Monday, June 29, 2009

Our Goodbye



When I heard about Mason's death a couple of weeks ago, I knew that I needed to go to his service, however and whenever.

Last Friday morning, I left home at 4:30 am to catch a flight to Las Vegas. Fortunately, the US Department of Transportation rules no longer make it necessary to jump through excessive hoopery to take an approved oxygen concentrator on a flight, so I can again travel with a minimum of excess hoo-hah.

Arriving in LV, I went immediately to the Hertz counter, and got my car which had a bonus GPS navigation system, so I plugged in the address of the hotel where my reservations lay, and took off across the desert.

Driving south from Las Vegas was a first-time experience for me. I found it hard to believe as I went down US 95 in my air-conditioned car, that the 116 degrees showing on the external temperature sensor was accurate. I didn't see mirages, or heat waves rising off the road. It was just sunny. Relentlessly, insufferably sunny.

Searchlight, Needles, Bullhead City all flew by on the road.

Finally the turnoff for Lake Havasu City, and the road south. The landscape was scarred with dirtbike trails, and I got a better idea of why he loved them.

The town is brand new and dusty at the same time. It's a planned community, 45 years old, so nothing has any sagacity in its look. The water of the lake is incredibly, artificially blue, not unlike the ocean off Palm Beach. In PB, I always wondered if the rich folks had had the water tinted. I didn't find any evidence of rich folks in LHC. Just lots of good solid middle class sorts.

I saw Catalina when I walked into the hotel lobby, and was told that Marcia had already checked into our room. Marcia had kindly hit the grocery on the way in, and bought snacks and a good-sized bottle of margarita premixed, which we did a good job on that night and the next.

On Saturday, we rose late and had breakfast, then proceded to get ready for the service. We didn't want to arrive too early, but when we arrived 20 minutes before, all the seats were taken, and folding chairs were being brought into the chapel and into the lobby where a video feed was available. Lots of folks in memorial t-shirts, lots of folks on scooters and wheelies, on walkers, with oxygen hoses. The dirtbikers, and the PHers, all together maybe 200 people.

First to speak was his older sister, then his flight instructor, then his boss at the motorcycle shop where he had worked. Each of them described precisely the Mason we all knew; sly, funny, mature beyond his years, laid back, and resourceful.

Then his dear mother stood up, and in her agony, she brought up all her own hurts and pains, and it was hard to watch, and hard to see.

After she was seated, I stood and read my own blog posting from below here, and a card from my pal (and Mason's) Colleen, which said all the right things. Many people thanked me for our messages.

We went to a reception in a nearby restaurant, met with his family and friends, renewed acquaintance with Mack and Mary (and mini-Mack), and explained our idea of the Mason Hoffman PHA Scholarship Fund, a fund for young adult PH patients (18-24) to help them and their caregivers to attend the biennial international conferece, in honor of the way and place that most of us first met Mason. His family is thrilled with the idea.

We left the restaurant and went to the hotel to cool off and recoup... it was tiring emotionally and physically. We went to be pretty early, but not after chatting in the PHA chat room for a little while.

On Sunday morning, we woke up and had breakfast together, the Three Musketeers, and then started on our journeys home.

I had done pretty well for the whole weekend, until I was headed out of Lake Havasu City, and the old "Mike and the Mechanics" song "In the Living Years" came on the radio, and I cried all the way to Needles.


Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye.

I got on the plane about 3 in the afternoon, and walked in my front door at 1 am. A long hard trip, but a very satisfying one.

4 comments:

Jen said...

Thx for the pics..I am so happy you were able to go...I miss that Dude..I know we all do lots...
Yes havasu is a beautiful place...I know why Mason loved it so much...

Rest up...

Hugs :))
Jen

Annette Markin said...

Ellen, thank you so sharing your gift of writing, especially with your experiences at Mason's service. I plan on donating to his scholarship fund.
much love
annette

Teddybear said...

I know I am a little late in reading but thank you sharing you experience with us, you made it feel like I was there. I barely knew him but I still have problems dealing with his passing and I don't know why.

Blessings to you, love Deb.

Karen said...

Hi, I'm Karen. Since my mother was diagnosed with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension four months ago, I've decided to make a blog to raise awareness of PAH. Perhaps you'd consider linking to my blog - it's http://hypertension-pulmonary.blogspot.com/