My well-earned break was to be short-lived. While I was out presenting my workshop, Robin had phoned the hotel and left a message to for me to call. Brian, arriving at the hotel before I finished my presentation, returned the call to Robin. As I walked into the hotel room, Brian gave me the news that Mom had passed away.
I never felt grief, just a giant sucking in of breath. I focused on what needed to be done next. We took a moment in Toronto to have a good lunch, make plans, and draw up checklists of things that needed to be done. It was surreal.
Apparently, on Friday, Robin had taken Mom to the hospital in the evening. A couple of neighbours had gone with them but came home later that night to check in on Dad. The hospital could not do anything for Mom, and Robin brought her home at about three-thirty a.m. on Saturday. They went back to sleep in their exhaustion, Mom and Robin sleeping on respective couches. They woke around seven a.m. and talked a bit about grandkids, and so on. They had good conversations, in between Mom’s naps, and laughed over good times. I missed that opportunity. I have to learn to let this go and deal in the present.
Mom’s breathing got more and more shallow. Eventually, around nine a.m., Robin looked over at her and saw that she had stopped breathing. Dad, on prescriptions for infections, was quite out of any concept of reality. He became very upset and told Robin to get her body out of the house. Poor Rob had to hustle, with the aid of his cousins, to find an undertaker to remove Mom’s body. Dad was emotionally distraught, Rob said, and could not deal with all of the things he needed to deal with. He did not recognize Mom’s body as his dearly beloved late wife. (Dad was suffering from prostatitis, which we did not know at the time. He was incoherent much of the time and was having difficulties getting to the bathroom.)
I must go back in time to explain this next problem. In their will, Mom and Dad named my cousins (husband and wife) as executors. We are not sure why, since the will was redone in 1998, and Robin and I were adults at the time. These cousins live in Southern Ontario, and it is a fair distance to visit here, especially since they have a farm. Fortunately, they happened to be visiting in the area at the time. Robin and the cousins made arrangements to send Mom’s body to the funeral home and to have her body cremated.
Once at the funeral home, they signed the agreement with the funeral home. My cousins declared my father unfit to be in charge and took ownership of the problems. Dad certainly was in no condition to take care of these things. In hindsight, my brother and I should have simply signed the agreement with the funeral home and taken control. We had power of attorney for both medical and financial affairs. In the meantime, my cousins began acting as executors and, once they had done so, since Dad could not at the time, they had complete signing authority for all matters. This became a problem later when trying to remove Mom’s name from documents and put them solely in Dad’s name.
All of the arrangements had to be done between my cousins and the funeral home from this point on. We could not even take her remains out of the funeral home for the memorial service, as we were not executors. Our cousins had to sign a letter later, as executors, giving us permission.
By the time Brian and I arrived from Toronto, the funeral arrangements were made and the contract signed. My cousins and my brother had begun writing Mom’s funeral announcement, but they did not know some of the names. The obituary left out Mom’s dear adoptive sister in Lethbridge, whom I had not seen in more than twenty-five years. I felt bad--another mistake for my hindsight list. I had to take over this job. The next day was Mother’s day, and I had an obituary to write. In hindsight, we should have postponed the small family funeral until a later date, rather than having it a week later.