Saturday, June 18, 2011

Us, Divided

Last week, Chubble and I went off to Wisconsin for my grandmother's memorial service. It was a sweet little service and it was great to see family. In particular, my grandpa, who is so much older and frailer than he was when last we saw him, 6 years ago. Chubble got to see her little same-age cousins, which was fun; I saw family members I haven't seen in 6 or more years also.

Meanwhile, Francesco and the other three kids went to Oregon as planned to meet up with his mom/stepdad and all the siblings/cousins down there. By all accounts they had an incredible time. He had the camera and came back with it full; I've invited him to guest blog here, but we'll see if he actually does it.

Anyway. I can't write their experience, but I can write mine.

We had minor travel drama, and instead of getting into Madison (where my dad is spending the summer) in the early afternoon, we rolled in a bit past 10pm. We stayed at my dad's efficiency rental and had a surprisingly good night, took a walk in the morning, and then headed out for the memorial service. It was a little service in a sweet old tiny church. My dad dreads speaking in public but did it anyway, and I am proud of him for it. Elaina fussed just as he was getting towards the end of what he was saying, but it seemed like she and her three same-age cousins were tag-teaming the noisemaking during the service, and nobody seemed to mind.

I was perhaps not as close to my grandparents as I'd liked to have been. Certainly not as close as my cousins, who lived nearby, were.

My grandma (dad's mom) died in April. Grandpa wasn't aware of it, because he was coming off a major surgery and was hallucinating, so they couldn't tell him. They holding off memorial services until he was aware enough to plan it and well enough to attend it, which was last weekend.

Grandma suffered from Alzheimers, severe enough that she would have been unable to recognize me or the kids for quite some time. It feels like the relationship died long before she did, and although there is still sadness, there's also a hope that whatever happens after death, she's just as whole mentally now as she ever was before this disease.

Doris B. Judd, age 86 of Presque Isle, WI died on Friday April 22, 2011 at Our Home K-Care in Lac du Flambeau, WI. Doris was born on January 13, 1925 in Missouri the daughter of Earl and Edith (nee Tate) Hutchings.
She married Claude I. Judd on December 27, 1947 in Madison, WI.
Doris enjoyed traveling and spending time “Up North” with her best friend and husband, Claude of 63 years. They retired to Presque Isle in 1989 to their home on Armour Lake. She was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. Doris had the greatest joy by doing things for and with her family. She created an annual “kids week” to spend time with all of the grandchildren and made many special memories with them.
She is survived by her husband, Claude of Presque Isle, WI and by their children: Tom (Karel) of Hayward, WI; Mike (Gwen) of Honolulu, HI; Carol (Robert Kelley) Judd of Muskego, WI; Kathy (John) Sitkiewitz of Presque Isle, WI and Steve (Cheryl) of Stone Lake, WI and by 11 Grandchildren and 16 Great Grandchildren. Further survived by 1 Sister, Mary Skaggs and 2 Brothers, Jim and Richard Hutchings and many other relatives and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents and by 1 Sister: Margaret Young and 3 Brothers: John, Robert and Carroll Hutchings.
In lieu of flowers memorials to the Alzheimer’s Association.

We visited the sweet, tiny graveyard in Belleville WI where her ashes will be buried.

Afterwards, we all got together for dinner and a few hours of visiting at a hotel. My Grandpa, once so vital and invincible in my eyes, seemed a deflated person; he seemed much more himself when we saw him at breakfast the next day. Getting this short contact gave me very little feel for how he is doing. The idea that I may have had less contact with him than perhaps he deserved weighs pretty heavily on me now.

In one particularly sad moment, he said "you and your family must come to visit us...I guess it's just me, just me now." I told him we would visit just him, too, but honestly don't know when we can. My brief trip gave me a hunger to expand our family's horizons a bit, but that takes resources that right now, we don't have.

Elaina and I returned home just in time for me to go on call again, take her to a few prenatal visits (this went OK, not spectacularly but OK), and try to keep her occupied for a few days until Francesco and the other kids returned from Oregon.

They got back yesterday. Real life resumes.