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June 29, 2004


I'm very sorry. My mother's mother, who raised me only slightly less than my parents did, died on Good Friday this year. I've had very few people I am close to die--I was not prepared. Not that anyone is prepared.

And don't, for God's sake, apologize. First of all, this is a blog; as Michael Berube said today, "self indulgent compared to what?" Second, and more importantly, your first on the post subject helped me a whole lot when I was trying to write something decent about my own grandmother.

Yes, no need to apologize.


My mother's mother, who raised me only slightly less than my parents did, died on Good Friday this year.

Bless you, Katherine. And my sincerest condolences. (Thanks, Moe, too.)

The knowing...the waiting...

I understand. I do.

Kindest Regards,


We managed to transfer my father in law back to Cornwall (UK) a few weeks before he died and have been gratefull for that ever since. Seeing someone go is hard, every bit of possible positiveness in the last period of their lives matters.
He wrote a beautifull poem about the horrendous cancer that killed him, if you want I could mail it to you. With the description of your grandmother it seems appropriate.
And I wish you and your family lots of strength to cope with this hard time.

For your sake (selfish) I hope your parents live as long. Sometimes a death provokes a long low howl that never terminates.


I wish I had some magic words of comfort that would lighten your heart. I've heard losing loved ones gets easier as we age (assumedly because you get used to it), but I don't believe it. I don't believe having your heart broken ever gets easier.

My approach is to keep myself insanely busy so I don't have time to think of the loved ones I've lost. I know they'll catch up with me some day, though, so I don't recommend it.

It sounds as if you and your grandmother share a connection deeper than your conscience can yet recognize. The place in Maine sounds perfect. You describe it with such clarity, it's clearly part of who you are, just as your grandmother is.

May you deepen your bond in the time you have left and may your time together be rich and beautiful.


You're probably not ready for this but how lucky you've been! All four of my grandparents died before I was born. My dad died when I was a teenager. And you've been able to cultivate an adult relationship with your grandmother. How wonderful!

Losing a loved one is always hard. Harder when there's that special connection. Deepest condolences.

von, thanks so much for sharing your grandmother with me. what an incredible lady and what a beautiful job you did of conveying that in this lovely post. these wonderful memories you have of her will be of comfort to you in the years ahead.


having heard you talk about her before, and seeing first hand the character required to command your respect I know that your grandmother is a truly remarkable woman. wish I could swing by Indy and join you in a drink and a parliament, lucky strike or doral.

I lack the vocabulary to offer you any real words of comfort. so instead I offer you my sincerest condolences.


A sad thing thread, huh.

1st sad thing: I absent myself from Obsidian because of an inability to control an undiffentiated rage and an unwillingness to inflict these spasms on people who have never been anything but beyond reproach in their kindness and generosity. You have no idea how sorry I am that I have hurt Moe and von.

2nd sad thing: Lost my mother(76)in October. Many people have such stories to tell, but perhaps mine is unusual.

Liver transplant(unknown etiology) 7 years ago. $2000 a month anti-rejection medicine. After four years, her kidneys went. Dialysis three times a week for three years. Diabetic diet, plus dialysis diet:low liquid (1 liter a day), low potassium, low phosphorus. After another year, she stopped breathing on an irregular basis. Undiagnosed, possibly myasthenia. Lungs were fine, the chest would not move. Kept ambu-bags on hand, would wake in the middle of the night and bag her to the hospital while she turned blue. About once a month. Arterio-schlerosis (lack of calcium due to kidney failure) to the point her ribs were always cracked from coughing. Extreme muscle deterioration,we taped the TV remote to a lamp because she couldn't lift it. She got four inches shorter when three disks dissolved in her back. Constant repiratory infections from the anti-rejection drugs. 2 years before she died she had a tracheostomy, a hole in her throat. Clean it four times a day, vacumn the phlegm accumulation, three times a day, aerolizer treatments to keep the throat from clenching. Stomach resection, two years before her death, the doctors asked us if we wanted to give up. Glaucoma (another dialysis effect), and surgery to remove catacts. 24/7 stress, worry, I was primary caregiver. We fought to stay alive and worried and cried and screamed about diet and I wish to God I drank. But never left her side. Her mind was always sharp.

The last two weeks we moved a ventilator into the house and signed her up for swimming classes. :)
We always kept fighting to keep her alive and improve her life.

And then one night (as best as we can figure) she was walking to the bathroom, in her sleep pulled out her trach tube, was too distant from the air horns (couldn't yell for help with the trach) she kept by her side, fell on her face and suffocated.

A sad story? Will you misunderstand if I tell you my mother and I laughed a lot? That there is still part of me that still laughs? Kinda we are crazy, it ain't worth it, but we just can't seem to stop? Damned if anyone will tell us we can't take a little more. Did she do it for me? Hell, she wanted to watch the Mavericks get rings. She had smiles for everybody. She didn't want to die.

Went on to long here, probably without a point. I don't deserve your patience. Delete me. Life is good. Death ain't the worst. You can always take just a little more pain, so laugh at if it tries to break you.

My condolences and compassion, von.

Thanks all. It does help. It helps a lot.

(And it was good to see you in Chicago, Toby. I'll drop a line the next time I'm in DC.)

bob, I just don't know what to say. Courage, mon brave.

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