First it was my 63 year old sister, Mary. She died September 3, 2012 after three weeks in the hospital when her comprised lungs from COPD couldn’t fight off pneumonia. Three weeks later, my 95-year old mother died of pneumonia after a week long illness. We returned from Ireland a week early to be at her bedside for the last days. My dad took ill the morning of her funeral. He was treated for an infection in the hospital, then 3 weeks in the rehab unit receiving PT and OT to get his strength back. He never got to the point of being able to return to the apartment he shared with his wife of 71 and 1/2 years. As we moved his recliner and TV to his new room at the care center, I wondered how he would do. A few weeks later he was treated for pneumonia for the second time. This time, his 96-year old body gave out after only 5 days.
His funeral was easy to arrange, we used the same readings and music that were selected for my mother’s funeral. Charlestown has a beautiful chapel on the campus, Our Lady of the Angels. We didn’t have to have a viewing at a funeral home, most families have a visitation 30 minutes before the funeral. It makes it easy for the residents and for the families.
As my sister, brother, and I sorted through their belongings, we discovered their letters written during World War II when my father was in India and my mother was in Duluth, MN. What a treasure trove of the past. My dad wrote love poems to his wife which she saved. My scientist father had a romantic streak.
My mother was very organized, having sorted through photos and divided them into plastic bags by family grouping. She even saved all the cards, letters and then emails her children sent her. It made our job easier as we closed out a chapter in our family history.
Family photo albums were pored over, jewelry was divided and we honored my my mother’s wish that we take back the things we had given to them over the years. It was a sad day turning over the keys to their apartment of 18 years. No more visits to see them, no more seeing my mom in the hallway going for her walk, no more stories of their life.
Now we become the older generation.