Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm missing you

I don't think about loved ones who have departed very often. When I do, it's never a sad occasion. By the grace of God, I have only lost a handful of family members in my 31 years on Earth. The first significant person I lost was my aunt Katherine. A devout Jehovah's Witness, she succumed to lupus at the age of 37 in 1990. We didn't get a chance to pay our respects because we were living in New York at the time and the funeral was going to occur in Georgia. My aunt's husband called and told us she was going to be buried the next day. That messed my mother up for a minute.

The next person was my grandfather, Willie Earl Brown. He'd battled alcoholism for as long as I can remember. I recall visiting him when he and his common-law wife Mary (everybody called her "Sister") were in an inpatient rehabiliation center. Now that I'm older, I recognize that he drank in an effort to deal with his anxiety and emotional instability. From what I've been told, he suffered a nervous breakdown after my grandmother passed away at the age of 39, leaving behind five children (three were grown). He suffered a heart attack and died on March 18, 1992.

After that was my aunt Everlene. I didn't learn the correct spelling of her name until after she passed away. She was an expert in the art of whipping ass. My aunt didn't play. I loved her sweet potato pies, which she only made during the holidays. Me and my cousins would sneak into the kitchen and eat pie all night. I knew she had had angioplasty performed, but I didn't know she had heart problems. My aunt passed away unexpectedly (heart attack) during the summer of 1998.

Finally, my step-father, Steven Louis Owens, suffered a fatal heart attack on July 5, 2007. I certainly didn't see this one coming, as he had endured successful open heart surgery three months earlier. He was so upset that he could not attend my graduation from LSU that May. My mother was tempted not to come to Baton Rouge because she worried he would pass away in her absence. When I moved back home, he seemed to be in good health. Despite his medical illnesses (hypertension, diabetes, and end-stage renal failure), he was one of the most pleasant and generous people I've ever met. I'll never forget that day. I was sitting in the kitchen (like I am now) surfing the internet and looking for a job. He exited his room, walked down the hallway, went into the basement, and never came back upstairs. I had an industrial fan on, so I couldn't hear really well. However, I remember hearing someone yelp. Believing it was my uncle reacting to something he was watching on television, I continued with my internet search. When my mom came home (about 30 minutes later), she said something about chicken. Thinking she wanted me to get a pack of frozen wings from the freezer in the garage (we have two refrigerators), I went downstairs, turned the corner, and found my stepfather lying face down on the concrete floor. I called his name a few times, nudged him, and checked for a pulse. Nothing. I ran upstairs and knocked on my mother's bedroom door. My uncle heard what I had said and emerged from his bedroom in tears. My mother was a fuckin' trooper. While my uncle cried/prayed, she performed CPR on her husband until the firemen arrived. We all watched as they intubated him, stuck him with numerous needles, and hooked him up to the AED. They shocked him about three times. Nothing.

We prayed as I drove to the nearby hospital, even though I pretty much knew he was gone. When we got to the hospital, I hoped to see him in a recovery room. I hoped the EMS had performed a miracle while in route to the hospital. Instead, we were escorted to a room and told to wait for the doctor. When he was pronounced dead, they allowed us to see him. He was in a room right across the hall. His eyes were halfway open. He looked tired and peaceful at the same time. We took his bag of belongings home and began notifying family members.

So, those are some of the people I miss. What about you?

Missing You, by Diana Ross

5 comments:

Shallotte said...

I don't exactly miss people once they are gone because to me they are not really dead. I know it's painful for many because they will never get to lay eyes on their loved ones but I guess in my case it also helps that I see them in my dreams. Once a person leaves this earth, there is just that final acceptance.

But reading the story of your stepdad just brought tears to my eyes. When you said he went to the basement and never came back upstairs...?

I didn't get to see my biological during his final days and I hink it was a good thing. From what I heared he could no longer walk and when I saw him in his casket, I could not recognise the face that was lying there. Maybe it's because the disease had eaten away at him. His face was so thin and changed.

thegayte-keeper said...

My great grand aunt is the only death I've experienced since I could understand what death was all about...I don't miss, however my wish was that she would have lived to see the year 2000 she died @ the age of 93...I LOVE THIS SONG!!!!

Losojosnuevos said...

Shallotte:

That's pretty much what happened. My mother said he had become somewhat distant since the surgery. I do recall him spending a lot of time in the garage (most homes in Georgia don't have basements), just staring toward the sky. She was always afraid that he would die in her absence. On that day, she was going to stay home and not go for a walk with one of our neighbors, but he insisted she go. Thirty minutes later he was gone. I don't believe people know when they are about to pass on. However, everyone believes he didn't want her to see him in that condition. It's possible he was experiencing discomfort and didn't say anything. Overall, I rejoice in the knowledge that his physical body is no longer in pain.

Gayte-keeper:
This song used to elicit tears, now it doesn't. I understand the lyrics now. How's the job hunt?

Shallotte said...

Yea, I agree with you on that part about the physical body no longer experiencing pain.

It's a relief knowing that someone you love will no longer be in pain in the afterlife. After I wrote in my blog about my dad, the following morning he visited me in my dreams. In one dream he was walking with me down the stairs and I looked at him, suprised that he could walk.

But my dear, why is it that you don't believe people know when their time is up?

Losojosnuevos said...

Shallotte:

I believe life and death are God's business. I certainly don't want to know when I'm going to pass on. The Lord can call me home whenever He chooses.