Sunday, August 29, 2010

Still Tired

I'm still recovering from meningitis, so I'm trying to take it easy and not push myself too much.  I'll be back to blogging in two weeks.  Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Family Eulogist

Somehow I've become the person in my family to give the eulogy when someone dies.  First Bedstefar (my Danish grandfather), then Mike, and, most recently, Dad.  Here is more or less how it went:

If one thing can be said about my dad, it is that he was a good man.  He did not have an unkind bone in his body.

Just a few months ago we were here to say good-bye to my brother Mike.  It's hard to be up here again, trying to find words to say.  Losing Mike broke Dad’s heart.  It literally broke Dad’s heart.  Now they are together in heaven watching over us.

My daughter Dolly, Dad’s granddaughter, couldn’t be here today because this is her first week of school.  She sent along this message that she asked me to read to you today:

Hi Grandpa.  This is my speech that I made for you that I hope my mom is going to recite at the funeral.  Grandpa, I’m sorry that you had to go through pain when you were dying.  And you were only 67, or 68.  Sorry I forgot your age.  I kind of don’t remember stuff that’s important, but I’ll definitely remember this, which I didn’t want to happen.  Well, I guess that’s just life.  And even though someone is gone, they are still here.  I mean, you’re still around the earth.  And now I have four people above my head – both of my grandpas, my great grandma, and Uncle Mike.  And I’m always going to cherish those who are above my head and those who I can see.  But just because I can’t see them doesn’t mean that you’re not there.  Bye, Grandpa.  Well, I’m not really saying good-bye cause you’re up above my head right now.  So, good-bye for now.  I love you.

That was my daughter Dolly’s message.  My message to Dad is a message of thanks.

Thank you for adopting me, for giving me the life I have today, for always believing in me, and for making me the person I am today.  I will miss talking to you and the great trips we took together.

Thank you for loving Mom for 43 years, for being her best friend, for being with her my role models for a loving committed relationship that is inspiring and the best parents anyone could ask for.

Thank you for saving Mike’s life twice and being there for him throughout his life.  He admired you and loved you.  You understood him like no ones else did.  I am glad you are there to watch over him once more.

Thank you for being a good brother and friend.  The people who have stayed by your side for decades are a testament to your honor, loyalty, and kindness.  You were a man of faith and a man of charity, and made the world a better place by the lives you touched.

You lived a good life and you were loved.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

West Virginia, Again

Five months after burying my brother, I am back in West Virginia for Dad's funeral.  It's been over three weeks since Dad died of a heart attack, or lung failure, or whatever it was that ultimately killed him.  During that time I was too ill from meningitis to travel.  Even now I don't have much strength.  But I am very happy to finally be here with Mom.  We're the survivors of a terrible year.

Today I looked through old photographs, some of which I'd never seen before.  Pictures of Dad when he was a kid, pictures of Dad and Mom when they were first married, pictures of Mike.  Mom kept saying she couldn't believe they were both gone, how it's just not fair.  Aunt Karen called from Denmark.  She and my great-uncle Phillip are in their 90s and still in fine health.  She said she didn't understand why they were still alive while Dad was gone, how it wasn't fair.  Fair doesn't have much to do with life and death, does it?

Losing Mike and Dad and getting a serious illness, all within a nine-month period, have made me extremely grateful to be alive, grateful for my beautiful life and my family, friends, and colleagues.  God willing, I'll be turning 40 in four weeks.  That used to stress me out.  Now I'll just feel blessed for the gift, you know?  Some people, like Mike, don't make it that far.  There's nothing like health problems or losing a loved one to make you appreciate your life.  So if you're reading this, be thankful for what you have and for those around you.  Go out and enjoy!  Life may be short, but it is also rich and abundant.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Back to the Hospital

I went back to the hospital for three days with a violent Clostridium Difficile infection following my earlier hospital stay for Varicella Zoster Meningitis.  Needless to say, I have not yet made it to West Virginia to see Mom.  She is waiting until I am healthier to have the memorial for Dad.  Right now all I can do is rest and try to get better.  I try not to think about anything beyond the next step, which for me will be my 10:00 p.m. infusion of Acyclovir.  Grief is just going to have to wait.