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Last night, we went to a wake for my sister's mother-in-law who died from Pancreatic Cancer. She is also a neighbor of ours and my parents. It was hard being there -- knowing we would be at that same funeral home some day for the same reason. And then my mother and father walked into the room to pay their respects. They make such a handsome couple. And she looked beautiful! Her gray wig looks so real and she dresses so well, always dressed very nicely from clothes you would never know came from the good will store (always conservative -- their generation was raised by parents who went through the great depression). Outfits accessorised perfectly with a scarf and jewelry that complement her outfits so well. My brother commented that she looks like a movie star -- so elegant, so graceful. When she walked in, she immediately took a seat in the last pew. We thought because it was emotionally too hard for her to walk in there, but learned it was simply to get a quick rest from walking from the parking lot into the room. Remnants of chemo are still in her system. After a brief rest, she started to make her way down the aisle.
She smiled beautifully as she hugged everyone, shook hands and talked to everyone there, most of whom she knew because we all live in the same community and attend the same church. When they asked how she was feeling, she would smile and say 'fine'. She never told anyone about her prognosis, but knew that they all knew just from word of mouth in the community and at church.
After extending our condolences, we sat in the first few pews. I told my mom and dad that today I have decided that we will focus on her living. Not on her dying. We don't know how long she has with us -- who knows -- it could be years. It could be just months -- but it could be years. That I belong to this message board that has some long-term survivors that aren't taking chemo. Some that the doctors got their supposed timeframe totally wrong. That we will go ahead and pick out her casket because she wants to. The hospice nurse had told her that when you are dying, you don't feel like you have much control over anything. So, to pick out the casket would be good for her to do. But, I told her we are going to plant flowers that she can watch grow and plan events that she can be a part of. And as I heard someone say here before, we will buy green bananas! And then she asked me, do you think we should have a wake the night before the funeral like this or do it all in the same day? After some discussion, we thought we liked the idea of the wake the night before. She's still thinking about organizing her death, but is okay with focusing on living too.
Even though I'm 50 years old, I still hope I can grow up to be just like my mom. She's one amazing woman.
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