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In my last entry, I described how I must have missed the road sign that said, “Life Changing Detour Ahead”, when I had to say goodbye to Shorty. Apparently, I also missed the signs that said, “Rough Road Ahead”, and “Bridge Out”. The past 30 days have been the rollercoaster from hell, and I will never look at the month of October in the same way again.
Adjusting to the void left by Shorty’s passing was tough enough as it was. Little did I know at the time that it was merely the beginning of what would be a very painful month.
A week after Shorty’s passing, it was time to mourn the passing of the pet hamster that belonged to my Better Half’s kids. She was a cute little thing, and her and I would sometimes “chat” with each other. And every time that I would, their Chocolate Lab would get insanely jealous.
Two in two weeks. I figured that that would be enough. However, I would soon find out that their passing was merely the calm before the storm. Nothing could prepare me for the 24 hour whirlwind that was fast approaching.
The Friday before last, I received news that my Brother-In-Law had passed away some time the night before. As if that wasn’t enough, I came home from work that Saturday night, only to find that Nixie no longer had any control over her hips. Ah yes, nothing like feeling the weight of the world crushing in upon you. In spite of Nixie’s obvious disability, she tried not to let it slow her down. She was still whipping herself around the house, pulling herself with her front legs. A small blessing, having wood, and tile floors. Between the two events, the sledgehammer had struck.
I called work, and told them to have someone cover for me on Sunday. I slept with Nixie on the couch that night, and whenever she would need to get something to eat, or use the litter box, I would help her to where she needed to be. Her spirit was still strong, but the body would no longer cooperate. Sunday was a very quiet day at the house, so that she could enjoy her last hours resting, and in peace and quiet. I would jump at every sound, and go to make sure that she was still comfortable.
Monday morning came, and for one last time, she wanted up on my bed. Lifting her up next to me, she curled up on the bed, and we enjoyed our last hour together. As soon as the vet’s opened at 8, I made the phone call, and arranged to take her in. Just like Shorty, Nixie was a trooper to the very end, still purring away until her last moments.
Having done what I needed to do with a heavy heart, it was time to turn my attention to my Brother-In-Law. In most families, when they lose a family member, the family pulls together. In my family, this was not possible. My sister, his “wife”, had burned too many bridges between us siblings. We each had our various reasons for not wanting to be around her, as well as for how poorly she had treated our BIL, but also how her actions impacted our nephew, and the relationship with his father. My sister had gone to school, and after school was completed, decided to stay down south, keeping my nephew with her. Our BIL remained here to work on the farm. Their marriage has pretty much been in name only these past few years. Our BIL had been so beaten down by this time, that he didn’t have the energy to fight, and he was afraid that he would see his son even less than he already did, if he had.
I have not seen, or spoken to my sister in seven years, and I certainly had no desire to start now. But it was also important for me to go to the funeral, to pay my last respects to my BIL, and to honor him for his service to our country. My other sister and brother would not go to the funeral because of our sister’s presence, and that of several others. I chose to go in spite of them.
On the day of the funeral, my Better Half accompanied me. In part to support me, and also to help keep me out of jail. I knew that if I opened my mouth, all hell was going to break loose, and I would probably be seeing the inside of a jail cell for the first time. The only thing that was keeping me restrained was my respect for my BIL. Before we even arrived at the cemetery, my stomach was already twisting into a knot. It took a bit, but I managed to push that feeling away.
For those that know me, I’m a pretty laid back guy, with a twisted sense of humor, and a soft side for critters. That guy was not present on this day. I don’t think that I have ever felt so much tension in my body ever before. Especially after seeing my sister play up being the grieving widow for all it was worth, and shedding crocodile tears. Ever been so angry that you experienced tunnel vision? I was there. The folks that didn’t really know her may have bought her performance, but there were those of us there that knew the real her. The fact that she received the flag for him brought me very close to the edge, knowing that it was all an act, and that she wasn’t worthy of receiving such an honor. If anything, the flag should have gone to his mother, or my nephew. It would have meant far more to either of them. When the bugler started playing Taps, I started shaking, and didn’t stop until the soldier was done. I don’t know why I shook so badly as it was played, but it wasn’t something that I could control.
As soon as the service was over, I needed to get the hell out of there. My teeth were clenched, and my blood pressure had skyrocketed. I could tell just by the feel. As much as I wanted to comfort my nephew, there was no way that I could go near him with my sister there. I’ve done well to surround myself with people that are full of positive energy, and being around my sister feels like being sucked into the black hole of negativity. Has for years, and another reason why my siblings and I choose not to associate with her.
Thanks to my Better Half, I made it out of there quietly, respectfully, and handcuff-free. I came to pay my last respects to a man who was decent, generous, a hard worker, and a good father, all in spite of how my sister treated him. A man who was, is, and will always be considered far more a member of the family than one of our own blood.
Rest In Peace, my good man. You have seen the horrors of war, and carried those memories with you for some 35 years. You have fought those personal demons, as well as those created at the hands of my sister. You may have considered yourself just a “dumb ol’ farmer”, but you were, and are, a far greater man than many could ever hope to be. May you watch over your son as he finds his way in life, and help to guide him in making the right choices as he grows older. Until we meet again on the other side.
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