At 1130 PM, I got the call from the ER in town. I had just gone to bed because I was editing my Teslacon photos. I had just literally hit the pillow with my head when the phone rang. Of course, they wouldn't tell me anything over the phone. I rushed to the hospital the same way I did when Dad called me about Mom. I ran a red light or two, ran a stop sign or few. [here's the blog post about my mom]
At the ER, they took me to the "Quiet Room". That's what the room is actually called. I knew something bad was happening. Because "Quiet Room", really? I was hoping they'd come in and tell me he had a heart attack, they found more blockages, he was sedated, they would do surgery soon... because he was fine. Moments after they left me in the Quiet Room, the ER nurse came in. Before she even completed the sentence, I burst into tears. I sobbed, I don't remember what she told me during those moments.
I asked if I could see him. Because it didn't feel real. It couldn't be real. It hadn't been two years yet, since Mom died. I wasn't ready for this. While leading me to the room, she was telling me things like how he would have tubes in him, the medications they pumped into him caused some bloating, and I said: "I was there when he had two bypass surgeries, I've seen him like that." Or something similar. My point was that I've seen him looking terrible and full of tubes.
He looked normal. His eyes were open. I paced a bit in that big room, as the two nurses (I don't know where the second one came from) gave me details. He was at a neighbor's house. The paramedics shocked him six times. The ER another five times. Since he wasn't in his own house, they didn't have his emergency paper that had the list of his medications and my contact information. They looked in his cell phone (an extremely old flip-phone) and didn't know who to call. I was first in the list. "A-Patty Daughter Home" and "B-Patty Daughter Cell" because he wanted my phone number at the top of the list. (he changed that in his phone when my mom became too sick). They called and left a message on my brother's cell phone. Then they called my cousin in Arizona- because they had the same uncommon last name as my dad.
My name? Smith.
The nurse remembered the name- because my mom was a home health aid, so she searched the internet for my mom's obituary. And found my name. And called my home phone from the local phone book.
So, pacing a little. It was probably three steps, turn, three steps. The nurse asked if I had any questions. I said: "No." I looked at my dad and said: "Dammit, Dad. I'm not ready for this." and I looked over at the nurse: "I wasn't done with him yet, you know? I still needed him."
They gave me his belongings. They took the Masonic ring off his hand and gave it to me. He had his and Mom's wedding rings melted down and made into that one ring. They led me back to the Quiet Room. I called my house and told the Disabled Guy he needed to come to the hospital. Then I called my Uncle David and Aunt Sandy. That's my mom's brother. I didn't know who else to call yet. After Aunt Sandy offered to come to the hospital, I called my kids. My daughters live out of town, both are in college. My son lives closer. He came to the hospital. Somewhere in the middle, I called my brother from my dad's phone. I actually called his wife's cell phone.
The conversation that I had was absolutely, stunningly ridiculous. I started to cry again while talking to them. I had to repeat myself over and over that it was Dad. And he died. I was at the ER and Dad died. And there I was, having the stupidest conversation in the world with the brother who cut himself off from the family for almost a decade. In the two years since Mom died, it wasn't much better. The whole time I was talking to first his wife, then my brother- all I could think was: "I'm having the Jackie conversation right now."
I wish I was exaggerating. Of course, I didn't end it the same way, but that's essentially how it went. (with sobbing in between, of course).
My aunt and uncle showed up shortly after the Disabled Guy arrived. My son showed up. The coroner showed up and we went through the paperwork part of a relative's death. Then the brother and his wife. Aunt Sandy called my Aunt Janet (Dad's sister). The brother kept saying: "I just talked to him. I just talked to him on his birthday."
Really? His birthday. His birthday on September 5th. You just talked to him two months ago. Oh. Okay. Well, I had just talked to him about nine hours before the ER called me.
My daughter- the older one- lives about forty minutes to the north of us. The younger one lives in the dorm at her college in the same town with the ren faire (an hour and a half away from us). Kat and her boyfriend, Tyler, drove out to Christine's college and picked her up. In the almost-two-hours it took them to get there, Christine's friends were with her.
The one thing I did that night that I absolutely regret- I gave my brother that ring. My dad told me a year ago that he had it made and that it was with their wedding rings. Since it was a Mason ring, I was supposed to give it to the brother, because he was a Mason. Even though he hasn't been to a Mason meeting or event in about 15 years. Even though he cut himself from the family for almost ten years. Even though he was a terrible brother and an awful son and even less of a Mason. The next day, I wished that I hadn't given it to him. He doesn't deserve it.
The memorial service at the funeral home was a special piece of hell. But, they had forty-three Masons in attendance. The funeral home guy said that it was the most Masons they ever had before. He said usually there's ten to fifteen, sometimes twenty. I'm friends with a few of the Masons on Facebook because I've taken photos of the Masonic events (I've been to more Mason-related events in the past year than the brother has in the last fifteen years) and I was told they ran out of aprons. (the Masons wear aprons- if you weren't aware). The Mason funeral service is amazing. And it took ages to get through all those Masons who attended. After they did their thing, they lined up and filed out of the room, pausing to shake hands with the family.
Well, they shook hands with the brother, his wife, the stepson, then Christine, then me. When the Disabled Guy sat down, in an effort to stay out of the way, he sat in the third row back instead of the first. And my kids sat with him. Before the Masons started their service, Christine came up and sat with me. But it should have been just us up there. Me, the Disabled Guy, Kat, (with Tyler), Jason (with Courtney), and Christine. That's it.
As they filed by, I couldn't hold it in anymore. I had tissues in my left hand and I just sobbed into my hand as they took my right hand and expressed their condolences. They grasped my hand, said a few words, and passed my hand off to the next person. I don't even know how I held my hand up- they were probably holding my hand up for me at that point. The Masons I knew paused to hug me.
I'm the executor of the estate. The amount of emotional turmoil I'm having mixed with the stress- it has been surprisingly mild on my fibro. I'm still in pain, but my body is coping with the stress which is helping me muscle through the pain. My hot spots have been absolute agony and the first two weeks, I didn't take any daytime pain meds because I wanted to be absolutely clear-headed.
There have been a few moments when I absolutely cannot go on and end up in tears. Mostly when all the complicated estate stuff comes up. Because I have so many questions and the person I would have called is Dad. He has a guy for everything. Well, now I have some of his guys. They're my guys now.
Here's my 365 from the morning after the ER. Just like Mom's.
These last two and a half weeks have been awful and doing my 365 feels more like a chore than anything enjoyable. This may be my last one- I'm going to finish this one (I have less than 90 days left) but I don't feel like I want to start year five. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Oh, one thing- my parents used to joke that they wouldn't die "during faire season" because they knew how busy both Christine and I were during faire season. Dad died the day after Teslacon- which was my last event for the year. (its a Steampunk convention, but most of the cast and tons of patrons were from my faire family). We did have a chuckle about that- perfect timing, Dad.