Communion Of Dreams


I knew these days would come.

Last night we settled down with some dinner to watch a bit of Firefly, settling on Serenity (the episode, not the movie). At one point fairly early on, when plans have gone south at several junctures, the captain of the ship (Mal) is considering options, trying to make the best of a not-great situation. There’s this little bit of dialog:

MAL: We don’t get paid for this, we won’t have enough money to fuel the ship,
let alone keep her in repair. She’ll be dead in the water anyhow.
(Mal turns to the others)
We just gotta keep our heads down and do the job. Pray there ain’t no more surprises.

I looked at my wife, and we just nodded to one another.

* * * * * * *

We did a hard thing. And we did it well.

Caring for my MIL for years somewhat warped my perspective. First and foremost in our consideration was always what her needs were and how best to meet them. I’ve often talked about what that meant in terms of rewards and sacrifices, and I don’t intend to rehash that now.

But a couple of things have changed with her passing. First off, is the odd sense of disorientation. I’ve compared it in discussion with friends with almost having a sense of agoraphobia – a nervousness when out in the world I’ve never felt before. It’s really just a conditioned reflex, and will fade as I adjust to the lack of need to always being worried about Martha Sr.

Another thing which has changed is the need to return to something resembling a ‘normal’ life, with the usual requirements of work. I don’t mind work, never have. My life has never been easy (though it certainly could have been harder), and I’ve never expected it to be otherwise.

But sometimes you wonder if maybe it couldn’t be just a little bit easier.

Caring for Martha Sr those last weeks was more demanding, and lasted longer than anyone expected. Getting hit with the flu so hard following seemed a bit gratuitous, in the sense of the universe having fun at our expense. Both my wife and I are behind on our work, and while our clients understand, that doesn’t help the cash flow situation. I knew these days would come, and things would be a little rough for a while until we got settled again. But we’ll manage.

* * * * * * *

We did a hard thing, and we did it well.

What has come of a bit of surprise has been how some people have responded to that. There’s been some discord in the family about the disposition of Martha Sr’s possessions, borne mostly out of a misguided sense of guilt, from what I can tell. It’s really unfortunate, but everyone has their own way of reacting to death. If we’re lucky, with time the matter will sort itself out with a minimal amount of damage.

I’ve also seen others in different forums who have almost felt like they had to defend their own decisions regarding a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or some other debilitating illness leading to hospice care. I’ve witnessed those who almost seem resentful that we did what we did, because it somehow implies that they did less – that they cared less.

No. We were able to make this work out. Barely. Everyone has a different situation, and each family, each person, must come to their own conclusions, their own solutions. None is better or worse than another. Because my wife and I don’t have kids, we didn’t have to juggle that aspect of life at the same time. Because we live here in the same town as Martha Sr, and have professions which allow a considerable flexibility in terms of work hours, we were better able to adapt to providing care at home than most. Our solution worked for our situation – barely. Those final months were very demanding, and I will admit that I was pushed further than I would have thought was possible, and failed and succeeded in ways I never expected.

I will not judge another – this experience has taught me humility.

Jim Downey


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

By coincidence, I was working on something else and had to explain the way my life has been going lately, and the briefest summation is this: “Life is all improv.”

Once you learn to handle that, you survive.

Comment by ML

[…] in point: our caring for Martha Sr. I had mentioned previously that there was some discord in the family about the distribution of her estate. And what at the […]

Pingback by Grief. « Communion Of Dreams

[…] in February of 2008, I wrote this: I’ve also seen others in different forums who have almost felt like they had to defend their own […]

Pingback by Fear. And failure. « Communion Of Dreams




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: