Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

Posted by Shelley on Nov 30, 2009 in Uncensored Shelley

I just found the biggest coffee mug I could in the house and I can’t believe I’m sitting here drinking it by myself in front of our newly decorated Christmas tree!  We got a tremendous fresh cut frasier fur and it smells wonderful.  A very beautiful beginning to the holiday season indeed.

We had a very lazy Thanksgiving break and in light of everything else we’ve been through that was exactly what we needed!  We slept a little later each day of the 5 day break, which means Canon slept later.  He is the one to get us up and moving and it’s a good thing.  Otherwise the rest of us might continue having visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads until noon.  The break ended when we all had to face Monday morning running late in the rain today.  But I will admit that hearing the rain, drinking my coffee and sitting in front of the tree make for a much needed time of reflection for myself.

I ate and drank and was merry through the long weekend, watching football and spending time with my family.  The first quarter of the Auburn/Alabama game was unreal.  After AU’s second touchdown we were hooping and hollering and Canon walked over and said, “I wish Deeda was here to see this…”  and I said, “yes, I wish he were here too…”

I won’t write but a brief paragraph or two about our Thanksgiving without Dad.  His absence was present.

A very deep sadness, one that I really haven’t known before has taken up residence in my heart.  It is heavy, it is real.  The feeling can begin at almost anytime and it always gets interrupted.  It doesn’t just “go away”.  Instead, the weight of loss makes it’s presence known and in a matter of seconds I am immediately distracted and the emotion gets put off until the next time.  Maybe it’s due to the season of my life right now.  Grieving just really isn’t in the schedule.  There is far too much living to be done around my house.  So I’m guessing the one hour weekly therapy session might be in order.

I miss him.  But more than that I want to know “why”… why it all went down the way it did.  I want to understand his mental state and how real his reality was to him.  I want to know how a human being can put up such a front.  I want to really know the moments he loved us.  And I want to know the last time that he was in his right mind.

So now I’ve got 24 days to get ready for Christmas.  Better get busy!  But I am most definitely going to finish this cup of coffee first.


Melodi’s Story

Posted by shawnuff on Nov 24, 2009 in Mental Illness, Uncensored Shelley

It was three weeks ago this Thursday when we received the news about my dad.  Sometime between November 2nd and November 5th my dad left the temporal world which had tormented him so.  The coroner’s report states he died of natural causes.

Due to dad’s very serious psychiatric condition he had been hospitalized.  My family was not included on his call list as we were the ones who committed him to go there.  Which means this had become quite adversarial.  He had hired lawyers to work on his behalf, while he never fully accepted his diagnosis.  Instead, he continued to live his bi-polar, manic episode with psychotic features lifestyle.  And, well,  it is what it is.

I think there are 5 stages of grief and if I understand correctly, humans must be willing to go through all 5 stages, otherwise we endanger our own emotional health.  Much of my grieving began several months ago as I realized my dad was going to a place he was not going to come back from, at least not on this earth.  I think I’m at the “anger” stage, although psychology is pretty clear that we all vacillate between the stages for some length of time.  Maybe I’m still in shock.  Who knows.

Below is Melodi’s interpretation of what she witnessed since August 9th, 2009.  I could give an account of what I’ve seen, but even in the infinite world of the internet I don’t think  there truly is enough space to record it all.  So, we will go with Melodi’s story, written the week of Dad’s funeral (2 weeks ago).  Typed by Melodi, we have cut and pasted her story into my blog.

The Death of Love
By Melodi

Chapter 1: The Beginning.
Once, and this is a true story, there lived a girl named Melodi about ten-years-old. She awoke to the sound of her mother calling her for breakfast. Today was her brother’s birthday. But little did she know that this was the beginning of a new life.

Her brother was going to have a pool party. And he invited many people. Friends, family, and friend’s family. This included his father, mother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, other grandmother, and other grandfather. Of course, Melodi did not notice her grandfather’s (on her mother’s side- Deeda- for short). The very next day was brought to her attention.

It started later in a day. When her family got a call. Suddenly, mother burst into tears. Melodi wondered what she was crying about, but was too afraid to ask. She soon learned the troubles.

Her grandfather, Deeda- had gone to the hospital down in Auburn. Melodi knew this. But he used to be a doctor and did not want other doctors telling him what to do. So he ran away. Melodi did not understand well, but later wished she would have.

Chapter 2: The News
He had a sickness. Unidentified. He was brought back to the hospital and escaped again. Later another story had formed. Deeda had been driving in his car. But first here are the symptoms of his sickness: being very confused- almost like alsimers-. But he was driving in his car. He parked his car in front of a house he did not know. He went to the door and told the people that there was a bomb in his car. The dad, feeling bad for him, took him to a hotel. The mom, however, was very upset since she had two kids and Deeda had said he had a bomb in his car. She called a bomb squad.

By this time, Melodi was worried sick about Deeda.

Chapter 3:Bad Things
He was back in the hospital again. Nana (his wife) was very scared and worried. They had to have a divorce even though she didn’t want to. Once heard, Melodi was very nervous. Because soon came very bad news…

Chapter 4: The Saddest Thing Heard By Her
Now time for the worst news of all: They were on their way to her brother’s football game when came the frightening words: “Um… Shelley, we are not going to the football game.” Dad had said when off the phone. “Come with me,” father said. All of the sudden, mother was crying the worst I have heard ever. Mom and dad left and left us with grandmom and grandad. (father’s side)

The next day, mother and father took me to Nana’s house. The news came to ear. Mother said, “Deeda died.” Melodi’s once smile turned into a frown. “What happened?” Melodi asked. “Well,” Father said, “he died on Monday but found this Thursday, in a chair. Dead.” Melodi’s eyes filled with tears but she did not show.

Chapter 5: A Sad Moment
The funeral was Monday, the week after the death. The saddest moments she had in her life were upon Melodi. “But, Christmas will not be the same without him,” Melodi cried at the place were his picture was on the table at the funeral (a few moments of silence). “I didn’t even get to say goodbye!”

Chapter 6: Happy Times
He lives now in Heaven. Happy and free of all sadness, and pain. Looking down at us saying, “Do not cry. You will see me some day!”


Friday, November 20th, 10am

Posted by Shelley on Nov 20, 2009 in Uncensored Shelley

I’m not crying because it’s over.

I’m smiling because it happened.


H. Gordon “Mitch” Mitchell

Posted by Shelley on Nov 13, 2009 in Real Life Stories, Uncensored Shelley

As I sit here among sympathy cards, too many to count messages in my inbox and beautiful flower arrangements it is still hard for me to grasp the fact that my dad is at his final resting place on this earth and the next time I see him will be in heaven.

I was barely in touch with him since mid-August and the last time I saw him he was driving his car.  That is fitting.  He loved cars and if I didn’t have the opportunity to have a conversation with him then the next best thing is watching him drive his car.  He had many over the years, everything from Corvettes to a restored GTO (the Goat he called it), a Range Rover and even an Explorer which was atruck edition (I think).  Too many mercedes to count, including one he bought for me.  Lots of cars and lots of miles driving.

Many miles were driven on one car ride in particular..  It was actually in a cargo type van, hugging the mountains to Guadalajara, Mexico where he attended medical school.  I live there with mom and dad when I was 3 years old.  Dad made it back to the States when a spot opened up at UAB.  He graduated medical school when I was in 3rd grade.  Life changed a lot after that.

As I process through my Dad’s illness and the trauma which has enslaved my family for the last three months I will write more, explain more and hopefully help someone in a similar situation.  As Christians we have to take what was meant for evil and change it into good.  That is going to happen if I have anything to do with it!

The best account of what has happened is written by my oldest child, Melodi.  She gave me the story to read Wednesday night and through a child’s eyes I read a very honest explanation of why I had arranged a funeral, why I was estranged from my Dad and why God doesn’t let you know the future.  I will certainly share the story she wrote in another post.

Below is a picture from my wedding day.  You’ll recognize the man dancing with me.  And you’ll read his obituary and know that somehow, someway, it will all be okay.  Thank you for taking the time to read about my Dad and see him here at a happier time.  He is certainly in a better place now and I still love him and always will.

H. Gordon “Mitch” Mitchell

A memorial service for H. Gordon “Mitch” Mitchell was held at Langley Funeral Home Chapel, Camp Hill, AL, at 3 PM on Monday, November 9, 2009,  with Rev. Craig Guy officiating.  His internmet was held at Dadeville City Cemetary.

Dr. Mitchell was born on June 21, 1948, to the late Gordon and Monetha Davis Mitchell and passed away on November 5, 2009, at the age of 61.

He is preceded in death by both his parents and his sisters, Anita Mitchell Thornton and Lisa Mitchell Aaron.

He received his pharmacy degree from Auburn University and his medical degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  Most recently he earned a masters degree in public health from UAB.  He touched many lives over the course of his 40+ years in the medical community.

He is survived by  his wife Jane Gittings Mitchell of Birmingham, AL; daughter Shelley (Mike) Shaw of Birmingham, AL; daughter Stacey (Ashley) Smith of Birmingham, AL; daughter Kelsey Mitchell of Auburn, AL; and grandchildren Melodi Jayne Shaw and Michael Canon Shaw.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, www.nami.org.

me and my dad
me and my dad

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