Death is complicated
Friday, June 18, 2010
I waited for hours after my brother called me with the news of my father's death for a second call from my brother with information about the burial arrangements. He didn't call.
This morning I got up and started unpacking my camping gear (our troop is leaving for summer camp at 0800 tomorrow morning) and started packing to fly to California for my father's funeral. I waited until 11:00 my time before calling my brother ... I needed the name, address and phone number of the funeral home that would be handling my father's arrangements so I could get the bereavement rate with the airlines.
My brother as it turns out couldn't call me last night because he was at the hospital with my mother. She had collapsed at the nursing home when she went to see my father's remains. She is still there, under observation, because her blood sugar and blood pressure are off the charts. Blood sugar? No one ever told me she is diabetic, but apparently she is.
My mother has decided to have my father's remains cremated. She had asked him which he preferred and he had no preference. She knows about my ear block and doesn't want me to fly right now, and also wants to wait until my nephew can get leave from the USMC to attend the memorial service.
Sean just graduated from boot camp in April and is attending a three month tech school at Ft. Lee, VA. The military does not consider grandparents immediate family and while a commander does have the discretion to grant a leave under emergency conditions it is highly unlikely they would do so in this case. If Sean were at his permanent unit and the unit wasn't busy it might be a different story, but since he is mid-way through a technical school the disruption to his training doesn't work in his favor for such consideration.
Sean will get anywhere between 10 - 30 days leave after his tech school, depending in part on where he is assigned after the school. At this point my mother and brother are thinking about having the memorial service in August, after Sean graduates and I am released from the National Scout Jamboree. They want us both there, and I appreciate their flexibility is considering my ear issue and my nephew's military status.
My only concern in not going to California until August was not being able to see my father one last time. My brother tells me that it is for the best that I don't. He saw my father yesterday and said the difference in just the two days since he had last seen him was devastating. He wants me to remember my father the way he was when I saw him on his 90th birthday ... 26DEC08.
I'm going to go unpack my funeral bag now, and repack my camping bag. There is no sense sitting here all week, stewing in my own juices, when I can be at summer camp with the boy scouts, helping them grow and develop into fine young men. The kind of man my father was.