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Dying and death have been on heavy on my mind the past couple of days, as I engage in yet another round of financial planning, which, of course, includes estimating one's life span. Reviewing actuarial tables isn't the most cheerful thing one could be doing mid-summer. OTOH, the numbers offer a lot of hope, too, for a longer life than most people allot themselves when asked to guess their own a number. In fact, people buy lottery tickets on odds thousands of times worse than those of living a long, long life. So odds were on my mind when I was thinking about my Mom who was always so sure that, if she just entered the sweepstakes often enough, surely she'd win. But in the game that really mattered, I think, somehow, she was a winner, or at least she exited life as if she were one.

I mentioned her death, but as always, there is a story behind that story. She grew up in the Deep South and though marriage to my Dad took her to the East (where he had been raised) and then eventually to California, which was new to both of them, but where a lot service persons ended up after WWII because it was such a land of promise and new beginnings, she was always a Southerner, and always maintained her connections to its lands, peoples, and cultures. So in her final days, as the phone calls and e-mails flew across country, I became a message center as my sister would relay information to me, and I write an update on her condition and then send to on to her sisters and cousins to whom she was Aunt Mimi, and a part of their lives for her visits to them. My sister is the best when it comes to making phone calls. But I prefer to write, so that's what I did.


The following was sent to all this morning. The funeral mass is today with a burial in Redding. From there, my sister and I are going to spend a couple days in Burney, an area dear to my parents, and then I'll head home, swinging through K Falls perhaps Fri or Sat. I'll call when I get to town.

My Mom died quietly yesterday evening, surrounded by her children and grandchildren.

She had a good morning, visiting with them and sharing stories prompted by her photo album. But as the day progressed and her bodily systems continued shutting down, she became weaker, slipping away and then regaining consciousness again, wanting to respond to friends and relatives calling her, but less able to do so.

Around 9 PM, the hospital chaplain visited to see how she was doing and offered to lead a prayer. As it was concluded and the "Amen" was said, Mom decided her time in this world was done, and she stopped breathing.

All grieve her departing.


There is no one who will ever be able to convince me that she didn't choose the time of her death, exiting on cue like the hammy actress that she was. I hope I will die as bravely.

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When Life Gives You Lemons
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