A few weeks ago, at the suggestion of Mom’s caregivers, I phoned a local funeral home. The funeral director himself answered.
“This is Charles Graves,” he said.
I wondered if I had heard him correctly.
“Seriously?” I asked.
“If I had a nickel…” he said.
Before I had time to fully ponder the irony, he added, “And my cousin’s last name is Burns. He’s a fire chief up in New England.”
These unexpected little bubbles of humor and serendipity – like air pockets in an ocean of grief – have helped me laugh and breathe through some tough days.
I started to pay more attention to the cast of characters around us.
Of the many wonderful RNs taking care of Mom in her last weeks, my favorite was a third shift, well-built ex-Marine. I first met Nick the night he popped his head into her room during what had been a particularly rough evening for me.
“Do you need anything?” he asked me cheerfully.
“No, I think she’s fine for now, thank you,” I replied quietly.
“No,” he said with a smile, “Do you need anything?”
“Well, maybe a glass of water,” I said, surprised at his thoughtfulness. “If it’s no trouble.”
“How about a hug?” he responded.
I nearly cried. But then I caught sight of his name tag and smiled instead – at Nicholas Favorite.
I got the water and a big hug.
After Mom died, in lieu of a memorial service, I put fresh, colorful flowers on all the tables in the residents’ dining room she so loved, with its vaulted ceiling and large expanse of windows overlooking the gardens.
I phoned her retirement village beforehand to coordinate the arrangements and asked to speak to the head of dining room services.
“Hello,” a cheerful voice answered. “This is Angel!”
Of course it was.