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10 May 2013
We are nearly at the end of "death season" around here. It's not as emotional as it once was, but it starts around Thanksgiving and ends on the 18th of May, with the anniversary of David's death. It includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, all the February birthdays (including Paul's and David's), Paul's anniversary on April 20 and David's.
In the earlier years, I always heaved a sigh of relief on May 19, knowing that I was more or less free and clear of the more painful emotions until Thanksgiving rolled around again. It's not that anybody really speaks of "death season" and I don't know if anybody else feels it as I have these past 17 years, but I'm just always aware of being in that pocket of dates.
When I was at my mother's this week, she pulled out a box of journals. Without benefit of computer or internet, she has nonetheless kept a daily journal for as long as I have known her. They are hardbound books that she fills in pencil with her neat handwriting which, at 93, is still neater than mine.
Many years ago she told me that when she left my father, she threw out all the journals that she had been keeping for the 35 years of their marriage because she wanted no more reminders of that unhappy time. I was disappointed to hear that her written history of so many years had just disappeared. But she has little sentimentality about things like that and, in fact, after I left home she had thrown away my written diaries because they were so much clutter and I didn't live there any more so obviously I must not have wanted them. Such a shock when I realized she had done that. I still think about that little plaid covered book in which I recorded my thoughts and feelings, safely (I thought) hidden by the little lock that closed the book, until I found out my parents had been reading it anyway.
My mother showed me the journals that she had in the box and said she would just toss them and let someone burn them. I asked if I could have them, and she gave them to me. I pulled out the volume from 1996, our Very Bad Year, and turned to May 18 to read the entry she wrote on that day.
Bad Day Today, she headed the page, continuing...
Went to Hanna's [her hairdresser] at 9:00, then did some shopping, then home. Got a phone call from Dave's friend Brodie right after I got home, saying Dave had been in a serious accident and was in ICU at SF General. I dropped everything and was the first in the family to get there. He was already brain dead, but on life support. The big deal was to find Bev and Walt in New York and the kids in Disneyland. [The kids had done a concert in L.A. the night before and the band was celebrating at Disneyland. It is amazing to me how quickly Disneyland security rounded them all up -- helped, of course, by the fact that they were wearing Lawsuit t-shirts]
Tom arrived around 5:30. After tests Tom and I witnessed he was pronounced brain dead at 6:28. We had located everyone by then.
The 3 kids arrived from from L.A. around 10:30 and after all of us telling Dave goodbye, I brought them home with me. They kept Dave alive all nite for transplants tomorrow. Bev and Walt flying home tomorrow. Got the kids all bedded down for the nite.
When I started reading that entry, she asked me what she had said and I read it aloud to her, surprising myself by breaking down and crying. I didn't think it would affect me so strongly after 17 years.
In thinking back to that terrible night, I think she has her times wrong. The kids could not have arrived as late as 10:30 because Ned called us in New York, from the hospital, to let us know what had happened. We were at my friend Ron's house, waiting for a party to start and I remember that it had just turned dark outside when I was talking to a nurse, giving permission to harvest Dave's organs....but maybe it is my memory which is faulty.
On the following day, she wrote...
Got the call from the transplant team at 7:30 that they were taking Dave to the operating room. Got the kids fed and Bev and Walt arrived at 10:00. What a day. They were all here all day going over things. Everyone so broken up over Dave. We just can't believe he's gone. The phone was busy all day. They finally left for Davis at 5:00...
But the interesting thing was what she writes next...she talks about her stepchildren arriving to welcome visitors from Holland, who had just flown in for a little vacation, and the next several days' entries are all about entertaining the Rynders family, going out for meals, shopping, etc. Not a single word about Dave or us, but only of entertaining her other family. It's not until the 24th that she picks up the story of David.
Today was a good and bad day. Ida picked me up at 8:00 and we drove up to Davis for Dave's memorial. Padre [that would be the family priest, Father Joe O'Looney, who made me so furious that day!] conducted the family services at the funeral home and the cemetery. He left for Marin and we went back to Bev's for a quick lunch and visit with the family, then the real memorial the kids arranged started at 3:00.
It was just fantastic. They took us all through every emotion imaginable. From laughter to choking tears but all filled with so much love and talent from all those wonderful young people. About 450 people there. What a tribute to Dave.
Ida and I left around 6:00, stopped at Ida's son's home in Fairfield so didn't get home until 8:00. The crowd [the Rynders family] was here after a day in the city. I got them coffee and dessert and we talked over the day.
In all the most emotional times of her life, even the death of her
grandson, my mother has always been, first and foremost, the good hostess.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
My mother's high school graduation picture
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