This morning, Julie and I were awaken by something you know is bad news: a 2:00am phone call. Her mom suffered congestive heart failure in February, had quintuple bypass surgery a couple of weeks after that and then, after a brief period of recovery, she moved to California from Alaska with the intention of living in Stockton and basically retiring. When she came to California, one of her best friends from high school said she could come and stay with her before going to Stockton (she wasn’t all that well, but strong enough to live outside of the hospital). That lasted just a little over a week. Julie’s mom, stopped taking some of her meds, lost her appetite, and started to weaken very fast. One night she took a very bad fall at her friend’s house, and was taken away to the hospital. Too weak and injured to return to her friend’s home, she was admitted to a care facility located north of Sacramento. Sadly, even though she had a full crew of people at the facility to help with her recovery, she deteriorated even further. She wouldn’t get out of bed, she lost all interest in reading (by far, her favorite activity), wouldn’t eat, was in pain (a few more falls exacerbating a back injury she had been living with since the early ’90s), and didn’t want to do anything, really. In short, it seemed that she was shutting down.
Well, this morning at around 3:00am she passed away. She went into cardiac arrest at around 2am, the EMT’s were able to get a pulse at 2:15am and transported her to the hospital where she died.
Julie is just devastated.
This morning, Julie was talking to her uncle about a memorial service, and he suggested a very low key, “family and a few friends only” get together where we tell funny stories about Julie’s mom. The idea being that we remember all the funny/joyous times and celebrate her life rather than her death.
So here’s my story:
When Julie and I were getting married, we wanted to have a Hindu ceremony — mostly for cultural reasons. Julie’s mom, not being a Hindu, and trying to be culturally sensitive (but also playful) wanted to know what the bride’s parents give the groom prior to a wedding in the Hindu tradition. She was reading about dowries, and it seems that some families give the groom cattle. Taken with the thought that she had to buy my a cow, she wondered how she was going to pull off giving this traditional gift to me. While shopping at a store, she found the perfect cow for a groom who lived in a city; one that needed almost no care (save perhaps for the occasional washing):
It’s a cow shaped cookie jar, and we’ve had it every since.
Rest peacefully, Joycelyn. Your playful spirit will be missed.