Death of Four
From location to location the Mountie (RCMP) drove me and came in with me as I broke the news to brothers and sisters that our young eighteen year old brother was gone. Tears, hugs and questions no one, especially not me, could answer were repeated at each and every stop. At the last stop, I managed to “borrow” a pint of rum from my other brother’s suitcase and I downed it in one long gulp trying desperately to drown the pain of my loss with the fiery liquid. Soon after I fell into a deep sleep and was being awakened again by my sisters and brothers, it was time to go back to the hospital, time to tell our mother and father that there last born son, the baby of the family was gone on to heaven ahead of them.
We met doctor and priest in the lobby of the hospital and as hasty introductions were made that I am sure no one remembered we went up the elevator to my mother’s room, the doctor having already arranged for my Dad to be taking there in a wheelchair from his ward one floor down. I saw the smile of happiness cross my Mom’s face seeing us all coming in together like we were there to celebrate her birthday but as she noticed the priest and our tear stained eyes her smile dropped and the first words out of her mouth were “Jimmy”. Dad stoic as always tried to hide his own pain and loss but held tightly to my mothers hand as we told them the whole story.
The tears rolled form Moms eyes but she wanted to know if it was quick and if he had suffered, then she let the priest say the prayers for the dead and as he led the prayers she reached out and took my hand for a few minutes and I think that is when I too died just a little. Once the doctors determined they were both alright and turned down the offer of sedatives my father spoke for the first time.
“We’ll have to go into Charlottetown to see about funeral arrangements and bringing his body back.” He said.
Perhaps it wasn’t right but I had to interfere and tell him that PEI was his home not our Jimmies, Jim like the rest of us had grown up and had most of his brothers and sisters still living in Nova Scotia. I was supported by my mother who also stated she wished Jim and herself to be buried in Nova Scotia so it was settled.
Arrangements were made for the nurses to spend the whole day with Mom by her bedside as she was still too weak to travel. Jimmy would be buried on her birthday and we didn’t want her to be alone there so far away from the rest of us. The four remaining brothers would be his pallbearers and we left that morning by car to return home to Nova Scotia. It was here that Dad, a man who had survived four years of war, the loss of his own parents, sickness and ill health but who I had never seen shed a single tear break down and finally cry his grief out for his lost son.
Jimmy was buried as promised the nurses kept a vigil and even brought her a birthday cake but it could not take away her pain and grief. The doctor’s finally determined that Mom was well enough to travel by ambulance and plane to Halifax and my father and I rode the trip with her. Halifax is one of the major medical hospitals in cancer and specializes in cancer research and we hoped they could diagnose and treat the cancer that was eating away at her. Once again I sat my own vigil at her bedside and held her hand hoping and praying for a miracle. It never came, my sister and brother in law came home from out West and insisted I go home and get some sleep one night. Almost as if trying to spare me, my mother passed away quietly that same evening. I can not begin to say how that loss affected me so I won’t try. I loved her dearly.
In the apartment we had in Prince Edward Island before transporting my mother to Halifax, on the morning after my brother died, my father has said something that now scared the heck out of me. He had said that it came in threes and that mother would be next and he would follow her. At the time we laughed and I joked that if there was going to be a third it would be me. Little did I know.