As I sat down to write this post about my Dad and his life with Marian Irwin, I got caught up in reading the entries in their Memory Book. This Memory Book was passed around at the Celebration of Their Lives we held for friends and family in California.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. In September of 2002, the Marin Amblers monthly outing was a trip to Gold Beach, Oregon. Dad was 89 (Mom was 88) and my brother Greg and his wife Euna tried to convince them that this trip might be a little too strenuous for them. Dad’s reply was, “Marian really wants to go.” Mom’s only response was, “But Al really would like to go.” Greg and Euna thought they had succeeded in convincing them and came down on Saturday morning with the usual food for the next week and plans to clean the apartment, just as they did every Saturday. They were quite surprised when they realized Mom and Dad were not home. Greg went down to the back parking lot where their RV was kept and saw that it was gone. They had left on Friday, as usual, to arrive for dinner Friday night.
On the drive north the RV had a flat tire. They didn’t have a cell phone so they couldn’t call for road service. They sat on the side of the road for hours until someone stopped and helped Dad change the tire. They finally arrived four hours later than expected.
The group was thrilled to see them and they had a wonderful time visiting with friends for the weekend. They planned to leave on Sunday and stop at a familiar campground once they had crossed into California. When they arrived they discovered that the campground was closed for the season. Not familiar with the area or other campgrounds nearby, they decided to drive another six hours to reach home. Needless to say, they were both exhausted from the weekend. I think it took a heavy toll from Dad and he didn’t recover completely.
In December Dad came down with the bad cold and just couldn’t shake it. In his typically thorough way, on Sunday evening, December 21st, he arranged all the important papers and then told Mom that he thought he ought to go to the hospital because he wasn’t feeling well. They treated him with antibiotics and on Tuesday he was feeling much better. A nurse told him that if he kept this up, they were kicking him out on Wednesday. As he was eating breakfast Wednesday morning, he aspirated something into his lungs and within a couple of hours he was in a coma in the ICU on Life Support.
Wednesday evening (Christmas Eve) when I got home from my last day at work as a seasonal cashier in a department store, there was a message on my answering machine from Greg, asking me to call him. I immediately called and he explained what was going on. I told him I would fly to California the next day. My oldest daughter, Caryn, flew out with me on Christmas Day.
My sister Lynn arrived on Friday and we all went to see Dad in the hospital. I spoke with his doctor who explained the seriousness of the situation. He told me it would be a miracle if he came out of the coma and if he did, he would be in a vegetative state. We had a family meeting when we got back to their apartment. Mom told us that she did not want to see him like that again. She wanted to remember him as he lived, full of life. We made the decision to turn off Life Support. Since technically I did not have a job to go back to, I told Mom that I would move to California to take care of her. On Saturday, December 27th, Greg stayed with Mom and Doug, Lynn and I went to the hospital. We had the staff remove Life Support and I sat holding Dad’s hand and talking to him until the end.
Caryn had flown home but I stayed until New Year’s Day. I flew home, closed up my apartment, packed my car and drove back to California, arriving January 15th.
For the next year, Greg, Euna and I had our individual responsibilities. Greg took care of the financial and estate business, Euna provided already prepared lunches and dinners and also cleaned the apartment. I was on duty 24/7 covering daily duties, medications and doctor’s visits.
In December 2004, Mom developed an infection and I took her to the hospital. She was there for a few days and was on the mend when she had another stroke. A few hours later I was with her when she had a seizure. I held her and told her I loved her and then she was gone. She joined my father on December 16th, less than a year after my Dad had passed away
Next Sunday I will share quotes from the Memory Book and pictures of their lives together.
Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1943, the brginning of the Love Story of Lad and Marian Guion.