My father has been surviving emphysema for 35 years now, the last 10 have been pretty painful to watch, and endure, I know someday soon the disease will win. My parents were told by their physician three weeks ago to contact hospice services. My father said he’d be around for the New Year, they could do it after the holidays, and then went up and fixed a hole in his roof. I kid you not.
My brother in law was diagnosed with lung cancer, which has moved into his brain and lower regions, back in February. He was given three months tops. Though bouts of chemo that have done very little, but help the cancer grow and metastasize, he has endured and battled and lost his hair but not his will to live, work, and survive. I know cancer will win this battle, but he plans on being here through the holidays.
At 4am Sunday morning the phone rang. This usually means in my household that my radio station is off the air and I need to go to work. This Sunday morning it struck fear in my heart when I heard Ducky’s youngest sister’s very calm and quiet voice on the other end. Handing the phone to Ducky I went back to bed. It didn’t register very well when he walked back into the bedroom to tell me our nephew was dead. I was certain he’d misspoken and meant his little brother, but no he’d meant Wapiti.
Give us credit, neither of us said, “But I just saw him on Thanksgiving and he was fine.” Apparently after a heated argument with his wife, in which the police came and escorted her and their teenage children and grandchild out of the home, he began drinking. Considering the evening’s course of events, I believe he’d been drinking far long before the evening unraveled in rage, horror, and blood.
The police had escorted the family from the home at 9:30 Saturday night. Returned at 11 after Wapiti’s oldest daughter had called worried he was suicidal, please check on him. Returning to the house they were met by an armed Wapiti. The confrontation ended in a shoot out and Wapiti dying on his living room floor.
I’ve obviously have shortened the course of events, for several reasons. The first being I was not there. What I know is that a very nice guy is now dead because of events he started. A wife and three children are hurting because he could see no light at the end of his tunnel. His brand new granddaughter will never get to know the wonderful grandfather he would have been. He was a nice guy.
Saturday afternoon Wapiti will be laid to rest in Portland. Far from his family – and take my word for it – this outrages is paternal family. I love most of my husband’s family, well there is this one sister that pushes all my buttons with her woe is me attitude, lifestyle, and ranting (but that is a different story) but I am having a hard time with their reasoning. They don’t hold a person in their heart. I mean they probably do on some minor level, but they think “he’s going to be up there in Portland, far away from family and lonely.”
Excuse me, he’s dead, sadly dead. The do not talk to their loved ones past, they do not light a candle in remembrance. No, they take Christmas trees to the cemetery and sing carols.
I hope I’m not offending people with this tirade, but if you loved them in this life - hold them in your hearts in their passing. Celebrate their life, the person they were, and the spirit they are. In all honesty, I don’t get funerals (although I will attend and I will cry, because I hurt too,) and yes I, realize funerals are basically for the living.
Strangely on Thursday as we were driving to Eugene for family Thanksgiving festivities we had a conversation about letting those we love, admire, cherish, and value know each our feelings every time we see and leave them. I strongly hold to this practice, I never want to have regrets that I
1) never got to say good-bye and
2) that someone I cared about didn’t know how I felt.
Wapiti underscored the message of our conversation – he called each of his children Saturday night and told them that regardless of what would happen that night, he loved and cherished them deeply.
In the words of the medium John Edward, please validate, communicate, and appreciate those you love because tomorrow does not always come.
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