Saturday, November 18, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Living with...raccoons

I've posted many links to articles about bears invading human habitats. I even posted one about a moose. Now we have: Raccoons Invade California Enclave.

I actually saw a raccoon in front of my apartment building here in Manhattan last year. Once it was in the tiny garden we have, and a day or two later it was up in a tree across the street. It must have come from Central Park--I have seen a couple of them there. I wonder how it managed to get across Fifth Avenue. Well, I suppose it could have waited for the light to change.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The funeral, etc.

I spent the day going through my mail, both e- and snail. There's still a fair amount of snail, which I probably won't get to until Friday--I'm going to a Social of the LGBT Law Assn. tomorrow.

I've also been thinking a bit about what happened in Cleveland. My mom's funeral (Sunday) went well. My brother had arranged things with the funeral home just fine. Roughly 40-50 people were there, not including the 5 of us. A few came to express their condolences before the service--mainly those who would not be coming to the house afterwards. The rabbi did a rather good job of summing up her life, based solely on one conversation with my brother. The whole thing lasted maybe 20 minutes (the funeral home later sent over a CD with a recording of it, but I'm really not ready to listen to it again at this point). I cried a lot.

Then we drove over to the cemetery, maybe 10 minutes away. Interestingly, it's only three blocks from the house my mom grew up in. There was a brief ceremony in the mausoleum rotunda, or whatever it's called, with a recitation of the Kaddish. They didn't take the casket downstairs to the actual vault, because the elevator was out of order. The family did go down there afterwards, though. The double vault was covered by a little curtain. The cemetery had removed the marble cover and sent it out to have my mom's name added. We peeked inside, and saw my father's side covered with a piece of styrofoam, with his name scrawled on it. We laughed about that.

This was the first time I had been there since my father's funeral, nearly 25 years ago. I wonder if I'll ever be back--I know some people do like to visit their deceased relatives in the cemetery, but I'm not one of them. Maybe I got that from mom. The only time she went there was to attend funerals. She would stay afterwards to visit my dad and her parents, who are also buried there, but she never made a special trip.

After a few minutes there, we got back into the limousine and they took us home. We sat at the dining table and ate lunch. The rest of the afternoon, into the evening, we talked with the people who came to help us get through the mourning period. But it wasn't particularly somber. The Browns' game quietly played on the TV in the corner. (They actually won!) There was a lot of reminiscing about happy times with mom. A lot of people did express their surprise at the suddenness of her death--they all said things like, "I just saw her 4 weeks ago, and she was fine." But no one was surprised that she had refused medical treatment that might have given her body the time to fight off the infection. They knew how stubborn she was--and how much she did not want to be an invalid, dependent on other people, much less dependent on life support machines. She wanted no part of a breathing tube that might, or might not, be temporary.

Monday we just had visits from a couple who were unable to come to the funeral, and one repeater from Sunday. I took the time to gather a few old things of mine that I wanted to keep, including my high school yearbook and the stuffed bear that was given to me when I was born. It still growls when you turn it over, if only weakly.

Tuesday morning my siblings and I went out to the lawyer's office to set things up for handling the estate. I'm not the executor, so my direct role will be pretty small. I will have to wind up the trust from my father's estate, where I'm the trustee.

I think I'm in pretty good shape now about mom's death. But I wasn't as close to her as my siblings, or my sister-in-law for that matter. I talked to her every couple of weeks, and saw her for a few days two or three times a year. I always knew she was there for me, but she never wanted to intrude in my life--particularly after I got married. She spent more time with my sister and sister-in-law, both on the phone and in person. I know her death has really shaken them up. And as for my brother, he lived with her for the large part of his life, save for his 20's. Then for nearly 25 years it was just the two of them in the house. Now he'll be alone. I hope he'll be OK.

I'm back in NY

I'm back in New York City. I actually got back early Tuesday evening--the plane was delayed only slightly. I've been slogging through dozens of e-mails since then--and that doesn't count the hundreds in my spam folder, which I had to check for false positives. There were two.

I'm very tired. Last night I didn't sleep much, for some reason, and I had to get up early to go and see the lawyer with my siblings. Tomorrow I'll start on the big pile of snail-mail.