In Case You've Wondered
My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.
If you're here for the stories, I started another blog: scratchingforchange.blogspot.com
One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.
I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.
Sunday, September 1, 2019
I started this post yesterday morning. I was up early, sitting on the porch, and drinking coffee in the pre-dawn light of what promised to be a beautiful day.
Off to the south, an early morning anvil head peeked above the trees. The orange top of the thunderstorm was a brilliant contrast against the deep blue sky. Other than that, the sky was clear.
There really wasn't any wind. It was more of a slow movement of cool night air as it pushed south to the coast. The temperature was a perfect seventy degrees, and the dry air was a wonderful relief from the heavy, humid air we tolerated for the last few months.
The hummingbirds appeared as the sun rose. Unlike before, with only two or three to fight over the feeders, dozens were jockeying for a place to find some energy for the day. The low drone of their wings was an accent to their tiny chirps. Their darting around was the same as bees hunting for nectar in blooming ligustrums.
I sat for a moment, relished the time, but my thoughts returned to what started Wednesday afternoon. I was troubled, and saddened, by an approaching event I anticipated, but really didn't think I would face without notice.
I was at work , received a call, and for a moment thought of not answering a number I didn't recognize. Something told me it was important, so I answered.
The call was from a nurse practitioner at M.D. Anderson, and they wanted me to know it was best I come to see my brother. They had tried reaching his daughters, but were unsuccessful, and thought it was best family was close.
I told the nurse I would try to reach my nieces, told my boss where I was going, and was soon off to pick up my wife for the two hour trip to Houston.
As we traveled, I told my wife how my brother was admitted to the hospital ten days before, refused to contact family, and was finally convinced the day before my call to contact his family. He told them he would, but was unable to figure out his phone. The staff realized his problem, and started calling the next day.
We arrived before anyone else. I was shocked, and my wife's first meeting of my brother was seeing the shell of the man he was. He was cognizant, but had a hard time speaking, and his weak voice was only a whisper. His mouth wouldn't close completely, so his efforts to speak can only be described as the beginning efforts of a ventriloquist.
We sat for about an hour before my niece arrived. She too was shocked at his appearance, but her previous efforts to see her father were sternly refused. He didn't want her to see him in his debilitated state. She had come to stay until the end.
We stayed for a few hours, but returned home so we could go to my wife's appointment with a hand surgeon the next morning. After the visit the next day, we returned to the hospital to see my brother.
Both nieces were now there, my oldest niece's father in law, and their mother. In a way, it was a strange congregation, but in another, it was a gathering of those closest to my brother. We all knew of his eccentricities, loved him regardless of his ways, and relished the time he allowed us into his life.
My brother had deteriorated over the last 24 hours. He now couldn't speak, and my niece told me he had told her over the night before there were people in the room that shouldn't be there. He couldn't close his eyes, or mouth, and showed no awareness of his surroundings.
My wife, and I, stayed until late afternoon. I had to get some rest for work on Friday, which required me to be there.
We returned yesterday. My brother was further along toward his final moment. His breathing was slow, and long periods would elapse between breaths. As I sat, I thought of the last year.
My brother was diagnosed with colorectal cancer about a year ago. Due to the location, the only known way of treatment - according to his doctors - was to shrink the tumor before any attempt of surgery. That was what happened for the last year. Chemo, radiation, chemo, and more chemo were his treatment. We kept in contact on the phone, so I knew what he was enduring. We talked about two months ago, and he had hope the new treatment would work. His employer was more than accommodating, so he was allowed breaks from work for his treatments.
Three weeks ago, my brother texted me to ask for my address. I texted back to ask if he was okay. He returned a text to say things weren't good, but he would get back to me.
My brother and I have always been close. Maybe it's because I respected his privacy, which he guarded with ferocity. When we were together, it was the best of visits, but he liked to be the one to contact me. I knew visits were always on his terms. I didn't mind, since when he wasn't interested in a visit, he was a pain in the ass to be around.
I had a feeling something was going on, but waited for my brother to contact me. From what I now know, I have the feeling he went to the hospital for a problem, wanted everyone to not hover over him, and his health faded faster than he could cope. When it was finally apparent he was far from being able to become better, it was too late.
Over the hours, nothing changed. Some moments he appeared in pain, but the doctor said the short moments of distress were from him trying to adjust his body, which caused some momentary pain. Long periods would indicate a bowel movement, but since it was days since he ate, or drank, those moments were probably over. My niece constantly stayed at his side, and it was apparent she would guarantee the best of care for his last moments.
My wife and I left yesterday evening, and both of us expected the phone call my brother was gone. It never came, and today my niece tells us he's the same as yesterday. I didn't go back to Houston. Mostly because my brother is gone, and I have no desire to be there for his last breath. Call it a selfish desire to not collapse at that moment. It's hard enough to endure the thought of never having the opportunity for one of those golden visits where everything is great, and future visits will be just as grand.
So I'm waiting for that call. It's hard, because the weather has been the transitional weather my brother loved. We'd discuss the cool mornings, anticipate the first cold front, and relish the first days of autumn. This will never happen again, and I can already feel the emptiness I felt after the loss of my other brothers. I guess it's part of life, and someone has to be the last, but it's a sobering realization of my mortality.