God made death so we'd know when to stop. ~Steven Stiles
A lot of what we learn is learnt by osmosis. We don't consciously realise we are learning anything ~ like Ditz copying her Pa. Mind you she wanted to drive & they had words but she had the right idea.
Our children learn how to live from us ~ & they learn how to die. I've never sheltered my children from death. Not that I'm morbid about it but death is a fact of life & better to be matter of fact about it. Mind you I had hardy types; practical; prosaic & definitely unfazed. More curious than anything else.
So when we knew my dad was dying we rounded the troops up to say their goodbyes. Not easy. It's never easy but the chance to say goodbye is important & every single one of them had the option to not come. No~one opted for that choice. The only one I was worried about was Ditz. Ditz is more like her mama than the others ~ too vivid an imagination, too little practicality. The emotional type & believe you me Ditz can display plenty of emotion. She was also the youngest so when we took the kids back home I asked Liddy to tuck Ditz under her wing. That's never easy either, Ditz being an independent sort, but I needed to go back to the hospital & couldn't be in two places at once.
Even if people cope well there's a lot of emotion when someone dies & I've always been a chronic people watcher. Writer's temperament. There's always part of you able to stand back & watch what's going on dispassionately if not necessarily comfortably & what I found myself doing was watching my mother like a hawk. Why? Because generally women outlive men which means the chances are that one day I'll stand in the place she stood then, newly widowed, left alone to pick up the shattered pieces of her life, all her plans for the future to be rearranged for one & I want to be able to do that well, for me & for my daughters.
My mother has courage. She didn't wallow in her grief. She allowed herself 12 months but she got on with her life. She made herself join in things. She did not allow the fact she was partnerless to stop her from attending functions on her own. She didn't cling to the past but accepted things as they are. In her 70's she's learnt how to be a DJ & does a radio program each week. She can outwalk both Liddy & I, never mind Ditz. She exercises & does crafts & paints beautifully in watercolours. Her life is busy & full. I notice because she's not the only widow & other women have not done so well. They seem trapped by their grief, anathema to themselves & everyone else. I do not want to be like that.
Nor do I want to be like Dearest's nanna who stopped living the day her husband died. I've never understood that. I can not see how it is proof of love or honours the dead to simply give up on life.
I am not my mother. Two women could scarcely be less alike but though I tackle life differently I know the lesson by heart. Life is for living. You only get one shot at it so it is to be lived to the very last breath.