Category Archives: Graham

On My Wife’s Passing…

In May of 2017, my wife Ashli died at the age of 45. A few times I tried to write about it here, to share the tragic news with my cousins that read this journal. I thought that writing about it would help me to deal with it, but I couldn’t do it then. The emotions were too raw. Even now, seventeen months later, opening up about it is only slightly less painful.

Through the gray days of grief, I would often make little observations to myself about how people reacted to her death and interacted with me. I’ll post of few of them here to clear my thoughts.

There will be some swearing.

When Did She Die?

I’m not even sure when Ashli actually died. She went into cardiac arrest on Friday, 28 April, as the paramedics were taking her into the ambulance. They performed life-saving measures there and got her back. She went into cardiac arrest again in the emergency room, this time for around twenty minutes.

The hospital kept her sedated over the weekend and attempted several procedures to reduce the swelling of her brain. Brain damage was likely considering the amount of time she’d been in cardiac arrest in the ER.

On Monday, her doctors and nurses all gathered in the room to see if she could survive without a ventilator. That was the moment of truth. If she took a breath on her own, she’d probably live, albeit with some kind of impairment. If she could not breathe on her own it would be because the damage was too significant.

She could not breathe without the ventilator, so she was declared brain dead on 1 May 2017.

Ashli was an organ donor, so they kept her body alive. We had a memorial service in her room on Tuesday, then she was prepared for organ donation.

Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network is the group that handled that process. Our contact there, Jenny, was amazing. She helped us prepare some things to remember Ashli, gave me some workbooks on grieving for the kids, and helped settle some of the hospital bills related to the donation. I cannot say enough good things about her.

When is a person really dead? Is it when the brain goes? Or is it when the body expires? Ashli’s mind left on 28 April, but some time after 1 May is when her body really died.

Ashli’s body was cremated in accordance with her wishes. The kids picked out a beautiful flower-etched urn that has become its own memorial to mommy as they decorate it and hang pictures nearby.

The bastards cremated her on her birthday, 17 May. Though, I suppose Ashli might think that fitting.

What Plans?

A short time after Ashli was declared dead, her father asked me, “What are your plans for the future?”

I realize now that he meant well, acting out of concern for me and the children. But my thought at that moment was, What the fuck?! Your daughter just died! I simply said, “I don’t even know what I’m doing on Friday.”

Later that same day, my mom asked me, “So, what are you going to do with them kids?”

I had a similar reaction to mom. What the fuck? Do you think I’m just going to wish them into the cornfield? “Raise them,” I said incredulously.

“How did she die?”

This is the first, and most annoying, question people would ask upon hearing the news. I am standing there emotionally destroyed, struggling just to speak the word “died” without breaking down, and now you want details?!

Reruns

In the days that followed, Ashli’s mom would call every couple of days and take me back to those dreadful moments. Was there anything she said? Were there any signs? Was there something we missed? Tell me everything again.

No. Just, no.

Bereavement Leave

My employer pays only four days of bereavement leave. It was not enough. I took three unpaid weeks off from work, and I really needed to take six months. I couldn’t afford that, so I returned to work and remained in a zombie-like state for several weeks, not giving any fucks about anything.

“If there’s anything I can do…”

I can’t tell you how many times someone said this to me.

“Well, now that you mention it,” I would say, “I could use some help paying the hospital bills.”

Then a panicked look would cross their face, and they’d back out of the commitment they just made. Oh, I didn’t really mean anything, that look would say.

“Okay, I need someone to watch the kids while I…”

And there would be that look again.

Don’t ever – EVER – say that phrase to someone unless you mean it.

Listen

Sometimes I would try to open up to my friends about what I was going through in the days that followed. Some of them would, with no ill intent, suggest that I talk to someone else – a grief counselor.

Discussing death makes people uncomfortable. I get that. But I didn’t want to talk to some stranger. Friends and family have a history together, and a kind of verbal shorthand develops between people where ideas and feelings and references can be conveyed with just a few words. You don’t get that familiarity with a grief counselor.

If a friend wants to talk to you, be a friend and listen. Don’t ask questions, don’t say anything. Just… listen.

Dying Is Expensive

Ambulance rides. Hospital room. Medication. Tests. More medications. Medical procedures. More tests. And then, the dreaded eventuality of death.

The medical plan provided by my employer is pretty good. It cut down the total of my bills from the hundreds of thousands to just the tens of thousands. Life insurance policies covered most of the remaining costs, but I still have one unpaid hospital bill that went to collections.

If you are one of those people that say things like “If there’s anything I can do…” and mean it, there is something you can do! I started a fundraising page at GoFundMe last year to help out with the bills, and it only raised half of its goal. Please consider helping.

And if you really want a description of how she died, it’s on the GoFundMe page.

Well, that’s it for now.

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Obituary for Alvin Jesse Graham

Published in the Appeal-Democrat of Sutter County, California from 2 June to 3 June 2018.

Alvin Jesse Graham

Alvin Jesse GrahamAlvin Jesse Graham went to be with his Lord on May 30, 2018 at the age of 92. Born in Marshall, Arkansas on August 20, 1925, he was the third of four children to Cornelius Jesse Graham and Callie Watts-Graham.

Alvin came to California in 1947 where he worked in a sawmill before becoming a general building contractor in 1962, building homes in the Yuba-Sutter area for over 40 years. He served in the Navy during WWII as a Signalman Third Class aboard the U.S.S. Highlands, where he received the Navy Letter of Commendation for participating in D-Day landings on Beach RED ONE at Iwo Jima in 1945.

Alvin is survived by his loving wife and lifelong sweetheart of 71 years, Dora, and his two sons, Michael Graham (Loretta) of Roseville and Larry Graham (Wendy) of Marysville. He is also survived by three grandchildren, Kristen Graham of Roseville, Ryan Graham of Yuba City and Kale Graham of Marysville. Additionally, Alvin leaves behind three great-grandchildren and a brother, Alpha Graham of Marshall, Arkansas.

Alvin was a devoted Christian who enjoyed studying his Bible and attending church. He taught Sunday School and Adult Bible Study classes and loved an energetic song service and anointed preaching. He was a member of Calvary Temple in Yuba City and Christian Life Assembly in Gridley.

Alvin was renowned for his bountiful vegetable gardens provided for family and friends. He was a fantastic husband, father, and grandfather, who always placed God and family first in his life. He will be sorely missed.

Reverend Dwight Deaton will officiate services to be held by Ullrey Memorial Chapel in Yuba City. Public viewing is scheduled for 9:00 am – 10:00 am on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 with graveside services at Sutter Cemetery following at 11:00 am.

Notes

Alvin was my first cousin once removed. Unfortunately, I never got to meet him. My sincere condolences to his family.

In 2015, the Appeal-Democrat published an article recounting the celebration of Alvin’s ninetieth birthday. It was accompanied by a full-color photograph of Alvin wearing his San Francisco Giants jacket. A cropped black-and-white version of that photograph was placed with his obituary.

Bibliography

Ullrey Memorial Chapel. “Alvin Jesse Graham,” published May 2018. Retrieved on Wednesday, 6 June 2018.


The Graham Family

requests the pleasure of your company

at a Reunion of the descendants of
John Henry and Mary Matilda (Bohannon) Graham

to be held at the South Mountain Fire Department
on the morning of June the Fourth at ten o’clock
with a potluck lunch to be served at one o’clock

5420 South Mountain Road
(South Mountain Road & Wildwood Lane)
Marshall, Arkansas 72650


Century Minus Ten

Came across this short article from the Appeal-Democrat celebrating the 90th birthday of Alvin Graham. Alvin is my first cousin once removed, son of Jessie Cornelius Graham and Callie Watts. Sounds like he had a great celebration!

90th Birthday: Graham

Posted: Sunday, September 6, 2015 12:39 am

Alvin J Graham

Yuba City resident Alvin J. Graham recently celebrated his 90th birthday with his wife, Dora, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Born Aug. 20, 1925, in Marshall, Ark., he and Dora have been Yuba-Sutter residents since 1947.

He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and is a retired building contractor.

A member of Christian Life Assembly Church in Gridley, he enjoys working in his garden, and cheering on the San Francisco Giants.

Sources

AppealDemocrat.com. “90th Birthday: Graham ,” Appeal-Democrat [Marysville-Yuba City, CA], 6 September 2015. Retrieved on Saturday, 13 February 2016.


A Gathering of Grahams

Forty-five years ago today, this brief article appeared in The Daily Standard of Sikeston, Missouri recounting a gathering of Grahams. I’m not sure of the occasion – no obvious anniversaries or birthdays were on 19 October 1970, the date of the visit. Maybe they just missed each other’s company.

Visits Uncle

Monday evening Mr. and Mrs. Albert Graham[1] and family of Harvey, Ill.[2], visited his Uncle Jasper Graham. Others visiting Mr. and Mrs. Jasper Graham[3] were Mr. and Mrs. Blane Rains[4], of Oran, Denver Graham[5] of Sikeston, Mr. and Mrs. Dempsey Graham[6] and family of Oran.

Notes

1. Albert John Graham, son of Jessie Cornelius Graham and Callie Watts, and his wife Mary Ellen Treat, daughter of James Carter Treat and Mary Margaret Watts.

2. I didn’t know that Albert and family lived in Harvey for a time! Now I’ll have to visit the library again to page through the old phone books.

3. John Jasper Graham, Jessie’s brother, and Silas Danner Copeland.

4. Blain Rains and his wife Junia Barnes, daughter of Harmon Barnes and Alcidine Watts.

5. Denver Etridge Graham, son of Jasper and Danner.

6. Dempsey Graham, son of Jasper and Danner, and his wife Lillian Harris.

Sources

The Daily Standard (Sikeston, Missouri), “Visits Uncle”, published on Thursday, 22 October 1970. Retrieved from newspapers.com on Tuesday, 20 October 2015.


Obituary for Loreda Graham

I was alerted to the passing of Loreda Graham via Barbara Van Camp’s Watts Family group on Facebook. Here is Loreda’s obituary, copied from the web site of Clinton Funeral Service of Clinton, Arkansas. My condolences to cousin Alpha Graham and family.

Loreda Graham

Alpha and Loreda GrahamLoreda Catherine Graham, 79, of Marshall passed away Friday August 28, 2015. Born January 22, 1936 in the Watts community of Searcy County to the late Lester and Ida Belle Thompson Bohannon, Loreda was a homemaker. She was most importantly a loving wife, mother, and grandmother, She enjoyed catching fish and eating them. She was an experienced seamstress and made many handmade quilts. She also enjoyed watching hummingbirds, but her greatest love was her family and friends.

Left to cherish her memory are her husband of 62 years, Alpha Graham; children Sheila Bixler and husband Ben of Alread, Roy Gene Graham and wife Dinah of Marshall and Cathy Carter and husband Ricky of Leslie. Grandchildren include Matthew Cotton, Nathaniel Cotton, Jessie Craig Graham, Jeremy Lee Carter, Christy Nicole Mosher, 6 step-grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren, 3 great-great grandchildren, and 2 step great-great grandchildren.

Also surviving Loreda are her two sisters, Leola Judd of Brighton, Colorado and Joella Hagar of Sutter, California.

Pallbearers are Phil Graham, D.J Lathum, John Coppersmith, Greg Griffith, Brian Klunk, and Donnie Bert Watts.

Notes

Loreda was related to me in a number of ways. First, her father Lester Bohannon was the son of Patrick Bohannon and his third wife Mary Frances Graham, my great great aunt. This connection means Loreda was my second cousin once removed. Loreda married Alpha Graham, my first cousin once removed, and her own second cousin. I haven’t yet worked out the Bohannon relationships, but I’m certain there are many – Alpha’s grandmother on the Graham side was Mary Matilda Bohannon,  my great grandmother.

Sources

Clinton Funeral Service. “Obituary for Loreda Graham.” Retrieved on Thursday, 3 September 2015.


Obituary for Opal Geeham

A member of Find A Grave going by the name Cardinals Fan recently posted a scan of this obituary to the memorial that I manage for Opal Graham, née Geeham. The obituary most likely appeared in the Standard-Democrat newspaper of Sikeston, Missouri, but no source or date of publication was cited with the image.

Mrs. Opal L. Graham

SIKESTON – Funeral service for Mrs. Opal Lou Graham of Sikeston will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at Nunnelee Funeral Chapel. Rev. Robert Burns and Rev. Raymond Armstrong will officiate, with burial in Dogwood Cemetery.

Friends may call at the funeral chapel after 5 p.m. today.

Mrs. Graham, 81 years old, died Friday, Feb. 16, 1990, at Missouri Delta Medical Center.

She was born July 1, 1908, at Big Oak Tree, daughter of Bud and Jeanie Presson Geeham. She married Denver Graham[1] Dec. 10, 1966, at Morley.

Mrs. Graham was a member of House of Prayer General Baptist Church at Grant City.

Survivors include her husband; a son, William Holmes[2] of Sikeston; a daughter, Anna Doherty[3] of Villa Park, Ill; a brother, Vee Geeham of Chicago; seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Notes

[1] Denver Graham was the eldest child of John Jasper Graham and Danner Copeland. Denver was Opal’s second husband.

[2] William Holmes is the son of Opal’s first husband, Freeman Holmes.

[3] Anna is the daughter of Freeman Holmes.

Sources

Find A Grave. “Opal Lou Geeham Graham,” Memorial 107885604. Retrieved on Tuesday, 12 May 2015.


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