This will be a short post. I’ll try to discuss small bowel obstructions in the elderly soon, because everyone needs to know the symptoms of what felled my stepdad of almost 30 years and what should be done about it (which wasn’t done for him), but today my broken heart requires more time to heal.
Some of you know that on Dec. 29, a Saturday night, Bill rushed himself to the ER. Yesterday, Jan. 29, we buried him a few feet away from my real dad, then had an emotional (but very sweet) memorial service at Park Hill Presbyterian Church, the same place as Daddy’s funeral in 1982. We even sat on the same row.
Bill had a horrible, agonizing final few weeks after 78 years of a robust life. He would’ve been 79 on Feb. 10, and he was a strong man until everything went wrong. He’d gone for coffee with his friends the morning of the 29th, run errands and swept snow off their deck.
He was a former runner and ferocious tennis player and, after his knees gave out, a three-time-a-week regular at the North Little Rock Athletic Club (whose staff and members sent Mother some lovely mums – and some of whom came to his funeral). He adored his grandchildren and greats – and said he couldn’t love his bonus grands more if they were blood.
Jude and his Papa Bills (Jude came up with the name from his mom asking if he wanted to go to Grammy and Papa Bill’s house)
We’re all bereft, but none so much as Mother. Her back surgery (which was not optional), rehab and recuperation kept her from Bill’s side for mujch of the time he was suffering so. She’s very fragile herself right now, physically and emotionally, but at her core, she’s a strong lady. She’s going to need to be very strong in the long run.
Bill and Mother at their 25th anniversary party.
I ran back and forth between hospitals for part of the month, fueled mostly by adrenaline and coffee (the steroids for hives helped for a bit). Going home to rest was the hardest thing for me to do.
We fought so many battles, first to keep him alive, then, when it became apparent he couldn’t survive, to get him into hospice so he could have some peace and freedom from tubes, poking, sticking, tests. He lasted 16 hours in hospice, slipping away at 3:24 Friday, Jan. 25.
We’re shellshocked. I’m finding it hard to return to “normal” life. We all have to discover our new normal first.
Some of you may remember that a few months back I wrote about a strange feeling of anticipation. I knew something major was coming and that grad school had to wait. I just never dreamed/imagined/anticipated that it would be Bill. When Mother’s back incapacitated her, I thought that might be it, but it was Bill I was sensing all along.
And, yes, I know I couldn’t have prevented it, but I’ve tried so hard to look out for the parents that at times I feel I dropped the ball.
For now our Jeep remains dented, our pickup smashed, our new car un-bought. We managed belatedly to get our Christmas tree and Mother’s down.
The past few days have been bustling, what with planning the funeral and the out of town family being here. Now the out of towners have gone home, except for Bill’s strong sister, Betty, who is spending some time with Mother, bless her.
I’ve been so proud of my children through all of this. When GrandBob died they were 3 and 2, so Grandpa Bill is the only grandfather they remember, and they loved him so. They’re crushed but were strong and steady for their Grandpa and will continue to be for their Grandma. They were precious children and now they’re wonderful adults.
I also want to thank my sweet friends who helped us during Bill’s illness and supported us at the visitation and funeral. How lucky I am to have you!
Time heals a broken heart, but it doesn’t fill a void. Cathy and I had our darling Daddy for the first 26/23 years of our lives and our beloved Bill for the last 29. We’ll never stop missing either.
Me, Mother, Lisa (Bill’s oldest daughter), Cathy (who blinked) and Melinda (Bill’s younger daughter) with our shared guy.