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Old 08-19-2013, 02:36 PM
 
Location: NoVa
18,434 posts, read 28,516,023 times
Reputation: 19578

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I was driving down the interstate today and for some reason, my deceased uncle popped into my head. I remember when I was a little girl growing up, I loved him to pieces, but it always felt like he was picking on me or saying mean type things.

It felt the same when I was a young adult. I don't think he ever really meant anything by it, but my feelings did get hurt from time to time.

We lost him a few years ago, and he was very sick. His body was torn up with cancer.

The family knows that I am the caregiver type, and the only one who is that way in our family. Whenever it was time to pick him up to bring him to a family function, I was assigned the duty of going to get him.

He was but a shell of the man he had been, the man that I knew. He lost any muscle his body ever had and was just skin and bones.

I learned a lot on those days when I would go to visit him or go to pick him up and head out for the drive between the rehab and wherever we were going.

I came to realize that he was a very sweet person on the inside. I think when he was a younger man he wanted to have that tough guy image but I saw who he really was.

He was lending me compliments and telling me how much he cared. He was telling me all of the things I wished I had heard over the years but never did.

He was the uncle that I could not tear from my mother when she passed. I was so used to seeing a strong strong man and on the day she died he was just broken. It took hours for me to get him to leave her.

Death and dying certainly change who we are as people. I know I began that journey when I was 21 and my father died, and then my mother when I was 26.

I learned to open up and let people know how I felt. I learned that I was a caregiver during those years. While I had been married and had children very young, I didn't think I was a caregiver. I had no clue.

When I think of all of this I think of those people who have not lost and who do not realize that tomorrow is not promised to us. They don't all understand that one day there will be loss. A parent, a child, a spouse. Whatever the case may be.

I thought of my uncle today and I smiled. I wish it had not taken death and dying for him to come around and show us who he really was inside, but I am glad he was able to.
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Old 08-19-2013, 03:43 PM
 
Location: SWFL
21,429 posts, read 18,139,040 times
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I am glad you had pleasant thoughts of your uncle today, Pik. I love it when something makes me think of any of my lost ones and it makes me smile and happy and not sad. Those are great moments.
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Old 08-19-2013, 08:12 PM
 
Location: Table Rock Lake
971 posts, read 1,133,347 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamiznluv View Post
I am glad you had pleasant thoughts of your uncle today, Pik. I love it when something makes me think of any of my lost ones and it makes me smile and happy and not sad. Those are great moments.
Especially when the "fleeting" turn into long lasting memories.

Good for you Pik in reminding us all things expierenced may not have been all bad.
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Old 08-19-2013, 08:43 PM
 
Location: Northern Illinois
2,189 posts, read 3,408,554 times
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Pik, I know what you mean about the memories. I frequently get somebody on my mind and just can't let it go until I contact them and see if they are OK. Most of the time nothing is wrong, and I just think God is telling me that I need to reach out more often and keep the lines of communication open. I'm glad that you were able to bond with your uncle - seems like you both needed each other - and you know, he may have only showed that side of himself to you - because you had earned his trust and showed him compassion and love when he needed it most. This coming Friday, the 23rd, will be the 6th anniversary of my Dad's passing - and I have come to dread August every year since he has been gone. I can still hear his voice in my head, and I remember the feeling of when I'd wrap my arms around him and squeeze him as hard as I could. I remember his smell, and just every day something will come up to remind me of how much I still miss him. I was born on his birthday - and every year now I find myself just wishing the day would hurry and end - it just still hurts too much. I miss Mama too, but she's been gone longer and although she and I were extremely close - after she died I seemed to transfer all that energy and love directly to Dad. I still talk to both of them, and I dream about them. I too was the caregiver in our family (of us kids anyway - Mom was the best ever!!). It's good that we caregivers recognize the traits in ourselves and acknowledge them - I don't believe that everyone has the capacity or even is willing to go there. It is a blessing and a curse at the same time - and you are absolutely right. Tomorrow is promised to no one - I make sure that those I love know each and every day how much I do love them. It's such a simple thing, yet it means a lot. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us here - I already knew you're a special lady - now everybody else will know it too!!
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Old 08-19-2013, 09:26 PM
 
Location: southern california
55,237 posts, read 72,392,137 times
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great post
a Japanese Buddhist priest said that when we remove death experience from our young via hospitals and nursing homes -- they are deprived of understanding life
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Old 08-20-2013, 12:45 AM
 
Location: 900 miles from my home in 80814
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Pik, we saw a huge change in my mother-in-law when she was dying. She had been fairly cold and closed-up all her life. When I first met my husband, he said to me, "You DON'T want to know my mother!" She had been pretty snooty, judgmental and condescending all her life. She developed septicemia after going downhill pretty rapidly (within two weeks) at age 89, and was in a hospital room at a nursing home her last week. She suddenly became very sweet, very loving and very gentle. The woman, who a month earlier had taken me out of her will because we weren't able to make Easter dinner that year (stuck in a blizzard in Albuquerque on our way home from Tucson), was very sad and lonely at the end. I think it dawned on her, with her family all around as she died, that we loved her despite herself, and that humbled her. It was a fairly amazing transformation in just a few days. Still, there were no tears from my husband or his sister...she had just been too cold and demanding all her life.
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:05 AM
 
Location: State of Being
35,885 posts, read 65,242,129 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcy1210 View Post
Pik, we saw a huge change in my mother-in-law when she was dying. She had been fairly cold and closed-up all her life. When I first met my husband, he said to me, "You DON'T want to know my mother!" She had been pretty snooty, judgmental and condescending all her life. She developed septicemia after going downhill pretty rapidly (within two weeks) at age 89, and was in a hospital room at a nursing home her last week. She suddenly became very sweet, very loving and very gentle. The woman, who a month earlier had taken me out of her will because we weren't able to make Easter dinner that year (stuck in a blizzard in Albuquerque on our way home from Tucson), was very sad and lonely at the end. I think it dawned on her, with her family all around as she died, that we loved her despite herself, and that humbled her. It was a fairly amazing transformation in just a few days. Still, there were no tears from my husband or his sister...she had just been too cold and demanding all her life.
I have rarely seen such a dramatic transformation as happened with your mother-in-law, but I have seen people who are literally afraid of dying and suddenly want to "mend fences" or feel they have been "forgiven" by those they have treated badly throughout their lives.

Most folks are consistently themselves up to the moment they die. At least that has been my experience.

One of my closest friends was physically and emotionally abused by her father. She continued to visit her parents throughout her adult life, b/c of her bond with her mother. She was a dutiful daughter to her father, and even though he was a mean SOB his whole life, he was kind to her sons for the most part, so they did get to know a grandfather who was very different towards them than he had been to his own children.

But even as he lay dying, he would not thank my friend for any of her care during the months he was ill and bedridden and she had attended his needs . . . and she was with him as he died. She told him she wanted him to know that she had done her best to be a good daughter and you know what he said? He didn't say the one thing he had never said "I love you," nor did he say "thank you" . . . he just shook his head "NO."

She called me right after that and said - you know, he was a mean SOB his whole life and he left this world a mean SOB.

So some folks may change, but I don't think the majority do.

And for those who have had a lifetime of ugly behaviors, such as your mother-in-law, I don't think the deathbed transformations mean a whole lot. I think people see it as their relatives simply wanting to exit without feeling guilty about their past ugliness, as if a few weeks of being pleasant can make up for decades of mean-spiritedness.

I think the lesson here is . . . if you care about others, then show it throughout your lifetime.
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:41 AM
 
Location: NoVa
18,434 posts, read 28,516,023 times
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Some people can't. There was actually a time where people grew up in families where feelings just were not shown. My family was this was for generations upon generations.

My grandmother grew up in a family that way and that is in turn the way she raised her children. My mother was raised that way and that is the way she raised us.

As a child, I did not hear my parents tell me that they loved me. That word was so taboo when I heard it. I knew they loved me, but I would have rather heard it. I would have rather had hugs and kisses.

They were not mean or stern either. My grandmother was a bit stern, but of all the grandchildren, I would say she showed me the most love. She gave me the hugs, I sat on her lap, so on and so forth.

My parents bought my love. My siblings called me spoiled brat. They still do. My older brothers and sisters did not grow up in a family with money, but when my mother married my father, there was more. More than she was ever used to.

They bought me things. That is how they showed me. I would have rather had the hugs and kisses and the I love yous.

Those things just do no come so easily for some people. I have seen it for myself.

I decided that when I had my children I would tell them. I would tell them and I would show them. That is what I did. I told my son that I loved him and I hugged him and kissed him. When he was 11 months old, my father died. I had never once in my life told my father that I loved him. I was 21.

I was raised that way. We just did not say it.

I closed his eyes and I hugged him and I kissed him and told him I loved him. Right after he died. I lost my hero and my best friend that day.

From that day on I didn't care. My mother was told that I love her and she got hugs and kisses. It took a little while, but she started saying it back.

All of us brothers and sisters started telling each other. We all told our children.

A complete and dramatic change was made in my family and for me, the day it happened was the day that I lost my father.

It is just hard for some people. There is also no reason for people to be mean and unpleasant. This is not what was happening in my family. We all knew we loved and cared for one another through our actions but I wanted more.

To this day I continue and as far as 'things' go, I don't care for things. I grew up getting everything I could ever want and then some. That changed when I was roughly 15. We moved out of the city and basically onto a farm and when I was not in school I was spending time with my father out in the gardens or fields.

We tended the fruit trees and we canned together. I was upset for a little while when they took me from the city and ability to be able to go anywhere at any time and plopped me in the middle of a field. I was angry.

The time spent with my father quickly made it ok. I started being the one who would cook dinner every night and take care of the house and things of the like. I think it was a good thing, because in a few years I would become my fathers caregiver, along with being a mother and then a wife.

Money and things were not a problem for me. I don't care for them. I had to grow up pretty fast. I became my mothers caregiver a few years later.

My fathers death changed me tremendously for the better, not that I was in terrible shape before hand, but it opened my eyes to a whole new world.

So, it is true that people do not need to be mean, but they just may not know how to show caring feelings and over the years may become hard.
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:48 AM
 
Location: NoVa
18,434 posts, read 28,516,023 times
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Candace I know how you feel about August, I have the same problem. Our family was very big on Thanksgiving and after losing my dad it was pretty rough. Then losing my mom made it even worse. My dad died in 95 and my mom in 00. It was Christmas Eve when we lost my mom so I felt like (for the years to come) I was in mourning of them from the beginning of November, on through December when we lost my mother, then on through to February when we lost my dad and my mothers birthday on through the next month, March, when we lost my grandma just a few years later and my gmas bday, and Easter. For years I would be in a pretty good depression for about half of the year. Sometimes it is there, lingering, and other times it isn't.

On the anniversary of my dads death this year, I felt down, but I didn't realize why. I didn't realize what day it was. I wasn't keeping track. That didn't matter because my heart knew.

2011 was the first year that I did not go through that 6 month grieving period. My heart and mind were coasting on the happiness of a new love, and it felt good. It was back last year, but not as severe.

I have a feeling that depending on what we are already going through makes a very big difference on how we deal with things like that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CFoulke View Post
Pik, I know what you mean about the memories. I frequently get somebody on my mind and just can't let it go until I contact them and see if they are OK. Most of the time nothing is wrong, and I just think God is telling me that I need to reach out more often and keep the lines of communication open. I'm glad that you were able to bond with your uncle - seems like you both needed each other - and you know, he may have only showed that side of himself to you - because you had earned his trust and showed him compassion and love when he needed it most. This coming Friday, the 23rd, will be the 6th anniversary of my Dad's passing - and I have come to dread August every year since he has been gone. I can still hear his voice in my head, and I remember the feeling of when I'd wrap my arms around him and squeeze him as hard as I could. I remember his smell, and just every day something will come up to remind me of how much I still miss him. I was born on his birthday - and every year now I find myself just wishing the day would hurry and end - it just still hurts too much. I miss Mama too, but she's been gone longer and although she and I were extremely close - after she died I seemed to transfer all that energy and love directly to Dad. I still talk to both of them, and I dream about them. I too was the caregiver in our family (of us kids anyway - Mom was the best ever!!). It's good that we caregivers recognize the traits in ourselves and acknowledge them - I don't believe that everyone has the capacity or even is willing to go there. It is a blessing and a curse at the same time - and you are absolutely right. Tomorrow is promised to no one - I make sure that those I love know each and every day how much I do love them. It's such a simple thing, yet it means a lot. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us here - I already knew you're a special lady - now everybody else will know it too!!
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:49 AM
 
11,686 posts, read 13,074,643 times
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I have to say that my parents were no part of this phenomenon...unfortunately. My parents remained trapped in an unhappy marriage for almost forty years before my father died. He had as long as I can remember been a very silent man, and displayed no emotions other than a bonhomie for friends and neighbors. Otherwise he was a silent, closed off cave. When he discovered he was dying of cancer, nothing changed over the time it took him to die. He seemed resigned to his death, but not at all interested in talking about it or his life.

My mother had always been vain and self-centered, and bounced between anger and depression like a tennis ball on a clay court. She had a very happy second marriage, fortunately; but he predeceased him. In her last few months she was the same self-centered, do-this-do-that for person she had always been. She ran my step-sister and my cousin ragged with her princess attitude, but with no princess gratitude.

On the other hand, my best friend who died in his early forties did change remarkably. He had been a gregarious guy, but inclined to be intrusive and bossy with his friends; and, consequently, got into head-butting contests regularly. In the eight months it took him to die he became more relaxed, more laid back and had wonderful relationships in his last week or so with the home health care workers I hired to help take care of him. I screened them like a potential mother-in-law I was so concerned that he would really resist personal care from strangers. But on the contrary he adored them and treated them like they were dear old friends.

So, it happens, yes. Perhaps some people just really don't have that much changing to do, and it is easier.
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