Monday, May 31, 2010

Honor Guard

I have been putting off my blogging...just not ready to write about Dad because I've been too sad. But seeing how I left you all hanging with the last post about the memorial service being the next day, I thought I should write about the service.

First, let me tell you that while my dad's career was that of physician and surgeon, he was in the Navy at two different times in his life. He trained as a bomber pilot during World War II. He was blessed not to have to see active fighting in that the war ended within a week of his graduation from Naval Aviation school.

He wanted to use his medidal career in the Navy and inquired about re-enlisting even before he had graduated from medical school. My how my life and that of my brothers would have been different had they accepted him. You see, my dad was a D.O. rather than an M.D. He was a Doctor of Osteopathy. Simply put, a D.O. is a Medical Doctor and a Chiropractor in one, although it is more than that and not exactly chiropracty. DOs are fully medical doctors but they have the added education in musculo-skeletal "manipulation". DOs are widely accepted now, but back in 1950 when Dad expressed his interest to the U.S. Navy it was not so. He received a letter which basically said the military did not accept DOs for medical service, only MDs. While DOs were welcome to serve in non-physician ways, the Navy would not allow them to practice medicine the same as MDs. Furthermore, the letter stated, they did not expect to ever accept DOs to serve as military physicians in the foreseeable future.

My dad then went on to graduate medical school, get certified in General Surgery and, later, also get certified in Urological Surgery. Being board certified in two fields of surgery is not very common as I understand it. My dad was an excellent doctor.

Fast forward to 1980 and the Navy was only too happy for my dad to re-enlist and practice medicine for them. So thrilled were they that they gave him the retro-active rank of Captain of 12 years, because of his excellent professional credentials. He spent six years serving soldiers and their families on two different bases. He even had two stints on the USS Midway and a temporary assignment in Iceland. He loved it all.

Because of his military service and how he loved it, we were encouraged to inquire about military honors for his memorial service. They were approved with flying colors.

Before the service started, the honor guard assembled in the courtyard of the beautiful funeral home where we had the service. They stood, fixed in honor and respect, there in the courtyard as people gathered inside the windowed receiving area before the service started.

What a sight.   And what an honor for us to have them there, honoring our Dad.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dad - Tomorrow is the Service

Dad's memorial service is tomorrow. Feeling like my heart is dragging, being pulled toward an experience I'd just rather not have to go through.  But at the same time I am looking forward to hearing from people who loved him, people I don't even know, like his patients.  From what I've heard so far, he was dearly loved, enjoyed, and appreciated.  Of course I knew that, but it's so good to hear it right from the sources. 

I'm also looking forward to our remembrance tables with photos and memorabilia that show a glimpse of who Dad is.  Sad, though, that many photos just could not be found.  Slices of his life will be missing from the displays - important slices like of my childhood years before the divorce, and of his life with his wife of 16 years who is now facing life without him.  We just can't find or get to these photos.  We have mostly early photos from before I was born and then recent photos from the last 10 years. I do feel badly for his wife, she will be little represented and that's just not right. I've had to let go of the sadness over these disappointments. We've done the best we can and it will be very nice as it is.

One really wonderful thing, though, is that we found his old medical bag, "Dad's Black Bag", as we called it when I was little.  It still had medical supplies in it, some of which we left in.  We found some Navy stuff, too, that will be great.

I'll post again after things settle down for me.  I'm sure when I get back home to the quiet woods it will be there that I start to melt down.  Been holding it all at bay for the last week.'s been a week today since he passed.  Guess I'm glad I didn't notice at 1:00 p.m. today.

Until later...

Friday, May 14, 2010


My Dad passed away today. 

I can't hardly believe it.  It seemed to come out of nowhere and all happen so fast.  I am so glad I talked with him the night he went to the Emergency Room. 

I've written a couple email replies and a simple post to Facebook tonight...and that is about all I can muster.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dad Today

Dad is worse today.  There's actually no pneumonia but his body is undergoing shock; his systems are shutting down.  No one knows what has caused the shock.  It could be "sepsis", or infection, but doctors are in disagreement about this. If it is sepsis, they haven't a clue where it's coming from or what's caused it. Measures have been taken to address dangerous levels of various things. Levels that if sustained are "incompatible with life." The next 24 hours will reveal which way he's going to go - improve or go further down.

Waiting.  It hurts.  It's frightening.  It's vulnerable.  It's hard.

I have been learning in the last several years what it feels like to trust God in the midst of frightening, unwelcome, unwanted, and painful circumstances.  It feels good though the letting go is scary and the pain of the situation is still there.  The pain is still painful. It still feels awful.  But instead of fighting against the pain, I've been learning how to give myself to God within it all.  Not that I do this all the time, or do it well when I do.  But I sometimes come to accept my lack of control and give the jumbled bag of what's left over to Him.   That being all my emotions.  It's funny how we can play tricks on ourselves and actually cling to such things as fear, anger, denial, resistance, and if somehow they are tools to give us some form of control over the uncontrollable thing we're facing.  Though I freely cry to God of the pain and plead for my heart's desires, I find I sometimes come to place both the situation and my broken heart into His hands and let the full weight of it all rest there.  And though the pain is still pain, there is safety in the rest of His hands.

It is in this sometimes confusing mix of heartache and trust that I find myself now, regarding Dad.  Questions challenge my heart that wants only to not lose him.  But what would his life be like if he pulls out of this?  Would it be normal or degraded?  As only God knows, I must trust Him to do what is best for Dad. I must trust that He will do what's right for my Dad.  I must trust.  It is the only thing I can cling to.  God, and His goodness and wisdom.

But, oh, how vulnerable it feels from moment to moment...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Love You Dad

My Dad has had a heart attack.  It was long in duration - because he didn't tell anyone for about 8 hours - but it caused little damage to his heart.  However, he is in "very critical" condition due to pneumonia and infection brought on by side effects of the heart attack.  Boy, I am so not ready for this.  There is a good probability that he won't make it.  I can't believe it...   Sudden severe illness is the worst.  You are left so unprepared, so startled.  Reeling.  Trying to take it all in and gain some equilibrium.  I am scared.  I am so sad.  I'm in shock.  And I am so not ready to lose him, too.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

May BLizzard

It's been a week since The Freak Blizzard of May 2010.  I mentioned in my last post that the snow was blowing horizontally with the strong winds.  I was on my way home from a weekend trip out of town.  It started snowing at the cabin in Mormon Lake early in the morning.  We packed up and headed out as soon as we could, not knowing how widespread the snowstorm was.  By the time I got the 30 miles north to Flagstaff, I'd pretty much driven out of it.  But then it chased me the rest of the way home, about 30-40 minutes behind me all the way. 

Until I drove right into another southern finger of the storm when I was about an hour away from home.  An hour...that is, at 65 mph.  But not at 45mph, and then 35 mph, and then sometimes 25 mph. 

There is a low section of road on my way home. Close to the bottom of this short little valley is a turn-off for another town. I was behind several cars who were going really slowly through the heavy slush.  Unfortunately, about five of them slowed down even more to get into the turn lane for the other highway.  That nearly stopped the rest of us just as we needed some momentum to make it up the little hill. 

I didn't make it.  I started slipping and sliding all over the place.  I decided to pull over so I wouldn't ruin the momentum of everyone behind me.  I didn't know what I would do later, but in the meantime, I watched everyone slipping and sliding their way up the hill.  Next thing I knew, a huge motor home was behind me.  It seemed he had decided to pull over, too.

 But wait...he changed his mind.  He veered back onto the road in all of his massive lengthiness.  I looked out my side window and there he was, VERY close, very massive, and very angled.  His rear end was sliding into my rear end!  I laid on the horn over and over again and he finally stopped.  Not only was I afraid he would damage my van a bunch, I was afraid he would shove me off the shoulder, which was sloped away from the road.  Now, I've been in a roll-over accident before and I had vision of being shoved over until I rolled.  Granted, the guy was going about 5 mph and that probably wouldn't have happened...but I was nervous about it nonetheless.

It was still blizzarding.  And there we sat.

Thankfully, all we were was touching.  No damage whatsoever.

I called 911 to let them know we were stuck and blocking the road.  911 was in the wrong city for our incident.  They patched me through to what is "Town" to us.  I told the story again to them.  Oh, but we were across the county line so they had to patch me through to the other county.  After telling the story for the third time to the right county, I was advised that I should have been patched through to DPS where she was going to transfer me and I would have to tell my story for the 4th time.  Thankfully, the line was busy and she said she'd have someone call me back.

Meanwhile, a Good Samaritan came by offering to tow me out of the way so then efforts could be made to get the motor home on his way.  A Highway Patrolman came by, too, and between the two of them, they towed me up to the top of the hill.  The Good Samaritan got behind my wheel in case it was a treacherous tow and I cleared out of the way, stepping well off the shoulder, in case my van went sliding crazily.  It was a simple tow...the only problem was that I was now downhill and had to walk up to the van.  Oops.  The Good Samaritan got out of my van and when I finally got close, laughed and said in kind of a "Duh" manner, "We should have had you get in the van, too!"  And then, a truck came in the opposing lane..... and completely slushed us up past our knees with the dirty snowy slush piled up on the road! 

It was quite an afternoon.  But for such an event, it was thankfully rather uneventful.

At home we had nearly 3 inches of snow on the ground.  My poor little tulips were covered in snow.

The Alligator Juniper was covered on one side, too.

But less than a week later, they were blooming and beautiful.  I took these today, one week to the day later.

I love flowers, but I am not a gardener.  I just don't seem to have what it takes to give the proper devotion to a garden.  That, and not having a normal water supply kind of takes the passion out of it for me.  But I do love flowers.  I wish I had tons and tons of them around...and someone else to make sure they thrive!

Look at these pretty pinks!

There is still a tiny, tiny bit of snow left on the north side of nearby hills.  I can't believe it's still clinging on.  Windy again today and 70 degrees.  I don't think it can last more than a couple more days, if that.

Windy days are helping dry out the basement.  Which reminds me, it's 8pm and I haven't closed the basement window yet.  I'd better get down there before "Steve" our local raccoon tries to get in!

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Blizzard on May 2nd

Yessirree, we had a blizzard yesterday!  Got about 3-4 inches of snow.

But the real excitement was the fact that I was driving home from a weekend trip out of town.  The snow started before I left the cabin in Mormon Lake.  It was coming down pretty good but by the time I reached Flagstaff I had some blue sky.  Whew!  ...I thought. 

I was blessed to stay about 30-40 minutes (it seemed) ahead of nasty weather which chased me all the way toward  home turf.  The storm stretched out another "finger" and as I headed south I found myself in a full on blizzard about an hour away from home.  Snow was blowing horizontally.  

A blizzard in May!!  This has been some winter....and it just doesn't seem to want to quit!

More later....