soaking ties and funeral potatoes

When did life go and get in such a big hurry? Last week I was still high off of my awesome weekend learning how to RPM with the best of ’em and this week I’m emotionally drained from a long Sunday of napless kids and well-wishers.

Let’s back up.

Thursday I had a lot to be excited for. I got my official employment package from my gym and had also been asked to teach two extra classes a week. I was totally thrilled. I was about two seconds from calling Matt to tell him the awesome news, but he beat me to it.

Me: Hello?
Matt: So Grandpa just died.
Me: Wait, what?

Awesome news bubble burst. His grandpa died. And it wasn’t so much that it was unexpected, it was, well, it came out of nowhere. I’m a nurse. I know the signs of dying. 30 minutes prior to him taking his last breath, my father in law was there at the hospice making preparations for the next few months of care. Grandpa seemed OK enough at the time, from what I heard, awake, alert (for a confused 92 year old) and carrying on conversation. Half way home, my father in law got a call that he should turn around and come back, because he just died.

Sadly, I’ve had to be the one to make that call many a-time. It’s actually pretty typical that a patient waits until the family member leaves for the day before they die. I don’t know why exactly, and it’s truly frustrating for the family who wants to be there when the patient passes, but what can you do?

Death is a funny thing. It tends to bring out the best and worst in everyone. I’m in a precarious situation where I have three kids under the age of 5 and who still need naps to function. I also have a grieving husband who needs the support of his wife. While he wasn’t as close to his grandpa as his brother, Chris, was, it was his grandpa all the same. And it’s sad. But this is when the worst comes out.

Yesterday, while sitting at the table eating breakfast, Matt looked like he was staring into space. We had planned on having myself and the kids stay home, since the viewing was from 2-5 and then there’d be dinner after. But the look on his face said it all, that I needed to make it happen come hell or high water, so when Mae woke up from her morning nap, we all got dressed and drove the hour north to his hometown.

Here’s where the best comes out. My kids were fantastic. I only needed to correct them a few times, and mostly it was in the beginning when the room was practically empty and the world was their playground. Rows and rows of chairs were lined up in preparation for well-wishers to sit and converse. I get it. I’d do the same thing. I’d run all 20 rows as fast as I could if I was 4 or 2. Hell, I’d do it today if I wouldn’t get gawked at. But when there’s a dead body present, one must have a sense of decorum. It only took a few snaps and looks and they got it, and held it together for the next FOUR HOURS AND FIFTEEN MINUTES. That’s right. They lasted from 1:00 to 5:15 without so much as a tear, whine or complaint. Maelie was a little bit of a different story, especially when come 2 o’clock she was rubbing her eyes, but that kid trucked on and stayed mobile and upright until the bitter end, when we put her in her car seat to drive home at 8 o’clock. There wasn’t a single melt down, either.

This, my dear friends, is a miracle of mass proportions.

My kids constantly impress me. I know that a lot of it has to do with the fact that Matt and I are good parents and we discipline them when need be, and love them 100% of the time. We realize that kids need boundaries and rules, that they crave them, so we act accordingly. This, you see, pays off ten-fold.

Just today, I had to bring them to the bank to pay off my car loan, and they sat in the chairs provided and didn’t utter a peep while I was talking with the teller and they stayed calm and well behaved for the 15 minutes that we waited. And the best part of all is when you over hear other people whispering saying, “Wow, look at those well behaved kids….” and I beam. It’s hard work being a parent, but it’s SO. MUCH. EASIER. when you have good kids that are well disciplined.

Stepping off my soapbox.


It sucks. I mean, it’s a part of life, but it’s sad. The only benefit is that it brings family together that otherwise wouldn’t be. Sure, that’s not really the case with Matt’s family, as he’s Italian and that’s an Italian thing – keep your family close, and your neighbors, and your neighbors family and so on and so forth. They’re very inclusive. The turn out for Grandpa was amazing. And the amount of Anthonys I met was amazing. I think for every fifth person I met, there was one Anthony.

Another positive to this particular death was that Grandpa had dementia pretty bad. He didn’t know who anyone was anymore, and who wants to live that kind of life? He also missed his late wife dearly and now it’s wonderful to think that they’re finally together again after ten years of waiting. Also – my in laws were stressed out to no end because of the fact that Grandpa had been failing in health so quickly. We often worried that it would cause them physical damage.

When I saw Grandpa for the first time yesterday, I realized how at peace he looked. I’ve seen a lot of dead people in my day and it’s amazing how emotion can still read over a perfectly dead corpse. He looked truly peaceful and calm and satisfied.

92 years is a long time to live.

So. Life got really busy and then death got thrown into the mix and so I’m dealing with death, sad husband, a baby who’s about to turn one, the fact that I’m going to be teaching three classes a week at my gym, the fact that I have to tape myself teaching a RPM class before the end of the month and the fact that I’ll be teaching these classes come March 5th. (That’s less than 30 days, folks.)

I hope to God I remember that Mae’s birthday is Friday.

Please remind me.

About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on February 6, 2012, in Cassie. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Wow to all of this. It’s so much to handle and you stepped up to the plate beautifully, and so did your amazing kids. Well done!

    And don’t worry, I won’t let you forget Mae’s birthday. In fact, a reminder should be arriving around Thursday.

    I hope things settle down a bit for you after this month. I know you’ll own those classes!

  2. I won’t let you forget!!

  3. Sending you much love from New York, honey. Just reading your words, while sometimes painful, is keeping me connected to what’s most important: my family.

  4. I’m not surprised that your kids were good. Not only can kids pick up on the vibe of the room, you obviously started with behavior training at the earliest possible time.

    So many people seem to think kids will just click into place, once they get “old enough.”

    So sorry for your and Matt’s loss. We Italians do throw some good funerals though. And I feel ya on the “Anthony’s.”

  5. Deb K from Harrisburg

    Please accept my condolences on the death of Matt’s grandfather. What a circle of life experience this week will be, beginning with a funeral and ending with your daughter’s one year birthday. I’m so glad you made the trip with Matt, and that the kids were wonderful.

  6. Kids should always be kept at an age where they don’t really know it’s their birthday. My co-worker was just telling me today that her five-year-old is asking for a birthday party in Jamaica this year. Forget Mae while you can.

    (j/k, Mae, j/k)

    Sorry to hear about Matt’s Grandpa! Extra sorry that it happened just after his dad left. My mom died while just my sister was home, and I’ve always been so upset about that. Good for you for knowing when to support him, though, and extra good for you for raising wonderful children together.

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