Tag Archives: death

1979. The passing of a spouse

Barbara closed Rodrigo’s eyes. It was always a bit scary when someone died with their eyes wide open. One lid kept opening slightly. She had read where the imprints of Ancient Roman coins were found on mummified bodies, and so she got two twenty cent coins and placed one on each eyelid to keep them shut.

For two days Barbara had sat next to her dying husband’s bed. Her kindly neighbour, Lynn, helped quite often during that time to give Barbara little breaks. Lynn hoped that when the time came for her to care for her own husband, if such a need occurred, then she would be as caring and gently calm as Barbara. And now the wait was over. Rodrigo had died. Peacefully.

How the two day watch had brought back memories for Barbara. She had met Rodrigo at the beach. He was from Bolivia. It was love at first sight! He was so handsome! So kind! Such fun! They had got married in the blink of an eye. They honey-mooned on an island resort. He wasn’t overly rich, but life was comfortable and secure. So many, many memories of their ten year marriage.

Such happiness rarely lasts; at least not often. Rodrigo was the third husband Barbara had poisoned.

1961. An exclusive club

Although it might appear as rather arbitrary, and in fact it was, Heaven was divided into multitudinous groups of people. The membership of each group was determined by the last words they uttered on Earth. For example, the members of the “I-Love-You-Darling Group” had experienced a fairly run-of-the-mill death in which they were able to utter a reasonably civil statement as they passed on. The “Goodbye Group” and the “I’m-Going Group” were other examples. The “Au Revoir Group” was made up mainly of foreigners but the occasional person who spoke proper English made it into their ranks.

Most groups had many, many members, and for a millennium or so St. Peter at the Pearly Gates had wondered whether or not other criteria might better suffice.

There was one group that was the envy of all. It was known rather jovially as the F Club. Very few belonged to it. The members were the victims of some sudden accident when their plane dropped out of the sky or they saw a huge articulated truck plunging headlong into their vehicle. Their last word was an exclamation of surprise, as you might imagine. So sought after was the desire for membership to this group that St. Peter had to slightly stretch the rules. He had to allow for different parts of speech that used the word. For example, some people may have turned the word into a verb and not finished the sentence before expiring. However, a line was drawn if the F word was followed by “heck”. It reeked a little of Hecate and was considered vaguely inappropriate.

No one was surprised at the small affiliation in the F Club. Most in the circumstance of final accident had exclaimed a naughty word. They had, naturally, been cast into Hell. But those more lily-tongued had screamed at the point of accident not an unacceptable curse, but simply “Flip”. As stated, those whose final “Flip” was forever wrecked by a verb plus Hecate – “Flippin’ Heck” – were cast aside. As was “Freakin’ Hell”.

So here’s to the three members of the F Club. May they forever rejoice.

1939. To die alphabetically

Jerome Holke Barbarich-Askelund’s doctor had given him bad news. He had not been feeling well and was not at all surprised when the doctor announced (in a kindly and tender manner) that what Jerome Holke Barbarich-Askelund had was terminal.

“Oh well,” shrugged Jerome, “we all eventually get our marching orders I suppose.”

He went home and within a week had become obsessed with the death notices in the morning paper. Here was a list of those who had died – usually the day before. Jerome began to work out each morning where his name would go alphabetically if he had indeed passed away on the preceding day.

Amor
Austin
Baird
Burgin
Cain

If he had died his name would appear between Baird and Burgin.

Ackerley
Alexander
Batwell
Blayney
Blight

If he had died his name would appear between Alexander and Batwell.

And there, on the third day, BARBARICH-ASKELUND! There it was in print! In black and white! What a mystery!

Anderson
Atherfold
Aycock
BARBARICH-ASKELUND
Butt

“As far as I know,” said Mrs. Barbarich-Askelund, “we are the only ones in the country with this family name. It’s a complete bafflement. I’m in a state of stupefaction.”

After two weeks, Mrs. Barbarich-Askelund’s friend, Gloria Wiggins said, “Look Myrtle-Bianca, you have to admit that he’s been dead for two weeks now. You can’t go on pretending it didn’t happen. “

“Oh Gloria!” sobbed Myrtle-Bianca Barbarich-Askelund, “to die is one thing. To appear in print between Aycock and Butt is shocking. Jerome will never forgive me.”

1933. Two deaths on the one day

Rosslyn was more upset about her dog dying than she was with her husband’s passing. Both died on the same day; both suddenly; both deaths unrelated.

To be fair, Mercury the dog was the only friend she had. He was a chow chow and had been on heart medication for a little while. His suddenly demise was always going to be a possibility. On the other hand her husband had been on no pills. “It’s a pity there’s not a pill for verbal abuse,” Rosslyn used to declare throughout their marriage; for Earl had a tongue that Rosslyn nicknamed “Whiplash”.

And so it was that her best friend, Mercury, and her least-best friend, husband Earl, both died on the same day. Who was to know? Rosslyn paid to give her husband the skimpiest funeral possible. Mercury got the works, and his ashes were returned from the crematorium in a silver-plated urn inscribed with his name.

The marriage had been a mistake. She should never have gone ahead with it. There were ample signs during the engagement period that he would verbally abuse her once they were married. And indeed she was proved right. The honeymoon had barely started when the abuse began.

It was sad that Mercury wasn’t going to be about to celebrate the wedding anniversary next Saturday. The absence of a husband at such a celebration was no loss. Rosslyn always celebrated the wedding anniversary with her dog. What else was there to do?

Goodness! Coming up this Saturday they would’ve been married for sixty-four years.

1924. Only one miracle allowed

Nina-Marie had recently died and was thoroughly enjoying looking down from above at her loved ones. There was her husband Clive, her cat Maisie, and her dog Wolfgang. They certainly missed her.

During life it had always been Nina-Marie who looked after the pets. It’s not that Clive wasn’t interested or didn’t like them; it was just that the task had fallen to Nina-Marie almost accidentally years ago. Nina-Marie fed the cat and dog; Clive brought in and stacked the firewood. They were the two marriage-allotted chores that occurred most days in early evening.

In her last hours Nina-Marie had said to Clive that if she was permitted, if it was at all possible, she would give some sign that she was doing well in eternity. It would be some little thing; some surprise perhaps; something that Clive would recognize.

Upon arrival in Heaven Nina-Marie was informed that she would be granted one request regarding life on Earth; one prayer to answer. Wistfully she gazed upon her earthly family. She didn’t want to waste the single wish she could grant.

I know exactly what it will be, thought Nina-Marie. The little apple tree, the one we planted several years ago, has never borne fruit. This year it shall have fruit. Not too many apples, that would be wasteful, but just enough for Clive to say “Aha! That’s Nina-Marie’s doing!”

Nina-Marie was about to make arrangements for her “miracle”, when she noticed something; something serious. The cat and dog’s water bowls had dried up. Clive hadn’t given them water since the funeral. It was an oversight. This was an emergency. I wish he’d give them water! Give them water!

Goodness, thought Clive almost instantaneously, they’ve run out of water. And that was Nina-Marie’s one miracle all used up.

1923. My beautiful Bubble

Everyone’s dog is special. And so is mine! Yesterday Bubble died. He was three weeks short of his fourth birthday.

In late February he began to have epileptic seizures. Medication began and was readjusted during the following months. Yesterday morning at 2.30 am he threw a fit. Fortunately he landed from his chair onto the piano, so it woke me up! Over the next ten hours he had forty or so epileptic fits. Medication provided no relief. If you’ve never seen a dog have an epileptic fit, DON’T!

He died around midday. We buried him on the lawn where he loved to sit and watch the world go by!

Below are two pictures. One is of Bubble and his best friend, the cat. The other was taken a few hours before the first of his final series of seizures, sitting at the wide-open front door in the winter sun letting those of us in the house freeze!

1880. No bucket list

How pathetic is that? Caleb had been given six months by the specialist, and he didn’t want to make a bucket list. How backward is that? It’s not as if he was incapacitated. It would be a while before that happened. The disease would slowly work its way towards completion. There was plenty of time to write a bucket list and see the list come true. Provided it was practical.

But no! Caleb would have none of it. “Why on earth would I want a bucket list?” he said to his wife, Leticia. Leticia had been the one who carped the most about his creating such a list.

Why don’t you climb that mountain? You’ve always wanted to.
Why don’t you go to visit the Soda Factory Museum? You’ve always wanted to.
Why don’t you take up golf? You’ve always wanted to.

It seemed that Leticia had made out a bucket list for him. Of course, it was her way of coping with the impending doom that waited down the track. She was doing her best, and perhaps some of these things on the list they could do together – and for the last time. Perhaps they could make a few more memories.

In the end, Leticia won the day! Together they climbed the mountain, both physically and figuratively. “It was very satisfying,” said Leticia. “We’re both feeling pleased with ourselves! The view from the top was stunning. And such a happy memory!”

Together they went to the Soda Factory Museum. “We’ve always wanted to do it,” said Leticia. “It’s so silly really, because the Museum is just down the road. Only twenty minutes away by car. So at last we’ve done it and it was fascinating to understand the history of soda manufacturing.”

Together they played golf. In fact Caleb and Leticia went to the golf course once a week. It was a measure of Caleb’s health and strength. At first they played eighteen holes; later, fifteen holes was enough. Still later it was nine holes; then four. After that, they never went again. “But it was such fun,” said Leticia. “It was something we did together that we both enjoyed.”

The sad day arrived. Caleb passed on. No matter how prepared one is for the death of a spouse, it’s never at all like one imagined.

Cleaning out his things Leticia came across a small piece of paper tucked away as a bookmark:

My bucket list:
To make Leticia happy.

1876. Cosmos seed heads

You see those white cosmos flowers stuck in a little blue bottle? That’s the last of the cosmos in the garden. My wife planted them back in late autumn. She didn’t exactly plant them; she scattered the seed heads in a bare patch in the vegetable garden. They grew apace. Cosmos usually do. And when they began to flower they were all white. No pinks or any other shade. Just lovely white.

Wilmott had collected the seed heads when we went for a walk in the botanical gardens. That would almost be a year ago now. Usually the staff at the botanical gardens don’t leave plants in for long enough to develop into the seed stage. Perhaps they left these plants because they wanted to save the seeds. Anyway, Wilmott took just half a dozen heads. The gardeners wouldn’t know they were missing because there were hundreds of seed heads in the garden plot. That’s why we didn’t realize that the flowers would be all white. We never saw the cosmos in flower earlier on.

It’s quite illegal to take seeds or cuttings (or plants for that matter) from the botanical gardens. Imagine if everyone came along with their secateurs. The place would be denuded. I don’t know what would happen if we had been caught. Wilmott simply snapped the heads off with her fingers and quietly dropped them into the pocket of her cardigan. “We’ll find out what colour these are in the late spring,” she said.

When we got home (we usually went for a longish walk each day) Wilmott scattered the seeds in the garden, as I said earlier. She did that even before we went inside. And when we went inside she died. Suddenly. It was heart.

So you see those white cosmos flowers stuck in a little blue bottle? That’s the last of the cosmos in the garden. I could save the seed heads and begin the cycle again. Earlier I had decided I would do that, but now I think, goodness me, I can’t not move on forever.

1873. A sympathetic response

Hi Doozy Suzie. I really love your blog. What I especially like was the photo you put in your header of your dog. I have a dog and it is very special. Every day we go for a walk and he greets everyone he meets. He would be useless as a guard dog because he wouldn’t bark but run up to the thief for a pat!!!

He is a Xoloitzcuintle, also known as a Mexican Hairless Dog, and his name is Buffy. He got that name because when he was born he didn’t have any fur and my grandmother said “He’s in the buff” so after that he was called Buffy.

I don’t know how you think of things to put on your blog every day. Your posting today was really interesting – all about your mother dying yesterday. The blow by blow account of her last hours I couldn’t stop reading. I don’t know, as I say, how you manage to think of something different every day to blog about.

Your posting last week of how your baby sister died of the flu was quite exciting, although I don’t really understand what that has got to do with your header of a dog. Was your baby sister and the dog good friends? Or was it something else?

I showed the picture of your dog to my grandmother – not the one who named Buffy but the other one – and she read what you wrote and said from what you say your mother would have been “a mean old hag”. (These were her words, not mine). My grandmother said the world is better off when people like that are not stealing the air we breathe.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I like the picture of your dog. You never said what its name was. If we get a cat my grandmother said we should call it Fluffy – to go with Buffy. I suppose your grandmother hasn’t suggested you get a cat because she’s dead.

1842. A garden makeover

It was possibly the most exciting thing that had happened to Clarence in a long time. It had been a terrible year; a terrible, terrible year. And now this happened! How wonderful!

In January his wife had died after a long and painful illness. He had nursed her over the weeks. It had brought him to the edge of life. The only thing that kept him going was the thought that if he went there would be no one left to care for his wife. Their only child, a daughter, had long disappeared overseas in pursuit of an alternative lifestyle.

It’s amazing how sometimes lifelong friends abandon you in times of need. Only a few came to her funeral. Friends over the years had drifted away during his wife’s illness and proved themselves no friends at all. That hurt Clarence more than anything. In fact he had trouble drumming up enough pallbearers to carry the coffin.

Clarence thought that the only solace would be in his garden, but that had gone to wilderness during his wife’s illness. Somehow, after the funeral, the heart had gone out of the garden. Clarence tried to tidy it up a bit but he didn’t make much progress. And then he entered a competition for a free garden makeover. There were a number of conditions; the garden had to be substantial in size; the owner had to go away (all expenses paid) for a whole week while the garden got its makeover; the owner had to trust the garden designer’s ability to come up with a creative concept. Clarence thought he fulfilled all the conditions.

The phone went. It was the television company. They were to record the makeover. Clarence’s garden was on the shortlist. Would he mind the television cameras coming to film the garden before anything was done?

Next, a garden designer visited in person. She interviewed Clarence. What would Clarence like to see in the garden? Did he want a water feature? A patio/barbecue area? Trees to block out not the sun but the neighbour’s prying eyes?

Clarence said he’d like to be surprised. They could do with the garden whatever was creative, whatever would make it lovely. He had just the one request; his late wife’s name was Iris. Would it be possible to have a garden bed of irises in her memory? Of course it was! What a fantastic idea!

Anyway, Clarence’s garden wasn’t selected in the final choice, so none of the above mattered.