Sunday, January 6, 2013

Holiday Chronicles part une

I hope everyone had a good set of end-of-the-year-holidays - I've been reading my top ten, plus a few other blogs, throughout and it seems most all of you survived them just fine - many thrived.  And staying in touch with the blog world, whether by just reading or occasionally commenting, has been one of the activities that enabled me to stay grounded throughout.

The reason I am posting is because I need to write - about a lot of what our season was like.  And when I came to my blog, the template looked dark and depressing to me me, so I did a quick change.  Hopefully I can fine tune and add some creativity to it, but being a world class non-techie makes that unlikely.  I need someone to sit down with me and show me how to do stuff.  Once I learn, I don't forget, and can figure other stuff out.  But original blog pages apparently aren't my forte. 

Our holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, have been a true mixed bag - wonderful connections with family throughout, but a couple of medical issues arising at the beginning (Thanksgiving night) and at the end (New Years Day) have definitely left this blogger reeling.  I won't get to all of it today in hopes of keeping your eyes from bleeding, but will at least talk a little about the big stuff. 

The first big thing was Thanksgiving.  For the first time since becoming parents, we had no children at home - 2 out of the country, and our middle son Stephen living and working on a farm in Berea, Kentucky.  The farm is owned by his cousin and her husband, and with it being a 10 hour drive and his plan of coming home for Christmas, he stayed and enjoyed the holiday with some extended family.  Tom and I were alone, but thanks to several invites from friends were able to cherry pick from the appetizing menu of wonderful people with whom to share the holiday meal.  (You know the cherry picker was me, btw.  Tom was happy to go anywhere.)

Before we left for our friends that afternoon, Tom's mom in Atlanta called, and reported her hubby, Tom's dad (Tom Sr.) was not feeling well and wanted to ask her "nurse daughter in law" for advice (from 700 miles away?).  At 94 and 9/12, Tom Sr. was beginning to really show the ravages of age.  While his mind remained sharp, other things like balance, swallowing, and speaking had become diminished, and that day certain symptoms became more pronounced and alarming.  To shorten this story significantly, he ended up being 911d to the hospital that night, and several issues were diagnosed that hadn't been identified before.  He did a few days in the hospital, then a week in a rehab where he was utterly miserable and kept saying he was "ready to go", and finally ended up in a hospice facility where he was able to be kept comfortable, literally surrounded by family, until he peacefully passed away on December 15.

My Tom(Jr) made 2 different trips down at various points along this 3 week period, and felt fortunate to be there during his dad's last days.  Virtually all the family besides us live in or much closer to Atlanta, so there was much family camaraderie, connection, love, sharing of memories throughout.  Our daughter from the Dominican Republic was able to fly into Atlanta a few days prior to what she'd originally planned to do with her soon to be fiance, and was able to see Papa before he passed.  The memorial service for Tom Sr. was on Saturday afternoon of December 22, so I flew down early that morning and back home the next day to get ready for Christmas and the family company we were having.  (As I write all this, I realize the huge gaps of significant stuff that are too much for a blog post...but maybe this text will serve as a starting point for me to document it more fully for our family and who knows what else later.)  The service was lovely - with a great turnout of family and friends - and children of their friends.  There was a very lively reception at the church after, and then a big family gathering at the home of one of my father in law's nieces that went on til about 11 that night.  By 5 am the next morning, I was at the airport to return to Philly.  Quite a whirlwind, literally and emotionally.

Anyway - while it was of course a very sad occasion, it was also a celebration of my father in law's full life and remarkable health and hardiness well beyond that of most 90 plus folks.  He was able to keep up with golf, bridge (played a couple of days at his club before his final trip out of their home) and stayed interested in politics and other news currents as well.  Life really didn't owe him much at all, and it was clear he passed peacefully and with full knowledge of how fortunate and blessed he'd been.  I hope he also knew how utterly adored and esteemed he was by his kids and grandkids.  He'd led the typical imperfect human life, and there were things about which he had a hard time self forgiving.  You know - like almost every person who has walked the face of the earth.

I'm going to stop now because my son Stephen just woke up and we're going to meet one of his friends at a local museum.  He figures very significantly in this story and I will need to gather my emotional resources for the retelling of what is still unfolding.

And by the way...Happy Belated New Year.