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Dying overseas

18 February, 2013

This weekend has been a whirlwind of news from overseas.

On Friday I heard that my step mum had been taken to hospital. On Saturday morning I found out that she had leukaemia. Later on it was an infection on top of the leukaemia and by Sunday I was told that she has only a matter of days to live.

My brother and sister have made the drive up from their end of the country to be with my Dad, my other sister lives nearby to him. It’s just my brother and I here in Australia and we can’t get back to Ireland for a number of reasons.

All my step family have gone to see her in hospital as well as my niece and nephew. My brother here gives me the impression that he’s concerned how I’m doing as I was really the only one from my family who knew her as they had all moved out when Dad and she married over 20 years ago.

So I’m taking a moment to see how I’m actually doing.

I’d rather not have to face it honestly. My initial reaction has been to get busy with distractions rather than face the emotions of being overseas when family get ill.

My Dad has aged. He facetimed me on Saturday evening and his speech was affected and he looked like he’d aged years.

So what was my relationship like with her? Dad and she started going out together in June when I was 16. She had been a widow for around 14 years with 5 children aged 17-25 years when they met and I knew a couple of her sons from college. Dad had been a widower for 3 years.

From the June start of the relationship they were married on September 30th! My family home was sold out from under me as was hers and we moved to a nearby suburb. I still dream of my childhood home much to my confusion.

When we merged the families there was Dad and I and then her with 3 of her boys. It was a trying time for all of us. She felt I was there to break her and Dad up and I was a very mixed up 16 year old crying out for love and not finding it in my Dad.

A few months after they married I was pregnant and when they arrived home it was she who hugged me while my Dad looked disgusted with me. He continued to be bitterly disappointed in me and some of the choices I made.

A few years after that I married and started my family and she said that she wasn’t our kids grand mother and didn’t want them to see her that way – up went a wall and hubby was indignant. Sure, we still went to their house with the kids and she was around but she was never “Granny/Nanna” to them. It was Dad who babysat rather than her.

When I called Dad after we moved overseas she would say “Hi” but then quickly pass the phone on to Dad for a chat, rarely would she engage in a chat. It was a bit sad.

So here she is now, dying. I’m sad for Dad and hope he’s being looked after by the family but I’m so out of the loop by the international distance. I fear this could be the end of him. He’s buried one other wife after years of sickness but he was young then, he’s 83 now. I honestly don’t know how their relationship was. She was bossy and capable and I would hope Dad can keep doing things for himself with his ever so capable attitude of his own.

It doesn’t really matter but it’s not like I can leave my family to go back there either for long term, nor would I want to I don’t think, I certainly don’t want to leave my kids behind.

I did make a call to my credit card company but they won’t extend my credit (which is fair enough). $1870 is not a minor expense and the kind of pocket money I just have lying around. Logistics aside though would she still be alive even if I had left today? Mind you I was going more for my Dad than for her funeral but would that leave things unsaid? I don’t think so.

Hubby sent my Dad a text and I thought he was just interfering. I was crabby with him for it. He’d asked me to iron him a shirt this morning while he showered and then said he’d heard news of a friend of ours in Wales. Instead of hearing me say I’m too busy right now though he then just blurted out that he has Alzheimers. Sometimes I wonder about his tact.

He thinks if he has news he must say it then and there rather than waiting until I (or whomever) is actually ready to hear it, especially if it’s important.

So I’m being the master of avoidance, even with writing this. My brother was asking about us doing some kind of memorial for her. We can’t send flowers – not that I see the point when she’s in palliative care. I asked my church to pray. I haven’t heard back from the general church email, just from one of the pastors whom I facebooked.

I wondered about having a mass said for her but I’m kind of stumped to know what to pray for her and the family other than peace. But I just feel numb, nothing and somewhat guilty for that.

Is it wrong to feel this?


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