Tag Archives: death

Dear Diary, It’s Been Awhile…

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My mom was in a biker gang when she was young. She is still pretty bad ass.

My mom was in a biker gang when she was young. She is still pretty bad ass.

So…how’s it going? Me? Not much is new here. We had Easter. That was nice. I like Easter. I used to dress up the kids in identical dresses every year which was challenging as they are 4 years apart. When my oldest was 11, she started rolling her eyes when I would come home with the matching dresses. My dad actually put his arm around her shoulder on the last Easter he was alive and said “Really, I think it’s time you stopped forcing them to dress alike…they aren’t triplets, they aren’t going to be triplets. Just because they are sisters doesn’t mean they need to match on major holidays.”  And then he died. Well, not right at that moment…that would have been REALLY traumatic and maybe if that had happened I would have taken his words to heart. Instead, I continue to find matching outfits. But not matching exactly. For Christmas, we all wore knit dresses in solid colors. For Easter, we all wore dresses with crochet overlay…yes, I said WE…I have included myself in the dress alike nonsense since I have become single. Judge not lest ye be judged…

We saw some movies. We cleaned the basement. We are painting my youngest kid’s bedroom. It is spring break here.

That’s all.

TTYL.

This is what we do while waiting for church to start...reverence..we got it.

This is what we do while waiting for church to start…reverence..we got it.

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Dear Diary, Kiss Today Goodbye

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Yeah so I was driving thru Middle Earth yesterday and came across this guy...He actually tried to get in my car. I was all "Dude! This ain't Disney"

Yeah so I was driving thru Middle Earth yesterday and came across this guy…He actually tried to get in my car. I was all “Dude! This ain’t Disney”

I would but I can’t. Because I have the worst canker sore in the history of canker sores. I can’t smile, I can’t really talk and just sitting here, breathing, makes my eyes water. My cheek is swollen…like, you can SEE it. That’s bad don’t you agree? I’d show it to you (because it is my proven theory that by showing as many people as you can your canker sore makes it hurt less) but it hurts so bad I think the flash from the camera might make me cry. It’s shooting pain up my nose and down my throat. I’m probably not going to make it through the night. But I texted my bff my last will and testament so I’m ready to go. Death by canker sore. I never would have guessed.

I don’t know what else I can tell you. Saw a couple of movies before this canker sore incapacitated me…They sucked eggs. I drove over 300 miles yesterday and literally didn’t GO anywhere. We switched from skim milk to whole organic milk. So far, I just feel fatter not healthier. Blah, blah, blah…dog, kids, car, sleep. Just so you know, it was actually High Drama Weekend but we won’t get into that right now…because my canker sore hurts so bad.

Don’t forget, turn the clocks around next weekend and MY CANKER SORE IS OUTRAGEOUS.

I used to not care about our hometown sports teams, but right now, I hate them. But they shouldn’t take it personally and I am sure I will get over it.

I'm at the age where I can wear fan tee shirts without embarrassment...or with less embarrassment...ok, I was only NOT embarrassed until I left the house.

I’m at the age where I can wear fan tee shirts without embarrassment…or with less embarrassment…ok, I was only NOT embarrassed until I left the house.

Once in a Lifetime Friend

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Our Jim

My friend Jim was a swell guy. I know he thought of himself as grumpy or prickly but I didn’t see that. He was funny and loving and very wise. And patient. It’s funny  how we view ourselves compared to how the rest of society views us. Sometimes the negative things others tell us we are sticks and we go about life believing we really are those negative things even if we don’t present those traits to the world.

I’ll never forget the first time I met Jim. My dad pulled up as I was coming out of the house. There in the passenger seat was Jim, looking like I was going to slap him. Dad introduced us and I shook his hand, smiling. He tentatively smiled back as if he couldn’t believe I was being pleasant and nice to him. I was a bit baffled by his reaction to meeting me, but Dad looked really happy and that was all that mattered.

Jim  became a part of my dad’s life and as I got to know him, I began to understand why he assumed that I wouldn’t like him or accept him. That had been his life experience up to that point. His family wasn’t supportive of his lifestyle and he had come to expect intolerance and hate and anger. When I brought the kids over it was as if they had always been a part of his life. They loved him immediately. Again, they didn’t see of feel any grumpiness from him….I wonder who convinced him he was  a grumpy guy…

Not too long after Jim became a part of my father’s life, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. That put their relationship into fast forward. Jim moved in with dad to help care for him and to spend as much time together as possible. Dad’s diagnoses was pretty bad. Almost 50 years of smoking had finally caught up with him.

As sad as the circumstances were that landed Jim at dad’s it was actually heaven-sent. Jim was the perfect complement to my dad and like I said the kids and I loved him. We became family. Looking back, I can’t imagine not loving anyone who my father loved. But Jim and I had an extra special bond. I could feel it but I didn’t really get what it was.

Come to find out Jim was well versed in the 12 step program. Finally!!! My dad found himself a program person!!! I knew I loved Jim!! We had a language we could share and that language became invaluable in the coming year as we took care of my father as he died. We laughed and we cried and we totally understood each other. It gave dad great comfort that Jim and I were as tight as any family of choice is.

We held each other up when the man we loved died. He died with us there, knowing that we would be there for each other in this time of grief. In the years that followed, Jim was my rock. He was one of my closest friends. He was the one I called when the crisis crashed and when the insanity became too intense. Not only did he fix things around my house, like lights and lawn mowers and windows, but he also did a fabulous job decorating my livingroom.

Jim was my family. He came trick or treating with us. He was here on Christmas morning to watch the kids open presents from Santa, he got along better with my mother than my father did…

And then, one spring day, he dropped by just to say hello and talk about what we needed to do to my house to get it ready for summer. He had lunch with the youngest kid and myself. He winterized the snow blower and played a round of Uno with us and as he was leaving he hugged me tight and told me he loved me.

Later that night I got a call from the state police that he was no longer with us. He had left me a note.

I was sad, very mad and I went through the ‘why me’. But all of that passed. I respected Jim, I respected his choice. I respected that he felt that he could no longer continue in this life. The anger didn’t dissipate right away though. It took a very long time. Whenever I had to take down a storm window, or winterize the lawn mower or choose a paint color for the family room, I cursed Jim. And he knows it. I loved him unconditionally but man, I was pissed that he checked out and left me all alone to fight my battles.

Today, I am no longer angry. I know he is in a better place (although I know he didn’t believe he’d go anywhere special or that there was anywhere special to go) and I talk to him regularly. Both him and dad. I hear his very rational advice, I hear him calling me out on being a nutjob, I hear his laugh…I feel his honesty and I feel his love. He is gone but I am so grateful to have had him in my life in such an important way.

We squeezed so much life into such a short period of time. There will never be another man like him in my life. I am very lucky that we were able to share the world. He was my ally and advocate and I was his biggest fan.

And whenever I dust, I remember his very sage advice : NEVER clean hardwood floors with Pledge.

Hospice,you got some learnin to do…

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from a queen size, maple, 4 poster to this? Yuck.

My dad was a throwback to a simpler time. A time where people used candles and there was no such thing as TV and food was made from scratch. Like the Victorian era. So, when he was dying, he refused to get a hospital bed. He was dying on the blue velvet antique settee. Jim tried very hard to get him to see that a hospital bed would be much more comfortable. Jim didn’t understand that my father was not giving up. My dad figured his terminal cancer was simply a matter of mind over matter. Getting a hospital bed meant giving up. And also, hospital beds are ugly. Do you think Queen Elizabeth died in a hospital bed?

But in the end, the hospital bed was delivered and I took up the blue velvet antique settee as my bed, as it was right next to the hospital bed. Jim slept in the blue leather wingback that was also a recliner. NOT your average Lazyboy.

Dying is not a very structured process. It is not predictable. At least not for those of us who have never done it before. Hospice gave us a general outline of how the end would look. But they didn’t give us details. Back in the day, people attended to each other during the dying process and so they would know what to expect and what the stages of death were and pass on that knowledge generation to generation. But in modern times, hospitals and professionals have taken over those roles and they keep the specifics to themselves. So, when my dad chose to die at home, Jim and I had no real idea of what that was going to look like.

About a week and a half before my dad died, he was determined to get out of the hospital bed and use the bathroom. He was a very dignified man and he didn’t want to be someone who had to use a bedpan. So, everytime Jim or I left the room, there was dad swinging his legs over the side of the bed and teetering off to the bathroom. The thing was, he was about 100 pounds and had stopped eating anything real months before so his walking was really more like luck. At one point, I walked in as he was attempting one of his bathroom hikes and he looked at me and afer gathering a bit of strength he said to me “Turn your head. I am without pants.” This cracked me up, but did nothing to deter him from his bathroom expedition.

A few days later, he decided that he needed to go to work. His business, which was about a mile from his home, the funeral home, was being run by his business partner. It was right smack in the middle of the village and on a warm May afternoon would no doubt have lots of people strolling by. My dad was going to get in his car and drive there. There was no stopping him. I tried to bribe him, lie to him, beg him, physically stop him from leaving the house. This is one of those typical things that dying people do. They get a huge burst of energy just before they actually give up to the process and there is nothing that can stop them. The worst part was he was again “without pants”. So, as he was headed out the front door I was getting him to step into his pajama bottoms. I finally caved and drove him to the funeral home (remember this is his business, I wasn’t just dropping him off to some random funeral home). It was just me and dad. Jim was running errands and dad didn’t like any of the home health aids Hospice had sent. So, it was down to Jim and myself and dad was having paranoid delusions concerning Jim so really, it was just me.

I got dad into the passenger side and I hopped into the driver’s side. Dad turned to me with tears in his eyes and said “I love you for doing this for me.” What he didn’t know is I totally understood his overwhelming desire to get out. Get out of your skin, get out of your head, get out of your life. I knew those feelings.

 So, off we go to the funeral home. I took the long way, which was about 2 seconds longer than the short way. I tried the whole way to convince dad that we didn’t really need to go there. He was already losing steam. I explained that his business partner might be there, or a family making pre arrangements or the people on the street would see him in his pajamas. Things that he normally would have rather died than let other people see him in this condition and not in his right state of mind.  But that day, he no longer cared.

 He explained to me how we would go in the back door. This was such a bad idea. The back door led to a set of stairs. I got him in without anyone seeing us. He crawled up the stairs and into his downstairs office. I went to get him a glass of water and when I came back he was laying so very still, I was sure he was gone. His breathing was so shallow. I got down on my knees to rub his back and he looked up at me and said “I’m not dead yet!” and smiled. Again, this is one of those things that Hospice does not tell you how to respond to. I just smiled back and said “Ofcourse not dad!” We talked some more about different things. Life things, past things. We actually laughed and then we cried. I was scared because I knew this was not what my dad wanted. He didn’t want to be the crazy guy who took off in his pj’s on some crackpot idea that escaping the hospital bed meant escaping death. Then again, he was having the best time he’d had in at least a few months. Our final adventure.

After about an hour of him floating in and out of consciousness and me not being able to get a hold of Jim, I asked dad if we could call the ambulance. It was obvious to both of us that there was no way we were going to be able to get him back in the car. As it was, his pain meds were wearing off and he no doubt had bruises from crawling up the stairs.  I had brought the supplies to keep him clean but didn’t think about bring the pain meds.He relented when the pain became intense and I called the ambulance.

When they got there, I finally broke down. I couldn’t in front of my dad. I had to stay strong in his delusion that he was fine and going to be fine. When the EMT’s came, I left dad to their care and went into the other room and cried. I wish Hospice had a pamphlet about these kinds of situations.

When I came back, they had dad on the stretcher and they were asking him about his pain level. He was smiling between the grimaces. Ofcourse, two of the three EMT’s were cousins and the other one was an old friend so dad was trying really hard to be the man these people knew him to be. Gracious, smart, compassionate to others joking and always with the smile. No one knew that dad had deteriorated to this extent which was exactly the way dad had wanted it. But now, everyone knew and I felt like I failed him.

They took dad and I waited for Jim. When we got to the ER, they had dad’s pain under control but wouldn’t keep him as his Hospice directive was to die at home not in the hospital. This ticked me off. I mean, obviously Jim and I needed some help, some direction, some professionals to step in and take over! But no, because dad said no hospitals when he was in his right mind, no hospitals it was.

How were any of us supposed to know back then how bad it was going to get? I had a birth plan with my first baby that said I didn’t want drugs. What the hell did I know? After 13 hours of labor (ok, after the first hour of labor) I knew I had made a mistake and I needed drugs. I was pretty sure I needed a C-section. Anything to get that baby out of me. And those professionals fought me because back when I wasn’t in labor, I had a brilliant idea that I didn’t need drugs or want them. Hospitals are not big on changing your mind once you’re into the process.

 Dad wanted no one near him except me. On our way home, he turned to me and said “Well, it didn’t work, but I’m glad we tried” and I knew exactly what he meant.

A few days later, Jim and I decided to take shifts. We relieved each other every two hours during the night and 4 hours during the day. On my off time I would crawl into dad’s big queen size bed and try to sleep. I was doing just this when Jim came gently knocking at the door. He stuck his head in and said “I think it’s time.” Funny how similar giving birth and dying really are. So, I pad out in dad’s terry cloth robe and Jim and I stand over dad’s hospital bed, watching him breathe. Very shallow breath. His eyelids fluttering with every inhale. I took dad’s hand and I said “It’s ok dad. We’re here. You can go. We love you.” and Jim leaned down to give him a kiss. Dad’s eyes opened and he looked at us both and he said “Thanks. Where do you think I am going? I can’t get out of this bed without you two trying to talk me back into it.” and he turned his head and went back to sleep. It was not time. Jim and I walked into the kitchen and giggled silently, tears streaming down our faces.

Hospice leaves out alot of details that could be helpful. Or maybe they did tell us but in the midst of accepting death is on it’s way and the medication procedures and the insurance ramifications and the pain and sorrow, we just didn’t hear about sudden bursts of strength or delusions or paranoia or the death rattle. We did the best we could with what we had. And we did laugh alot. At the situation, at ourselves, but never at death. Death is not funny.

Death, like birth is a unique experience. Both are life changing. Both have elements of happiness and sadness. Both are celebrated and neither can be avoided. And you never know what it will actually be like until you are in the middle of doing it.We are all born and we all die. That is a fact. Today, we have many, many choices as to how we are born and how we die. But no matter what we chose, the end result is the same for both. Life and death.

Hospice is a wonderful organization. But they should have a pamphlet titled “Turn your head. I am without pants. How to casually slip pajamas onto your loved one before they escape the house.”

Cancer Changes Everything

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R.I.P. Bocci

Last night the girls and I sat eating Bocce’s sauce and meatballs. Bocce is my kid’s best friend’s grandma. She is the italian version of my own grandma. She has 5 kids of her own and is widowed. She lives in an in-law apartment attached to her daughter and son in law’s house. We have known Bocce for 10 years. We love Bocce. And she loves us as evidenced by the sauce. She looks at my kids with the same love  that she has for her own grandkids. She takes my kids raspberry picking and shopping and makes them breakfast. She is family.

And here is another member of my family that has been stricken with cancer. Last year, her daughter, my friend, came over to tell me that Bocce had been diagnosed with non Hodgkin lymphoma. Not the “good” kind either. She is only 75 years old. That seems very young to me. But, Bocce was going to fight. Chemo, radiation, surgery whatever it took. She wasn’t going down without a fight because she has family to take care of. She knows exactly how important she is. And fight she has.

Going through this with my friend has been hard. I know the treatment center she is going to, I know the crisis that come with fighting cancer. I know exactly what it means when they say “you’re cancer free….but we need to do an MRI just to be sure” and then that MRI shows the cancer has spread to the brain.

Which is where we were last night. My kid’s best friend called to tell my kid that they found cancer in Bocce’s brain. He was very upset as was my kid. They talked for awhile and cried. My kid remembers what cancer in the brain means. It was only 3 years ago that my dad, her grandpa had a clean bill of health after 6 months of treatment only to have it show up in his brain and then die a few short months later. But they are kids and they have hope. They were scared, but they don’t know.

I do know. I know that all the hope in the world does not cure cancer. And I also know that I have never given up hope and I’m not going to now. I know the reality of losing people I love to death. No one is immune to death. There is no cure for death. It is a reality of life. I also know the tricks we use to avoid that reality. Sometimes we see death and dying as an inconvenience. Sometimes we refuse to overlook the daily petty irritations to lend our support to the person who needs it. Cancer strips bare the victim of all self righteousness and false pride. In the end cancer leaves the victim in the same innocent, needful state as when  they came into the world. And those of us chosen to be witness to a cancer victim’s life are truly privileged.

The best thing I ever did was set aside myself and my troubles to be there for my father as he went through the process. I have incredible memories and stories from that last year of his life. It was a powerful experience to say the least. The laughing, the crying, the support and the love. I know there are many people who are not equiped to deal with cancer. And that is ok, because I have no doubt a power greater than ourselves puts the people we need in our life at just the right moments so we never walk alone.

Bocce will not walk through this alone. Those of us who love her will not walk through this alone. And I do not see this as yet another tragedy. It is yet another blessing that I am willing and able to love and be there for my friends. It could be just as easy to shut down and ignore. I now know the way death is final and I take nothing for granted. I am not scared to react or act. I am not scared that cancer is yet again changing the landscape of my life and my children’s lives. I will allow it to change us. I will surrender to whatever comes next. I can’t control it, I can’t change it and I can’t cure it. But I can hold my friend’s hand and I can freeze Bocce’s sauce so that she can add to it next year with the tomatoes she grows in her garden. That is my hope.

F.D.K. (Funeral Director’s Kid)

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No this was NOT my bed…

Growing up, I didn’t really feel connected to the human race. I always felt a bit different. I guess it is because I was adopted. Not only was I adopted, but I was adopted by a funeral director and a nurse. Not only was I adopted by a funeral director and a nurse, but we lived above the funeral home.  I thought I must have been dropped from outer space as I had no birth story, and I was surrounded by death and the knowledge of sickness. You can only imagine what conversations around the dinner table were like. My parents were pretty much done with each other by the time I was 8, so all they really had to talk about was their work. They were both workaholics. I don’t mean that as a “catch phrase” or a “label” they seriously worked all the time. They both loved what they did and hated their home life. Which left me either alone or with my grandparents, who fortunately lived a few blocks away.

At a very early age I learned how to walk without making any noise. Just like the Native Americans do when hunting. This was no easy task as our house was a 100 yea old Victorian with all hardwoods that creaked. Until I mastered this skill, I was made to stay in one room whenever there was calling hours or a funeral downstairs. I also learned to lip read cartoons and infer plot by body language because I was not allowed to turn on the volume on the Grieving people did not need to hear little feet running around above their heads or God forbid  Tom and Jerry. I didn’t question this. I just figured out ways around these rules.

Many times both my parents would stand calling hours. I remember being at the top of the stairs once and whispering very loudly “mom!! mom!! the cat is throwing up on the rug!! mom!! mom!!” and some stranger  opening the sliding divider and laughing hysterically at little me in my pj’s. Mom was not at all amused, to say the least. Not sure if it was because the cat puked or because I thought she needed to know right then and there.

Another unique thing about being the funeral director’s kid is that I believed “body” was a bad word. Because around my house “body” was always whispered. “Make sure you don’t go into the basement. There’s a ‘body’ here.” ‘When is the ‘body’ arriving?” “I have to go prepare the ‘body’ so I won’t be up for dinner” Really put a cramp in my bike riding because I kept my bike in the basement. And I know all of you who knew me when are curious. Yes, I did see a ‘body’ once. It was our 99 year old next-door neighbor Rose. I accidentally walked in on one of my dad’s men doing an embalming. Not pleasant. More because it was the first time I had seen a 99 year old lady naked rather than because she was dead. 99 years dead or alive is scary. My dad’s man about had a heart attack. I scared the bejeezus out of him!!

That didn’t scar me. It was just what happened. I felt worse because I knew I would get in trouble than I did for disturbing the sanctity of the embalming process. It was a total accident, but still, a punishable offense.  It was a good life though. My dad was almost always around and there was almost always a party happening downstairs. Dad would play music that the guest of honor would have loved and there was always a lot of laughter and everyone was always dressed in their best, smoking cigarettes. Some nights I would sit at the top of the stairs and just listen to all the adults chatting and laughing and sometimes sobbing. My dad was an expert at what he did and was very successful. And when we didn’t have a funeral, I would go exploring.

Our funeral home was beautiful. My parents were antique collectors. My dad was all about Victorian and my mom was all about Early American. So, the upstairs where we lived was all Early American and the downstairs  was all Victorian. So when I would go downstairs it was like entering a different world. Velvet couches and gold ornate wall paper and oriental rugs. Really a great place to pretend I was a princess. I wasn’t really allowed to play downstairs, but you know how kids are. My friends and I would go down and have seances and try to bring about the spirits. My house was the hot spot on Halloween.

We also had The Funeral Home Phone. The Funeral Home Phone would ring at all hours. The prank calls at 3am were always amusing. Ring Ring  ” George Washington just died! We need a hearse!!” snicker snicker. hang up. Well, that’s clever. I wasn’t supposed to answer The Funeral Home Phone. But when dad wasn’t home and mom was in the tub, the opportunity presented itself. I was 5 and I answered it just like my dad, mom and grandma did, or so I thought… “My daddy isn’t here but my mommy is in the tub. Hold on plwease! MOM!!! SOMEONE DIED!!!!!” Lucky for me that it was just one of dad’s men calling to check on a “body” that was being dropped off and he thought I was hysterical.

My dad had a few men who came and helped out every so often. They would come upstairs between calling hours (calling hours were traditionally 3-5 and 7-9) and drink coffee, smoke like fiends and talk and laugh. I was always around when the men came upstairs. They thought I was great. I would entertain them with dance solos and they would tell me dirty jokes. Other times, dad and I and the men would meet out for coffee and donuts and cigarettes. It was the late 70’s early 80’s, everyone smoked. But these men were a throw back to the early 60’s. The suits, the hair, the attitude. Really fun guys.

There were so many rules to living above the funeral home. Besides not walking loudly or watching tv with the sound on, I wasn’t allowed to play in the front yard. Gives a bad impression to have a little girl playing under the funeral home sign. We couldn’t have a dog. I wasn’t allowed to talk about who came and went to our house. If  my parents were on The Funeral Home Phone do NOT interrupt them to tell them the toilet is overflowing. That was apparently rule #1….who knew?

I still have a hard time saying “body” normally. I think it was 7th grade health class when our teacher was saying “body” this and “body’ that without whispering or any hesitation that I began to understand that the rest of the world said body and meant body. I said body and thought “dead person in the basement” .

Being a funeral director’s kid is pretty tough. Other kids were always asking me if I slept in a coffin. Didn’t I wish!!! Or if I saw dead bodies or ghosts. Well, duh, I lived over a funeral home. The only kid who was really kind of mean about it was the grave digger’s kid. How’s that for ironic? Overall it was a good childhood to have. I was part of our family business. I was always in charge of dusting the legs of the tables and chairs before calling hours and checking all the supplies in the bathroom. I did eventually learn how to answer the phone and take messages and how to stand calling hours. I still use my silent walking skills to my advantage and I can get the jist of any program on tv without hearing a word. Body puddy and embalming fluid aside, it was a good life.

Drunk Uncles

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gotta love 'em

  

Everyone has a “drunk uncle”. You know you do. He’s the guy at family parties who shows up half in the bag and then proceeds to stick his feet in the fireplace, or fall down the stairs. He’s the favorite of the children, he is the bane of the adults. He is generally funny and only shows up for family functions like Christmas or Thanksgiving or a baptism. The “drunk uncle” is always fun at church events.  

My “drunk uncle” eventually moved in with us. At that point, he wasn’t so much fun. He had the disease of alcoholism. That is a very nasty disease. And contagious. Alcoholism does not just effect the alcoholic, but the entire family. It makes those who love the alcoholic do really insane things. And generally they do these things totally sober. So, the alcoholic has the excuse of being drunk when they do stupid things, the family does not. Bizarre.  

Now, my uncle was funny. He had a very dry, sarcastic wit. By the time I came along, his rage had left him and he was resigned to dying from the disease. He drank without any boundaries. He had wet brain and reverse tolerance. But even still, he could come up with these one liners that would give me the giggles for hours.  

Just before my grandmother died, her washing machine was acting up. It was a big dilemma whether or not we should bother fixing it because my grandma was in the hospital after breaking her hip, so would she even be able to get down the cellar stairs to do the laundry? After much debate, my mother decided that the washing machine should be fixed because if she came home she would want it to be working. We just couldn’t think of grandma not being able to do the things she always did. We couldn’t imagine our tiny, spunky, matriarch not cooking dinner and doing laundry or any of the hundreds of things she did in a day. As it turned out, getting the washing machine fixed didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It never really does, does it?  

We were at my grandmother’s calling hours. My uncle and I were standing in the receiving line shaking hands, saying thank you for coming and looking pretty rough.  My uncle was drunk-ish and every so often I would have to put a hand out to steady him.  The rest of the family was circulating and visiting, leaving me to watch my uncle so that he didn’t fall over or take someone down in the middle of a sorry- for- your- loss-hug.  

Towards the end of the line was a little old lady, a friend of a friend of the family. So, she comes along and gives us the hug and the look of sympathy and as she is holding one of my uncle’s hand and one of mine she says “It will all come out in the wash……” and she left us standing there, staring after her, lost in our grief. Until my uncle turned to me and said “Well, It’s a good God damn thing we got the washer fixed then, isn’t it?” At which point the two of us burst out laughing and drew looks of horror and recrimination from the family and all the guests. We had to hold each other up we laughed so hard.  

So, drunk uncles are not always the best under pressure and they may be annoying or embarrassing, but you can always count on a drunk uncle to take an unbearable situation and make it a laugh riot in the most inappropriate, unacceptable way. Go give your drunk uncle a hug.