.  So many projects, so little time.

Backyard Pergola

Every summer, we have to rent tents to have covered sitting areas.  We have an existing pergola with a canvas canopy that we dine under but no real sitting area outside.  We decided to build a simple pergola that mimicked the style of the original one we already have.  Clean, black and light.  Originally, we thought to put a permanent shed roof on it but then thought it would look awkward with the other canvas roof over the dining deck. We experimented with waterproof canvas tarps we bought on Amazon and they worked perfectly for the summer. It eliminated the possibility of decapitating myself while trying to attach metal roofing panels.  We put a couple coats of black stain on it to match the color of the first pergola.  We wanted it enclosed somehow so you didn't feel like you were sitting out in the woods and built a corral-like surround.   There is a 6-inch shelf which is nice for votives and an occasional cocktail. We will decide later if we want patio stone or a flat decking or leave the grass.  Now, we won't have to rent tents when we have parties. Next summer, we will build a built-in sofa.  We already ordered the cushions from Ballard Catalog.  So many projects, so little time.

Bedroom Bookcases

We needed a couple bookcases for our bedroom and we didn't want to spend a lot.  I had these two Gotham Cabinet Craft wooden bookcases and lacquered them in white and wallpapered the back panel.  They look clean and the paper dressed the rather plain bookcases up a bit.  So many projects, so little time.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

You Are Loved

I learned years ago that I would be the caregiver for my family.  I never expected this but you manage with the cards you are dealt. My Dad who was a really good guy was unfortunately not gifted with the affection gene.   Nor, the gift giver gene either.  I knew at a very early age, that it was going to be my job to overcompensate for my Dad and for my brother's when it came to recognizing my Mom for how great she was. And I did.  Years of rallying the troops, years of overspending, years of beating my head against the wall trying to understand what was wrong with the other men in my family.  Whatever, I did what I had to do.  I think my mother knew but never said a word.

When I was a little boy, I wanted to be sure that my Mom knew.  I had very little money and I think I was in a five and dime in Texas and bought this small piece of marble with the words "You Are Loved" on it.  I just wanted something to remind her that I would never forget her.

On Monday, I stopped off at the local new Tat shop in Margaretville and had the phrase inked on my forearm. I wanted something to remind me of her always and my devotion to her.  It's also there for another reason.  As her dementia gets worse, as she stops recognizing me and she isn't capable of speaking, it is to remind me that she is still there and that no matter what - I need to know that she still loves me.