This past couple of months have been very instructive for me when it comes to dealing with death once again. Like most Canadians, I am not immune from the fact that death or that transitory moment between this life and the next is all around in all its complications. Just over two months ago, my mother passed away from serious health issues related to dementia; two months to that date, my stepdad died from a combination of cancer and dementia. To say the least, their passing was not an easy one: nearly three years of languishing in a local nursing home suffering from diminished capacity. In life both individuals were becoming increasingly hard to deal with, so we as a family decided to turn their care over to a third party. While this arrangement has worked out reasonably well, the approach of death for both parents have offered up some new issues that beg resolution: settling of the estate; funeral arrangements: reconciliation; and keeping in the loop. My mother was always a secretive person – part of her extreme narcissistic nature – so that any information pertaining to her end-of-life wishes were never made clear. She believed that she would live well into her nineties because of her so-called longevity gene. One thing she forgot, in her reckoning, was that long life can easily be discounted if one’s mental and physical health rapidly goes south. In the time since her death, her executor has relinquished his duties because it was too daunting a task, given the fact that my mother was never strong on keeping records or paying attention to detail. She just lived in a make-believe world where she thought others would do her bidding when it came to realizing her fantasies. Even in prepurchasing a funeral package for her husband and herself, nothing is straightforward. It has all come down to some quirky notion being floated by her that she wanted to be interred side-by-side with her first (my dad) and second husbands. That might have been possible but for the fact that it was founded on a baseless assumption, when they bought their funeral package, that a third plot was available to take my stepdad. It has now come to light that it was all a fiction and that my stepdad – a guy we were all starting to warm up to since my mother’s death – will have to be buried in his own family plot in another city far away. To put a special accent on their passing, the other day my wife and I paid my stepdad one last visit to say good-by. As we arrived at his room, we were met by a caregiver who informed us that he was resting and in good spirits. What greeted us was a man ravaged by cancer, mouth agape, and vacantly staring into space. After a few minutes of getting no response from him, I turned to Belle and commented that it looked like he was dead. After going to the nursing station to share my concerns, and being assured that all was fine, I decided to go back and give it one more try to no avail as the results were the same. Later that day, a family relative phoned to inform us that my stepdad had officially died at 10:45 a.m. that morning, only minutes after we left the building puzzling over what we had just witnessed. In this whole unfolding melodrama, the only thing I can be sure of is that a curious chapter in my life has finally been closed except for a few minor details dealing with the settling of the estate. Oh, yes, there is still some residual emotions that continue to need massaging and tweeking.