Tuesday, October 16, 2012

H is for Health

Sorry I've been away for so long.  It's been so hard to think of how to write this.  Dave's dad's health started failing and he went downhill rather quickly.  He passed in June and..... I don't know. 

He had quadruple bypass surgery 44 years ago.  Four years ago, he ended up in the hospital.  They thought that bypass was failing, but it was actually his aorta was leaky.  They wanted to replace it, but he was 80 years old and the recovery period was estimated at over a year, so he opted out.  They put in a pacemaker and told him he had maybe a year left.

He lasted four years!  But it caught up with him.  He lost his appetite; lost a lot of weight.  He started getting sicker and sicker and told the doctor he wasn't going to take any preventative measures to stop the inevitable. 

He lasted about six weeks from when he started getting sick.  They tried hospice at home but that only lasted about 2 weeks.  He's far too large a man for the tiny wife to try to lift him if he fell.  So he spent the last 10 days of his life in a nursing home. 

At one point, when he was still conscious, I was feeding him (at the nursing home) and he had to stop after a few bites.  He said, "Solid food is exhausting."  It made me so sad! 

This is a man who loves food and loves to read.  He stopped going to the library for books (something he did every week).  I asked my husband, "Do you think it's because he's afraid he won't be able to finish the book and not know the ending?"

This is a man of strong Christian faith.  He didn't have much to leave, but he left his Bible to Trevor and some C.S. Lewis Christian book to Davis.  Dave wasn't happy about, but I said, "Let it go." and he did.

Before he got really bad, I went to their place with my steno-writer and computer and asked him a bunch of questions about his life.  His childhood, family, teen years, etc.  His wife was sitting there making horrible comments and being really mean about it.  Not sure what about it made her so damn mad, but there it was.

What made me cry the most?  When he asked me how school was going for me.  I said, "It's going really well!"  Then he said, "I'm sorry I won't be here to see you graduate."  Are you kidding me?  Instant waterfall.

Things that made me mad:
When the MIL kept telling anyone that would listen what a good man he is/was.  She NEVER said that to him in his lifetime.  It's like she suddenly discovered it.  Sad.

The boys:
When the boys were with us, visiting FIL in the nursing home, they had such different reactions.  T could barely stand to be in the room w/FIL.  Even when he was still lucid and fairly OK.  Dave finally told him, "T.  It's OK.  You can't catch the old."  D2, on the other hand, was by FIL's side constantly.  It was very sweet.  Not that T is any less sweet, he was just so sad and uncomfortable with the whole thing, he didn't know how to deal with it.

We kind of broke it to them weeks in advance.  When FIL started going downhill, we sat the boys down and told them as gently as we could that Gpa was at the end of his life.  The boys both broke down and sobbed.  T especially.  He was so heartbroken, it tore us up.  It's the ONLY time I ever saw Dave tear up.  Dave never cries.

Things that weirded me out:
Despite wearing jeans and T-shirts (my usual gear), a lot of the old people at the home thought I worked there. They would ask me to get them things or help them in some way or other.  One woman in particular would follow me around and demand that I get her some water or whatever.  What the hell?

Things that made us laugh:
T found a friend.  That place was deadly boring, so we let the boys bring their nintendos.  When we came out of FIL's room, he had this little old lady in a wheelchair next to him and he was showing her how to play his nintendo!  Every time we visited, he'd hang out with her (Charlotte).  It was very sweet.

Also, we had a run-in with a woman who had severe dementia.  She stopped us and asked the way to the cafeteria.  We told her, then she said, "You look like nice people.  That's why I asked you.  You look like nice people. Are you married?"
Dave said, "Yes."
Then, she got really incredulous, "To each other??  No.  Not to each other!"  and went on and on like that for a few minutes until we could ease away. 
So funny!

When we visited FIL the last time, that was the worst.  It was fucking awful. The home was very nice and very expensive. He got good care, but was declining so fast. The last time we saw him, he had his eyes half-open, and we couldn't tell if he was awake or sleeping; couldn't tell if he knew we were there or not. 

He died that night.

We got the call at about 6:30a the next day.  We told the kids when they woke up.  They cried a bit, but we all knew it was for the best at that point.

Both Dave's parents have donated their bodies to science so there was no cost to the family.  And after a few weeks, we got a very respectful, well-worded letter that told us what body parts went where and what research/teaching places it went to.   (When I say it, it sounds gruesome, but it was a very nice letter.) 

They didn't do any memorial or anything for him (he didn't want one).  That was weird to me.   He was funny and loved and we miss him.

Things have been rough on MIL since then.  She is alone and feeling it.  We see her FOUR times a week now as opposed to the two times we were seeing her before he died.   Her apartment raised their rent again right before he died.  So she's in a one bedroom apartment with an empty garage attached and is paying $1100 a month.  We pay the same for our townhouse.  We are looking for a place we can move her in with us. (Good times. Goooood times.)

I have so many things to tell you and SO many finished projects!  Enough for now.  I'll write more later and finish this Alphabet Soup before the year ends.

Missing him so much, Ruth!

Accidental fundraiser results: The garage sale mentioned in my last post raised $2000.  The professional organization for court reporters in CO matched it!  Thanks all!


Nell Berens Prosise said...

I'm so sorry, Ruth. But it sounds like he had as dignified and peaceful a death as possible. And that's something. Although, it doesn't make it any easier on all of you.

Britt (pigbook1@gmail.com) said...

Bah, there is nothin I can say except I'm sorry. I hope your entire family has enough time to grieve and can celebrate the good stuff.

Kristyn McCain said...

I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like he was quite the character.

Pretty Knitty said...

I've missed you...and I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. It seems that your time with FIL was rather bittersweet at the end...I'm so glad that you were able to find some funny at such a difficult time...laughter is a great healer. And even though there was no memorial, keep the good parts of your FIL's life alive in your thoughts and words...that's a true memorial. Remembering the good is like a salve for the brokenhearted who are left behind when a loved one passes. Love and hugs to your family, and welcome back.

sophanne said...

Thanks for checking in. Sorry for the sad. Grateful that you are sharing here. Be well and know we're all still here too.

ccr in MA said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Hang in there!

kmkat said...

I'm so sorry, Ruth. He sounds like he was a wonderful person and dear to you all. Your boys made me smile -- D glued to Gpa's side and T making a Nintendo convert.


Coralee said...

I'm sorry for your loss Ruth. Lost both of my in laws in the past 18 months. It's tough, life changes and we try to move on. Never thought I'd miss my MIL as much as I do....

Thanks for the report on the fund raiser, that's awesome and such a wonderful thing for you to do!