You need this.
The impermanence of life has been thrust into my household with the recent passing of my dearly loved mother in law. She always had a smile on her face and a great story to tell. We drank coffee together in the mornings when she was visiting or when we went to visit at her house. My wife and I have talked about what this all means and how people’s reactions to the news differs. Some people offer condolences and some remain quiet. I know this quietness and it’s difficult to assess why some people remain quiet but I suspect it’s they simply do not want to bring up a subject that is painful and still very raw for the family members. I understand completely, however, it’s always best to mention the recently deceased when you first greet someone. The tension eases and the emotional contraction reverses into a expansion of relief for both parties.
We’ll miss hanging out with Grandma Joanne and hearing about her life and growing up in the northwest. The recent moments we had with her were very special and will stick with me forever. Her health had been steadily declining in the last month and she was physically losing her battle with cancer but her mind was still sharp and she knew exactly what was happening to her. There was no denial or misconstruing the fact that she didn’t have long to live. She was in a tremendous amount of pain and the morphine wasn’t working as well as she liked and this led me to personally know in my mind that she didn’t have many days left. During our last visit on June 24, 2017 at the hospital where she had been admitted a few days prior we all gave her big hugs and said goodbye. The intense pain of seeing a loved one for the last time never changes. It’s sharp and ruthless, grabbing you by the throat and taking your breath away. This person is still very much alive but it’s all going to end sooner than anyone imagined and there is nothing that can be done to stop the inevitable conclusion.
She loved her family most of all and was always there for us. Her generosity and never ending smile brought a sense of ease to me. A few days ago I commented that she was a true matriarch and that still stands. The unique situation of her household put her in charge and she ran the house according to her rules. One thing that stands out as I write this is her ability to accommodate everyone. Last summer she bought all of the dry ingredients I needed to make seitan. That was so thoughtful and really made my day.
Below is a photo from June 15, 2015 taken by my father in law Bill. This is how I’ll remember her in my heart, forever.