Just A Closer Walk: We Attended A Funeral Last Week

It’s been 2 weeks since my FIL passed away.

He was 89 years old, diabetic, and had Alzheimer’s, the long good-bye.

His funeral was a week ago Monday in the city where Zen-Den grew up, a 4 to 5 hour drive from here.  We drove there on Sunday and came back later in the week.

The funeral wasn’t a sad or maudlin affair because the person FIL had become was nothing like the person he’d been in his prime;  even then, in his better days he was a ‘hale fellow well met’ with some Archie Bunker thrown into the mix– stubbornly clinging to the past.

However, as is the way with people who suffer with Alzheimer’s, FIL deteriorated slowly, forgetting his resentments along the way.  He became physically weak, and seemingly ready to leave this world.

The best part of the funeral was FIL’s 3-year-old step-great-granddaughter who stole the show.  She was cheerful, of course.  Dressed in a sundress + straw hat.  Delightfully curious.  So much so that at one point during the memorial service she went up front, quietly, to join the pastor, sitting her little self down on a chair nearby him to watch.

Which was cute– and a visual reminder that life goes on.

And on that positive note I’ll end this post.  I’m not even sure why I’m telling you this, but some days, occasionally, I write here in a serious way as if this were my journal–  instead of a personal blog filled with flapdoodle and twaddle.

Today is one of those days.

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted by choice. Usually.

68 thoughts on “Just A Closer Walk: We Attended A Funeral Last Week”

  1. I am sorry for your loss. Even when you know it’s coming or it’s the best outcome, there is a sadness about it. My mother (long gone) had Archie Bunker-isms too. We loved her in spite of them! There are days when flapdoodle just will not do! Nice tribute!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kate, thank you. I agree with you. We knew he wasn’t long for this world when he began to fall down earlier this spring, but there’s still a sense of loss. And relief that things ended as well as they did for him.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry for your loss and the cruel way it meandered on until the end. Thank goodness there was a straw-hatted and fresh-faced finale.

    Every so often, Life does provide a small Grace Note. I’m glad you spotted it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nance, thank you. Alzheimer’s is cruel, it robs you of yourself while forcing you to keep going in kind of a confused haze. The 3 y.o. was a perfect grace note that made me want to laugh out loud mid-service– which of course I didn’t do, until later.

      Like

  3. Although I like the flapdoodle and twaddle I usually find here, this was a nice change, bittersweet of course. I’ve been through the long, long goodbye with my aunt/mentor Ruthie.

    Thank for the YouTube rendition. I’m listening to it as I type here. My brother-in-law attended a funeral last week that ended up with a picnic, a cheerful note rather like the wee, sun-dressed girl who stole the show.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. marian, I hesitated about posting this remembrance. Years ago I wrote a different blog that I treated like a journal, but this one I’ve always kept light &/or snarky. However, just ‘cuz, I wrote this post.

      I like this rendition of Just A Closer Walk With Thee, too. When I searched for it on YouTube, I was amazed by how many people have sung this song. This version seemed the most like FIL, so here it is…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a sweet remembrance that little girl left everyone. The progress of dementia and Alzheimer’s in a loved one is heartbreaking to witness. The end – even though it is a relief in many ways – brings with it not only the sadness of the final loss but also the years that went missing along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janis, the 3 y.o. was a perfect counterbalance to the finality of the memorial service. She may have misbehaved by going up front, but she did it in a most endearing way. You’re right, of course, about the lost years with Alzheimer’s. Things drag on with this disease, leaving one to wonder about what didn’t happen, and what did.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry for you and your family’s loss, Ally. The Long Goodbye is the best description of Alzheimers (and a lot of other ailments that slowly but surely erode a person) as I’ve ever come across. My hope is that my goodbye is lightning fast, for my family’s sake.

    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deb, there’s something positive to be said for just leaving this earth suddenly. You’re right about the toll Alzheimer’s, or a lot of other diseases, takes on a family and relationships. This ended as well as can be expected, but it does leave me wondering who FIL was in the end. So strange.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Carrie, thank you. I’m sorry that this disease invaded our lives, but I’ll admit that there were some hilarious moments along the way. FIL had a sense of humor and could, for a while, laugh at himself. The little girl, so polite, was a perfect counterpoint to any potential sadness.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m sorry for your loss.

    I love the wee one getting right up there to see what’s what. 🙂

    I enjoy flapdoodle and twaddle, but this kind of post is most welcome as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tara, thank you. I’ll always remember this little girl because she was so alive, in a curious and cute way. A nice contrast to the finality of the service.

      I hesitate to write anything too serious or deep here, but occasionally something less light-hearted happens to me and I feel the need to share it. Not too often, though.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. nancy, I did have to make a conscious decision to post this. I’m glad that I did so, too. The 3 y.o. in that straw hat was a hoot to watch. New rule: all funerals for people over 80 must have a cute kid there to provide perspective.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Sorry for your loss, Ally. Kudos to the parents of the little one for letting her do what she wanted instead of being all parenty and spoiling the show. Also kudos to them for raising what seems to be a well-behaved, curious child. It is fortunate that you have a bright spot to remember this sad occasion. You should not hesitate to post the sad with the snarky, it’s all life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet, thank you. I agree with you that this little girl was appropriately interested in her surroundings and she added a little unexpected perspective/spice to the memorial service. [I’ve no doubt if she’d been disruptive she would’ve been removed immediately.]

      It’s funny how I’ve gotten into the blogging groove I’m in. At one time I wouldn’t have thought a second thing about talking about gloomier topics, but for some reason in these last few years I’ve gone sweetness & snark. 🤷‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I am so sorry for your loss.

    My stepdad’s mother passed several years ago – another victim of Alzheimer’s. Like your FIL, with each passing week she was striped of her resentments as well as her memories. As a result, I got a chance to briefly see the person she might have been had things like jealousy or petty disagreements gotten in the way. That small silver lining was all to brief and not at all worth the disease.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Allie, thank you. You’ve described what happened with FIL, too. For a period of time he forgot why he was upset with some people and the government, but still retained much of his personality. He was fun to be around then– and we figured this must have been who he was before he became disillusioned and bitter. So odd.

      Like

  9. Some people think it’s always a tragedy for someone to die, but for an elderly person with Alzheimer’s /dementia or someone in chronic, debilitating pain, it can be a blessing. Even for Patt at 59 with advanced terminal cancer, it was his time to go. Love the little girl’s spontaneity!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret, I agree with you, of course. FIL was not who he was and his slow decline, associated with Alzheimer’s, took its toll on everyone around him. The little girl was wonderful, not understanding the seriousness of her surroundings, but still engaged in the process. Happily.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Jan, good point. I believe that’s exactly what happened in this situation. This 3 y.o. girl, in her own innocent way, made the funeral special.

      Like

  10. Thank you for sharing this experience. I too am sorry for your loss. Also, thank you for letting me know that I am not alone in loving a “redneck” stepfather who is also beginning to show signs of dementia. My husband, Danny, says that “it is just the way (Frank) grew up” and I can see the validity of that because “times were different then”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Patricia, thank you. Yes, I know what you mean. These older men [and women] are lost in today’s world, then to have dementia hit them too… well, my empathetic self goes into overdrive around them, but my common sense tells me the first priority is to keep them safe. What a situation.

      Like

    1. Betsy, you said it. The little girl was the antidote to any possible sadness at this funeral. My biggest problem was not laughing out loud at her innocence while the service was going on.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ally, firstly my best to you & Z-D. A loss is still a loss, however expected it may be. Your blog post has been a lovely and thoughtful way to mark the sad occasion.

    All forms of dementia are so cruel – to both the sufferer and those who love them but what particularly interested me was your observation of the difference to your father-in-law’s behaviour once the burden of life’s frustrations and disappointments were no longer remembered. I hope he and you all were able to enjoy some time with his unburdened self before the disease progressed too far.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. deb, thank you. Yes, you’re right that even though you know it’s coming, the finality hits you.

      It was fascinating to experience FIL during the time he was unburdened by life’s frustrations and disappointments, but still personable. We laughed a lot then, and he actually attended to what other people were saying! It was, we thought, a glimpse into who he was a young adult, before resentment took hold of his psyche. But then, of course, he declined and Archie Bunker reappeared.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, we had a similar experience with my father. The shared laughter was a good time and one we all cherish. Like childbirth, I feel sure that the less easy memories will fade with time, but the shared laughter will remain.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s a nice way to think about his decline. He wasn’t the most easy person to begin with, but I’d prefer to remember him in a good way. No need dwelling on negative at this point.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Elen, thank you. You read about what to expect with Alzheimer’s but until you experience someone with it, it’s not real. Such a cruel disease. The little girl was great. A good reminder to keep everything in perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. You’ve been through a bit of a roller coaster ride the past couple of weeks. I understand your need to write about ti. It helps with the processing.

    On a sad day when final good-byes are said, how wonderful that you have a warm and sunny memory of the day. It sounds like it was a heartwarming moment 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, these have been a weird few weeks. I’m happy that I got to a point where I could sit down and write about it. Like you said, writing helps me process things.

      The memorial service wasn’t a sad affair considering FIL’s age and how out of step he was with the times, but I’ll remember it with a smile because of this little girl.

      Like

    1. Akilah, you’ve said this so well. The little girl did remind me to live in the moment with laughs and smiles. She and her straw hat will forever live in my heart.

      Like

    1. Judy, thank you. Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease, and one that takes its toll on everyone involved. But as you said, as one life ends another starts– reminding me to keep on, keeping on.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Christie, thank you. I agree with you. Watching this little girl with her straw hat made the memorial service more meaningful. It was her joy, of course.

      Like

  13. Losing those we love, no matter what the circumstances, marks our hearts with tenderness. And so I’m sending an extra dose of love to you and your family.

    I’m glad you chose to post this. Our lives are complex and nuanced, and there is room for all it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deborah, thank you. I agree with you about the experience marking my heart with tenderness. Most of my elders are gone now, making me feel older and wiser as a result.

      I posted this realizing that some readers would be unsettled by this conversation, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how supportive and understanding everyone has been. We’re all complex and nuanced, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

  14. My paternal grandma suffered from dementia, and I will say that before it got to the point where she didn’t know us anymore, it wasn’t all bad. She let go of a lot of her paranoia and depression, which were a lot of her personality in her prime.

    I’m sorry for your loss, even if he wasn’t wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. J, it was fascinating to see FIL behaving in a less bitter, more engaging way. I’ve now come to realize that’s part of Alzheimer’s, but I didn’t know it at the time when he was being more mellow. Overall however, as you know, Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease depriving a person of their personhood, especially near the end.

      Like

Comments are closed.