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Staking Claims at Mamaw’s House

Mamaw Stuff!

To the living go the leftovers.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on June 7th my wife’s grandmother passed away, six days before her 93rd birthday. From 2011 to 2017 my wife Anne and I would take her out twice per year to the Indiana State Fairgrounds for her two favorite outings, the Indiana Flower & Patio Show and the Christmas Gift & Hobby Show. Longtime MCC readers have been treated to the resulting photo galleries and occasional cute Mamaw photos — her in her wheelchair and me as her chauffeur. While the better relatives would come over and visit her from time to time, not all of them took her places. I was among the precious few who stepped up to the privilege of being her personal driver in that sense.

The ongoing postmortem process has moved at a glacial pace in the ten days since her passing. Over this weekend the family got to the part where they begin dividing up the stuff she couldn’t take with her. As far as we know, she didn’t have a will drawn up, nor did she have enough extravagant possessions to her name to merit bitter feuding in lieu of one. The house itself is ultimately spoken for, but for now an aunt and a cousin are acting as estate wranglers, for lack of an actual, legally opened estate. This means they’ve been allowing close relatives to take turns coming over and picking out whatever mementos they’d like, within reason.

Today was Anne’s turn. Behold a selection from her de facto inheritance.

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Mamaw, 1925-2018.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: from 2011 to 2017 my wife Anne and I would take her grandmother out twice per year to the Indiana State Fairgrounds for her two favorite outings: the Indiana Flower & Patio Show every May, and the Christmas Gift & Hobby Show every November. For Mamaw the fairgrounds were her premier destination for getting out of the house, buying presents for loved ones, stocking up on her favorite dark chocolates, marveling at strangers’ cute little babies, getting her watch battery changed at her favorite jeweler’s booth, oversharing about her medial conditions with any salesman who dared approach us unsolicited, and, for the last several affairs, relaxing while I had the honor of being her wheelchair chauffeur, uttering the occasional “Wheeeeee!” whenever we sped up while descending ramps and slopes. Longtime readers have seen several pictures of her throughout the years, enjoying what were basically her Super Bowl and her World Series.

Thursday morning, Mamaw passed away after a long, loving life, six days before her 93rd birthday.

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Our 2011 Road Trip #27: Sacrifice-That-Was and Salute-That-Would-Be

Flight 93 Flags.

Once it was an unassuming plain owned by a local coal company. Fate would turn it into something else entirely.

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

Our next hotel was only a few hours from Weehawken in the town of Somerset, PA, but offered us grand luxuries that our previous hotel had denied us — free cookies, free coffee in the lobby, free stale popcorn, and (in a hotel first for us) an extravagant lap desk to use with our laptop. We settled in by the end of the afternoon, then walked away from all the amenities for something more important. We got right back in the car, headed north of the town of Shanksville, and paid a visit to the local must-see: the crash site of United 93.

By this time we were far from New York City, but no less connected to it by heart-rending 21st-century history.

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Blow a Kiss. Take a Bow.

The above musical number was performed in November 2014, four months after li’l Rosie’s double-lung transplant. I’m at a loss to add a review here other than something synonymous with “WOW”.

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Portrait of the Writer as a One-Time Two-Parent Kid

Golden!

Me at seven months old. My grandma’s caption written on the back of the photo begins, “Mommie had to take him. Daddy was in too big a hurry + didn’t give him time to look at him first.”

The annual MCC year-in-review clipfest and stats party will be coming later this week, but before we get to the fun stuff, perhaps a separate epilogue is due for one of the most (ostensibly) significant events that happened within any of my circles in 2015.

Back in September my father passed away after years of illness and decades of questionable choices. The week that followed was unlike any I’d experienced before — leaving me at a loss for words for a few days, engendering a wellspring of condolences from family and friends, creating no small number of moments both heartfelt and awkward and rife with flawed, generous assumptions.

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The Other Randall Golden, 1954-2015

Dad.

Photo swiped from a relative on Facebook, date unknown. I have no pics of him on hand. Shots of the two of us together exist but are rarer than mint copies of Action #1.

I was notified Monday night my father had once again been hospitalized, but this time the doctors estimated he had about two days to live. Unrelated, unfortunate complications kept me from visiting him that very evening, but Anne and I began putting plans together to visit him tonight.

After I arrived at work this morning, I learned their estimate was off by about forty hours and that he’d passed away shortly before midnight.

The last time I saw him alive was on the morning of our wedding day in 2004. He’d arrived hours before anyone else, including us, because he wanted to congratulate us in private. We spoke for less than five minutes before he took his leave.

We spoke on the phone once every couple years after that, mostly about medical updates. We share a first name, and it’s entirely possible I’ll be sharing some of his conditions in the years ahead.

My preferred method of working through unique events (better or worse, good guy or bad) is to ponder at length in this space, but for dozens of reasons this moment doesn’t feel like the right time for new essays. The first time I tried to string any clauses together this evening, an ostensibly simple, fourteen-word Facebook status took me twenty-five minutes to write, including an extended thesaurus consultation and an editorial review by Anne at my repeated insistence.

Between this and other little signs throughout the day, I strongly believe God’s been trying to tell me to be still and spend more time listening, reading, thinking, and praying for a good while.

The funeral is Friday, but I’ve no idea how the next two days will go, either offline or here on the site. More introspection? Extended radio silence? Deep diving into Scripture? Off-topic distraction? Wish I knew.

Apologies for the disjointed fragments. For now I’m putting my inadequate words away, shutting up, standing by, and waiting to see what comes next.

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