Thursday, May 15, 2014

Conflicting emotions...and a big to-do-list

My cousin died Tuesday night in a Toronto nursing home. She'd been in nursing homes for ten years or more and before that lived unhappily, sometimes almost homeless, dumpster diving and all when she'd get off her meds. I never have known a specific diagnosis but I'm sure she was bipolar. I have not seen her since I was twelve--a long time ago, believe me--but for at least seven years I've been taking care of her affairs. I could not understand her on the phone since she had a stroke and my hearing is bad, and her handwriting is illegible (which caused some legal problems). I know she loved dogs, live and stuffed, and she was a pack rat, her room crowded with "stuff."
When I was about twenty, my parents were taking off on a road trip and that morning my dad fixed me with a solemn look and said, "Judy, if anything happens to us, you will take care of Jenny, won't you?" At twenty I didn't want to even think about something happening to my parents, but about ten years ago, when the aunt who watched over Jenny as best she could, began to fail, my dad's words came thundering back at me.
When people offer sympathy, I'm a bit at a loss. She was happy where she was, in a provincial home where people loved her. They've written me about her laughter and her sense of humor and I'm sad for her that's gone. I'm sad too for her miserable life and all that she missed. But she left no hole in my life, no personal sense of loss--and that too is sad.
What I am left with is all the details of administering estate, complicated greatly by the fact that she was in Canada and I am a non-resident. I now have a Canadian lawyer, have sent an obituary to the Toronto paper, have filled out cemetery papers, and done all sorts of other paper work. Yesterday, every time I did one thing, five more ran through my brain. I was exhausted last night but have a better handle on things today.
Colin, my oldest, will go with me to Canada sometime soon for a graveside service. To my surprise, the staff of the nursing home want to attend. I thought we would be the only mourners, and I am pleased. But I somehow just couldn't let her leave without some sort of farewell.
And we're going to see if my grandmother's house is still standing. I have such lovely memories of it. It will be good to be in Ontario again.

1 comment:

Donis Casey said...

So sorry for it all. I sympathize. I too have had to handle an estate from 1200 miles away, and it is confusing and stress inducing.