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Patty's Mother Shirley Griffin Passed Away; Travel to Buffalo NY

October 14 - 23, 2014   

Tuesday the 14th we didn’t hear anything about Patty's mother.  Both of us, and especially Patty, were on pins and needles all day wanting to know what was happening.  We knew Patty’s mother was put into ICU on Sunday and was having fluid drained from her abdomen but there was nothing more.   As of Monday the 13th she was “sleeping” due to medication(s) so Patty wasn’t able to talk to her.  We were still waiting to see how things were going before we made final plans to travel to NY.

Wednesday the 15th Patty finally got to talk to her sister Cheryl and found out her mother had not been responsive since Monday and that she was going into hospice care.    Well, that finalized it for us, we are now going to NY.  We negotiated a deal with the RV Park for a lower long term rate of $15 per day and we paid for a period up to the 28th.  We can increase that via phone if we need to.  Now, how do we or just Patty get to NY?  

Patty looked into air travel and I called the service facility to find out the status of our truck.  There is only one just OK flight out of Jackson MS to Buffalo and it was gone for Wednesday.  Patty and I or just Patty could travel tomorrow via airline.  However, the truck was to be done on Thursday and we could just drive up.  Driving up with the truck would be about the same cost as flying, however, we wouldn’t have a car.  Renting a car in Jackson was a little more expensive than driving the truck but not by very much.  Also, we didn’t have any idea how long we would be in NY so we didn’t know when to make a return airline trip for.  We settled on driving the truck to NY, it just needs to get finished at Ford.

Cheryl called that night and Patty was able to speak to her Mother, although her Mom was too medicated to respond. Thursday the 16th Ford called to say the truck will not be ready until maybe tomorrow, Friday the 17th.  Now we have missed the flight again on Thursday and we were torn about now just renting a car and driving today.  We wouldn’t get there until Friday night.  We made the decision to just wait till Friday and if the truck is not done by noon we will rent a car for the trip.

On Friday the 17th the call came from Cheryl that her mother had passed around 4am.  We then began packing for the trip to NY and made a reservation for a rental car since we already missed the daily flight.  Now for added pain, Ford called to let us know that the truck wouldn’t be ready until next week! 

We explained our situation and asked if Ford could take us to the car rental place to get our reserved car.  This would save us $50 in taxi fares.  The service manager asked us to give him a few minutes to see if he could get us a cheaper car. He called back and said that they would pick up the charge for a rental car for us!  They also made the rental at the Enterprise in the plaza where we were so we could just walk over and pick it up.  We will always remember this good gesture by Rogel Ford in Chrystal Springs MS.

We finished packing, I picked up the car, and we were off around 12:30pm to get stuff out of the truck for the trip.  By the time it we were actually heading north past our campground it was 1:30 pm.  We didn’t have a real plan on how far to go today but as we drove we hatched a plan to drive until 8:30 pm.  That would put us just north of Nashville TN and 500 miles closer to Buffalo NY.  We also decided to try and make the trip all of the way to Buffalo by Saturday night.  We figured that we need to get 8 hours sleep so stopping at 8:30 we would get to bed by at least 10pm and then we could get up at 6pm to leave by 7am.  If we accomplished this then we would drive the rest of the way on Saturday.

Our plan worked and we were on the road by 7:20am on Saturday the 18th.  We had 700 miles to drive and we lose an hour going into Eastern time so we figured we would arrive close to 7pm which we did, just about 7:30pm.  That was a long trip but it was good as Patty had some time to cry and decompress.  

We arrived and Patty’s brother Tommy was there from Philadelphia with his girlfriend.  Having family around at this time really seems to help.  We talked and had some wine until around midnight and then it was time for some real sleep, for a change.

Sunday the 19th Patty went with her 2 sisters Cheryl and Sandy, and her brother Tommy to break the news to her Dad in the assisted living facility.  I stayed back as this was really something for the immediate family to handle.  I really felt for them having to do this, wow!  From what I was told it went fairly well as Tom knew his wife was sick and she had been sick for quite a long time and it had really accelerated in just the past few weeks. 

Monday the 20th Patty, Tommy, Kat, and me went through pictures looking for good ones of Shirley to have at the funeral which is now scheduled for the 21st.   I found some slides (10-15) and took them to photo lab nearby and had them made into prints.  Then in the afternoon we went to see Patty’s Dad.  We took him out for a couple of beers at a local place near the home.  He is really not happy about being in the home at all now.  He talks continuously about wanting get out and return to his house.  It is really heartbreaking!  I do not want to live like he is right now; I just don’t see the purpose to it.  I know I sound maybe harsh but being blind with dementia and no wife at 83, I would be done.

Tuesday the 21st we went to the funeral at the church where Shirley was a member when the kids were young.  Patty’s sisters are still members there.  It was a okay service with not too much of the sermon type stuff.  Myself, I felt like it needed to be a little more personal to advance the grieving process.  However, family and friends got to grieve together and that really makes a huge difference in the separation process.  After the service there was a luncheon at a local restaurant that was really very well done.  We all went back to Cheryl’s house that evening and ate food that was left by her co-workers.  It was a very long day!



On Wednesday and Thursday we went to see Patty’s father and take him out each time.  It seems he is getting real use to going out for a beer whenever anybody is here now.  It is fine with us.  Tom seems to have moved on from his wife passing and is looking to the future as best as he can. Again, I really feel for Tom.  We have talked about caring for him in his home but we are somewhat concerned about Patty’s health getting in the way.  I am fine with whatever Patty choses to do and I do know it would be a large commitment if we went that way.  I sort of feel that you need to “go large or go home” and that nothing lasts forever and what is the worst that can happen.  However, it is not my father or my health either.


Taking Tom out for lunch with (l-r): Patty, Tommy, and Joe (Cheryl's Husband)



Tom Griffin, Patty's father out for a beer.

Now, we are left with not knowing how or if we are needed here.  It will be a while before things happen with the house and its contents.   A little time needs to pass before a plan can come together concerning the next steps.  We have decided we are leaving to head back to our RV on Friday and probably arriving back by Saturday evening.

Patty's Tribute to her Mom:

Shirley Jane Griffin. I’m Patricia Jane, always proud to carry her same middle name.  

My Mom was always such an attractive woman, (and such a Choops!) but had no self confidence. She always needed reassurance and sought relentlessly for a compliment. Known for her blingy attire, she always drew attention when in a crowd! She loved to entertain and she and my Dad were always having house parties. 

My Mom always worked. Always had an income to support a life that she was comfortable with. After moving to Angela Lane in 1965, she got a 1966 Chevy Impala convertible. Boy did she love that car! I learned to drive in that car, and she even let my high school sweetheart use it when we were in need of transportation. The family would go to “the country” with the top down and our collie, Sparkle, in the back seat, stopping for ice cream at the roadside stand. By the way, lesson learned – do not eat ice cream cones while you are driving with the top down! We had to wipe the whole car down!

“The country” was her parents’ summer home near Arcade, NY. We would go on weekends when we could. Sparkle would love the open roaming. There are so many memories of her there and all of us playing cards on the porch, or baseball in the ball field, using the teeter tawter and zooming down our mini roller coaster. The men played horseshoes and golf on the par 3 course my grandfather mowed. 

My Mom raised us with a wooden spoon, right? It was tough being a working parent and knowing what was going on, but she handled it as she saw fit.  I recall being in 6th grade study hall and raising my had to go to the bathroom. I was assigned a number, like 11 in a 20 minute study hall, and thought I’ll never make it that long. I raised my hand again but was totally ignored. I walked over to Mr. Beiber and stood behind his desk to tell him that I really needed to pee and it just started running down my legs…and into my patent leather shoes. There was a puddle on the floor. He sent me to the nurse, and my shoes squeaked, loudly, the entire walk to her office. She called my Mom, who told her she was NOT coming with a change of clothes, I was to wear them the rest of the day and I can change when I get home. (I never actually asked what she said, I just know I had to squeak through the halls the entire day.) And I never abused the privilege afforded me by Mr. Beiber whenever I raised my hand to go to the bathroom after that!

My Dad always traveled a lot and when I was in high school I used to have house parties on the weekends. My Mom was everybody’s friend.  She would let us drink, let us play cards at the dining room table, and most of my male friends would stop upstairs to hang out to chat with her in the family room. She loved that attention. There was a fist fight on our front lawn once and the regulars worked it out with some small damage to the screen door. My Mom was okay with it. Shit happens. But the next Monday I was called to the Vice Principal’s office and told I was being suspended for having a party with beer that caused a fight in which someone got a broken leg. All that was true. Oh, did I not mention the broken leg? Shit happens. But when he called my Mom and told her why he was suspending me, she pitched a fit…and got nowhere. So, I got a 3 day vacation for having a weekend party!

I remember getting suspended for smoking. She picked me up and took me shopping for fabric as she was sewing yet another one of her projects. She made porcelain dolls for years and they are all over the house. By the way, they’re also available so see me after the service if you’re really interested. She made some of her own clothes. She made parasols for the Queen City Jass Society, which she and my Dad were very active in. Until this day, she served as a board member in the Jass Society. 

When I was still living here back in the mid 70s, we worked airport security together here, with my Mom being my boss. Imagine commoners like us working airport security! We had Peace Officers back then, who were armed, if I recall correctly. We worked well together, having seen several stars go through such as Judy Collins, Cher and her daughter (then Chastity who was about 2 years old and adorable), Liberace, Glenn Campbell and several more I can’t recall. 

My Mom helped Mark & I out so many times. When I would have an opportunity to travel to Europe with Mark, she would fly down to watch over Chas. When I had torn my cornea after cataract surgery, I was instructed to keep my eyes closed for 3 days. I called my Mom and she came to help me out. After our auto accident in 1998, I couldn’t walk for about 8 days and she drove down to help me & Mark out. We used to use those times to have our chats, very intimate ones about our lives and our futures. She sent me a card that I still have to this day to let me know how much she enjoyed our chats. They continued even after Chas, my son, grew and we started full-time RVing whenever I would come home. 

My Mom was well traveled. After she worked for a travel agency in the Como Mall, she opened her own in West Seneca. She had traveled a bit with my Dad on business trips and with the other agency, but now she got to travel a lot more! My Dad would go when he could because who can refuse a free vacation? 

She and my Dad also loved to dance together and they were very good at it! It seems that every holiday there was some dance they were invited to. Between all the clubs they were involved with and their professional lives, they were always out on the weekends. And when my Dad would go out to entertain his professional guests, he would be certain to bring my Mom with him. He was so in love with her and so very proud to have her as his wife, even after over 62 years! 

When I was visiting on one occasion I ended up in the ER. My Mom was right at my side the entire time, holding my hand and rubbing it so I would know she was there. And rubbing it, and rubbing it. I was too weak to ask her to stop, but the affection, tenderness and unconditional love I felt that day was remarkable. Turns out I had several trips to the ER here, including the day of my Grandmother’s funeral. Since my Mom couldn’t be there with me, she sent my Dad!


Some of you may be wondering…how did she die? She was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver several years ago which was the cause of her enlarged abdomen. Well, she also loved her Burgundy wine. She did stop drinking for several years, attended AA and was well supported by my cousin, her goddaughter, Jill. But after about 5 years, she thought it would be harmless to enjoy some wine, even though she had learned (knew) it would kill her if she continued to drink. Her birthday was just October 4 when she turned 81. My family arranged to take her out for her birthday and she just couldn’t do it. She was out of breath just walking to the car. Now she is no longer fighting to catch her breath as her last breath… was to put her in her final form of comfort…at peace.


Stay Tuned!

2 comments:

Debbie McCormack said...

So sorry to hear of your mom's passing. I can't imagine what it's like to lose a parent. Sounds like she was a wonderful person and mom. Bless you in these times.

Steve and Dianne said...

So sorry to hear of your loss, Patty. Our thoughts are with you and your family.
Dianne and Steve