Monday, November 10, 2014
My Mother Dies - And I Find Out 3 Days Later
Scenes above from Christmas 1988 in Barbados - Mom and Dad at right in top and bottom - with Janice and myself (top) and our niece Trudi and her hubby.
Janice's family, when we related what happened, could not believe that a sibling or siblings could deliberately not notify their eldest sib at the news of their mother's death. But the evidence is there in its every noisome aspect. I actually had to find out yesterday - Sunday November 9th, online - that my mom died three days earlier! Worse, that I would not be able to attend her funeral which had been hurriedly scheduled for this morning in Punta Gorda, Florida. There simply wasn't the time to arrange plane connections and get there.
How did I learn of her death? From random "condolence" postings to my sister (from strangers) on Facebook, then googling her name and picking up an obituary at Legacy.com from three days earlier. So now I would not be able to attend her funeral as I had my dad's five years before, e.g.
Since travel - accommodations planning before a long trip requires much more than one day's notice.
How this came to be is as bizarre and disheartening as it is unfortunate and disgraceful. Merely 6 days earlier I'd received an email from my sister that read in part:
"I just wanted to update you on mom. Thursday night she came out of her bedroom gasping and crying out that she couldn’t breathe. I got her to the chair and told Jerry to call the Good Shepherd 24 hour emergency number. They told us to call 911 and a hospice nurse would meet us in the emergency room. After a number of labs, xrays, and tests it was determined she was in heart failure, also renal failure, and her hemoglobin was below 7. They told me my options: 1) – admit her and she would go immediately to ICU where they would begin blood transfusions, call in a cardiologist to do surgery and try to repair the heart, but they said they could do nothing for the kidneys – the prognosis was not good. The second option, the one I chose, was to continue with hospice, where the prognosis was the same but without added agony and invasive pain. They transported her from the hospital to the Good Shepherd hospice house...
Our mother…God how I love her more with every breath I take"
The emotions resounded with my wife and myself and we phoned her that night (the 4th) and mentioned being ready to come down to support her and attend the Mass, funeral. My sister even volunteered to make arrangements at a nearby cottage in Sebring for convenience - for us.
One night later we spoke again as mom's condition worsened, we agreed that 'Jo' would give us the timely phone call to make our travel (bereavement flight) arrangements. Then I made the fatal mistake of asking her if she'd contacted our "black sheep" brother Mike, as well as Jerry (our bro, her favorite, but also sharing her husband's name) - the sib I'd posted about having "unfriended" me on Facebook, August 23rd. (This was over his racist, anti-Obama FB postings).
Space and time froze in that instant and the boundless silence that followed sucked all the energy out of the air, accompanied by a toneless response from her - as if a wedding guest had dropped a dog turd into the punch. She was polite enough, but her voice devoid of feeling and I knew instantly I'd committed a capital crime in her eyes. (But as my wife had pointed out, even a so-called 'black sheep' deserves to know when his mother has died- and also ought to be able to attend her funeral if he so desires.. It 's a matter of basic decency and humanity.)
The next day - the 6th- I received only a one line email that read:
"I have named Jerry, our brother, as family liaison and he will have and/ or give updates to the rest of the family.
Mom still holding her own for now."
I emailed her to tell her that Jerry and I had fallen out even before his FB unfriending and we hadn't spoken to each other for over 4 months. Hence, making him a contact liaison for updates was not very useful. I received no answer.
But only yesterday did I realize, on seeing the FB condolences, I'd already been lied to and mom was already dead or close to it at the time the message was sent about the "family liaison" on the 6th.
So now, I am left to mourn mom from afar. Denied of even having a choice to attend her funeral and mourn her in proper fashion. It is a cruel fate and one no family should have to undergo. Alas, it is my fate and I have to live with it. But one thing I will never do is forget!