I knew this time would come. I just never could imagine how life would be when one or both of my parents was not alive anymore. My dad, John Courtenay ("Corky") Warren, died on Saturday, August 17, 2013, having lived a long, full life at the age of 93 and exactly 2 months. About 2 or 3 weeks before, he had started to decline rapidly at Sagebrook Health Center in Austin, TX, where he began living a year or so before, and on Thursday (Aug. 15), his status changed from palliative care to hospice care, but no one knew he was so close to the end of his life. I prayed a lot about when I should fly down and on Saturday morning finally got a ticket to leave early the next day. However, when I was in the middle of cancelling my membership at Healthworks Back Bay, I received a cell phone call from Deede saying that he had passed away a few minutes before. No one was actually right there with him when he died, but she and Doug were both on their way to Sagebrook as she spoke to me. I broke down pretty violently, almost too overcome to walk down the stairs to our waiting car, and then cried hard on Dan's shoulder as he held me. After I got a grip on myself, I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and realized Deede was still on the phone. Immediately, I felt bad that I subjected her to hearing my outpouring grief so baldly, but who better to hear it than her or Dan?
I wanted an ice cream cone immediately. Somehow it seemed fitting. Oh, Dad, I will miss you! Later that day, I managed to reach my son Nick and told him, and then a few hours later, my friend Nancy with whom I have been friends since 9th grade. I didn't tell anyone else directly. Around 6 or 7 p.m. as I ruminated sadly between weak but draining bouts of crying, I gathered a batch of pictures I found on my computer and posted them on Facebook. I wish that my oldest nephew Dave Greeves and his son Leo hadn't found out about Dad's passing that way which they did, but I was glad that my nephew Chris(topher) Warren made a gift of one of the pictures I put on there to my brother David. As always, public postings carry a mixed bag of consequences.
Throughout the week and a half I spent with my sister and siblings and their spouses (and my husband who joined me on the weekend), we had a small memorial for Dad at Sagebrook and we did fun things together, sharing our thoughts and memories, and laughing and crying. Mostly, we all felt strongly that Dad led a "wonderful life" and created great memories. Doug and Chris have so many pictures and items from Mom and Dad's house; we looked through them on Thursday when we were there for a casual barbecue after the memorial, and resolved to do something to allow them to be shared with all. I love my family so much and am richly blessed to have been born to parents who taught us to all love each other above all else (except for God) and to accept each other as we are.
Although Mom does not know that Dad has died, at various times we visited her at Emeritus just as we would any other time. I thought I would have a hard time not revealing that Dad was gone, but it was not too hard at all, since her memory is shot. I can hardly believe the many things she can still do and remember. Me, for one! :) She knows who I am and loves me thoroughly. Loves each one of us thoroughly, even if she can't immediately place the name/label on her loved ones. It is truly amazing how much love Mom has, and it gladdens my heart that this bedrock of love is so deep within her that even the ravages of Alzheimer's cannot destroy it.
I am going to create a shared blog/web page where I'll post updates on sympathy cards, memories of Dad (and eventually of Mom), and pictures. I'll probably call it The Warrens (i.e., http://thewarrens.blogspot.com). I wonder if that url is available. ....?