Monday, October 15, 2007

Hell of a Weekend

As my faithful readers (hello? anybody out there? Mrs. Pommelhorse...) already know about the incident with Rocky, the flying squirrel, a couple weekends ago, I have more life and death issues to write about. Most of you don't know about this side job I have but I have been working for about four years for this woman and her father, and I have gotten to know them fairly well.

Three months ago, the father passed out in his basement and lay there for a day until he was found. He was rushed to the hospital and thankfully recovered. The doctor ix-nayed the driving so sometimes I would do errands for him and take him to his office, etc (he's a retired UConn prof -- in his nineties but he still works everyday). Well, Saturday, as my friend was working with the pest control people to get the damn squirrels out of the house (some met a rather disturbing end in a toilet), she finds her father unconscious in a chair. They call 911 and the speedy paramedics revive him and rush him to the hospital. She calls me and I take her there. He's not doing well and the outlook is grim. I meet the rest of the family, who, though I never met them, all know who I am. I spend three hours there and I offer to take her the next day to get the living will which is at her house across the state.

On Sunday as I prepare to pick her up, my cell phone rings -- which is weird, because I never leave it on but apparently I had from the previous night. It's the granddaughter (my friend's niece) and she impresses upon me that they really need to get a hold of her aunt because there are "decisions that need to be made" and then she says "Grandad always told us that we could count on you" to help her and to help the family. Okay, dying man's wishes...gotcha. I don't remember much of the drive over.

Finally get a hold of my friend, and I call the granddaughter. My friend is too upset to articulate her decision although she makes it clear what she wants to say. So, I tell her brother what she wants and then hand the phone over to her for a confirmation "yes." We then go to the hospital and wait for the doctor. The father was "clinically dead" for too long, and he has extensive brain damage. It's only a matter of time.

I go in to ICU. I call his name and tell him "It's Wendy" and then I say that "I'm taking care" of his daughter. I know he is in a coma and can't respond and that any reaction would be just the body doing what the body does, but I swear to God a tear fell from his eye and fell down his cheek.

I wish him nothing but comfort at this point. He had such a fascinating and sharp mind. He would always note if something about my school would come up in the paper, and we would talk about it. He told me stories about driving to San Francisco in the thirties (the Golden Gate bridge was newly built then, in 1937). He went to the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. He was always sweet man to me and lived a long, healthy life. I am so glad that I could have helped out in the small way that I did.

Today is also the fifth anniversary of my father's death, and I'm remembering good things.


Cranky Yankee said...

Wow...I didn't know.

Those people are lucky to have you there to take care of things. I wish you and them all the best.

K. A. Laity said...

Thanks for sharing that. What a roller coaster of stress and emotion! It's a nice to think of your dad and remember another special man. It takes so little to reach out to other people, and yet we fear it so much. But the depths that it wakens in us counts for so much.

Glad you could comfort others in such a difficult time -- may there always be such people for you, too, when you need it.

Wendy said...

Thanks, both of you. Sorry to have such a dramatic blog!! Must have woken you up this morning. I'm doing okay in lots of ways.

Gene K. said...

I seem to remember your Dad as a jokester, laughing a lot. Didn't we go to his store, the first time we came down to Atlanta? (Or maybe I was just high.) He was as lucky to have you, as you were -- are -- to have him; just like your friend's family is to have you now.

K. A. Laity said...

I remember that trip! I got one of my favorite movies in his store: Reuben, Reuben, which is still not on DVD except in our archive copy. I recall your dad being funny and your mom rolling her eyes at him, but laughing all the same.

Wendy said...

Thanks. I appreciate everybody's good thoughts :)