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Families, funerals and future life plans



The south wind has blown snow onto our Snowy Mountains and so taking a trip to the ski fields is now possible or so one of Ray's sister-in-laws told me, a reason we cannot meet up for coffee for a while. I still hear from another SIL and two of his cousins. I have tried to keep in touch with Ray's family, I was always the one keeping them updated with what was happening to him anyway, even if the Christmas cards were signed “Love from Ray and Sue” it was always me that wrote them and posted them, and they all knew that. Or perhaps i expected them to think more about it than they did?


But since Ray died it is as if we have nothing in common, the other family members and I and yet I was their SIL for 44 years. Strange how quickly they forgot how grateful they were that I looked after Ray as an invalid for all those years. I thought we would go on being family but alas that was not to be. I do regret missing out on seeing their children grow up and get married, have their first child etc. None of them have made me a friend on Facebook so I don't even get to see photos posted there.


Family was really important to Ray and I had hoped it was to his family too. We both said before we got married that we would try to spend an equal amount of time with each family so no-one felt left out and that is what we did. But it seems like once Ray died all those relationships died with him. How very sad. I guess initially it is not knowing what to say that kept people from contacting me and then it was embarrassment about how long it had been since we were in contact and then it would be “Sue who?” and then it seemed like the relationship was over. I have made attempts to contact them all but usually there is just an awkward conversation and I don't hear from them unless I make the effort.


I went to a funeral yesterday and another one today, life is like that as a pastoral care worker for the church, sometimes deaths seem to all come at once, well it is winter. The funerals were very different one at a Crematorium and one at our Church. The ladies were both Christians, one I hadn't seen for a while although I had been friends with her years ago and today's funeral was a lady I visited in a local hostel/nursing home for the past five years. I try to go to the funeral as my last “visit”.


The first lady was single but one of a family of five girls and representatives from all the families were there. There were only three people from outside the family plus three representatives from the nursing home and the family were very welcoming, thanked us for coming and really made us feel a part of the service and afterwards the afternoon tea at the little cafe in the grounds. Today the funeral was in our church with the afternoon tea in the hall with some family members and a lot of War Widows and other friends from various organizations she belonged to there. The family didn't mingle much with the other guests and at the end of the afternoon tea I had only been introduced to three of the family members. Strange how different families can be.


One of the things I have found as a widow is that I have time to listen to people now. When I was caring for Ray I never had time, I would phone someone and if the phone call took more than twenty minutes I would try to wind it up and go on to the next task. Now I can spend more time with people both on the phone and in personal encounters. I have time now to listen to their stories and find out about their problems but also their hopes and dreams. We all have hopes and dreams but it is easier to talk about the tough stuff in a way. Explaining our dreams to someone can make us feel vulnerable.


I put dreams aside while I was a caregiver. Being a caregiver required so much of my energy each day that to have dreams for the future seemed to be indulgent. Then I had three years of just plain getting over the exhaustion, getting some semblance of life back together. Now as I approach four years since Ray's passing I can see a few things I can do, not big things but things that will enable me to feel happier. In the end it is not the big things that count really is it? This summer's plan is to tackle the garden up the back, maybe plant some shrubs and screen off the mess the neighbour behind's garden looks from here.


I am just realising that I can change some things about my life now. I have always had an excuse for not ticking things off my bucket list, things like getting some new hobbies. Sure I can go on just as I am but we all need to have new horizons to explore physically and mentally. It is something I need to do for myself, I can ask for advice but I can't give the responsibility of decision making to someone else. As a widow life is a do-it-yourself affair.


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Hello Sue,  you say you need a new hobbie, have you though about writing a book? Your writing draws me in, and always make me think about life, family, marriage. I love the way , you paint your story, I want more.  


I think, you are doing wonderful, slow and steady, it takes time, and over time you begin to heal, and get on with it. I love the way you explain a widow's life is a do-it-yourself affair. beatufuil play on words.


Take care Sue, you been a Pastal care worker, is a great fit. You are a warm, caring, loving person, easy to talk too. you listening is what a lot of people need.


God Bless you



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Sue your bout and life is about like mine or the way I think about life every day now as my wife just made it to 64 and I made it to 75 in July so come what may we will remain under this roof until God calls us home.... All our kin folks will see us when they can or visit when they can but we will attempt to keep in touch by phone at least.....

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