I took my favorite photo of my late wife Edith in 1981, long before she showed symptoms of the Alzheimer’s disease that would dominate our lives in the current century. I cared for her in our own home as long as possible; I visited often during her final years in a nursing home. This post is about one aspect of the endgame that may be helpful to others in a similar situation.
In Edith’s childhood home city, the Ohio River emerges from the confluence of smaller rivers. Three streams flow together at the end of this post. Please bear with me.
- The plantings around our house were few and scraggly when we moved in. Over the years, I planted trees and shrubs while Edith planted bulbs. Lots of bulbs. She was especially proud of the many kinds of daffodil, blooming at various times thruout the season. Long after she stopped gardening, she enjoyed the flowers every year.
- When Edith was in custodial care but still aware of who and where she was, the saddest moments came when she said she wanted to go home. I distracted her as best I could, never said anything to indicate that her condition precluded that, and never said that I would “go home” when it was time to end a visit.
- Many years ago, we had seen ads for cemetary plots, discussed what was and was not a good way to use land, and decided that we preferred cremation. When I began considering specific arrangements for Edith in 2014, I found that there are astonishingly many styles of urn available online. Stardust Memorials had one that would have pleased Edith as a vase for a bouquet of her daffodils. Packed carefully and shipped promptly, the urn was ready when the dreaded phone call came.
“Are you ready to bring Edith home now?” The funeral director’s question at the end of the calling hours brought me a sense of relief. She could come home at last, in our own car. There was time for me to work on some haiku while she waited for reunion with her favorite flowers in the spring of 2015.
Widower’s Song #1
No haiku can say
how strange this is: her journey
ended before mine.
Widower’s Song #2
Warm earth welcomed her,
ashes among daffodils
she planted and loved.
In response to Sometimes Stellar Storyteller Six Word Story Challenge: