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March 20, 2016: First Day of Spring

It’s the first day of spring, and there’s now seven inches of snow on the ground. A month ago we figured that it was going to be an early spring. The snow is good because we badly need the moisture, both for the plants that grow in the ground and the trees that might catch on fire.

All I’m doing today is packing and taking care of self-administrativa. Sundays are lesson days, but I bowed out because I decided that working with Dick Stoffel and his younger riders would be too much for me to deal with. These lessons require utmost concentration and focus. I know that I can do this, but have wisely decided that this would unsafe.

The kids are young and the horses are not well trained – a tough call even when I’m on top of things.

I’m holding my own. It’s odd, death is the universal experience. Everyone, at one time or another, has to deal. I am now of the age where the death of parents is commonplace. Everyone is dealing with past memories, unresolved issues, and, of course, physical possessions. It is all difficult.

Then eventually, it’s our turn, and then someone has to deal with us. Some die alone, but I don’t think this is commonplace. No matter how much you prepare for this, or how responsible you are, something will most likely go awry. What comes to mind is our former neighbor, Jan, who was a math teacher. She was obsessive-compulsive. Everything she owned had a place and was well kept. She hung her shirts in a specific order, and put her cat food in a draw, the cans, of course, were sorted by food type. She always parked in the same spot at school, and she got pissy when someone else parked in that spot.

Of course, Jan made out a will in which she spelled out who would get what. What happened right before, and immediately after her death, was verification that in such instances, things don’t always go as planned. She knew she was going to die – she’d been fighting cancer for many, many years. She was coerced by her caretakers into making a second will, one in which a great deal of the booty was to go to them. Jan’s family lives on the east coast – they were not in on this, although they were to get their share of what Jan owned. After Jan died, her caretakers swooped in and took what they thought should be theirs, which was those items that most likely weren’t mentioned in the will. They subsequently arranged the estate sale – it mainly included smaller items, like her baseball hats, tee-shirts, and cat food collection.

I don’t know how everything shook out. For all I know, the will issue may still be not be resolved. Jan had everything figured out before she died to the nth degree. This is a good example of how the unforeseen can go awry. I don’t think that she would have cared. If she knew about all this she would have rolled her eyes and said “whatever.”

I don’t think that things are going to go awry as far as my mother’s possessions go. My sister has been whittling things down in the past few years, as she’s moved my mother into increasingly smaller dwellings – going from her home, to an assisted living facility, to a memory care unit, and now the hospital.

My mother isn’t going without a fight, and this is going to be heart wrenching to watch. And I’m going to have to care for sister during this, and perhaps after. She won’t be able to care for herself – my mother has been her lifelong friend. It would be akin for me to losing Pete.

I don’t know who my sister’s friends are, or if they’ll be a source of support. I don’t think that my sister’s kitchen table will be filled with casseroles and rolls. I am hoping that there will be people in the wings. I’m just going to have to see how it all goes and assist in whatever way I can, hoping that during the course of this particular journey that I don’t become the object of my sister’s feelings of loss and hopelessness.

I knew this day was coming – I’ve been dreading it for the past twenty years. I’d gotten into the habit of checking for phone messages and breathing a sigh of relief when it was a local call. In those instances, when it was not, I braced myself further for the inevitable.

I’m doing a fair job of acting like everything is okay here on the home front. Oddly enough, Raudi knows that something is up. She got away from me twice yesterday when I went to take her for a walk. The signs may be as simple as a difference in routine. I did not first tie her up, let her eat, and brush her, which is what I usually do. Rather, I subjected her to my “let’s get on with it,” attitude. And she responded by racing around the yard. She did, in time, come to me, and we had a really nice walk around the neighborhood.

I am already looking forward to getting home, though it’s with the knowledge that when I do, that I’ll be thinking about things differently.

Next: 79. 3/23/16: First day in Portland, Oregon – Adventist Hospital

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