Witnessing Death

Jim Parton
5 min readNov 3, 2023
Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

“The two hardest things to say in life are HELLO for the first time and GOODBYE for the last time. (Moira Rogers)

Yesterday I stood with the two daughters of a long-time friend. I stood with two other friends from life events, and my husband, who had been her friend since he was eight years old. One of the daughter’s husbands was there. Our friend Linda was dying. She was five years older than my husband, but in childhood, he had become best friends with her brother and thus was in her household as much or more than he was in his own home just down the street. We were a circular group of seven around her bed in the Intensive Care unit of the local hospital.

Our friend Linda was a force to be reckoned with. I don’t think she topped much more than 4 feet, 11 inches. Her hair has been white since her thirties. She was a “girl on the go” and she had her opinions and her way of doing things. Other opinions were not of much consequence to her, and she was always confident in her ways of navigating life.

Her parents were older when she and her brother were born, and because my husband spent so much time with their family, he was an endless source of “Linda stories”, as well as the quirks and sayings of her household. Thus, Linda has been in my life prominently since the day my husband and I met. Much of our daily conversation is peppered with sayings picked up from his childhood with her and her family.

Her father was Lou, and her mom was Millie. Millie was much younger than Lou was when they married. Lou and Millie. WHAT a pair! Lou was a “little old man” when Linda and her brother were born, and Millie ran him around endlessly with the familiarity that comes with a long-term relationship. “Lou go on in and sit down and I’ll bring your coffee to you later.” “Is the meat tender enough for you, Lou?” “NO! Gawd damn it!” “Gawd you kids!” “Don’t do that to that cat. It hates you enough as it is!” “I don’t want to spend the money!” “Punch a time clock, take a check!”

When my husband and I became a couple, I inherited Millie. Lou had passed years before. I also inherited Linda and her brother Rick, as well as Linda’s daughters. Brother Rick passed away several years ago, leaving Linda as the survivor of this family of four. There are endless stories that can be attributed to the 30 years I have known…

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Jim Parton

Retired Teacher and Funeral Celebrant. The gay and married dad of three grown children. I have always been fascinated by the human condition. Come read with me.