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The Day Momma Died: Growing Beyond the Fear of Death

 

 

 

The Day Momma Died: Growing Beyond the Fear of Death

 

 

By

 

 

Violet M. Franck

 

 

 

Cover Description

 

When our parents die we are forced to face our fear of death. This is my experience.

 

 

The Day Momma Died: Growing Beyond the Fear of Death

Published by V. M. Franck

Shakespir Edition

Copyright 2017 V. M. Franck

Cover Art Copyright 2017 V. M. Franck

 

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed the book, please do not loan it out. Out of respect for the author and all her time and hard work, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

 

 

Books by the Author

 

Trying Not to Drown – nonfiction

The Day My Brother Murdered His Neighbors – nonfiction – free

Tater's Maters of Hootenanny Flats- Book 1 in The Mater's Series -fiction

Resurrection Rose- Book 2 in The Maters Series - fiction

Final Entry – Book 3 in the Mater’s Series – fiction

Once Without Dying

The Sword of Ruth: The Story of Jesus’ Little Sister, Past and Present – fiction

In Ways We Can't Imagine - Book 1 - The St. Germaine Chronicles- fiction

The Pacifist's War - Book 2 -The St. Germaine Chronicles- fiction

Htting the Fan – nonfiction – free

The Day Momma Died: Growing Beyond the Fear of Death – nonfiction – free

 

 

 

The Day Momma Died: Growing Beyond the Fear of Death

 

 

It is inevitable, of course. No avoiding it at all. So, why do we fear it? Why are we afraid to talk about it? Why do so many run the other way when the ones they supposedly care about need them the most? Best as I can figure, we are scared to death of death, in any form, for any reason. If we make our assessment based on the way people act, a logical conclusion is that people are too self-absorbed to be compassionate, or they may think that death is brought on by bad luck and, therefore, catching. Either way, the person with the loss usually faces it alone.

During our younger years we fill our mind with gibberish. Some of it is hormonally driven, a lot of it triggered by massive insecurities, masquerading as something else. Sometimes we even call our insecurities confidence or progressiveness. Boy, are we wrong. These days this gibberish often arrives through the digital devices that so many think they can’t live without. Why?…the age-old fear of being alone and feeling unimportant.

Death, during the time of youth, seems a long way off. Since we are still wearing our invincibility cloaks, when friends our age die, we chalk it up to bad luck. Religious zealots of every persuasion decide that the deceased has angered God or some other equally implausible fiction. This belief allows them to feel more in control of their fate and, therefore, safer, if they adhere to certain precepts and behaviors.

During middle-age, fear is still in charge. These days, middle-agers also depend on digitalia to ward off their insecurities. But by the time we reach our sixties, with our friends and siblings developing terminal illnesses and our parents dying or already gone, you’d think we’d be en route to getting a grip. Mostly, you’d be wrong.

For me, death came calling again on a day in late October of 2009. Twelve days after her ninety-first birthday and two days since I’d last seen my mother, the phone rang at 7:15 in the morning. Jarred from sleep, I rolled out of bed and hurried to the kitchen to answer it before it stopped ringing. It could only mean one thing.

“I think you’d better come in,” the nurse said. “She’s likely to pass today.”

“Should I hurry?” I said, thinking I needed a shower and breakfast before I faced what was to come. There was no way to know how long the bedside vigil would last. Her body had been visibly shutting down for several days. Two days earlier, when I spent the entire day with her, only once did she become conscious long enough to briefly acknowledge me before slipping away again. The following day after talking to staff, I decided to stay home to emotionally rest.

“No need to hurry,” the nurse said this time. “It may take a while. Be careful on the way down. We don’t need another tragedy.”

Back in the bedroom I awakened my husband, Phil, a supportive man with a loving heart. As we drove the hour and twenty minutes to the nursing facility, I prepared myself as best one can, as I had the other times she nearly died. On the way I talked to my spirit guides, again wondering if they were real or if I was talking to myself. Was there an afterlife? Would I ever see Momma again? I wanted to think so.

An imaginative mind can create whatever its bearer needs or wants to hear, and it often does. Sometimes, we call this fiction intuition, inner knowing and/or God. There are many words we assign it to comfort ourselves. This I realized during my youth. By the time Momma lay dying, I was more than tired of the fiction. I wanted truth and confirmation of that truth. Nothing else was acceptable. But after so many disappointments, I knew better than to count on verifiable answers.

Emotional yo-yoing is normal when a loved one is near death, especially when the dying takes place over a long period of time. Since entering the nursing facility Momma had already nearly died several times. I could tolerate no more yo-yoing. I was broken. However, my brokenness was not because of her impending death. It was her time. I was broken because I was required by the state to sell her house before her death to pay for her care. I complied with the requirement of listing it for sale, but managed to hold off selling it, so she would not have to experience the loss of her cherished home in addition to her independence. The dance I danced to protect her in every way possible was beyond stressful. The burden waxed heavier and heavier as her vacant old house, the one I grew up in, disintegrated.

For years my brother’s son had planned to buy the house. He still wanted to, he said. So Mom said we ought to make sure he could do so, somehow. This meant it was up to me to figure how to do that. With her wishes as the primary reason for turning down a number of offers, all of which were below the assessed value of the house so I was not required to accept them, I waited for my nephew, while he provided unlikely explanations and excuses for why he couldn’t buy it. Momma cried, thinking no one in the family wanted her home of sixty years. In the meantime the market crashed, and I learned my nephew was over-invested elsewhere and could not afford the house. If only he had informed me. I would have been supportive. Instead, his hedging deepened my stress and caused family dissension. This dissension is unlikely ever to be settled, unless he and some of the others make outstanding advances in personal maturity.

Settling family matters at times of death amplifies the worst in people. So it was in my family. My emotions were frayed. My tolerance, for being forced to make unacceptable decisions and endure situations over which I had no control, was gone. It evaporated in June, four months earlier, the last time Phil and I went to Momma’s house to do upkeep. I saw further disintegration and theft of more items from the house. On that day driving down the country road away from the house, I reached my Popeye Moment.

So by October, I was raw and bleeding when Phil and I entered Oregon’s Bay Area, crossed what everyone called the North Bend Bridge and drove along streets I’d traveled repeatedly with my mother. Phil and I parked in front of the nursing home, the place my uncle John died, knowing this would probably be the final time we visited the facility. As we walked along the freshly buffed floors and nearly vacant halls toward Momma’s room, I silently said to my guides, in case they existed, Please show me if you’re real. Show me that life goes on after death…if it does. Demonstrate this in a way that is irrefutable.

In the room Momma shared with one other person, there was a gathering of people. Religious music was playing on Mom’s old tape player. A plate of cookies, a pot of coffee and tea set on a table to the side of the room…for me, my husband and others who might come to say goodbye. Mom was reclined at an angle in an easy chair, so she could breathe better. Her lungs were failing. A machine pumped oxygen into them, like it had since she was admitted to the home three years and two months earlier.

As we entered the room, two of Mom’s church friends departed, the woman giving me the evil eye. Emotionally beat up, I had no energy to deal with her misplaced anger. Shortly thereafter, I learned from staff that this woman had been trying to convince them to admit Mom to the hospital. The woman strove to convince them she had the authority to authorize this action. She did not. It was mine, alone.

It was not time to keep Mom’s soul tethered to a body which no longer functioned. It was time to make the kindest choice, time to let her go. The staff assured me, that given her condition, this was the best course for Momma. That’s what it was all about, doing the right thing for Momma, regardless of how it impacted the rest of us. This was Mom’s life and Mom’s death. Years before, she had made the decision that she did not want to be kept hanging on. The nursing home had her signed legal documents on file. Above all else I honored Momma’s choices, honored them, even when they conflicted with my own needs.

I moved to Momma’s side, and the others cleared the way, so I could take a seat beside the woman who taught me to drive, to cook, how to be a woman and most of all how to love.

“Hi, Momma,” I said, placing my hand on her arm. “I’m here. I love you, Momma.”

She did not respond, not in any way. She looked so terribly old and worn. Her whole body labored with each breath.

I’d been sitting beside her for a short time, my husband close by, when my childhood friend Carolyn entered the room. Her daughter, who worked at the facility, told her Mom was likely to die that day. Carolyn, herself, was not well. She had been dueling with a debilitating illness for years. I hugged her and thanked her for coming, as always keeping the most unstable of my emotions in check. I would not cry now. I rarely cried. It never helped me.

“You were there for my mother when she was dying,” Carolyn said. Her mother passed the year my oldest friend and I were twenty-one. By this time we were sixty.

Over the next few hours members of the staff filed in to say goodbye. They loved my momma, loved her, as much as one loves a patient in their care. This touched me. She had been kind and loving to them. She did not make demands. As ill as she was, she mothered a few of the other residents, even those close to her own age. She even fell in love one with one of them. They were so cute together. Unfortunately, he preceded her in death by a year and ten months. At the time she said, “Why do they always leave me?” By then three husbands had passed on before her.

Robin, the activities director, joined us and changed the music. She said that as the body dies, if there is music, it needs to be peaceful and gentle to bring ease in letting go, not songs like, I’ll Fly Away, which someone else set to playing. During Mom’s stay in the nursing home, Robin was a comfort. She worked to ensure that Mom, who was shy, got involved in activities. Robin treated the residents, Mom included, like family. Mom loved it there. A big part of that was because of Robin. I will always be grateful to this talented, caring woman.

Staff, including Robin, came and went, some staying to make sure Mom was comfortable. A nurse, Mom’s occasional visiting nurse while Mom was still at home, now worked at the nursing facility. She explained what was likely to happen, how the death would unfold. As Mom’s breathing became more and more difficult, this nurse occasionally administered morphine under Mom’s tongue. She said being unable to get a breath causes extreme distress. The morphine eases the panic. She was fond of Mom, staying with her until the end. She and the staff at Life Care were extremely compassionate doing everything they could to make sure Mom’s passing was as easy as possible. Death with dignity, that’s what they helped Momma achieve. I am in their debt.

All the while just under the surface my emotions were conflicted. I knew that once Mom died she would be gone forever from this life. When my aunt Lottie was in her eighties, and her mother had been gone thirty years, she said, “What is life without a mother?” Aunt Lottie’s the strongest person I’ve ever met. She died in 2000 at the age of ninety-seven. When I need to feel strong, I hold her love in my heart and stare at her picture to absorb her sparkle.

To be honest, I also longed for the end of Mom’s life. I could take no more. I knew that one day, I would regret she was gone. However, this was not the day for regrets. It was a day for release, a day for whatever Momma needed to happen, to happen. I stayed close, gently grasping her arm, not her knobby hands. Her arthritis could make them painful to the touch. In case she could hear me, I told her that it was okay for her to go. I said her parents and loved ones, including my father were waiting for her. I also told her I would be all right, that I had Phil, and we would take care of each other.

Around 12:30 p.m. during a quiet time, Carolyn began singing hymns, ones I’d learned by heart as a child. Most everyone else in the room, between four and six people at any given time, including me, joined in, hoping it would comfort Mom as she made her exit. After a time the nurse suggested I remove Mom’s wedding set, the one Dad had given her. She’d had two other husbands, but during her final years, it was Dad’s ring she wore. I felt guilty doing so. I was afraid I would hurt her, both emotionally and physically. Her hands were swollen. The rings were difficult to get off. At Carolyn’s suggestion I applied lotion, apologizing to Mom. I tugged and wiggled and applied more lotion. Finally the rings squiggled loose, and I slipped them onto my index finger, so they would not get lost. After a few more minutes there came a distinct change in Mom’s breathing. Over the next fifteen minutes we were told the time was close.

Suddenly, Mom bolted straight up, her body at an acute angle to her legs and the chair, a difficult thing to do when laid back in a recliner. Her eyes popped wide open. She bent her neck backward at a sharp angle and stared up at the ceiling, oblivious to those of us in the room. She was obviously seeing something that the rest of us could not see.

So I said, “It’s okay to go with them, Momma. They’ve come to take you home.”

After a few moments her body deflated, she slumped down in the chair and slouched forward, her chin resting on her chest. Her breathing stopped, her body vacant of the woman who had always loved me, the woman I had always loved.

The nurse checked her pulse and said, “Time of death, 1:30.”

It had happened. My momma was dead.

A life which began on October 8, 1918 in a small shack near Grass Valley, Oregon ended in a nursing home in Coos Bay, Oregon on October 20, 2009. My momma was gone. Gone. I’d never been in this life without her. My emotions numbed.

Phil and I cleared out Mom’s room, went to the funeral home and attended to all the things that were required of me. Weary, I returned home with my husband, so very grateful for his devotion. He’s the only person I’ve ever known who cares enough to be with me whenever I need him. A good deal of the time when he accompanied me to attend to Mom’s affairs, followed by the visit with her in the nursing home, he was experiencing intestinal distress. He needed acetaminophen and generic Pepto-Bismol to make it through the day. Despite how difficult it was for him as he dealt with his own losses, including the death of his mother ten months earlier, he was there for me. Instead of offering him comfort, his middle-aged children attacked him for no justifiable reasons. His sister, a woman who professed to be a devoted Christian, stole from him. The theft was blatant. Like me with my family, he realized no one in his family cared. He often ignored his need to process his own losses, so he could support me through the steps I had to take, legal and otherwise, ones only I could make. My love and respect for him multiplied exponentially.

On the way home from the deathwatch, with Mom’s belongings in the back of the car, things which had made her room more homey, we talked of the deaths of our mothers. We spoke of Mom’s unusual behavior—her sitting straight up, a feat she would have been unable to do, only minutes earlier. Her muscle tone had been gone for a long time. I thought to myself, this was my answer. They came for her. She saw them and went to be with those who cared about her, those who had already passed on.

Still, there was no proof. There are many explanations for what happened, some not the least bit spiritual. The words I spoke to Mom as she was dying were in keeping with her beliefs. I said it to ease her passing, for her as well as for myself. It was what I hoped to be true.

After Mom’s death, after the funeral, I wanted to talk to Carolyn about what had happened, since she also witnessed Mom’s unusual behavior. But at the time conversations with Carolyn became nonexistent. I could not get through on the phone. When I tried to discuss Mom’s death with her via emails, several different times, she did not respond. Both of her parents died when we were in our twenties. My guess is that death is not an easy topic for her.

Everyone I wanted and needed to talk to about it ignored the request with the exception of my husband. In general, the person with the loss has to deal with it alone because their “friends” and family seem afraid it will happen to them, or they don’t care. Oh, there may be scant words of love and support, but love is as love does. My husband was intimately acquainted with loss. Both of our fathers had been gone a long time. Mine was a nice guy, my daddy. His was a useless drunk, who only cared about himself. His father never became his daddy.

When death comes near, some people are comforted by their religious beliefs. Even if they abandon those beliefs when they are young, they often return to some variation during old age or at the time of impending death. They talk about heaven, God, angels and the departed loved ones. This appears to give them solace, though by their refusal to talk about death itself when someone else is in need, apparently their beliefs are not enough. They are children singing in the dark.

Since my reality was permanently altered by numerous horrendous events throughout my life, what I learned from those events negates the benefit of faith. For me, the beliefs I was raised with have long lived in the realm of mythology. I have learned and grown, making acceptance of such beliefs undoable. I no longer believe that if I sing in the dark, I will be safe. There is no safety external to one’s self. My brother’s actions taught me that. The only safety comes from within, one’s inner being.

I was working on my inner being, as I painted the Eagle Nebula, trying to capture the spaciousness of the universe on my home-stretched canvas. My thoughts returned to Carolyn. While applying paint to canvas, I wondered if this was the year her M.S. would take her. I grew very aware of how uncomfortable I was with the idea of her complete absence from this life. When she is gone, there will be emptiness where she once lived. So it was with my sister, my father, my mother and many others. The ache of impending loss wafted in and around me, along with fear of being alone at the time of my own death, though each of us enters death alone, no matter how many people surround us at the time.

At one time a large family extended around me. As a young child I accompanied my parents to myriad funerals. I grew used to seeing the deceased confined within the walls of caskets and hearing religious words spoken over vacant bodies. Many times, I have been faced with and contemplated death. Even so, since Mom has gone, my feelings about it have undergone metamorphosis. My husband is my last true family member. I don’t want to die and leave him alone, or him, me.

Phil is one year my elder. Both of us have physical maladies which could take us out. His resides in his intestinal tract. Mine is blood pressure related. To keep my body functioning as best I can, I exercise fifty minutes a day five to six times a week. I keep my weight down and my blood sugar balanced, so my hypoglycemia does not turn into the family maladies, heart disease and diabetes. Eventually, however, no matter what we do, the body gives out. One way or another death finds us.

I considered what I might be thinking when I enter my own death: Oh shit, here it comes. What the hell is this? Nothing. Or, what a wonderful thing this is, this freedom.

After death, what comes next? Is there nothing at all? Does the spirit originate and end with the body? Did the spirit preexist the body? There are many potential answers, but nothing definitive. The laws of physics say that nothing in the universe can either be added or lost. Since all things began at the time of the Big Bang, logic told me I did also, in one form or another. So, one night while painting The Eagle Has Risen, a part of the Eagle Nebulae, I chewed on it, as the old timers used to say.

My answer came in a moment of Satori. Death is the next step, the expansion. What is, is, no matter what I think or believe about it. I am expanding. I am one with all-that-is. My new playing field lies in the realm of the universe, whatever, however that is. Death is a rite of passage into that playing field. Wow.

Yoga instructor, Rodney Yee says, “There is no fear of the cycle of birth, life and death. For when we stand in the present moment, we are timeless.”

This works for me…for the time being. For what is existence without allowing space for change and growth…and growth requires climbing out of societal and self-constructed boxes and setting ourselves free to become. I am becoming.

 

The End

 

 

About the Author V. M. Franck

 

I live in the Oregon boonies with my husband, two cats, a bunch of wild turkeys and deer. I am currently writing my eleventh book. A couple are out of print. I paint the cover art on stretched canvas and prepare the book covers myself. Please keep checking back for more books by V. M. Franck on my Shakespir page at Shakespir.com or other vendors. On Shakespir, click on one of my books. Below it will be a more complete list than is shown by typing in my name. The books are not available through Amazon. If you like my books please recommend them to your friends and have them download their own copies. Generally, I spend two to five years fulltime writing each one. It’s a large investment.

 

Thank you for reading my book. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to leave me a review at your favorite retailer. Thanks. V. M. Franck

 

 

Books by the Author

 

Trying Not to Drown – nonfiction

The Day My Brother Murdered His Neighbors – nonfiction – free

Tater's Maters of Hootenanny Flats- Book 1 in The Mater's Series -fiction

Resurrection Rose- Book 2 in The Maters Series - fiction

Final Entry – Book 3 in the Mater’s Series – fiction

Once Without Dying

The Sword of Ruth: The Story of Jesus’ Little Sister, Past and Present – fiction

In Ways We Can't Imagine, Book , The St. Germaine Chronicles- fiction

The Pacifist's War, Book 2, The St. Germaine Chronicles- fiction

Hitting The Fan

 

Book Descriptions

 

Trying Not to Drown: When My Brother Murdered His Neighbors, A Story of Horror, Loss and Learning to Overcome – nonfiction

 

On a rainy March evening while his neighbors watched Billy Graham on television, my brother Ken stood outside their livingroom window, raised his hunting rifle and fired. Four victims later he was arrested for their murders, thrusting my family and me into a nightmare of horror. This is an honest account of what happened to him, my sister, our loving parents and most of all me. Through time-laced lenses, I expose the rawness of my feelings, the abandonment by family and friends and the evolution of new beliefs. A story of violence, victimization, religious hypocrisy and an extramarital affair – mine, it will alter your perceptions of murder from the inside out.

 

The Day My Brother Murdered His Neighbors is a slice of Trying Not to Drown.

 

Tater’s Maters of Hootenanny Flats – fiction – Book 1 of The Maters’ Series

 

In the back hills of Camas Valley four antique women of independent minds and the dog who secretly guides them, make moonshine, grow pot, avoid the revenuers and plan their biggest undertaking, which extends far beyond anything they have ever known, an earth revival project. Follow these mavericks as they defy all standing in their way. These women are loosely based on some of my family members.

 

Resurrection Rose – fiction – Book 2 of The Maters’ Series

 

Bethanie, a portrait artist, paints people back to life. Tackling the resulting fiascos, she runs into her former lover, Gabe, and resurrects their once forbidden love…along with his deceased grandfather. She is propelled into a world peopled with nosy, old dead women (Tater’s Maters) who are on a mission to help her whether she likes it or not.

 

Final Entry – fiction – Book 3 of The Maters’ Series

 

Final Entry unearths the dilemma of a woman, who upon passing into the afterlife must choose between four of her lovers, all of whom expect to spend the rest of forever exclusively with her. Tater’s Maters are there to “help”

 

Once Without Dying – fiction

 

Three young woman of different faiths, Sheeawna—Christian–motivated, talented and hot, Akilah—a Muslim—grief stricken, faith-driven and determined and Mali—a Hindu—innocent, loyal and vulnerable learn of each others differences and similarities while supporting each other through heartaches, abuses and struggles. While developing their friendship, they gain the courage to pursue a unifying force and common purpose with a mystic, a female rabbi, a Zennist, a follower of Native American spirituality and one who believes love is the way. It is a powerful story of love, respect and honor at a time when tolerance and compassion are paramount for survival on a global scale. (The characters in the book join the characters in The St. Germaine Chronicles at the end of book 2. I did not include them in the series because it would have altered the main focus of Once Without Dying.)

 

The Sword of Ruth: The Story of Jesus’ Little Sister, Past and Present – fiction

 

Jesus of Nazareth was my brother, a big brother I adored. He wasn’t a savior at all; he never intended to be. Despite my Christian upbringing, accepting him as my personal savior never worked for me, and later I learned why.

 

In Ways We Can’t Imagine – Book 1 in The St. Germaine Chronicles – fiction

 

Is death the truest test of love? When Arranah loses Kendal, the one she loves more than herself, she nearly takes her own life. Instead, she learns of legends, a multidimensional conduit and a way to be with him…with a catch anchored in an ancient matrix. But first she has to learn of its existence and a way to live without him. For it all to work, she must find the link she does not know exists and another woman whose life and love are so closely bound to the mountain.

 

The Pacifist’s War – Book 2 in The St. Germaine Chronicles – fiction

 

If you don’t remember who you are, how can you find yourself? This is Peter’s dilemma. Losing himself in the heart of a war zone in Vietnam, he embarks on an amnesiac’s quest to uncover his true identity. Wearing a name which is not his own, he is alarmed when he receives medals for atrocious acts. His search for himself leads to a cave, encrypted writings, a dog named Emmanuel and a mysterious woman. Following what appear to be hallucinations, in a site that cannot be real, he uncovers the mystical woman’s identity, his sister Arranah and what remains of his family. Characters from In Ways We Can’t Imagine, Once Without Dying as well those in this story converge at the cave to activate covenants on hold for thousands of years and help mitigate impending catastrophic earth changes.

 

Hitting the Fan – nonfiction – free

 

Have you ever felt like you were in the direct path of disaster, over and over again, and there was nothing you could do about it? This is my journey through those feelings, why I felt that way and what I did to alleviate the trauma.

 

The Day Momma Died: Growing Beyond the Fear of Death – nonfiction – free

 

When our parents die we are forced to face our fear of death. This is my experience


The Day Momma Died: Growing Beyond the Fear of Death

  • ISBN: 9781370136889
  • Author: V. M. Franck
  • Published: 2017-07-11 00:35:20
  • Words: 5263
The Day Momma Died:  Growing Beyond the Fear of Death The Day Momma Died:  Growing Beyond the Fear of Death