I set my alarms to wake me up early this morning, and this meant I wouldn't get much sleep. So I took a quick shower, got dressed, and prepared for the expected bad news. Around noon, the dealership's service representative told me that the car repair would cost at least $2400, and I was very glad that I made sure to get a loaner vehicle before leaving the dealership. At least, this car will likely have made a last visit to a shop until my next oil change needs to be done.
Now that I had wheels, I ended up driving home to rest before having to go out again. Ex-GF-M's wake would start at 4 pm, and I would be expected to be there. I also had a dinner date at 6 pm with the Cat Lady (TCL), and this could be cancelled at any moment due to a health problem that pops up from time to time.
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Around 3:30, I drove down to Dobbs Ferry to attend Ex-GF-M's Wake. When I got there, I saw her family, and we chatted like old friends. And then I chatted with Ex-GF-M's sister in law. It seems that her brother and sister's families felt that my ex had been pushing all of them away, as she continually looked for accolades for doing favors for others. At a certain point, they got tired of my ex, and put a distance between their families and her. They had also been concerned for my ex's health for years, but they couldn't help her help herself.
(A picture of Ex-GF-M taken in 2003)
Move forward a couple of years, and I decided to renew contact with my ex, so that it wouldn't be awkward to ask for career placement services from the department she once ran. However, by the time I tried to see her again, she was in a rush to complete her doctorate and didn't have the time to meet. One week after she was awarded her doctorate, she was dismissed from her job of 20 years. And that ended my chances of using her department as a vehicle to help me find new work.
In today's conversation with with my ex's sister in law, one word that kept coming up again and again - "Preventable". There was a trace of anger in her voice, as the family cared for my ex, but my ex was too stubborn to be helped by others. And the sister in law understood why, as a food addict, I had to escape the relationship - I needed that chance of preventing myself from taking the path my ex took - isolation, disability, then death.
My Ex's Sister in Law (SIL) told me that my Ex had been living in the downstairs apartment with her Mother in Law (MIL) for the past 7 years. The tiles on the porch were loose, and the steps were treacherous in bad weather. It was an unsafe place for a person with bad legs to live. But SIL never was comfortable with my Ex living in the same building as her late husband's mother. SIL felt that my Ex should have stayed for a year, then left for new digs. Not leaving created a codependent relationship between my Ex and her Mother in Law.
The second to last time I saw my ex was during a quick visit to her house in September. The place reeked of poorly cared for dogs, as she had three rescue animals in a place which could barely house two people at best. It was a quick visit, and one that would help provide further insight when in today's conversation with SIL. When they entered the ground floor apartment after my Ex's death, they found that the house was infested with pests. SIL told me that the garage door had been breached by vermin, and that the house was virtually uninhabitable. Specialists in Hazmat suits will be needed to clean out the place, as it sickened them to be anywhere inside the building. To make things even worse, they didn't even know where the keys were to the upstairs apartment, and didn't know how they could gain entry until they could gain title to the building. Of course, with MIL's will still in probate, and the status of my Ex's uncertain, there is no quick way for the family to show that they have the right to enter the place.
There was much more that I wanted to find out, and so little time. About 1 month ago, my Ex had a glucose attack. So I looked up what blood sugar levels should be in a person without diabetes:
For someone without diabetes, a fasting blood sugar on awakening should be under 100 mg/dl. Before-meal normal sugars are 70–99 mg/dl. “Postprandial” sugars taken two hours after meals should be less than 140 mg/dl.
My Ex's brother told me that when she was admitted to the hospital, her blood sugar level was over 1,000 mg/dl. When he got there, the attending physician told him that her levels were at 200 mg/dl. This was not good. But they stabilized her, and eventually transferred her to a rehab center where she was supposed to stay for a while.
E, the woman who introduced me to my Ex joined in our conversation and told us that my Ex had a feeling she was going to die (from a couple of her conversations with my Ex), and that she was at peace with it. Over the past few months, E had tried to reach my Ex, but she wasn't answering the phone - even though she was at home. EX-GF-M was acting like an animal who instinctively knew it was dying. Like the animal, my Ex had found her own "Hidey Hole" and was waiting for the Grim Reaper to take her.
According to my her Brother, Ex-GF-M started shouting out "I can't breathe!" from her bed in the rehab center. And my Ex was rushed back to the hospital where a pulmonary embolism took her life. SIL recognized the vicious cycle at work - Ex-GF-M couldn't do the exercises she needed to do to get better in her last months, and she got progressively worse as a result. Ex-GF-M's stubbornness pushed her family away from her, and kept her from doing the very things she needed to do to stay alive.
All too quickly, my deadline of 5 pm came. I knew that it was extremely unlikely that I would see any of these people again, and that the bond I once had with the family was gone. I was now a visitor from the past, someone with friendly intent to help comfort them in their time of need. And I wish them the best, because this loss will be one that may haunt them for years. The word "Preventable" will keep coming to mind, and they will likely wonder what they could have done to prevent this woman from dying decades too early.
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Next, it was off to TCL's place. It took me a full hour to get there, and that was in rush hour traffic. She was in a much more talkative mood than usual tonight, and it was not because she wanted to share news of her new grandson. Instead, she needed to talk about problems going on with her job, and I couldn't get in a word edgewise. Later on, when she asked if I could sense that she was nervous, I mentioned that she was talking faster tonight. (She tends to talk much more when she is nervous.) She needed the glass of wine she had at dinner to relax enough for me to talk a little.
TCL will be going down to her Daughter's place for Easter to see her new Grandson. Hopefully, we'll be able to see each other during spring break week before she has to go back to work....