“The Silver Gate heralds the beginning of your adventure. Its reflective, shimmering surface will mesmerize you. It will urge you to leave the safety of your familiar world and approach the inner mysteries. You will be asked to summon the courage to face the unknown.”
Our 96 year old father died the morning of February 7 in Avon, Indiana where he lived near my brother. Dad was suffering with a broken hip and aspiration pneumonia. My sister Carol, our brother Carl and his wife Barbara and I spent the week in the hospital with him and then moved with him to hospice care. Carol had to leave for her home in Michigan, around noon on the 6th. Later because Dad was terribly agitated, the nurse suggested that my brother and sister-in-law and I go home for some sleep. We left instructions to call us if needed. That wonderful nurse called late in the evening to tell us Dad was resting. She said just before he slept around 10 PM, he told her, “Tell them the car is broken down by the side of the road and to get out and push.”
Those were his last words. He died as we drove into the parking lot about 7:30 in the morning. The nurse told us she’d just been in his room 10 minutes before we arrived and he was breathing comfortably.
April was Have the Conversation Day, http://theconversationproject.org/. We were fortunate for many reasons – Dad, Carol, Carl, Barb and I were all “on the same page” about end of life issues. When it became apparent that he would not recover we did not want to prolong Dad’s suffering. We made decisions with him and then for him that would assure his comfort but would end anymore efforts to prolong his life.
The day after my father died my (ex) mother-in-law, my childrens’Paternal grandmother died. She and I have a long history. We loved each other from the time I was 9 and that love and caring remained even after I divorced her son. She was also in hospice care. Her death was not sudden. It had been expected for years. I was enraged that the Angel of Death gathered her up with Dad. There was no space left in me for her. I only wanted attention paid to Dad’s death. My oldest son organized a celebration of her life that I was unable to attend. My sister and brother, their spouses and I had a very short “no fuss” prayer in the church columbarium where we placed Dad’s ashes with Mom’s as he wished.
I’ve been regrouping with friends and family. A few friends and I were involved in an online seminar with Angeles Arrien’s book The Second Half of Life, Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom. Well my friends were involved. I got stuck at that first gate. The general theme of the book is an archetypal story of leaving what is familiar and embarking on a new quest. The idea of the Silver Gate is to enter into periods of reflection about your life, reassessing choices, and entering into transformational space.
Once we pass through the gate we stand upon the threshold where we do the work of transformation. This threshing floor is where we literally tread, twist or flail to sift the wheat from the chaff. What is no longer necessary is released and discarded.
Little did I know how much threshing was to take place. Over a year ago I began this blog to explore ideas of shared housing with family and friends scattered across the U.S. Since Thanksgiving I’ve been living with two of my oldest friends, a married couple, in their Gig Harbor, Washington home. They’d like me to stay but their daughter is coming home for the summer at least and I believe they need some time together.
Out of the blue my kids’ dad, who lives in a large condo in Bellingham told me he’d purchased a small investment home there and wondered if I’d like to help him fix it up while living in it, only paying for the utilities. Be careful what you wish for… After a lot of conversation with him and my children and time threshing at that gate of “leaving the safety of my familiar world, I decided to summon the courage to face the unknown.” The timing was fortuitous…