Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dad passing, Days passing

So it's been awhile since  I've posted (no surprise there!).  But things have finally slowed down around here.  After a summer none of us wishes to repeat, we had a nice trip to Amarillo, came back, the girls started school and then it was JBF time (and that means Mommy working and away a lot of evenings).  We're settling down to the quiet here, but I'm finding that I conveniently have put aside most thoughts of everything this summer and now it is coming back to slam me.

If you don't know how I spent the summer, here is a short summary.  The girls finished school just before Memorial Day.  Then they had Art Camp almost a week later. That was great and they loved that and JM & I got to spend the mornings together riding trains and things like that. 

 JM loving the Forest Park Train. We even got the coveted last seat (backwards facing) one time.  I think we rode it three times that week!

 Gracie (above) with some of the artwork from the week and Clara (below) with some of hers.  They were already asking to go again next summer!

 At this point, my Mom and Dad had already been in Houston a few weeks, after a 3 day trip for some blood work for Dad turned into an extended hospital stay.  The pneumonia had come back quickly and he wasn't recovering all that well.  But mid-June they sent him "home" from the hospital, which in this case was the Hampton Inn.  Dad wasn't feeling well enough to travel back to Dallas, and I don't think Mom was sure he was strong enough either.  And then after a week at the hotel, Dad was back in the hospital on Friday, much sicker.  I'm in awe of how Mom managed that week in the hotel. 

I arrived at the hospital on Saturday and while Dad in some ways looked better than I expected, there were definitely signs that his body just was worn out from the toll of six years battling three cancers. Sue arrived next on Sunday, I left on Monday afternoon, knowing that Julia and Carolyn were arriving on Tuesday and that I needed to go home, see the kids and let Mike get back to work.  Little did I know I would be repeating the drive just a few days later.  On Thursday, I had to call Mike at work and ask him to come home so I could head back to Houston, as things weren't looking good for my Dad. 

Mike was such a great support during this time.  One of my friends recently asked me how he managed with all the kids so long, and honestly, I don't really know.  When I called home, I wasn't in any shape to do more than say hello to the kiddos and give Mike an update about my Dad.  And Mike just soldiered on and took care of what the kids needed, keeping them dressed, fed and entertained.  And I think he might have had to manage some work in there, too.  It's not like he had planned on taking off all the time he was.  I'm thankful that his job is so accommodating as well. 

My Dad passed away peacefully on Monday morning, June 27th.  I'm thankful that my Mom and my sisters and I all got to be there with him for the last few days - as Mike pointed out later, it was kind of like our time to have a memorial for him.  I headed home and found out to my great relief that Mike was planning to stay home the rest of the week. I don't think I would have known what to do without him there.  I was definitely in a fog.  The funeral was the following Friday, after we had a less than spectacular 4th of July weekend.

Mike and I had started a project (which we ridiculously thought would only take a few days) way back during the Memorial Day weekend. Here's what our front yard looked like when I started the brick border for our "path" as we've named the project.  Doesn't look too bad, right?
 Next view below, is after we've rented a sod cutter and Mike worked hard to get most of the sod cut out from the 300 foot long path.  And we put it in the backyard, hoping to fill in some of the bare spots and started watering it.  Little did we know that there wouldn't be any rain for the next three months and it would all dry up!
 And finally, the big pile(s) of crushed stone that would make up the surface of the path.  And I was sooooo worried it would rain on the rock and cause it to clump up and become permanent hills where it was....
The kids had a blast playing on it, though.  But I can say that Mike and I had less fun moving it all to the path.  And that was after laying the black edging and black weed block.  And I also kept asking myself why we had waited until May to start this.  Working in 100 degree days was not pleasant!  But it was something to do and it was pretty therapeutic when I got home from Houston.

But I didn't know that I was still going to be spending more time in a different hospital.  In late July, on a Monday night, I got a call from one of my Grandfather's friends telling me he had a heart attack and was in the hospital.  Now why the retirement community where he had lived didn't feel the need to notify any of the family, I will never know, but at least we did find out.  So, unbelievably, less than a month after Dad passed away, I was on my way to Fayetteville, Arkansas to see my Grandfather in the hospital.  And knowing that he was 96, I didn't think there was going to be a good outcome to this. 

Once again, Mike was like the knight in shining armor as he came home from work, helped get the kids fed and insisted I get on a plane that evening (Mom didn't think it was a good idea for me to drive, and I imagine she was right).  He loaded the kids in the car, while I packed a bag quickly, a little more prepared this time, since I knew what would be comfortable for being at the hospital after our experience in Houston. 

My sister Sue was second on the scene, and thank goodness she came, because Grandpap definitely wasn't going to get better.  He was ever hopeful, and even asked the kidney doctor if dialysis would get him one more season to watch the Hogs (yes, he was a die hard sports fan).  It wasn't until the hospice doctor told him that he needed to "put his affairs in order" that I really think it sunk in.  He never really believed he had had a heart attack (although they told us he had and that it had been pretty significant), but once he knew he wouldn't likely make it back to Butterfield, he started planning and issuing orders for us (really Sue, since she is the one who is handling his estate) to remember things such as "cancel the newspaper.  And there should be a refund since I paid for the whole year." That was classic Grandpap. He died the next morning (contrary to what the doctors had said would probably happen, which was that he would linger in a coma for a few days) and again, that seemed to be typical Grandpap - efficient and not wanting to linger.  And after several days of not eating, he had a big dinner the night before - again, something that was much more typical.  He was always a man who liked to eat and never liked to see food go to waste. 

The only good thing to come out of the second round of hospitals that summer, was that Sue and I got to actually spend some time together.  Since we live so far apart and with busy schedules, it's not often that we get uninterrupted time together.  So we got to enjoy each other's company and bond over things like Hello Kitty at Claire's. 

I got to be at home for a week again with my family, before I headed back for the Memorial service for Grandpap.  I went without Mike and the kids because I was worried about them attending after just having been at their Pap's funeral a few weeks previously. 

So after all of that, it was the first week of August and school was right around the corner.  I was thankfully that in early June, I had already looked through the girls' school clothes and really had everything they needed in their closets.   We decided to go to Creede, CO for a week (we had originally planned to go over the 4th of July weekend, but obviously that didn't work out.) and then be in Amarillo after our Colorado for Mike's parents 50th anniversary celebration.

I'm thankful that we got that week away in Colorado and that we all got to be together and then on to the 50th anniversary celebration. So next post, I'll talk about that.  I'm so glad Mike and his siblings planned such a nice event for his parents.  It was a little bittersweet for me, as I was with Mom and Dad on their last anniversary together (June 18th) in the hospital.