How do you remember dead loved ones?

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    Jul 19, 2010 8:09 PM GMT
    Today, at work, I took care of an older man. He was 59. Same age as my father had he not died 14 years ago. We were talking about something or other, and I hear "Well, Buckaroo..." Such a stupid term. But my father used to call me that. Suddenly, I had tears in my eyes; I averted my eyes and pretended to write something in his chart.

    Normally, I don't think of my father too often, maybe every two or three days or so. The bruises, discoloration, and the stitches are not what I associate with him. All that blood on the floor, do humans really have that much blood? My memories of him are composed of remembrance, forgetting, and fantasy. We would go fishing together. I was 15, and thought myself too adventurous for spending the day at a lake in the middle of nowhere. I would be bored and sunburnt enough to do a lobster proud. We never spoke, just the sheer companionship. That is what I remember, his hat pulled over his eyes casting a shadow on his face, little cracks of blue eyes. The dirt, the smells, the peace, and a blue, blue sky.

    Usually, I am a little moody, but nothing like today. Today, ever since I saw that man, I have been experiencing these deep feelings of melancholy. He is the reason for so much of what I have accomplished today. After him, my mother was left to face stifling poverty and the demands of 5 children, including a newborn. She quickly found two jobs, and I was left to be a mother and a father to my siblings. He is why I am a doctor today. Not that I don't enjoy my job, but when I started, I had no illusions of helping people, finding cures, or experiencing the pride. All I saw was stability and financial freedom. Last night, I went to visit my mother. I mentioned something about my father, and my two youngest siblings did not know. The look on my mother's face. What happened to her fairytale? She never remarried.

    Tell me about your departed loved ones.
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    Jul 19, 2010 8:55 PM GMT
    Well, my mother died in April from a clostridium difficile infection in April. I have started a foundation in her memory to raise awareness so others don't lose their loved ones.

    www.facebook.com/peggymemorial

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    Jul 19, 2010 9:51 PM GMT
    Thanks, Christian.
    I am very sorry that you, your family, and friends lost such a brave and courageous mother. Her bright and forthright mothering exemplifies itself in you.

    I also commend you for starting Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation and bringing more attention to CDF. It is a treatable disease, but recently we are seeing more and more cases of drug-resistant C. difficile.
    http://www.facebook.com/peggymemorial
    Please keep her "thousand smiles" in your memories. They will last through many deep hurts.
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    Jul 20, 2010 3:38 AM GMT
    Good god, commoncoll, lay off the man.

    I volunteer in palliative care for those that wish to pass on at home.

    Both Bill and I have lost loved ones over the years. Our fathers died within six months of each other. We talk of them in the present tense, because, for us, they're with us in a nostalgic sense.

    -Doug
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    Jul 20, 2010 3:40 AM GMT
    commoncoll saidBuddy, I think you should let it go. It happened half your life ago.
    You seem really depressed. Don't kill yourself. The public has put too much money to train you. They need doctors, down where you're at.
    I think you should work on developing your self-confidence and trying to put a smile on your face. You said you're a doctor...geez...if you were my doctor...icon_mad.gif I know you doctors don't think about the little man, but be a man try to stop crying and actually go smile with your patients. Or better yet, don't go see them. Nobody is ever going to leave the hospital if all they see is you. Depression doesn't do well for sick people.
    This dish of self-pity really doesn't go well with your kind of face. Your too pretty to be so sad.
    Stop being so ungrateful!


    Yo 8 post, fuck off.
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    Jul 20, 2010 4:51 AM GMT
    I piss on my father's grave once or twice a year...


    I'm still dealing with anger.


    God how I hate him
  • jlly_rnchr

    Posts: 1759

    Jul 20, 2010 4:57 AM GMT
    Me and my father visit the graves of my grandparents (his parents) every time we're in town. We usually bring some flowers and say a couple prayers. It's more a gesture to them than actually remembering.

    A more fulfilling way to remember them is to tell stories and share our favorite memories. Like when I was 7 or 8 and my grandmother accidently whacked a wiffle ball right into my face. This is always revisited at holiday dinners.

    Or when, at my grandparents' 50th anniversary party, they danced together. My grandmother was in a wheelchair by that time, so my grandfather kind of shimmied as he pushed her. But she was smiling! Great memory.
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    Jul 20, 2010 4:59 AM GMT
    Unfortunately I don't really know most of my relatives as most passed on when I was too young to remember plus I don't speak Thai so I couldn't really connect. So for them I only have stories my mom tells me.

    Ironically they only one I can remember is my maternal great grandmother. She lived in a third world country at one time living in a plywood slum shack on stilts over what may have been a concrete swamp. She probably also smoked too. Even through all that she lived to be a lively old woman who lived to the age of 103 and showed no mercy to her great grandson in cards and took all my money!

    If I get to be an old man I can only hope to live up to her example.
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    Jul 20, 2010 5:16 AM GMT
    This happened before I was born, but my uncle died of leukemia when he was 14, wasted away in the hospital, losing ll his strength to the radiation therapy, which at that time was very new.... We visit his grave once a year and that is the time when I feel most affected by my grandparent's and mother's grief, evn though I wasnt there, its as if his spirit is a permanent entity in my family's life... my grandma became very bitter and cynical after he died, and that pain runs through the whole family still... I used to remember him by performing a Japanese ritual for the departed, I would put two glasses of water on a Shinto altar... I dont do it anymore, I dont follow religions, but I still go quiet and solemn near any graveyard....
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    Jul 20, 2010 5:36 AM GMT
    Well, Dad left a pile of half-finished projects on the farm. If it's broken I fix it, if it's lost I find it, if it sticks I oil it. God, there's a lot of shit to do.

    I made sure Mom got a kitchen she can enjoy. She loves it, and even though it cost me plenty in airfare, skin, sweat and blood, those dreams--in which I've missed the entire semester of school and finals are today--are less frequent.
  • safety43_mma1...

    Posts: 4251

    Jul 20, 2010 6:54 AM GMT
    I would have to say it is my Grandma and Grandpa so on Feb 14th i go to the grave make sure it looks good and just sit there and think of all the great times we had as i was growing up. i miss them so much and this is the year i get my championship ring for football and then i am haveing two mounted on their head stone one for each since they were my two biggext supporters.
  • Webster666

    Posts: 9217

    Jul 20, 2010 6:55 AM GMT
    I rarely think of them at all, anymore...

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    Jul 20, 2010 6:59 AM GMT
    Thank you all for sharing your insight and feelings. My own father is 82, and has been in and out of the hospital the past couple of months.

    I know that he is content and satisfied with his life, and has no expectations whether he may be here for another 20 years, or another 20 minutes.

    I am grateful to have had him for all of my life so far, and I also know that the "natural" order is for him to pass first, then mom, then my brother, then me. For the past 26 years, we all thought that I would be the first to go. "Look what thought done."

    My father and I resonated with a common understanding of life and death as I sat holding his hand, on his bed in the hospital, over Memorial Day. I now am working with my mom and my brother to help them to accept that a new phase in our lives as a family is here. At the same time, I reassure dad that mom and my brother will not face loss alone. I will be there for them, and one day I will rejoin them all on the other side. For now, the situation is stable and I have had the luxury of focusing on other less important issues such as my own health insurance, financial solvency, and professional opportunities.

    Each of you have given me a glimpse of what my family and I face as events unfold, and eventually one of us passes to the other side. Although I can prepare, I also know from my conversations with those who have first hand experience that once a loved one passes, you just never know how people are going to feel the impact of time in this world without another.

    Again, thank you. Each of you have been a blessing to me today, and I will remember each of you when my family faces the reality of loss.

    Aloha, hugs, and Be Well!
    Alan
  • owen19832006

    Posts: 1035

    Jul 20, 2010 7:16 AM GMT
    th best way is by keeping a picture of a happy moment with them, or with them smiling so everytime you see it you remember them as they were, happy and cheerful...and i have a Mass said in their name in their anniversary
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    Jul 20, 2010 6:16 PM GMT
    This is going to be long. I apologize.
    Everyone, thank you for your astute kindness. I was not expecting so many people to actually reply. It made me feel so much better to hear about your experiences. Some of them made me cry, some made me smile, some made me hopeful, and some inspired me. To those of you who can accept death, kudos to you.

    We do not like to talk of death, even when it haunts the gay community like a shadow always there. An email said I was too preoccupied with it. It is not as much a macabre attraction to death, as it is simply what I see. We go to hospitals to save us, to cure us, ward off death. What people do not know is that as many as 1/3 of hospital patients(not counting children with minor illnesses or pregnancies) never leave. In the ICU, the average mortality rate can be as high as 50%. As many as 80% of the patients who go into Full Code die. No miracles. These figures are by no means scientific, they are merely my observations. I visit with the patients and their caring families. Thus, everyday, it becomes hard not to be familiar with death. I like to think I am comfortable with it, and that families are too, but sometimes it catches me off guard. The “death rattle” is a chilling sound.

    It is OK to die. No doctor can help you not die, we can only maximize nurturing conditions for the body, and hope. Sometimes, families can not deal with the guilt that they just let their actively dying loved ones go without struggle. Even in hospitals, it is uncommon to see someone dying naturally, without us pumping them full of blood pressure elevants, and perfoming furious CPR while breaking fragile, bruised ribs, shocking the heart. Death is a disconcerting mechanical process- the heart monitor has soft “beeps” slowing. Eventually, there are none. The EKG becomes a flat line. Ashes to Ashes. Dust to Dust.

    So my friends, now that you are terribly depressed around lunch, I say “Sing for the years/ Sing for the laughter/ Sing for the tears/...Maybe tomorrow, the Good Lord will take you away” My father was my past. I am my future. Live for yourself. Live it while you can.
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    Jul 20, 2010 6:26 PM GMT
    My grandmother passed away last week in Tucson. We knew it was coming and most of my family lives in Tucson anyway so all of the other grandkids (including my brother) got to see her within her last couple weeks. I had the option to fly out there and see her, but I was totally opposed. I didn't want to see her like that because I was afraid it'd totally ruin all my memories of her forever.

    The funeral was last Wednesday and I was able to fly out for a week to attend the services and be with my family. I was sad at the funeral but it didn't really hit me about what all had just happened until last night when I flew home. Where I live I'm at least 1,000+ miles in all directions from close family members so today is kinda tough being back here. The one thing I've been taking solace in is that at the graveside service we did afterward, the grandkids were given the honor of being the first ones to walk down there, and out of the 5 of us, I was able to lead the entire line of family and be the first one, which meant a lot to me since they had all said goodbye to her in person within the past couple weeks so this was essentially my way of doing so.

    Sorry to ramble but I guess it's good to vent on a day like today. Losing family is never easy.
    icon_sad.gif
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    Jul 20, 2010 6:35 PM GMT
    My mother passed away in January. She was killed while being robbed, and then the murderers burnt down her house, further denying us anything, even my dad's dogtags were destroyed. It has obviously been the worst time of my life. I miss my mom beyond words. At least they caught the monsters who did this. I had to be at a court appearance for them today. I used to be against the death penalty, but that was before this actually happened to our family. My mom was a craftswoman and I remember her from her quilts that I still sleep under, and her homemade soaps which I am keeping forever. She also was a musician and every once and a while, if I can stand it, I play her CD. She also has a rememberance page, please visit if you'd like. http://www.facebook.com/?sk=2361831622#!/group.php?gid=363601514536&ref=ts
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    Jul 20, 2010 6:38 PM GMT
    I lost both of my parents when I was only two and half years old to a drunk driving accident in Grand Rapids, Mi; where I was born. The drunk driver lived and walked away alive. I used to hate that guy for the longest time when I was growing up. I wanted to find ways to hurt him. To what I believed were no cost to me at all.

    All my life I heard the good and the bad stories of mom and dad, unfortunately only from my mother's side of the family, until recently. I heard how my mother was what I'll call the "Alpha" female amongst her sisters, with many many talents(singing, dancing, mechanic, cook, and counselor); aside from a congenial disposition and heart for those around her. The way I found I could deal with anger towards and unknown stranger and this mysterious woman whose blood ran through my veins was to find her and my father inside me. Pull out whatever they could do from what I could do, or learn to. I began to sing songs I liked, proactively danced after being taught by in laws and friends how to groove, with family help I taught myself how to cook and want to be a chef now, never was quite the mechanic, but can fix electronics and plumbing with a bit of reverse engineering and common sense, and as for counseling... got some of that for myself too XP. From my dad I already had a sense of something more out there when I was a child. I believed there was a God and found I had an innate sense of how to string words together. Both qualities I found my dad, the Pastor/amateur poet had.

    So in that way I let them live on in me, but at the same time I've found myself someone that others can reflect on; if they should desire to do so.
  • Geoedward

    Posts: 657

    Jul 20, 2010 6:38 PM GMT
    I miss my mom every day. She truly was my best friend. When my brothers and sisters kicked me out of the family when they found out I am gay. She stood by me. When they gave her the choice of me or them she said he is my son and I love him just as much as I love you all. When my ex and I broke up after 5 years she was there holding me and comforting me. When I found Out I was HIV+, she went with me for all of the tests. When I went to see if I qualified for any experimental programs she was there holding my hand as they drew the blood. My mom, my partner and I made and canned a couple hundred jars of salsa every summer. We talked and we laughed a lot. There was nothing I couldn’t talk to her about. It has been 8 years and I am in tears now. I will always miss her.icon_sad.gif
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    Jul 20, 2010 6:40 PM GMT
    May their memory be as a blessing.
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    Jul 20, 2010 6:42 PM GMT

    Carmine, I found this last post of yours astonishingly beautiful and succinct.

    My own feelings are like this (from one of the stories I write)

    Warning: the following contains personal beliefs that are apologetically metaphyical in nature and further apologies for deviating from this topic.


    " Time was just a word with little meaning. As years churned along Juladd watched his friends age in its relentless tides and eventually die. He heard the Maker gently call them when their frail bodies could no longer contain their shining spirits and felt the presence of the Maker receive them when those bodies finally failed. "

    Thanks again Carmine, your topic touches me in a place where it counts.

    -Doug of meninlove



    carmineastoria saidThis is going to be long. I apologize.
    Everyone, thank you for your astute kindness. I was not expecting so many people to actually reply. It made me feel so much better to hear about your experiences. Some of them made me cry, some made me smile, some made me hopeful, and some inspired me. To those of you who can accept death, kudos to you.

    We do not like to talk of death, even when it haunts the gay community like a shadow always there. An email said I was too preoccupied with it. It is not as much a macabre attraction to death, as it is simply what I see. We go to hospitals to save us, to cure us, ward off death. What people do not know is that as many as 1/3 of hospital patients(not counting children with minor illnesses or pregnancies) never leave. In the ICU, the average mortality rate can be as high as 50%. As many as 80% of the patients who go into Full Code die. No miracles. These figures are by no means scientific, they are merely my observations. I visit with the patients and their caring families. Thus, everyday, it becomes hard not to be familiar with death. I like to think I am comfortable with it, and that families are too, but sometimes it catches me off guard. The “death rattle” is a chilling sound.

    It is OK to die. No doctor can help you not die, we can only maximize nurturing conditions for the body, and hope. Sometimes, families can not deal with the guilt that they just let their actively dying loved ones go without struggle. Even in hospitals, it is uncommon to see someone dying naturally, without us pumping them full of blood pressure elevants, and perfoming furious CPR while breaking fragile, bruised ribs, shocking the heart. Death is a disconcerting mechanical process- the heart monitor has soft “beeps” slowing. Eventually, there are none. The EKG becomes a flat line. Ashes to Ashes. Dust to Dust.

    So my friends, now that you are terribly depressed around lunch, I say “Sing for the years/ Sing for the laughter/ Sing for the tears/...Maybe tomorrow, the Good Lord will take you away” My father was my past. I am my future. Live for yourself. Live it while you can.
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    Jul 20, 2010 6:49 PM GMT
    I keep their pictures out where you can see them every day.
    I talk to them and tell them I love them for I know they can hear and see me.
    Remember them lovingly and always keep them in your heart.
    Don't mourn their death but rejoice in their lives!

    These things always work for me. icon_biggrin.gif

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    Jul 20, 2010 7:46 PM GMT
    carmineastoria saidTell me about your departed loved ones.

    Ah, at my age that would be many. But a couple:

    My father, at 85. I came down to Florida to be with him (I was living in Seattle) when he had his first heart attack. He only lived another 6 weeks, having another 4 heart attacks right in front of me. Each time I revived him, and each time the hospital discharged him after a day, telling me he was already terminal with cancer, and don't bother bringing him back next time.

    MY FATHER??? Are you people crazy? Yeah, I know he's terminally ill, but do you actually think I will stand by while he dies in front of me? He didn't want to die, and I wasn't going to let him die. He finally passed away in his sleep to a heart attack, at home in his own bed. I miss him so much, and my mother, too, who died 5 years earlier.

    My partner literally died in my arms of AIDS. He went fairly quickly, getting dementia literally overnight, my taking him to the ER with him raving, and then to a nursing home a week later, waiting for him to die. That was tough.

    It was during Christmas, and our tree we had bought together was still up. He died in February, and by April that tree was still sitting there. I never went into the living room where it was, or into any part of the house. I didn't even go into our bedroom, sleeping in the office, where the computer was.

    Finally a gay friend did an intervention, cleaning the kitchen that had been untouched for months, making me take down the Christmas tree, forcing me to go into our bedroom. I had been a total wreck, and he finally snapped me out of it.

    I'm OK now (I think), still remember my parents and late partner lovingly. I guess I'm not good with death, and partings. icon_sad.gif