Move Over, Mom!

The following is a selection from a collection of memories that I am working on that include stories and thoughts of family and life experiences. This one is about my brother in law, Carlton, who has Down Syndrome. I would love to hear what you think.

It is never easy to lose a loved one.  There are just so many emotions that come into play when grief is encountered.  Everyone handles it in their own way and most importantly–in their own time.  I do not think that anyone can say “you need to be past that stage by now” because we are all so different and have a myriad of ways of dealing with loss.

Sometimes there are regrets.  Regrets of relationships that did not go quite as well as would have been desired.  Time spent away from a loved one that was unnecessary.  Words that were said that may have been better left unsaid.

At times it often becomes a time of reflection on the life that one is living.  It brings to mind mortality and what our impact on this world will be when we are gone.  Have we contributed at all?  Have we made one iota of difference by being alive?

It is also a time to remember.   Memories of the loved one come streaming back and the good times are highlighted in our minds and perhaps embellished a bit.  But that is not a bad thing.  It is good to laugh during times of extreme sadness—it is our pressure valve and a great way to honor the loved one.

When Chris’s dad died we went through all of the normal emotions and reactions.  We were all very protective of Carlton and tried to make sure that he understood what was going on every step of the way.  He was upset that there was no reading of the will.  He kept waiting for that and I suspect TV shows played a big part in that expectation.  I know he felt cheated.  He wanted to hear his name being read that he was to receive a third of the “estate”.  Even though we explained time and time again that that was not the way things were set up in normal life he still hung on to the thought that he had been left out of something important.

But the memory that I will carry with me for the rest of my days is when we finally buried the cremains of my beloved father in law.  We gathered at the cemetery on a cold and windy day –just the close family- and after the 3 children each put a shovel of dirt in the grave  Carlton quipped “Move over, Mom.  Here comes Dad.”   Now how can that ever be forgotten?


  1. Carlton got it. In his mind and heart, he knew Dad belonged with Mom. He said simply and succinctly how and why he was able to let Dad go.

    • I think you are right, McGuffyAnn! It is always so hard to tell what is going on in his mind sometimes and then he says something like this and it is really clear that he understands much more than I have given him credit for!

  2. Carton got it right.. they are once agian together…

  3. A very touching post. And I agree, Carlton’s words were perfect. A loving couple can’t be separated forever. Now they are back together.

    • It was one of those moments that was just kind of frozen in time for me—–I knew that he understood and that he was ready to move on and that was a really good moment.

  4. How big is this wisdom! Wow. Don’t you just love it?

  5. Beautiful, Beth Ann. All I can say is that Carlton was both perceptive and succinct, and I think that was his way of saying “I can move on now they are at peace.”

    • i think you are so right. That was like the final thing and until we were able to do that he was still unsettled as the “urn” was in the house and he would talk to his dad there all the time. Once we had the little service he was able to put that to rest and knew that his mom and dad were together again and happy and healthy. Closure at last.

  6. I love that. I lost my Dad 7 years ago, and my Mom 6 years ago, and coincidentally, I was planning on writing about that today. I have so many unforgetable memories of their loss, but even after this much time, they are still very fresh and very painful. I have documented my mother’s loss pretty thoroughly in my blog, since it had a profound impact on me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • A loss like the loss of a parent is something that stays with us for a long time. My dad passed away in 1994 and there is not a day that goes by that I do not think about him in some way. I was blessed with wonderful parents and I am very thankful for that–not everyone can say that and it is a good thing to have happy memories and not painful ones.

  7. Helen Brown says:

    I am so glad you shared what Carlton said after the service. So many times we do not really understand the death of a loved one but we must learn to accept it and move on and keep living our lives and being thankful for the time we had with the person we miss.

  8. I think in a lot of ways, most people need the physical act of burial to be able to accept the death of a loved one. I believe this is why funerals are often so ritualized by various churches – to help us come to terms with our loss & offer us words of comfort at the same time. But it is in the actual act of burying our loved one, where understanding & acceptance come together. Thank you for sharing this touching moment with us!

  9. You really summed up the grieving process….it is different for everyone and it is different for each person we lose. Carlton simply stated what he understood….his parents are now together again.

    • Exactly. And to him that is what mattered the most. Having his dad be without his mom for 4 years was unbearable to him and now he could feel better because they were together again.

  10. Oh my goodness Beth Ann that is so beautiful and his comment is priceless. For him, it all boiled down to the basics: Mom and Dad together. So sweet! Thanks for sharing that family moment with us.

  11. pattisj says:

    That is so sweet, Carlton’s view of them together for eternity.

  12. You are truly gifted! I hope you’re considering publishing your collection of reminisces, because you have an incredibly insightful interpretation of life events, and write about it well… (I’m so proud of my little sis!)

    • Aw….Mark! That made me smile!!! Thank you!!! I have started putting things down on paper…er…computer and will see what happens. Chris is really pushing me to do this so we shall see where it goes. It is so much easier to publish these days!

  13. That can’t be forgotten. It’s such a nice thing to write down these memories and have a way to remember. Love it. And even though it’s a sad topic it still left me smiling!!!!

  14. BethAnn, So touching. Carlton def got it right. I remember very well when my grandparents passed. Each of my grandfathers had to live on without the love of their lives. When they passed, we actually felt my grandmothers prescence waiting on their sweethearts! Great post!

    • Thanks, Debbie. It had been a long tough 4 years and Carlton really misses both of his parents. Fortunately he has probably a lot healthier lifestyle now—more interaction with people and a better functioning family unit. And the plus side is that Chris and I really actually know him now after spending so much time with him. That is definitely a good thing.

  15. This is very touching Beth Ann. The reading of the will really got me. It’s so fascinating to hear Carlton’s take on things. How is he doing?

    • He is doing pretty well considering it all. They are working on respect and boundaries and being part of a family with a counselor and the progress is coming. I am going to see him in a week so hopefully that will be a great reunion!!! We have missed having him around!!!

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