Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In loving memory .....

Six years ago on Christmas morning; my father - in - law passed away.

It has forever changed the way my family and I feel about Christmas. It has reminded us that Christmas is not about the presents, nor is it about the parties or the glittering decorations that make one smile in wonder at their beauty.

My father - in - law had experienced several health concerns; and then the first week of December, on a beautiful Saturday morning, he was rushed to the hospital with concerns that he had suffered a mild heart attack. As our family gathered together in support and concern, we learned that he would need a valve replaced. And, the surgery was not without risk. But, without the surgery - well - surgery was the only option.

The surgery was performed, and my father - in - law made it through. He had a new pig valve in place, and the doctors were cautiously optimistic that he might make a full recovery. Their cautious optimism was unfortunately misplaced. Although my father - in - law made it through the surgery and regained consciousness, he never regained his strength and remained in the CICU for two weeks.

Having been through two heart surgeries with my own father, I knew what to expect in the term of recovery, and there was nothing about my father - in - laws recovery that was going as expected.

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, our family was told that Mercy General would be transferring my father - in - law to Kaiser in Roseville within the next 12 hours or so. Kaiser was waiting on bed space in the CICU.

On Christmas Eve while waiting for the transfer to happen, my mother - in - law was overcome with emotion and was rushed to the emergency room with an extreme shortness of breath and heart palpitations. She was taken to Kaiser in Roseville. Having seen my mother in law stabilized, and deemed in need of rest, the doctors decided that mild sedation was necessary for the benefit of her health, and they advised us all to go home and rest.

The phone rang early Christmas morning, about 6:45 am. We were asked to come to the hospital. Our family gathered in my mother - in - law's hospital room. The doctors told us that Bob had been transferred, and they wanted to send my mother - in - law up to see her husband, but her doctor had not released her .... UGH! Frustration wore upon all of us as we stood helplessly by for about 45 minutes.

I knew in my heart that his time on this earth was drawing quickly to a close. All the signs were in place. My heart was so heavy.

Pleading with the staff of the telemetry department where my mother - in - law was finally got a fire lit under the hospital staff, and they placed her into a wheel chair with her heart monitor and IV attached to a rolling pole so that we could take her upstairs to CICU.

As we entered into the quiet of the CICU, I knew. I could read the faces of the nurses. And, as we entered into the room where my father - in - law lay so peacefully, I heard the quiet. There were no monitors attached. No beeping, no rise and fall of the breathing machine, no metered drip of the IV. Just silence.

My daughter turned to me with WIDE eyes, and began to silently cry. Her grandfather had passed, and her grandmother had not yet realized it. Even at 11 Manda was wise enough to understand that concept.

My mother in law was babbling incoherently to her beloved husband, begging him to open his eyes and see her. The doctor stepped forward and gently told her that he had passed just moments before.

The shattering of the silence and the shattering of hearts was simultaneous. Our family reacted as any family would, with despair and sorrow.

Bob was a quiet man. He lived a good life. He was kind and respectful and had a great sense of humor. He was a wonderful husband and father. I could not have asked for a better father - in - law or grandfather. Manda adored him.

As Christmas approaches again this year, I dedicate this post to my wonderful father - in - law whom I will always love, and always miss. My life was richer having known him.

When I turn on the Christmas lights, I always think of Bob. How could I not? Christmas is bittersweet. I miss him daily, but even more so at Christmas and hope that he knows his family loves him and misses him.

Love ya Dad!

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