Saturday, September 8, 2012

transition

Not trying to make this a maudlin post but it is about serious, growing up stuff.

Earlier this week I learned my step-mother was ill and in the hospital. But she was expected to return home soon so I didn't worry too much. She is 84 and with a history that includes quite a number of hospital stays.

Thursday I learned it had gotten worse and pneumonia was the problem.

Friday morning I was on my way to Dallas to help and support my 90+ year old dad however I could.

Friday afternoon and evening were spent bedside watching and listening. Not much else to do. Her medical directive stated that she did not want any extraordinary measures taken.

Friday evening later we left to go home so everyone could get a little sleep. The hospital called and said she had had a stroke and we should come back. We did and found that she had actually had a couple of seizures but not necessarily a stroke. We sat some more and her vital signs actually improved so we left once again. We had only been home for a few minutes when my phone rang again.

My step-brother was calling to let us know the hospital had called and a few minutes after we left, Louise passed away.

My dad sat and held her hand earlier in the day, kissed her forehead and said goodbye when we left before. I don't know if he knew that would be his last goodbye or not.

The hardest thing for me was, I had to be the one to tell him he had lost his partner of 34 years. Maybe he knew it already but all I could think to do was put my arm around him, pull him close and sort of whispered that Louise had passed away. I held the phone away from me and just held him while he softly cried a little. We Crunks are not given to much displays of emotion.

Kids get hurt and their parents hold them when they cry (sometimes) but they don't tell you that someday you will hold your parent when they cry. They don't tell you that you might be the one to give them the worst news they've gotten in their life.

Friday night at the hospital, we all stood around her bed with the Priest (Louise was Catholic) and he prayed and then he started into the Lord's Prayer. Everybody else started in with him. I've never prayed it in that context before and his version was slightly different than the one I pray. Holding the Priest's hand (never done that before either) I worked at remembering the words to something I've known and prayed since I was little.

All these past few days I keep telling myself this is not about me and it's all about helping my dad through this hard time. So far he is handling it well. Maybe it is shock; I don't know. We've been reviewing Wills, talking about doctors, reviewing all sorts of important stuff in my dad's life. I guess her death is causing him to think about his own mortality a little more.

Now we are in hard stage #2 - dealing with all the stuff of arrangements, what should she wear in the casket. Lots of help from her side of the family - son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter.

Monday will be the funeral; a very small family service.

I'm sure that will be hard. But then comes the really hard part when my dad has to go home to his empty house and we have to start thinking about what the next stage of his long life is going to be.

We hope he'll come to live with us but playing a slow wait-and-see before we begin to broach that difficult subject.

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