Book One — The Ending

I’ve said before that my life is like two different  books.  One is finished while the other is still being written.

Normally the first book “sits on the shelf” because I don’t want to dwell on it too much, or make my wife compete with a ghost.

Two days a year, I metaphorically pull book 1 off of the shelf and remember.  The two days I chose seem weird, but they are the ones I chose.

I could have chosen many days; the day we met, any of a huge number of things we did together, meeting her parents, meeting my parents, me asking THE question, her saying YES, our drive across country to meet our extended families, the day of the phone call that brought me the news that cancer was attacking her, the day she died.

But I chose two other days.   October 31 and May 26.

October 31, 1983 was the day her doctor recommended a “new” program called hospice.  My mom was a nurse practitioner and I knew about hospice already.  I just sat there, frozen and barely breathing, knowing that our dreams would never be.

May 26, 1984, was the day we planned for our wedding.  Our wedding was going to be on the beach at sunset and attended by a dozen or so friends and family.  That time and place was chosen because she loved the beach and loved watching the sparkles from the setting sun “dance on the water”.  The day was chosen because it was a holiday weekend.

May 26, 1984, when the sparkles from the setting sun were dancing on the water, I scattered her ashes in the surf.

 

 

The Picture

While cleaning out more stuff from my mom’s house, I came across a picture that I had taken on a long past July 6, my dad’s 91st birthday.

My mom and dad are sitting close together in two chairs and are holding hands.  He has a somewhat pensive look on his face and she is smiling at him. They had been married over 58 years. In the picture, one can see bandages on my mom’s arms, elbows and knees.

On July 3, about 2 hours after I left their house to take care of their errands, my cell phone rang.  It was my dad.  “Call 911.  It’s your mom, she’s down in the back yard in the gravel.  It’s in the sun. I don’t know how long, nor do I know why.  If I call them, they’ll tie me up with questions I can’t answer. I’m going out to see what I can do. Did you get that?” After I said yes, there was a click as he hung up the phone.

Summer daytime air temperatures are routinely over 115F degrees and ground temperatures exceed 150F degrees. This was the case on July 3.

I called 911, gave them the address and told them what dad had told me, along with mom’s age (86 years old) and known medical problems.  I then told them that my dad, a retired US Marine and retired paramedic, said he was going out to help my mom. I added that he was almost 91 years old, under hospice care for heart failure and that his heart ejection fraction was under 8%.

I got to their house in about 5 minutes.  The police and two paramedic units, one for mom and one for dad, were already there.  Mom was on a gurney and they were preparing her for transport to the nearby hospital.  She had what appeared to be 3rd degree burns on her elbows, arms and knees. They had dad sitting in a chair in the shade and he was in tears.  He said that opening the doors had used up all his strength and that he had to crawl most of the way to my mom.  He said he did the best he could, but he was worried that it wasn’t enough.

The paramedics said that when they got there, the garage door and door into the house were both open, and dad was in the back yard, trying to shade her with his body. They went on to say he was using the water from a hose to cool the gravel under my mom.

A few days later, he died of heart failure, but he had accomplished what he had set out to do.  He saved mom.

It took 9 months, but her burns healed completely.

I would like to believe I have as much love as my dad showed on that day.

Happy Thanksgiving

Just a short post for now.

The turkey is in the oven, the pies are made, the beans are trimmed and waiting their turn, the dinner roll ingredients are pre-staged,the squash is waiting for ‘the right time in the oven’ and my mother-in-law is bringing over several dishes.

It seems like a lot of food, and it is, especially since the family has shrunk from seven to five (my dad and father in law are no longer with us).  I make so much food so I send it home with my mom and mother in law and what they don’t want, I freeze.  This way, Thanksgiving can continue giving to them. My mom is 97 and my mother in law is 78 and the left overs give them a chance to relax when it comes time prepare a meal.