Sunday, November 1, 2009

With Appreciation

My father in law died a week ago, of terminal cancer. He was diagnosed in May with colon cancer, which had spread to his liver and lungs. He spent the last months of his life uncomplaining and brave. He came from that John Wayne era of stoicism, so you know when he said it was painful, it must have been horrible. His colon had been removed, leaving him with a colostomy bag and Mary, my mother in law, took care of him every day. She slept on the couch, enduring sleepless nights, with the TV blaring and all the lights on, because Bob found comfort in that. She continued to take him to dialysis three times a week, as they had done for the last 7 years. She catered to his every need, with unfailing support and love.
He was put into Hospice in Madison for what turned out to be only three days. I spent time with Mary, meeting with doctors, nurses, social workers and clergy. This group of people were amazing. Gently caring for Bob and meeting the needs of his grieving wife and family. I don't know how they do this job, it all seems so sad, but I am grateful they do. He, along with the family decided to stop dialysis, and he died two days later, surrounded by his three children and his wife of 50 years.
The last week has been exhausting, with relatives coming and going, the visitation and funeral, family dinners and beginning the task of thank yous and lawyer stuff. The service was lovely, and a letter my husband wrote to his Dad this past Father's Day was read. He was given a military funeral, with the flag folding, and it was heartbreaking to watch Mary accept the flag from a grateful nation.
Bob was a quiet, composed man. He was raised by his mother, after his father died when he was a small child. He joined the Marines, and was a veteran of the Korean War. He put himself through the UW, with a degree in enginering. A staunch Conservative and Republican (we didn't talk religion or politics). A man who didn't show a lot of emotion, but was very proud of his family. He donated his time and money to the causes he felt worthy. When he gave a compliment, you really paid attention, beacause they didn't some frequently.
He will be greatly missed.

No comments:

Post a Comment