Cafe Hitch-hike


Going to say hello and good bye

I'm so tired I can almost pass out. The pieces are coming together:

I had a feeling my mother was keeping something from me. Uncle Joe's doctors initially said he would only live 4 to 7 weeks from the time of his diagnosis in mid-August. He had stage 4 cancer, and its progression was an anomaly. They suspected it was about to spread to his brain which was very rare for what he had (when I heard they did a spinal tap on him, I had to wonder). Another health care provider thought 3 to 4 months, so the family really wasn't sure what to expect. Uncle asked Mom to tell no one about this, and she followed his wishes. It was worse than what they had the family believe.

Mom never turned away her power of attorney over Uncle Joe. He apparently then told everyone in the universe I was his beneficiary. Mom and I put our heads together and were pretty intrigued. Of all the people in the family he picked to carry out his end-of-life affairs, it was us. When we realized it, we shared a knowing silence. We concluded he knew we'd get things done the right way and wouldn't make a mess of it like others.

With that, I needed to get my ass to Austin so the ball could get rolling with getting his arrangements paid and completed.

Uncle Joe had very simple wishes for his arrangements: a very brief viewing of family only followed by cremation. Mom and I decided once he is cremated, we will organize a memorial service for his friends and colleagues. I talked with his HR head about the status of some of his matters, and she sounded just as distraught as most of my relatives. He was employee of the year this past April, and apparently, everyone at his hotel loved him.

I told Mom that Joe underestimated what others thought and felt for him, and they needed a chance to say goodbye. Funerals and memorial services aren't strictly for the people who died, I said, they are also for the ones they left behind. It is when people can commiserate, remember, cry, laugh, and yes, say good bye. The magical thinking part of me believes this is comforting for the souls as well, and they want to be remembered. Maybe it helps them make the transition better. How do I figure? One of my relatives came to me in a dream and said she was afraid people were forgetting about her. Perhaps souls don't want to be forgotten. Also, it was just a sense I felt soon before and after Remy died. I made the announcement before and when he died so people could say good bye and remember him. I have no idea where I got this notion (it sure wasn't vanity), but something told me he needed that.

My sis Rosepetal thought Thanksgiving would be a good time for Mom to go to Michigan to see her kids, and bring Uncle's ashes so they can have an informal memorial service during the Thanksgiving weekend. I agreed with the idea. The many kids of my generation and the ones after mine also need to be able to say good bye. He loved us and treated us like his own children, and they are so sad to see him go. I've never seen them feel this way at once. It's what needs to be done.

I had so many details flying around at once throughout the day. Talking with the HR director, the funeral director, my sisters, my mom, my friends, my co-workers... My head is fucking spinning. I had to check poor Marley the dachshund into the doggie hotel. I opted to put her there because she was a major brat the last couple of times others watched her. I once got a report she was a bit of a play yard bully because she declared a little doggie slide hers and would not let others dogs get on; she then played innocent when the dog sitters chided her about it. Her antics at the dog hotel are quite mild compared to random acts of doggy vandalism (chewed rugs, scratched doors, and 'accidents'), piercing whines, and throwing herself against a closed door in an attempt to force it open. This was with people she knew and liked very well!

Well I'm all packed up and ready to go. I'm about to fly to Texas taking the WalMart (or better yet, the Dollar Store) version of air travel. It's not a long flight, thankfully, but I'll keep my fingers crossed and maybe start a novena if it's not too late.

To keep my sanity intact, I plan to hike an awful lot. The weather won't be unbearably hot, and I sure love the Hill Country. My best friends and mentor are on speed dial. I will spend time with my mother and keep my boundaries intact. I'll stay with her for a couple of days, and then think I will spend some time with friends as well so I can get a break and yes, catch up with other people I love.

I still can't believe I won't hear his voice on my phone. I won't be able to see him in my future trips to Texas. No more texts and photos about what's going on in our lives. There will be no new memories with him, maybe just new interpretations of what happened in the past. As I swept my patio last night, I said to the dog, "hey you..." and I heard his voice in my head saying just that because that was how he often started conversations. I realized I wouldn't hear his actual voice again, and I felt a pressure in my chest. Do I have his voice recorded somewhere? Did I have any messages on my phone?... My God, just to hear his voice again!

He's not intermittently absent because of his drinking and using; at least then, he'd come around, but this time, he's not coming back. It's off I go, to say hello and also good bye. Damn... what are things going to look and feel like without Uncle Joe? He's been one few people who have steadily been in my life since its beginning!

downwind | upstream