PASSINGS – RUBY AND PETER


LIFE — it’s what we are all here for.

When we witness a passing, we can’t help but feel sad. However, that we shared a life is something to be celebrated.

Ruby recently passed. My girlfriend called me a few weeks ago with the news that Ruby was in distress.  She went to great lengths to diagnose the problem – heart centered, but unclear – yet Ruby responded well to the meds.  But in less than a month, she turned to the worse and my girlfriend called, tears garbling her words, wondering if she should wait or help Ruby pass. She decided to wait and a few days later, Ruby died in her arms.  It doesn’t make a difference Ruby was her dog. She was her family and there is no escaping the feelings of loss when a beloved family member passes. I could hear my friend nearly drowning in her tears.  I went to her home later that day, the very space where Ruby died, and thought about bringing flowers.  But flowers die, too. So I opted to find a plant that bloomed this time of year: A perennial Hibiscus – ruby red of course – to be planted in a sunny spot – to return every season, celebrating the love of Ruby.

Peter also passed the same week. On the day I brought my friend her Ruby plant, I was on the way to Peter’s wake.  He was the brother of my sister-in-law, Lisa.  He was also beloved. He succumbed to a second round cancer, twenty years after his first battle. And in that twenty or so years, he lived-lived-lived and the wake was a testimony of that.

Next to his casket, was an amazing flower arrangements of a Yellow A (with a certain curl to the font), on a field of Green Flowers — a baseball reference of the Oakland A’s, I believe. I thought it was marvelous to have the flowers used to convey a love of his life.

I was also surprised to learn he was a multi-marathoner – with all his medals on display.

But what was most wonderful to see was the children he created – in the years after he first battled testicular cancer.

At that time in his life, after he beat cancer, he married Marian and decided they would travel the world and be the best Uncle and Aunt ever!  But after his father died, he wanted to try to have children – and Marian agreed (with the help from the invetro medical community) and together they produced 7 children – four who are living today.  That this man continued to strive and try for every bit of life after a serious bout with death – and also be known as “the nicest guy”, – well that’s a life to celebrate.

When I arrived at the wake, my brother’s children – Eleanor and Timmy – were so surprised I came -as I lived 1.5 hours away.

“Ahh, but I had to, ” I said, “According to Papoo (my father, their grandfather) it is imperative to attend: weddings, funerals, confirmations, graduations, (etc), because it’s not about you.”  Dad told me that years ago, and has forgotten he said it, but I haven’t and am glad to pass it on to the next generation.

But the truth is, I love wakes and funerals.  Better than weddings, because people seem more real, more open, more kind at funerals than anywhere else.

Case in point: I arrived around two – stayed until four – made the rounds of the family, inspected the range of photos, spoke to old friends and made some new acquaintances – the latter was Peter’s wife’s sister – an economist from Canada – and her husband. Somehow we got into a wide-ranging conversation about books and the heart and economics and marriage – and somewhere around quarter to 4, I looked up, saw my sister across the room and then recognized what was going on – the room had transformed into a party. Groups of people were gathered all over, chatting up in full voice.  I looked over to Peter, his hands folded on his chest, his face serene, and I felt him grinning — presiding over a happy scene – filled with liveliness  –  the very thing he perused in life as he lived it every, day and … every, every minute. (Thornton Wilder)

Being reminded of that is why I love funeral’s above all other gatherings.

Hope you enjoy every day to the fullest.

xo Laura

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Gerry on August 20, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Amen, sister. xox

    Reply

  2. Posted by Lisa Caugherty Hahn on August 5, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Coming upon the first year of Peter’s passing, I had to re-read this. I’m reliving each day of Life with Pete, and the last few paragraphs did sum up his life. That ever present smile. He is at peace, looking out for all of us as we go through out daily lives. I’ll get through this week and try to continue to live my life in a way that made him proud of me. Thanks, Laura, for capturing this into a memory for us all.

    Reply

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