As some of you saw on FB, I spent last week on a sad trip to Philadelphia. My Dad hadn’t been doing well, so I was supposed to travel to see him from May 10-17, Saturday to Saturday. But my mom called the Wednesday before: his organs were starting to shut down and I needed to get there ASAP. I really need to go on Delta’s website to commend them; they had me on a flight that night, arriving at 9:30 the next morning. My brother met me at the airport and we went straight over to the medical center where Dad was in palliative care. We stayed there for several hours. My husband hadn’t been able to get on my flight, since he was in meetings and I couldn’t get hold of him while making my plans. He arrived at my parents’ home around midnight – just in time to be there when we got the call with the bad news at 3AM.

Normally, Jewish funerals are within a day or two of death, but Mom had decided to have Dad buried in a military cemetery (he was a Korea-era veteran of the US Air Force), so that dictated the timing. He died on early on a Friday morning and was buried the next Thursday; we had a religious ceremony at the funeral home followed by a military one at the cemetery. Then we returned to my parents’ house to sit shiva, meaning people came over, there was a short service at the house that night (would normally be one every night for 3 days (7 traditionally) but not on Shabbat) and way too much food. Mom had ordered trays of sandwiches but other people sent over dinners for us the day before and day after the funeral and lots of people brought still more food.

Mom and Dad had already been planning to move to an independent care community, so she’s proceeding with that – but they’d been in the house since just before I was born, and Mom is a packrat. There was stuff from all my grandparents and my uncle. My husband did yeoman duty in getting all that cleaned out, especially the basement and garage – I helped but did more on the upstairs (where he also worked) getting it ready to show to potential buyers as well as for all those visitors. I don’t think Mom even realizes how much stuff we cleared out, though of course we checked with her before getting rid of any of it. We filled one truck of trash as well as taking lots of better stuff to Goodwill.

But mostly we got to be there to support Mom, who has hated being alone in that house since February when Dad first went into the hospital, as well as to see Dad and be there at the funeral. So many people helped – in no particular order: Delta airline (just registered my compliment on their website), our cat-sitter, who was able to work at no notice; my company, who supported me in taking bereavement leave and sent flowers to the funeral home (still not sure how they got the information); the trash pickup company (1-800-GOT-JUNK, in several US cities – very professional);the medical center who cared for Dad in his last days; the rabbi at Mom’s synagogue; the funeral home who did everything well, and most of all all the people who wrote and visited. Nothing can ever make losing a parent easy, but I have rarely ever in my life felt so much like I was where I needed to be doing what I needed to do, or had so many people going out of their way to be kind and supportive.