Friday 4 November 2022

Anything But Normal

The week after the one I covered in my last post was anything but normal, except for the first two days.

On Monday, the 10th of October, I did not go for a COVID test and did not visit my Dad in hospital. Instead, I worked, ran an errand for my Mum, had a quick cup of coffee with my upstairs neighbour who had just returned from Turkey after three months away, and went to the regular meeting with my volunteer group in the evening. A thunderstorm broke lose, and we all got thoroughly drenched on the way home.

Tuesday, Oct. 11, saw all three of us at my Dad's hospital bed. He was clearly getting weaker and was on an additional oxygen supply, making it nearly impossible for him to speak. My sister and I went home with our Mum, where we ordered pizza and had an altogether nice and relaxing evening together. 

Then came Wednesday, October 12. It was one of the longest days in my life, beginning at around 3:45 am, when my Mum rang to tell me that my Dad had died at around 3:30. According to the doctor, he was asleep and simply stopped breathing. After the state he had been in during our visit in the afternoon, I was not really surprised - and yet, the actual fact that he was now gone was hard.

It was impossible to get back to sleep, and so I sat down at my computer and notified my boss and my clients that I was not going to work today. Then I started making a list of what needed doing now. At around 8:00, I went to my Mum's, equipped with my list; she had made one herself, and we compared notes and agreed on who was going to do what.

I went home for a few hours and to start on my tasks, and met up with my Mum again in the early afternoon for our appointment at the undertaker's (or funeral director - I think both terms are correct). From my husband's death 13 years ago, I well remembered the type of decisions to make, and I was glad that we had such a competent and kind contact person there.

Later that afternoon, my sister and I walked to the hospital to pick up our Dad's belongings. It felt strange entering the ward where we had come nearly every day for five weeks, with my Dad now not being there anymore. The nurse who handed us his bag had tears in her eyes. They had all been so good with our Dad, doing more than their duty. (Forgive me if I have written this before; I think it is important enough to be repeated.)

I can not actually remember what we did during the evening; I believe we spent a few more hours with our Mum, probably had a meal together before we each went to our own homes; I have no recollection of when I went to bed.

On Thursday, Oct. 13, I worked at my client's office. Everyone there was very kind, and the department where I do most of my work gave me a condolence card signed by all of them. They took turns in passing by my room, talking to me, and I appreciated that. During lunch break, the person I work with most closely and I went for a walk, which was good.

I went straight to my Mum's from there, and the three of us sat around the dining table writing cards to notify friends and relatives near and far. We ate together and then I went home, feeling extremely tired and drained.

It rained on Friday, Oct. 14, but I didn't mind - I was co-hosting the quarterly meeting of our Data Protection Officers Association's local group, including two presentations. In the evening, I took the usual trains to Offenburg and arrived nearly on the dot at O.K.'s.

Saturday, Oct. 15, was a day of mixed weather. A gap between showers allowed only for a quick walk around the village. We had coffee and freshly home-baked plum cake with O.K.'s parents and spent a cosy evening at the cottage, watching old episodes of Hart to Hart and Columbo. 

On Sunday, Oct. 16, the village band had two performances, and of course I came along to both of them. The village celebrated their patron saint that day; I have posted about the Gallusfest before. Thankfully, the weather held, and it was good to see folks gathering for the music, a snack and a drink.

We drove to the next village straight after that; Diersburg were having their Weinfest that weekend, and the band played in the village hall. I liked how the hall was decorated, but did not stay there all the time. Instead, I went for a little walk on my own. 

O.K. and I were home for coffee and cake and used the beautiful late afternoon/early evening light for a walk before retreating to the cottage for the night.

Spending the weekend at O.K.'s had been planned before my Dad died, and I was unsure whether I should really go. But my Mum and my sister encouraged me to go ahead with it, and I knew I was not going to leave my Mum all on her own. Also, we had already done so much in terms of organising, and would not be able to do more over the weekend anyway.

The love and kindness of O.K. and his family was helpful.


  1. When trauma occurs in one's life it is a necessary part of coping that we do not lose contact with our normal/usual life. It helps us to cope and it helps those who love us to cope with our, in the case of death, grief as well.

    1. When my husband died so suddenly 13 years ago (the anniversary is tomorrow), it was work that anchored me - everything there was as before; the same desk, the same colleagues, the same customers, the same issues.

  2. I recognize in your writing about this period the kind of anesthetizing effect on the mind that often occurs after a death of someone close to you. The unreality of it all. Similar to your situation, my father had been in the hospital for five weeks (after a stroke), so I know what it is like to visit every day, hoping for improvements, trying to keep up your mother's spirits, bringing cards, treats and other things to bolster the patient. In our case, my father did come home...but only for one night. He died at home the next morning of a massive heart attack. I am looking back on this with almost 40 years distance...I was in my early 30s. But I still recall that feeling of not quite understanding how my much loved father could be gone--and then having to tell my young children--they were very close to him. Like you I had to help my mother make arrangements. That week after his death holds some hazy memories, but even all these decades later, there are other moments that are still vivid. Your ability to continue on with your daily obligations is a mark of your strength and courage--what we are frequently called to do: to carry on. I am glad you were able to be with O.K. and his family for the weekend. The additional love and support of them all must have felt like a balm...a gift.

    1. You put that perfectly, Mary - it was a balm and a gift.
      I take great comfort of the ordinariness of my daily life - the getting up in the morning to the daily routine of coffee and shower, then work, a lunch break and more work, a walk or errands (or a combination of both) afterwards. It is all very reliable and offers much needed stability at such an unsettling time.
      I am sorry to hear you lost your father so early. It is indeed a privilege to have one's parents for as long as I am having mine.

  3. It is all a blur as you plan for the funeral. I am lucky to have 3 siblings here in my city so we were able to support each other during it all when our Dad, and then a few years later, our Mom died. Much like you, your Mom, and your sister have been there for each other through the whole process together.
    I am glad you were able to get some time with OK and his family as a comfort for you.

    1. It was also very helpful to have O.K. here with me last weekend for the funeral. One of the first things we talked about when we got to know each other was death... he lost one of his sisters to cancer when she was not yet 50, and I lost my husband when he was only 41. Knowing what it means to lose someone close way too early was part of the bond we created then.

  4. I'm so very sorry. The death of a parent is so difficult, so final, so much heart-hurt. I send you wishes for peace and healing.