Hypergraphia is a condition that causes people to transcribe their thoughts uncontrollably. I don't suffer from it in the clinical sense, but I may be borderline. My blog is the cyber-wall where I spray paint my thoughts for all to see. By the way, if you came here directly through blogger --if your page has no yellow frames and no pretty pic of me in the top left corner -- you may want to visit my main site at www.hypergraffiti.com, where you can read this blog and much much more.


I'm Trudy Morgan-Cole, a writer from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. My books include "The Violent Friendship of Esther Johnson," "Esther: A Story of Courage," and "Deborah and Barak." I'm also a married mom of two, a teacher in an adult-ed program, and a Christian of the Seventh-day Adventist kind. I blog about writing, reading, parenting, teaching, spirituality, and shiny things that catch my eye.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Eight Baths, Ten Movies

I haven't updated here a in few days, partly because Alan Doyle's smile is such a lovely sight that I wanted to leave it at the top of the page for a while. But mainly because things have been hectic around here lately, and only now have I had time to sit down and think and write.

I mentioned last week, I think, that my father-in-law was dying. He died on Wednesday night, and his funeral was today. So it's been a busy and tiring few days -- tiring both physically and emotionally, as funerals tend to be.

I won't pretend that my father-in-law was an easy person to have in the family or that I was in any way close to him. He was a very eccentric man who dealt with mental illness all his life; now that he's dead I still don't know if those two things -- his eccentricity and his mental illness -- were all the same or if they were two separate things. In other words, even if he hadn't had a diagnosable illness, he probably would still have been quite a character. He certainly had his good points; he was funny and quirky and generous in his own way, but he also caused us a certain amount of hassle, especially in the last couple of years as his health became poor and he lost the ability (but not the desire) to live independently.

So his death was like a textbook case of complicated grief, and the only thing that was really important to me this week was making it easier in any way I could for Jason. We had all the funeral planning and arrangements to do, although we had some help from Jason's sister Janice who flew in from Seattle to stay with us. Janice is a very low-maintenance, helpful and generous houseguest, and one of the unexpected pleasures of this week was having lots of time to visit with her, as she usually doesn't stay with us and is quite busy on her trips home. Still, there was a fair bit of housecleaning and cooking involved, and we invited some family and friends back here after the funeral so that required preparation too -- all at a time when we were in the middle of redecorating Christopher's room and so had furniture out in the hall and house generally "in the slings."

It was one of those challenging funerals where neither the clergyman (our good friend Pastor Gary Hodder, who kindly gave up a weekend away to perform the ceremony) nor most of the guests actually knew the deceased at all. Most of Jason's and Janice's family (their half-brothers and sisters, who share the same mother but didn't know his father well) showed up to be supportive, as did my family and some of our church friends. Christopher made us very proud by singing a solo at the funeral, and I gave the eulogy -- which is ironic on so many levels, but seemed to go over well.

All in all, I think we gave him a good send-off, and I'd be tempted to quote Macbeth: "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it." Except that I think it's not really true: the way he lived his life was sometimes inconvenient for us, but it suited him, and I don't think he was unhappy with it.

This was brilliantly illustrated last night at the funeral home. The staff of the personal care home where Jason's dad spent his last months dropped by to pay their respects. We were very grateful and fortunate that he had gotten into such a good facility when he needed regular care, and they were tolerant of his eccentricities. One of the stories they shared with us last night was priceless, although I didn't think it was appropriate to include in the eulogy.

There was a period last fall when, due to a clerical error on the government's part, my father-in-law was getting considerably more money than he was supposed to from his old age pension. (I know you're all thinking what I am: why doesn't the government ever make those kind of errors for me?) Essentially he was getting the equivalent of two cheques: one going to the care home to pay for his room and board, the other going into his bank account for him to spend. And spend he did, apparently, until the error was discovered and corrected. One of his favourite routines was to disappear from the home over the weekend, call a taxi to take him downtown and check into a hotel for a few days. Once, when the staff found him and picked him up after such a jaunt, one of the workers asked what he'd been doing for those few days. "I had eight baths and watched ten movies," he replied.

I thought, Why did we think he was crazy? Checking into a hotel for the weekend, taking eight baths and watching ten movies sounds excellent to me right now! We give him full marks for being a man who knew how to have a good time. The fact that it was at government expense just made it all the sweeter.

Today is actually mine and Jason's eleventh wedding anniversary. Of course when his dad died we decided to postpone our planned weekend of anniversary celebrations, so instead of dining out and relaxing we've spent our anniversary celebrating what marriage is really about: being there for each other in the tough and messy times of life. But once the dust has cleared and we have a free weekend, we are going to have a proper anniversary. And I think we just might check into a nice hotel, have eight baths and watch ten movies.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of prayers for you and Jason at this time.

A lovely tribute to your father-in-law.

I'm glad you have someone so well suited to share the "messy times" with. I always laugh when I think of Jason and the bag of vomit, and you knowing at that time that he was the one! Happy anniversary.


10:11 PM  
Blogger Tina Chaulk said...

Sorry to hear of this. I am glad you have the baths and movies to look forward to once this difficult time passes.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Condolences from our family out west, Trudy and Jason. Our prayers are with you.

Scott and Lori

12:33 PM  

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