Why is it when you leave home, it seems sad things happen. Maybe it is because you are not in the comfort of your home or surrounded by people who love you and comfort you. The beginning of 2011 has been full of sadness and loss and I am quite ready for it to stop.
First, my dear friend and colleague, Don Skadsen, passed away. It was a shock to hear the news. I and fellow city director retirees just had lunch together in December and Don was his usual smiling and talkative self. He was a respected Police Captain. He was elected as Police and Fire Commissioner and served the city of Sioux Falls admirably. I was sad that I could not attend his funeral and wish him a final goodbye and tell his wife Dorothy how much knowing him and working with him meant to me.
Next, my Uncle Ozzie died. Ozzie was my Dad's youngest brother. Ozzie was married to my mother's sister which kind of made all of us cousins like double cousins. We were together at both grandparents houses for holidays. We spent summers together. We grew up together. Ozzie had a very dry wit about him. He spoke his mind and didn't matter to him if his comment made you uncomfortable or not. It was said with conviction and he believed it, period. I was sad that I could not attend his funeral and give my dear Aunt Mackie and cousins hugs and comfort.
My cousin and his wife left for England after Uncle Ozzie's funeral to visit her mother who was ill. The day after they arrived, her mother died. I was so happy that she was there to be with her mother, to tell her she loved her in person. Another sad farewell.
A week after my Uncle Ozzie died, his youngest daughter lost her husband. You have to wonder why there has to be so much grief bunched into such a little space of time. One cannot get through the grief of losing one's father before additional grief and sadness is piled on top with the loss of one's husband. It seemed unfathomable that this happened. I was sad that I could not attend the funeral of my cousin's husband and let her know personally she was in my thoughts and prayers.
Just when I thought sadness and grief had reached it's peak, I get a call from my cousin in Richmond and she tells me Uncle Orv died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack. I am in shock. I ask, what is going on? Why is it that death has visited multiple times to my extended family? I was very apprehensive to call my father and tell him once again that someone in our family had just died. Orv was a man who always had a smile on his face, happy about everything, a wit and charm that just brought joy to your heart. A funeral to go to; sharing grief and sadness in person with cousins, their spouses and grandchildren who can't believe he is gone forever.
It doesn't matter whether your loved succumbs to an illness or dies unexpectedly. Death is death, grief is grief. One day they are here and then they are gone. It is something that is so hard to comprehend and yet it is a fact of live.
As my 92 year old Dad says, we are all going to die some day. For him, the loss of his oldest brother in 2009 and now the death of his youngest brother brings his mortality even closer. He is sad and despondent that he is the only one left in his family. And he knows his time is coming.
Waiting for death when you are 92 years old. I cannot imagine what that must be like for my father. If you are of faith, you believe that heaven is waiting for you and that you will see your loved ones again. I hold onto that faith. It is the one thing that comforts me when I lose someone I love. I am thankful that my father lives and I will cherish every day I have left with him.
Life and death. Happiness and sad farewells.