Lately several people in my life have lost a parent. I find that the similaries with each situation are the same as what I went through when I lost my last parens. . Therefore I’m writing about this topic. I hope to have feedback since I recently joined The Commons.
My dear neighbor and good friend Charles passed a week ago and he meant the world to me. Living next door to me he has been a friend before cancer took over his life. He was the most loved and caring man I’ve had in my life, the real deal. I still shed tears of loss over him. The last time I saw him was over a month ago since his son, Chris took him out of the Senior Living place where he and I live, and took him to the hospital for chemo and radiation treatments and then when they were completed, he lie in bed in his room opposite me and didn’t answer his door. When the staff delivered his meals. I told them to say Hia to him and told them to tell Charles it was me and he knew who I was. He and I had been friends for more than a year. A great jazz muscian and piano player who used to play New York, N.Y. on the piano downstairs and many other popular pieces and I’d sit and cry with tears of joy and wondermeant and the amazing sounds that came out of his hands and out of the piano. Charles was a staight man telling jokes that people would laugh about who didn’t even know him. He loved to make people laugh and was gentle and kind.
His son Chris took Charles out of this place and put him in a nursing home since his brain was “loopy” as Chris said to me one day. The chemo was supposed to have removed all the cancer in his body. So, what was going on? I didn’t know. Charles told me that the cancer was gone. he told the mgr. that the cancer was gone. We didn’t know why Charles was “loopy.” He was put in a nearby nursing home and I bought a card for him letting him know I was thinking of him. A staff member where I live also worked in that nursing home one day a week. She gave the card to Charles. The next thing I know the staff here told me that Charles is in the hospital. I called there and they told me he’s in intensive care. Intensive care wouldn’t tell me his conditon, “You’r not family.’ I said , “okay tell Chris, his son that I am concerned about his father.” They told me they would. Next thing I know staff tells me he’s home with his dad? I was confused. He’s all over the place and I can’t contact him since I didn’t know his son’s phone number. I spent the entire month tracing him down to tell him I cared and to learn of his conditon.
One morning, I went to the dining room downstairs and someone who lives here told me, “Charles passed yesterday; I found out from reading the obituary.” I said, “Oh no, no. but thanks for letting me know.” I wasn’t surprised, yet I was shocked. I had no idea what he had died from but felt that he wouldn’t be here for too long. I called his best friend, and they told me they had spent the last night with Charles that he was alive at the hospital and he died the next morning. I wondered how they knew where he was and how they got to be at his bedside when I wasn’t allowed to even know his condition? Finally, the staff downstairs gave me his son’s phone number. I called Chris and told him I knew about his dad and he finally got the opportunity to speak to me about all the incidents over the last month. The cancer was all gone, except for the tumor which metastised in the brain and that explained the ‘loopy” and he went into a coma and he couldn’t speak. His son told me he had knocked on my door a few times during that month but I wasn’t home. This made me feel a lot better since he knew I cared a lot about Charles. His son told me about the funeral arrangements and the memorial service. I knew I had to go. I met with the Mgr. and his wife where we lived and we shared our thoughts about dear Charles and the mgr. looked up his name on one and there were the funeral arrangements. I got to the memoral and was glad of it.
It’s been over a month now since Charles was taken out of this senior place and almost another month since he died. I spoke to his son who told me a week ago that his own life had to move on. I knew better. People say this but then it hits them smack dab in their face that moving on isn’t an option until one goes through the grief process. Elizabath Kubler Ross’s book was so right on about the stages of grief. I have found this to be true for everyone who has faced a loss of any kind, especially death. Today when I called Chris about his closing Charle’s apartment since he said he’d give me some of the furniture that I sorely need, Chris told me he can’t bring himself to go into the room and will wait till the end of the month. “I’ll call you a few days before I come.” He said he feels that he should still be there helping his father and I said, I understand since I myself look around and experience this empty feeling in me looking for that warm, loving friend I so loved and I told Chris this, that I still look down the hallway half expecting to see him wheeling his dad in the wheelchair. How the mind holds onto dear people and experiences that are so meaningful to us and does not let go until we can deal with it. I find this amazing that it’s so common with people, a friend meyself , and a son, Chris.
Another woman who works for me lost her mom a year ago and she can’t bear to be in her apartment herself since she still cries for her mom and misses her and doesn’t when her ex husband is home even though their relatonship has ended and she’ll move out of there soon. Just to have another living being in her presence takes her mind off her mom. One year of grief over a loved parent isn’t a long time at all. I find the similarities with the death of a beloved uncanny. it seems to be a life task if you will of the mind to help to cope with this loss to go through these stages until one comes to acceptance and is able to move on. Elizabeth Kubler Roth got is so right. I know she worked with a lot of dying people and no doub worked with their families.
I play the utube video that Chris made for Charles and I look at it and listen often and at some moments I grieve and at some moments I smile, and this is the way of life and of death. I dread going into that apartment when his son comes about as much as he does and he has his wife. I’m sure we’ll all shed teras of grief when that door is opened to a life that was well lived.