Legal Quandary

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Thank You All

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and words.

My father died Friday afternoon, after having been admitted to the hospital early that morning. For him to have even called the hospital meant he was in pretty severe pain. Although no one in the family was able to make it in time to be with him when he died, both my mother and I were able to talk to him while he was in the hospital. My mom talked to him about 20 minutes before he passed. I got the call from the hospital that he was gone just as they were closing the doors to the plane leaving TVPNM. If you were on my plane, I was the freaky lady weeping in the aisle seat.

It will always bother me that he died alone. As I mentioned to a co-worker a while back, “no one deserves that.” To which he replied (apparently with a movie quote), “deserve's got nothing to do with it.” Which I thought was a remarkably crass comment considering the circumstances.

At any rate, we’re holding up ok here. My mom and I both get a little weepy at times, but there’s honestly so much to do that it doesn’t happen all that often. I’m sure that’ll come though.

The whole experience is really pretty surreal. My aunt and I went to the hospital when I arrived in town. They brought him into one of the conference rooms, and I have to say that deciding to have him embalmed and prepared before my mom saw him was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Other things I’ve learned on this trip:

- Funerals are expensive. I mean really, really expensive. Even if you don’t go overboard. Just walking in the door at the funeral home cost us $1600, and that was just the beginning. There are dozens of decisions to make within a very short timeframe. I would urge everyone to make arrangements (or at least make your wishes known and set aside some funds) in advance.

- Have a will and know where it is. The signed copy. Seriously – it’s important.

- Funeral directors say things like “I’m sorry we have to meet under these circumstances.” But really, when else would you meet them? I mean, I’m sure they have friends and everything, but I’ve never actually socialized with a funeral director.

- Funeral directors have special schools and they get degrees in Mortuary Science, which is sort of a modified B.S., though theoretically, they can stop before getting the B.S, as long as they’ve completed the required courses. (We asked. I was curious.)

- You never want to be in the lead car in a funeral procession. (That’s the hearse.)

- Hearses have model names, just like regular cars. I think “Eureka” is a strange choice of name for a hearse.

- I will always have a special respect for military honor guard members. What they do is so important to the families of veterans.

- People will surprise you with their kindness and generosity. And I don’t just mean your relatives and friends. The hospital staff took such good care of my dad in his last hours. People my dad went to high school and college with drove hours to come to the funeral - even though we didn’t know to invite them. Family members went above and beyond to help us out. Even the people at the Social Security Administration – the last people you’d expect - were so helpful and really kind.

My mom and I are heading to Chicago tomorrow afternoon, and will fly to TVPNM on Friday. Just in time for the movers to come pack the house.

Thanks again to everyone. *hugs*


I'm glad you sound like you're doing as well as possible under the circumstances. Call me again when you get home...I'm thinking of you!
You sound like you're coping well (who would think to ask about Mortuary Science?). Still thinking of you—what a rough time to be moving.
LQ, I'm relieved to hear that you and your family are coming along.

It's an emotionally and physically draining event, and I admire you for being so loving but strong about it.

Take care and may your moving be smooth.

I second everything you've learned. I learned the same things when my dad died (he also died alone in the hospital; but we had seen him during that day). The worst thing my dad did was not leave a will. We still don't have everything sorted out because my siblings couldn't agree on somethings.

I hope you're holding up well. I'm thinking of you.
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