Saturday, June 03, 2006

Grandpa Fell Alseep

Philip Gilbert Henry Paulton fell asleep in the Lord Tuesday night, the Leavetaking of Pascha, at 10:30pm. Those who have been following my blog for a long time know I basically started blogging about this journey with his Parkinson's-like degenerative neurological disease that began in Fuddrucker's Bathroom . We've been taking care of him in our home for the past three years and had to move him to a nursing facility a month or so ago. My wife sat with him at the home his last four days.

I got the call from her as my young daughter and I were sitting down for dinner at 10:30pm Tuesday. Although she wasn't fond of him, she went with me to the home. She sat and watched as we prepared him for burial. She looked on without emotion. We washed him, annointed his body with myhrr, cardamon, frankincense and olive oil. We prayed the Psalter in the process. We had finished building his coffin, and the funeral home put him in it without embalming or cosmetics. We packed the coffin with dry ice and drove him to St. Paisius Monastery . We put him in the Church and prayed the Psalter all night until his funeral the following morning on the third day.

It is a relief and a blessing and a grief that he is gone. Suffering and death bring the realities of our finiteness and failure to light, it also brings to light love and compassion and healing if we will be open to learning from it. Lessons in life are hard as my daughter has discovered at such a young age.

It will take a few more days to decompress from this past week. We still have rooms to clean, belongings to sort, ceilings and walls to repair, and bathrooms to restore to normal usage. In a few weeks ( wife is reading this going "yeah, right...try 3 years...) the last vestiges of three years of Philip's disease will disappear under new paint and drywall and tile.
While Philip was destroying the house, he was building a spiritual home within us all.

May his memory be eternal.


Philippa said...

Memory Eternal!

May God bless you all with His peace and comfort!

With love!

Grace said...

My gosh. I feel like in some small (accent on SMALL) way I've gone through the last year of this with all of you. God knows why things happen the way they do. I don't have any way to imagine how I'd do under similar circumstances, but I think I'd be completely unable to deal with it.

I'm amazed you were able to do this style of burial -- without any embalming or preservation. And it sounds like the coffin wasn't lead-lined or any of that. Was that his wish, and did you have to get special permits and whatnot? (Not trying to be nosy. That part of it just stuck out to me.)

God bless you all, and many thanks for telling this hard, hard story.

Elizabeth said...

Memory Eternal !

s-p said...

Thank you all. Hi Grace. Actually most of the "required" things mortuaries try to sell you are not. You do not have to embalm, but you have to bury within a certain time. Even if you have to wait a couple days for family to arrive they can refrigerate the body. The casket was simple. Mortuaries will try to sell you on an expensive one because the "memory of the departed deserves luxury and expense". They will also try to sell a "sealed casket" so the body won't rot as about marketing to the American fear of death and being ugly. We did have to get a legal death certificate which Hospice helped with, and a permit to transport his body, the mortuary got that for us. I'm an anarchist at heart and told my wife I'd just drive him up and if we got stopped I'd just tell the cop "I'm taking a coffin to a monastery for a funeral." I just wouldn't tell them there was someone in it. Who would ask? And what would they do, arrest the corpse? :) And yes, all of this was his wish. He asked me to make his coffin. A monk carved the cross for the top of it for him, and when the Abbess offered my family a place in their cemetery as a gift for the work I did there, Philip wanted to be buried there instead of the Veteran's Cemetery here in Phoenix. There are several Orthodox Churches that have "manuals" for doing an Orthodox funeral. You can get a "kit" for Orthodox funeral planning from Annunciation OCA in Milwaukie, OR for 10.00. It is invaluable.

Catrin said...

Memory Eternal!

Danielle Cuthberta said...

Memory eternal (a bit late...)

I feel I've followed this, too, for a year or more, s-p, and may God bless you and your wife for the care and love you gave, despite it's being hard.

fwiw, there's a PBS special on how to bury one's own called "A Family Undertaking." There are also a few places to get a simple "pine box," unlined, if you choose not to make it yourself. Anarchist or libertarian, I don't know, but s-p, your act of love in anointing the body and holding a vigil sounds so right.