It’s been a rough year, but this last month or so has been particularly difficult. I lost my Dad a little less than a year ago and I knew that it was going to be a big change, but I figured that since I had so long to prepare for it that it wouldn’t be quite as severe. I’ve got to say that I was sort of right and sort of wrong.
Dad’s passing seemed like a necessary part of life, but the circumstances still don’t entirely sit well with me. Either way, Dad is gone. That fact was cemented in my mind while I sat alone with his body, waiting for the funeral home to drive quite some distance to come pick it up. What was left there in that room was not my Dad. He was gone and I was left to grapple with some very concrete concepts of mortality and the human soul. It has stayed with me longer that I thought it might.
The year has progressed, with lots of challenges in completing not only a couple of very large personal projects, but also with trying to get Mom’s house in order for her to be there by herself. That struggle seems to be coming to an end, but I wouldn’t relive the last couple of months for all the money in the world. Please allow me to elaborate.
We moved Mom in with us after Christmas so that they could redo all of the floors in her house. During that time, it became painfully evident that Mom had been hiding a great deal of physical limitation and disability. Still, she really perked up at the new flooring and although it was an enormous undertaking, it seemed worth it to see her happy with her home…until she fell forty-five minutes after we got her home.
After that, we ended up with Mom on a walker in a house that still needed the kitchen reinstalled. I started working as late as I could every night after I got off work and most weekends, trying to arrange all the details and install the kitchen. Many days became sixteen hours of work and six hours or less of sleep, but even that seemed worth it. I had even hired a couple of guys to help me with the kitchen and it really started to come together…that is, until the bottom fell out.
My Aunt Frances had some complications with some surgery to remove a gall stone and I guess something went way wrong. She was well into her mid-eighties and her body just couldn’t fight anymore. They brought her back to the same hospice center that my Dad was in last year and I went straight out to see her, planning to return the next day and every day thereafter until she passed. She’s always meant a lot to me and I hated to see her go. Fortunately, I got to see her that one last time. Unfortunately, on the way home I stopped off to let a tenant back into their apartment and on the way back to my Jeep Cherokee, I fell and broke my left arm, my nose, and I did my best to take all the skin off of large sections of my face.
In a matter of seconds, I found myself covered in blood and helpless to get myself off the ground for a few minutes. I just laid there and bled…alot…I mean a bunch. In fact, there is still blood on the concrete if you were to check out that sidewalk. This all led to the most disturbing trip to the emergency room that I’ve ever had. The highlight for me was when the woman next to me passed out and started throwing up blood. Yeah, it sucked.
So, for the sake of expediency, here’s a summary of how it has been since then: awful…it has been awful. I couldn’t go back out to see my Aunt Frances because we didn’t want her to be worried because I looked like I had been in a car wreck. I spent the next several weeks as an invalid, because it unbelievably hard to do just about anything when you can only use one arm. Even the simple stuff is hard, like tying my hair back.
Finally, I was starting to feel better and a bunch of friends had chipped in to keep everything moving forward. It looked like I might be able to start catching up and finishing Mom’s house when I did something stupid and reactivated a near-record level of sciatic pain. Thankfully, there are Prednisone and Percocet. Those were starting get me moving again when something happened that really put the topper on this whole last year.
I took Mom to a quick doctor’s appointment. The short version is that she had some trouble with her walker and fell backwards with me trying catch her with my bad arm. Yep, totally helpless, watching my Mom fall backwards in slow motion while I tried to catch her with a useless arm and with a walker between us which made it impossible, anyway. Her head hit the ground and she died for somewhere between thirty seconds and a minute. It felt like longer because she turned blue and was non-responsive and the world seemed to stop, but either way, it was the worst. Thankfully, she revived and after a couple of hours in the emergency room, we were on the way home.
So that’s been my year…intense and sucky, but with lots to think about, which made it even harder, at times. Now, we are counting down the final days until we can get my son’s spleen removed so that his health can improve.
With that and the rest of my year, I’ve got something that I would like to admit: It has been a really humbling experience, to say the least. It has been really hard, but it has left me with some very lucid realizations.
- I would really appreciate your prayers for my son, Bruce. Like me, they are going to have to take out his spleen so his body will quit destroying his red blood cells. This will relieve his jaundice and he will no longer be yellow, but he will also be no longer able to fight off encapsulated bacterial infection.
- I would also appreciate your thoughts and prayers. This whole thing has been so humbling and most days I have just enough stamina to finish my work day and spend the evening fighting the pain. It’s getting better, but some days are better than others. Also, it has become apparent that I am sometimes a real jerk and also that life is fleeting, at best. I’m making a real effort to apologize to some folks with whom I need to make amends because I feel like it is the right thing to do.
- Most of all, I want everyone to take a really hard look at where we are right now. Our country is eating itself over racial tension, bathrooms, and an election where we get to decide between two very large bags of crap. I don’t know what to say to everybody, but I do know that I would like to remind Christians that the same Jesus who said to love your neighbor also said to love your enemy. Frankly, I don’t see enough of that happening. We need to start making amends with everyone or this election will be the least of our worries.