My mom’s brother Charlie Bright (Bud) Paris passed away on Friday May 7th, 2010 at 10:52 PM. I won’t get into the various entities that brought about the demise of the Uncle I knew in my childhood but suffice it to say that the medical community didn’t do a thing to help him after he had a traumatic brain injury in 2004. I just wanted to share my thoughts about his passing. This isn’t about sharing the death experience so much as about what I learned about myself. Bud had been misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s , stroke, TIA’s and finally he was diagnosed with a heart condtion and pancreatic cancer. The cancer is what really took his life but the TBI is what began my journey as his primary care giver over the last few years. Now on to my lesson.
My mother and I were by his side as he breathed his last breath and it was not the scary ugly thing I thought it would be. I found that his death a starkly beautiful yet singularly solitary thing. This wasn’t something we could do for him or even help him do. He had to do it himself and he was beatiful in his passing. When we first arrived he was having some breathing problems and hospice was brought in to help with the pain he was having. The hospice nurse was ready to pronouce him gone around 7 pm but when my beautiful uncle heard his favorite sister’s voice after taking what we all thought was his last breath he kick started his heart into a normal rythym. After that point his breathing slowed at natural intervals until he was gone from us.
The beautiful thing about this experience is that I don’t think I am afraid of dying anymore. Bud was so peaceful in his passing and my mother and I were glad that he wasn’t alone during his passing. Everyone who met Bud in the last few months of his life wanted to gather him close and keep him in their back pocket. He was such a sweet sweet man. Before the accident he was a real man’s man. He was an avid race car fan.. didn’t matter what kind of car race it was he was there if possible and if not he was watching on the nearest TV. He drove a dump truck in later years but in the prime of his life he was a heavy equipment operator and a mechanic.
You see, Bud has always been a fixture in my life. He was there for all of my childhood milestones and some of my adult ones too. He was actually more of a father figure to my sister and me even though he was my mother’s older brother.
My papaw Charlie (Bud’s father) died when I was a very young girl of 7 years and I became afraid of death. I was so close to him and when he died it was a devastating thing for me. Death takes from you those that you love most and it seems so final. Plus I am closterfobic and I mean I really hate small closed spaces. Just ask my kids anytime we are on a long road trip and I’m trapped in the car with them.
We had been told the weekend before that Bud wouldn’t make it through the weekend but he did and then it was the end of the next week. We went on Thursday to see him and he was wide awake and alert. He knew who we were and he ate well that day where he hadn’t been eating much at all for a couple of weeks and we thought maybe just maybe they were wrong about his diagnosis. False hope that. You see this was the beginning of the dying process.
I didn’t even know there was a dying process. Everyone else I loved that passed went in their sleep. Both my father and grandfather went in their sleep and I wasn’t with my paternal grandfather when he passed so I no frame of reference to judge all this by, but there ARE stages. Sometimes if a person is afraid it can take a long time for them to pass they fight to stay in this world with one foot in the next. I hope that my mother and I reached my uncle and he could hear us telling him it was okay to move on to his next life. That we were at peace with his passing and that he didn’t have to stay to take care of us anymore. He was needed in another life, another place. A beautiful wonderful glorious place. A place I hope to go to someday. You see what I learned about the dying process wasn’t that I was afraid of dying but of living. I have always been the caretaker in my family and I thought I was doing this nobly dedicating myself to my dad,his injured girlfriend, my autistic son, my other LD son, my nephew, my sister, my grandmother, etc. I thought well they need me. I can’t just walk away from these responsibilities. I was “too busy” to live, to take care of myself and to thrive. Me who thought that I was totally the opposite of my grandmother whose afraid of everything is just like her. I was afraid to want happiness and creativity. I was afraid no one would like me or want to hear what I had to say.
I woke up today and my new mantra is going to be I AM NOT AFRAID. I am not afraid to , love, laugh, cry, play, or die. I AM NOT AFRAID TO LIVE.
Thank you Uncle Bud!
You have given me the most wonderful beautiful gift I’ve ever gotten.
Don’t you hate to struggle with anything? It’s crazy to fight especially when it seems you already know what the inevitable outcome will be. I have been struggling for years. With my weight, my kids, my mother, my grandmother, my late father and with my walk in Christ. I heard a sermon today about the weightiness of sin and how it brings you down and the importance of knowing that if you just let go God will help you. The problem for me is that I’ve carried so much of the struggle on my shoulders and worried about it for so long.. I don’t know if I know how to let him carry it for me. I’m beginning to drop the pounds, AGAIN…lol. But I am still struggling with so many things in my life, I don’t know how to drop the weight of them and let the peace in. I heard that sermon today and I wanted what he was talking about. I want to effect real change in my life but I don’t know how to get there.
It’s not that I don’t know Christ. I’ve always known him. It’s just that I have always felt that I shouldn’t burden him with my troubles. I’m lucky, my son could have been more profoundly mentally disabled that he is. My mother and grandmother are still living, even if they only know how to communicate in put downs. My sister is a RECOVERING addict. My oldest son isn’t wild; I know I’m blessed and these blessings all came from the GOD but somethings the blessings are the burdens too and I can’t figure out how to accept them without carrying them all by myself. Frankly I’m just tired. I need someone else to carry this load for me. I just don’t know if I can give it up after hefting it around so long.
I’ve spent my whole life trying to please everyone. To make everyone happy. Along the way I stopped caring about anything. My house, my appearance, my body, my life. I’ve come to the realization that my house has been a reflection of my life. It’s just messy everywhere you look. The thing is.. I gave up a lot of my own clutter filled life to be with 1st my son, then my dad, then my mother’s brother and my grandma. I’ve been lost in not only my mess for years but theirs too. How am I supposed to find the cleanliness of God’s love in all of the clutter of my life? I know without a shadow of a doubt that God’s love will set me free if I just believe but when you are the one that everyone’s emotional well being is dependent upon and your well is drying up it’s hard to believe that there is another that never dries up waiting to hold and uplift you. I want to believe but I am struggling with that belief. I want the peace that’s on the other side of the struggle. I can see the other side and I see the beauty of it.. but I can’t seem to find the path that takes me directly to his loving embrace. I always get weighted down by something.
I feel like it’s not the sins of thought or deed that are my biggest struggle. I have forgotten to love myself the way God promises to love me and I am afraid that’s the sin that will be my down fall. I like the person I am but if I really loved the person I am today I wouldn’t be fat, or disconnected from my family or the rest of the world.
I guess what I’m saying is, I know what I have to do to get to the other side but I don’t know how. I have carried my burdens so long that I’m afraid I’ll be lost without them and when you have so much to carry how can you love yourself when those around you need your love more.
My back has been out for a week solid now. I could hardly stand up straight even yesterday. And yet when my friend Brandi called and asked if I wanted to take a walk with her this morning I jumped at the chance to get out of the house. Even though my back was telling me I shouldn’t do it. Not to do it even.. lol. I got out and we walked about 2 miles (about a 30 minute walk) and let me tell you I felt every step I took. My back tightened up and felt like it was going to let me down but I pushed though the sore ache to find the fortitude to take each step. When I got through with my walk I felt accomplished and exhilarated.
I forgot that walking helps to clear your head and it relaxes your mind. I realized while I was walking today that I didn’t just need the walking to clear away the layers of fat I have been hiding behind for years. I needed the walk to help clear away the stress that is apart of my day everyday. You see when you have a child a with a disability and then another family member falls ill and then another and so on and on.. you lose yourself and when you do you forget that you need to take care of yourself so you can take care of those you love most.
I wish I had known this all along. And though my back is still sore and stiff a little, I wish I had known that the secret to feeling this good was simply just taking a walk.
My name is Tammy and I am beginning a new journey to become the best me I can be. I want to be a happier, healthier, less stressed version of myself. On this blog I am going to detail my journey. My first order of business is to try and figure out how to meet the diatary needs of my family and myself while meeting the budget needs of my deprived wallet. I’m sure there are a lot of you out there feeling the pinch when it comes to the family budget too. Anything I find or ideas that sound good to me I’ll post here and pass along. If any of you have ideas and want to leave a comment feel free to do so. I can’t wait to hear from you. In a bit I’ll post a little bit about my family and a few photos so you can get to know us.