When I was young I learned quickly from my family elders and from the community, that death comes in packages of three. At first hearing this I counted “one” and I would wait a good length of time, and then “two” with an equal pause and finally uttered a last count of “three” to see what would happen. I was soon told it wasn’t the counting of numbers, but the real death of people. I was stunned and though I had not experienced “death,” I knew it wasn’t something I should take lightly. Over the next few years I tried to understand and couldn’t. Then, almost overnight, my special, buddy, my Grandpa died. All I knew was that he wasn’t there and I felt a pain of loneliness in me. Following Grandpa’s death two other people weren’t in my seven year old world. I asked my mother where they went and she said they had gone to join my Grandpa. Then I knew they were gone forever and they were #2 and #3..
The past week has been filled with anxiety, memories, thoughts, questions, anger, love, protection and worry that wistfully put me under a spell of dismally low spirits. Regardless how I tell my self that that if death came in threes then it would be a myth or a play on the odd number three, I still can’t ignore the count. IF someone I know dies, I immediately wait for #2, exactly like the people do in the little town I came from.
Now, I know that Shadowlands’ husband died two weeks ago, Two weeks later M’s sister died from pancreatic cancer. I pray that in two weeks no one else will. When I think of the dates, exactly two weeks apart, makes me nervous, particularly when my Mother’s doctor told us this week he doesn’t want to give her further treatment because he thinks it will not be effective. His words still ring in my head and I find them so presumptuous. How can a Doctor think he, not the patient or family, can tender this decision rather than asking what the family and patient wish. His decision is tantamount to a death penalty, without any other possibility. Regardless, we need to rectify this action and it probably means finding a new doctor…
The death of M’s sister brought to mind the importance of getting everything straight while you have time, energy and health during your twilight years, if you have never tackled the problem before. The major issue here is having a Will and a Medical Power of Attorney. I thought everyone did this, but I guess I was incorrect. My Mother and Father had a will since the 1950s, occasionally with attached codicils as time passed. M and I have had a will since 1970. In fact, we have changed the wills three times just to make sure every detail is covered.
If you don’t have a will you should have one. If you are married or with a partner please keep it a joint will and state what you want, whether everything first passes to the mate and then trusts, gifts, etc., are handed out, or you need everything in a particular way because of trusts or inheritance taxes. The latter can kill your heirs if you are not careful! Making a will also solves the problem of making sure you have an executor that will handle all of your affairs during the immediate time after your death.
Next, do not ignore how you wish to be buried. Make arrangements for yourself. Don’t wait until the last minute. If you don’t plan on moving then there isn’t any reason why you can’t have a plot, prepaid burial, etc., all arranged. After you do then let your next of kin know what your preferences are and how they are arranged. It’s a good idea to give a copy of all signed documents to a friend or relative to keep and then give to your family if they need them.
I mention these things because they are important and if you don’t take care of them you can cause your family endless hours of stress and grief. Lately I have remembered that my preferences for my demise has not been updated for a very long time. Years ago I only wanted to be cremated and the ashes strewn dramatically over the Iowa countryside where I grew up. Now that I am older I am not so sure that maybe what I feel the most comfortable and I tend to be a little less dramatic now, I need to consider this as an important matter, because if I should die before M, which is unlikely, then I just might be strewn to the wind!
And so I return to my melancholy spell and think about the three’s and hope that it is just a myth. I don’t want to deal right now with another death, particularly if it is as close as my Mother is to me. M. said to a friend on the phone that we (meaning our families) are in the “Year of the Dead”. M. whispered, thinking I might not hear, (Not likely since I have very good hearing), that he has two brother-in-law that are close to death, then he drops his voice even more to say my Mother and then mentions a friends Mother. As he was whispering I was counting and I didn’t like getting two sets of three’s. I suddenly saw a long journey into a final darkness that sent shivers up my back. No, God could not mean two sets of three within a short period of time, would he?
I used to discount all thoughts if they included God “did mean or didn’t mean” something would happen. Now I think he has a big thing to do with everything.
Maybe I should send a simple prayer to God and just ask him to help me rid my mind of the three’s and above all forget I ever heard about the “Year of the Dead”. If he was kind enough to me then maybe I would no longer feel my melancholic spell and sunshine would fill tomorrow!