Posts Tagged ‘death’
Thursday evening we went to a memorial service for Jim’s aunt. She was 81 and led a full life. The memorial service was one like you see on TV where people got up to tell stories about her.
While the stories were told and the tears were shed, a photo slide show passed across the front wall. From childhood photos to Hollywood-star type wedding photos with Jim’s very very handsome maternal uncle to pin-up girl pictures on the beach to photos with her children and with her grandchildren.
The stories were funny and touching. I didn’t spend a lot of time with her, but after the service I liked her even more. She was treasured as a friend, neighbor, mother, and aunt. There were stories about the time she punched a future alderman of Chicago as a child (he was a child, too!) and how she was generous and kooky and how much she loved Jesus.
That made me think. Who will tell my stories when I die? And what will they be? How will I be remembered?
I live so far away from family. My kids are teenagers who think I am daft. I have great friends. Who else can tell my stories? Do I need to cultivate people who can tell them? Can I put an ad somewhere?
How do I want to be remembered? I want to make people smile when they think of me. I want them to laugh at things I said and did. I want them to be inspired by me somehow. Most of all, I don’t want anyone to remember me as ordinary. Please, don’t let me be ordinary!
I guess mid-life is when we begin thinking about these things. What seeds has our life sown? What crops will be harvested by those who remain behind?
Do you ever think of these things? Am I being completely macabre? Who will tell your stories? What will they be?
Two weeks ago I had to put our dog, Nikki, down. It was the hardest thing. He’s the third pet we’ve had to put to sleep–the other two were cats (Shadow, 17, elderly; Maui, 3, congestive heart failure).
Nikki was fine, then he was sick. It seems like it was sudden, but looking back there were signs. I feel bad that I didn’t catch them sooner. My vet and his staff were incredible. I drenched their office with my tears–literally.
Nikki was a wonderful dog. He was semi well-trained, listened, barely barked. His only flaw was that he wasn’t all that great with strange dogs (ok, he’d try to eat them) and people were scared of him because he looked a little scary! Oh, and getting his nails clipped required general anesthesia for him and sedatives for the manicurist once they were finished.
Once I took him to the vet to get his nails clipped and he made so much noise–howling, crying, whining–that a little boy asked me what they were doing with him. I was a little embarrassed to have to tell the young child, his eyes wide with fear, that they were just cutting my dogs nails. That was also the time he dragged the vet tech across the lobby to lunge at another dog and I ended up crashing into her with my hands on her breasts. (Yes, that was the first and last time I have ever felt up another woman!)
Nikki’s death prompted people to tell me their tales of dead dogs. Most of them involving rigor mortis and large dogs requiring unusual maneuvering to deal with their remains.
Which reminds me of Belvedere. Belvedere was our 16 year-old cat who died at home. We knew it was time, but he wanted to be alone. When I heard his breath fade, I got up, found him near our bed, and woke Jim. Jim took him into the garage until we could take him to the vet to be cremated (I have quite a collection of cremains).
When it came time to take him to the vet we discovered that rigor mortis had left Belvedere in an unusual position–his tail was completely up and jaunty-looking. We wrapped him in a towel and proceeded into the vet’s–with the tail sticking out. Several people in the waiting room made comments.
One woman said, “Oh, look at the happy cat! He’s so pleased to be here his tail is up.”
Um, not quite…