Last Friday was the first sunny day we've had in awhile. Nothing like gray skies, no leaves, and brown grass to add to the gloominess. Louisville is pretty ugly in the winter, and I think I get that mild form of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka "the winter blues"). I do find it amusing that the acronym is "SAD".
With the first sign of sunshine, my Dad wanted to go out to the cemetery and clean up their joint headstone. So we did.
I scrubbed it down, but as expected, he had to work on it himself.
He's 92 but it didn't matter how much I protested, he was going to get down on his hands and knees and make an effort. Afterwards, his back was hurting him, but he blamed it on the long ride out and back in the car.
It's just an old country cemetery where my Mom's parents are buried.
They had two plots in a different section, but my Mom learned there were three unused plots near my grandparents. So, a few months ago, after checking with her living sisters, she claimed two of the three unused plots, sold the other plots and split the proceeds with her sisters. The headstone was just recently moved.
Once we were satisfied, we headed back to town.
On Friday afternoon, my sister Linda & Lee came over as did her daughter, Heather, and her family. Both my parents love kids, so my Dad was glad to see great grandkids Kaitlyn and Jacob.
Linda's brother, Jon, was having a family gathering in Lexington, so we took the opportunity to make the one-hour trip that evening. I wasn't in a very festive mood, but I'm glad we went.
Linda's aunt Myrna was there as were both her nephews Jonny and Scott. We didn't know that Scott and his wife had driven in from Houston, so that was a nice surprise. And it was the first time we had met Jonny's kids, Penny and Yukon.
On Saturday, after our visit to the hospital, we took our mind off of things by going to our friends' house to watch the Louisville vs. Kentucky basketball game. Joyce & Woodie have opened their home to us during this trying time - Linda calls it our "adult daycare".
Later that evening, they had some neighbors over, and I went to pick up some ribs for the party. After dropping off a dinner for my Dad, I returned to the party. The party guests were fascinated by our lifestyle, and we enjoyed telling our story.
I chowed down on all the party food. I've been is stress-eating mode for the last several weeks and have put on quite a few pounds that I'll have to take off again.
As the evening progressed, Linda & I took part in some "Giant Jenga" as we continued to try to enjoy ourselves a little.
Good friends in Louisville and our RV-Dreams Family are helping us get through this tough time. I can't thank you all enough.
On Sunday morning, we were just getting ready to go to the hospital when my Aunt Pat called. She said the nurse told her Mom was probably in her final minutes. Before we could get out of the house, she was gone.
By the time we got to the hospital, they had dressed Mom in the clothes we had left. And she still had on the ring she wanted to be buried with. A couple of weeks ago, I took her the ring and took a photo.
She could never wear jewelry because the metal caused a rash. But this ring was special to her because I bought it for her as a kid. I didn't know way back then that I was buying a "sweetheart" ring, and she sure didn't tell me. :)
Standing there in the hospital room with her sister, my cousins, and my sister and brother-in-law, we said our final goodbyes. Fortunately, we were all able to say everything we wanted the last few weeks. But it still felt very final, knowing that there wouldn't be typical funeral and she would be buried immediately.
However, I also immediately felt "lighter". A great weight had been lifted and as sad as we were, the uncertainty and the emotional turmoil had disappeared. Eventually, after my sister offered a prayer, we gathered up her belongings and the flowers and cards left by friends and family and we left.
It was also sad that none of the caregivers that we had gotten to know over the last few weeks were there. We had gotten to the point where we hugged them and they sometimes cried with us and for us. So, we missed not being able to thank them again and say goodbye in person.
On the way back to the house, I started notifying friends and family that Mom had passed. I had been telling everyone that there wouldn't be a traditional funeral, but we hadn't yet made any decisions about the day and time for the memorial.
We had decided that a memorial service on the weekend would be best, and we wanted to have it in the daytime so the seniors wouldn't have to be out after dark. And we had made the decision to hold it at a church not far from the house, where my sister, some neighbors, and a few of my Mom's exercise friends attend.
Family gathered at the house to be with my Dad. By the evening, we scheduled the memorial service, and I completed her obituary.
Long after everyone had left and Dad had gone to bed, I set up a memorial website for Mom - Anita B. Payne Memorial Website. I wrote a synopsis of her life and cried some more as I thought of all the time we spent together and everything that I learned from her.
I saw her every day for the last five weeks of her life, and I knew that her health had been declining. Still, none of us expected her to die in 2014 - in a way, it was a shock.
I stayed up way later than I should have, but with finally having something definite, I had something to focus on.
On Monday, Linda & I discussed our options for the next week. We are scheduled to speak at the Knoxville - Smoky Mountain RV Show in Sevierville, TN January 9 - 11. And we are scheduled to be at the Cincinnati - Dayton RV Show in Dayton the following week.
We made flight arrangements out of Miami months ago, our rig is in St. Cloud, FL, and we're here in Louisville. After considering everything, we decided to fly back to Florida on Monday, tow the fifth wheel to Miami on Tuesday, and have a couple days before we fly out on Thursday. So, we are gearing up to get back into our RV life and it feels good to know that we'll be back sleeping in our own bed soon.
Later, I took my Dad in for a doctor's appointment. His pacemaker battery is twelve years old and in need of replacement, so we scheduled surgery to have that done before we leave town.
Other than that, we worked on Mom's memorial.
On Tuesday, my buddy, Jeff, gave us tickets to the Louisville basketball game and invited us over to his house to watch the Louisville football bowl game. Linda & I had not yet been to the new KFC "Yum" Center, so that was nice.
Our seats were in an upper section, but they were still pretty good.
The basketball game went well, the football game, ... not so much. :)
But it was once again nice to do something "normal".
On New Year's Eve, I took my Dad back out to the cemetery. We wanted to place the poinsettias from my Mom's hospital room on her grave.
The rest of the afternoon, I went back to working on the memorial. We had a couple of invitations to go out, but we haven't been big on New Year's Eve celebrations for lots of years, so we passed.
Tomorrow, New Year's Day, we're probably just going to take it easy, watch a little football, and finalize the memorial plans.
We've had all the sadness we can stand, so the memorial is going to be light and more of a celebration of Mom. She didn't think anyone would come to a funeral, but we're going to show her just how many people cared about her. :)
And we wish all of you a very Happy New Year!!