Plans change

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Just a few days ago I blogged about all my plans for the summer.  How quickly plans can change.  My father-in-law passed away on Friday.  Despite the fact that he coded while the ambulance was at his house and they started CPR immediately, his brain went without oxygen for too long.  They discovered on echo the next day that he’d had a faulty valve in his heart, so the blood wasn’t really circulating while they were doing that, it was kind of sloshing back and forth.  In hindsight, I believe Thursday night he was still alive, and though he was hooked up to a respirator, he was breathing on his own (though totally unresponsive).  We stayed until early in the morning, arriving around 3 a.m.  After a few hours’ sleep we went back in.  By then the respirator was doing the breathing for him.

He looked as if he was just sleeping.  His color was good (he’d just planted his garden the day before and the day of was outside mowing).  Kevin said, “He just needs rebooted” and honestly that’s what it seemed like, but it wasn’t to be.  Through the day Friday his one kidney (he’d had one removed due to cancer almost ten years ago) started to fail.  More tests were done and the results were all the same–he was brain dead.  Then Gift of Life came in to talk to us about donating his liver.  With the kidney failing, a decision needed to be made right away.  The thought of his death bringing life to another softened the blow.  We all said our goodbyes (Kevin and I had a sweet half hour alone with him earlier in the day and talked to him as if he could hear us–I sure hope he did).  Unfortunately, on our way home Friday night the hospital called.  He’d had a history of melanoma which had just been diagnosed as malignant (we found out), and for that reason they couldn’t use his liver.  Technically his time of death had been Friday morning, but I would have liked to have been there when they pulled the plug.  Then again maybe not.  I can still see him lying there, sleeping.

Yesterday I went to his house with other family members to look for the will and other documents we’ll need.  After a two-hour search we found what we needed in the drawer we all thought had been checked before (but wasn’t, obviously!).  The house was pretty dirty, making me wish I’d have come down and helped out (though I’m not sure he’d have wanted me to).  The den upstairs is like a time capsule–just like it was when my mother-in-law died 3-1/2 years ago.  There’s a path through it to the attic.  The rest is piled high with books and papers and let’s just say we have our work cut out for us.  And we all thought she was the pack rat, lol.  But he was very organized about it.

Soon after we got there we gathered in a circle and I prayed and thanked God for “Mac” and the blessing of his life (and it was a great blessing) and then asked Him to give us peace and help us find the documents and do what we needed to.  I also prayed against a spirit of greed.  I’ve seen families damaged and/or destroyed squabbling over an inheritance, and though I don’t believe that will happen I certainly know the depths of the depravity of my own heart.  That said, there was one thing I wanted to find, and that was what Fran (my mother-in-law) had told me right before she died that she wanted me to have–a string of pearls Mac had given her a long time ago.  For some reason (maybe he forgot) he never gave them to me, and I didn’t feel comfortable asking for them.  But I found them, and they’re beautiful.  The only other thing I took was a silver anniversary bell and two things I had given Fran while she was alive.  I asked the brothers if that would be okay and they said yes.  Kevin and I will celebrate our silver anniversary in a couple of weeks, too (Lord willing :)

Oh yes, and the pictures.  Piles and piles of family treasures.  I spent some time last night and this morning going through them, sorting them into family piles to be distributed at some point in the future.  I need to get pictures together for a slide show and that has to happen today and tomorrow as I’ll be down there the rest of the week (Matt will do it while I’m gone).  Today we’re headed to the funeral home to make arrangements.  I need to write the obituary, so I need to get done here and pull together what I need for that.  Kevin and I are “doing” the service and meeting with a minister Tuesday night.  It’s going to be a very busy week.  After that I’ll probably be spending time down there helping to get the house ready for sale.  We’re not sure what we’re doing with the contents yet.

And in among all these goings on I get an email.  I am finally going to break into print this year with a sonnet which will be published in Rattle in December.  Life goes on.

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