Saturday, July 13, 2013

Celtic Cross and Thistle

                Have you ever been so upset with someone that you felt like throttling them? I once felt that way about my wife Cindy, but she had already died by then. She passed away March 24, 2003 of ovarian cancer. If she hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have been upset with her. It may sound confusing, but let me explain before you think I am a cruel and heartless man.

                I was four years older than she and I wanted to get things settled for when I died. I fully expected to pass away before she did. I wanted to spare her the trauma of having to deal with the cemetery plots, funeral home, and head stone. Don’t think I am morbid or had a death wish, but I loved my wife and wanted to handle these things while I was still living. I wanted to remove that burden from her shoulders and from my children. Dealing with my death would be difficult enough without the extra tasks that would be necessary. I wanted them out of the way so that they would not have to be dealt with when her emotions were raw and her thought process would be dulled with pain.
                Every time I would mention anything about it, she would shut me down. She didn’t want to face it or have to deal with it at all and I wasn’t going to do it alone. Finance was part of it. I made the money and she spent it. It would involve a large outlay of money and for any major purchases we made, were made together.

                Cindy developed cold-like symptoms that worsened over about a week; a cough, wheezing, and couldn’t lie down to sleep. One evening I had fixed the supper for us and our three kids. She sat in the living room and didn’t want to eat. I could hear her wheezing from the dining room. Finally I put down my fork and said, “You’re going to the hospital. I can get you clean clothes or you can go as you are.”
                Reluctantly she agreed to go, but it was too little too late. Initially the blood work indicated that she had an intensely elevated white blood cell count and the physician thought she might have leukemia. She was transferred to a larger hospital. There she had to be intubated to allow her to remain flat on her back for a C. T. She had cancer that had spread throughout her whole body. Ovarian, that silent killer claimed another woman. Ten days later, she was gone.

                Now comes the rub. I was left with making all of the arrangements, all of things that I had wanted to do many years before. When I look back, I am not sure how I managed to do it. It was a hard, unexpected blow.
The cemetery plots were in the same cemetery that her parents, grandparents, and my parents had plots. I had to decide which plot to choose. In life, Cindy didn’t like to be held down or closed in. I found a plot that had one side next to a road.  At least she wouldn’t have others pressing around on all sides.

I selected the casket, her clothing, and the rest of the arrangements. I picked the flowers. Cindy’s favorite flower was the daisy. I chose a basket of daisies with three pink rose buds in it for my children, daisies with one pink rose for her mom, and daisies with baby’s breath as a spray for the top of the casket.
Cindy’s heritage was Scottish. Her best friend’s husband played the bagpipes. I asked if he would mind playing at her funeral. He agreed and at the graveside, he stood on a hill above the cemetery and played two songs; “Going Home” and “Amazing Grace.”  (I am tearing up as I write this.) It seemed as if all of the grief and sorrow that I was feeling was concentrated and was pouring out of those pipes.

Choosing the headstone was the next thing I had to tackle. At the cemetery, I had seen the stones were gray, tan, or rose. Several had scenes etched in them.
At the showroom, I looked at several, choosing a simple black stone. I had thought about what I wanted on it for nearly a month before I went. I knew that she would have wanted it simple. Cindy couldn’t stand anything gaudy.
On one side of the stone was our last name. Because of her heritage, I designed a Celtic cross with intertwining thistles. The stone mason placed the crosses at each corner on the opposite face as well as her name, her birth date, and date that she died. My name and date of birth was next to hers. Between them and underneath was the date of our marriage.

All of that was over, but I still had a whole household of memories to deal with yet.

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