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Reflections on My Grandmother Dying

A week or so ago my grandmother had gotten sick with something like triple pneumonia from which she seemed to recover from fine, surgeon and then she stopped eating and her kidneys began to shut down. Thus started the downward spiral. I had a chance to say good bye while she laid there unconscious toward the end. At age 79 she passed away last week on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 @ 11:00pm at the St. Clare Meadows assisted living center in Baraboo.

I took Thursday off and helped mom take care of the funeral arrangements with the Baldwin-Rago Funeral Home. They were great, supportive and helpful. Fortunately, things worked out so that we would only have to pay a few hundred or so out of our own pockets to cover everything. We did a little shopping on Thursday looking for an outfit for grandma and sent pictures to the funeral home. Friday we OK’ed the obituary, and sifted through numerous picture albums to put together 2 pin boards of pictures of her for the funeral.

Visitation was from 10-11:00am on Tuesday, April 2 followed by her funeral @ 11:00am. At her funeral we saw some family come in that rarely see except for moments like this – funerals and weddings. As I had previously done for my grandfather’s funeral I read the 23rd Psalm for grandma’s funeral too. I wrote about reading for my grandpa’s funeral a little in a previous post.

Reflecting On Her Passing

My grandparents did not really take good care of themselves, unfortunately. =( Since even before grandpa passed, grandma has not been all that lucid, which is sad. Her last 15 years were not filled with life. They were filled with just living = breathing, going to the bathroom, eating. She did not really have a “life” – her health and mental state would not allow it. She could recognize me and knew my face, but it was not really possible to have a conversation with her. Her mortal shell was, in some ways, a shell. The shell in which my grandmother had lived and existed, but “she” was slowly fading from the living energies that bound her to the mortal plane.

In thinking about this I have come to realize that I really did not know my grandparents too well. I knew them as a child – as a child knows their grandparents, but I never knew them as an adult – as an adult would know them. My grandfather passed shortly after I returned from the military after 6 years of service right out of high school, and even then grandma was having issues. =( I was also busy with a new marriage and its subsequent all-too-soon-divorce, a new job, and starting college all in that short span, so my life consumed me. Because of their poor health and not taking care of themselves I have, in some ways, been denied the ability to get to know them.

I can only imagine how much longer grandpa would have lived if they would have eaten half-way healthy. I can only imagine how much more full of life that my grandma’s last years could have been if they had taken care of themselves better. Perhaps I could have had a conversation with her; perhaps she may still have been able to drive for a few more years; perhaps even take care of herself for a few more years before having to go into a an assisted living center; perhaps she would have been able to live longer and happier since she would have been able to communicate with us and her doctors.

My Parents

I see my parents and they way they live and eat and it worries me. They take care of themselves an order of magnitude better than my grandparents, but still, there is so much more that could be done. I worry that even with what good things they are doing that a similar thing will happen with them. How will I take care of them? How will I be able to afford it? Will they be able to provide for themselves until the end of their lives? I look at my financial situation and I cannot see where I can fit in an extra thousand dollars a month to provide for their healthcare and other expenses, or nine thousand dollars or so to pay for a single funeral.

My Familiy

I also begin to think about this for my family too. I am thinking I will also need to somehow put together a funeral trust, a will, and perhaps, even better – to take better care of myself. I would actually like to see my daughter graduate high school and college, and perhaps even get married. As is stands right now I will be like 52 when she graduates high school. Not too young. I still do not have a 529 account set up for her yet, which really annoys me.

Cultural Problems

This is something that greatly worries me about our world today. We do not take care of ourselves. We do not eat healthy enough. We do not exercise enough. Taking care of ourselves is not a core part of our family lives, our work, our laws, or our culture. There is still so much more that needs to be done to get ourselves ready to live better and to prepare ourselves for the future, and yet the world around us works against us in this endeavor. Eating healthy is expensive as hell. Eating unhealthy is cheap. Food that we are lead to believe should be healthy especially to the uneducated are even more harmful than the foods they are supposed to replace as a less harmful alternative. Our laws and subsidies do not support or promote healthy living as a core value or desirable goal – cheaper mass produced food and profit is the end goal. Our hospitals and health care system is not preventative based. It is based on emergency care. Our health care system should, in most cases, start with 2 questions: “How has your diet been?” and “What is your exercise regiment?”. Most diseases and health issues can be prevented with proper diet and exercise and yet this is not the foundation of our health care system? I find this confusing until the point that I allow a horrible thought to creep into my mind – there is not so much money to be had in actually making and keeping people healthy – less money for hospitals and doctors, less money for drug companies who create diseases out of thin air with which their drugs can help with, and yet create more physiological problems that more new drugs can help you with. =(

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Gary Gygax Has Passed Away Today!

Gary Gygax, more about the creator of the Fantasy Role Playing Game (FRPG) ‘Dungeons and Dragons‘ (D&D) (owned by WotC) has passed away today. This is a sad day for gamers all around the world.

I met Gary at a Gen Con that I went to for the release of 3rd Edition with the guys and had hims sign my 3.0 Players Handbook.

So long, Gary. We, gamers from around the world, thank you for you vision and dream.

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Eulogy to My Grandfather

Here is a little background on the following little story: At the time I was separating with my then ‘wife’, bulimics starting a new job, overweight and starting my first year in college, allergy after having left the military. I was close to both my grandparents who lived close to our family and who I never saw often enough in my busy life. I am writing this in far retrospect, so take this for what it is worth. I am going write what I spoke at my Grandfather’s funeral in 1999 amidst the tears I stumbled out something like this:.

When I was young I made a promise as many grandsons are wont to do for their grandparents who love them and care for them so very much. I promised something that may seem a little strange to you now, but at that age anything seemingly big and responsible is cool to our green ears. At something like 10 years of age I promised my grandfather and my grandmother that I would read their favorite Psalm, the 23 Psalm, at their funeral.

I was so very young and being as such I had no real concept of time or even of death. My grandparents have been alive longer than I and even longer than my parents, and a far as this little kid is concerned they always will be. This was the sort of promise that I never really expected to have to fulfill, for it seems like they will live forever as my eternal grandparents – old and wise. So, now I have the misfortunate pleasure to read to you today the 23 Psalm:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Thank you.