Sunday, December 19, 2010


Death is at your doorstep
And it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance.

You are not alone in this
You are not alone in this
--Mumford and Sons

Last week my 95 year old grandma died. I flew to Portland to try to be with her as she passed, and also to try to get a grip on how to handle her estate, as I am executor now from 2500 miles away.

It was an altogether unpleasant experience. She, though largely comfortable, held on for a lot longer than anyone expected, to no one's benefit. The upcoming act of distributing/dismantling 95 years of collected stuff that no one else wants feels incredibly heartless. Her aloneness for the last several years, to a large degree self-imposed, was equally sad. How does a woman who has photos of family all over her home end her life so alone? There is a disconnect there that I'm not sure I understand fully, and never will.

I've decided I'm going through a premature mid-life crisis. There has been so much sickness and death in the last 3 years for me. It has stolen my innocence. I don't mind it so much, it's just another stage of life...but helps me understand why I see my peers approaching this stage of life differently.

Henry's death was so tragic, so heart-breaking. My father's death was not, but reminded us all how tragic and heart-breaking his decade-old head injury, that took him from us, was. Mimi's death was the opposite of tragic, it was time for a woman who had lived independently to the age of 95 and whose health was starting to fail to die. It was her life that was the sad part.

Mid-life crises are supposed to be about fearing death. I don't fear death, I fear a sad life.

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand
Hold your hand


socks said...

Fortunately we can manipulate life so that it isn't sad. We can build relationships, seek and enjoy special experiences, involve ourselves in societal "causes", and participate in our passions, enjoy humor and knowledge.

I think this takes introspection and truly knowing yourself, being honest and communicating the same.

You've got it all.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry; you've had a rough year.

Mimi wasn't alone - you were there!

My condolences.


Steph said...

"I don't fear death, I fear a sad life."
My sentiments exactly. I also fear leaving behind others who would be saddened by my death, but I don't fear death itself.

I'm sorry you've had such a rough several years. I hope the coming years bring you much happiness!

rlbates said...

My condolences. I agree with the others.

Happy Christmas and Happy New Year!

Doctor Blondie said...

My condoleances.
I'm twenty-four and I am fearing a sad life, because I have already learned that death is a part of life, albeit tragic and too soon for some.

Anonymous said...

What a thought provoking post. I'm learning that the descent into a sad life can be so slow, so unassuming that it happens before you realize what's going on. This is such a great reminder to keep sharp, keep vigilant, and continue to build relationships and maintain passions to keep the fire from slowly dying.

This may or may not be helpful, but when we went though my father's things - a heap of junk none of us really wanted - I kept a few special items and then asked around for anyone with friends just starting to build a home. One came and took most everything - sheets, a clunky old bed, towels, furniture, a wide assortment of cheap kitchenware, even the huge bottles of aspirin, the list goes on. It was win-win for us. We felt good that someone who needed it was getting good use of out of (and whatever they didn't want, they could throw/give away. We didn't have to worry about it) and he was more than happy to haul most of it away, even the threadbare towels.

As a bonus, it didn't feel as heartless as just renting a Uhaul and dropping piles of it at the thriftstore.

Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful, articulate posts. I always appreciate what you have to say.

Steph said...

I think I've tried, subconsciously, to keep my life sad as a defense mechanism.
Now I have more than I ever thought I would - great husband and baby - and I'm finding it hard to get used to having so much to lose.
I think it's true that we can make our lives less sad, to an extent. For me there is always the knowledge that it can all go up in smoke though...maybe I'm a realist, or a pessimist. Maybe it's just a result of having had my eyes open for too long.

My grandmother, herself having survived the loss of 2 offspring and 2 husbands, would never utter the word "goodbye". It was always "so long". I never understood that until I'd suffered losses of my own.

Anyway, not sure why I felt compelled to write this. I'm sorry.