Death in the Family

Today’s blog is a guest posting by one of my sisters, Sue Bryson (Susan Lynn Lester Bryson).

When we lived in Des Moines, Iowa, we had a small dog. I’m not sure if it was Corky, that Dan wrote about. But I vividly remember this dog being hit by a car in front of our house on Witmer Street. I can still see his little body lying, lifeless, in the street by the curb. Daddy got a small box to put him in, closed up the four flaps of the box, and left it on the grass parking strip in front of the house. Some animal control service was to come pick it up. We never spoke about this. Nobody talked about him or discussed what happened later or what happened after death. We knew not to ask questions. Daddy put us all back to work. It was over – the dog was gone.

Many years later, Mom and I discussed Daddy’s death. She apologized to me for never having talked about his death, or even talking about him. She said that she was raised to be very closed about personal feelings, and that when our dog had died Daddy just said to ignore it and get the kids back to work. So she remembered that and tried to do the same thing after our father’s death. She tried to keep us busy and directed. I know she cried in her bed alone at night. She must have felt terrified, alone, abandoned and in shock. How she found the power and energy to go on is a mystery to many. (I now know that it came through faith and powerful prayer, which she also never talked about.) Mom had huge regrets about how she handled her children’s feelings after Daddy’s death. But she did the best she could at the time.

This is what we all do. We do the best we can under our present circumstances, and then deal with the consequences. I am so grateful for my Mother and the great example she has always been to me. I am thankful she could admit when she made mistakes and always took responsibility for every part of her life. She has always been an inspiration to me and the hero of my life.

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