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Friday, April 10, 2015

Book Entry 209: 2011 Mom Died

Shortly after dad died we moved mom into Samaritan Village in Hughson.  She was to start out her life there in a little apartment.  We were told as her disease got worse she would progress to different parts of Samaritan Village according to the care she needed.  She stayed there only a couple of years when they notified us we would have to find another place for her.  I was shocked and very disappointed.  During the next few years we had to move mom several times to places that could accommodate her failing health. 
I visited mom nearly every day every place she went.  When we moved her to Brandel Manor, just two blocks away, I visited her two and three times a day.  As she got weaker our visits got shorter and shorter.  Mom passed away in the few minutes she was alone between a visit with me and a visit with Robin.  Robin is the one who discovered her dead. 

Yes…I Remember Mama

Where did her patience come from? She always had such an inexhaustible supply. Our home, so often full of giggling girls, never seemed to wear her out or tire her spirits. There was always room for an extra friend for the afternoon or the weekend or even on our family vacations. Mom always had time to stop in her busy day and share some wonderful secret with me or gently correct me in some error that I’d made.
Yes I remember Mama!

Where did her unchanging beauty come from? Surely not only from the bottles on her dresser, for even though she was by far the prettiest mother sitting in our church on any Sunday morning, never was she more beautiful than when she would come running to my bedside in the middle of the night when I had called out to her for help or comfort. She was always so soft and she always smelled so good.
Yes I remember Mama!

Where did she get her magic? I remember how she always made me feel special and pretty on days when I felt neither. I remember how her arms around me could make just about any problems seem smaller and most disappear completely. I remember how she cared so tenderly and constantly for my baby brother when he arrived and how she seemed to delight in him. She made being a mother seem to be the most natural and wonderful thing in the whole world. It must have been all those years of watching her happiness and contentment that made me want to grow up to be just like her.
Yes I remember Mama!

Where did her time and strength come from? I know I fall short in the patience department when I think of mom. I wonder if she might have some wonderful secret recipe for making extra time and patience. Somehow my shirts are never ironed so crisply, my hair is always more disheveled and the weeds in my garden are always thicker. My windows don’t have the sparkle of hers, neither do my floors, even her chocolate chip cookies taste better than mine. It’s not that I don’t take pride in what I do, it’s just that my mother had a special talent, she was a wonder.
Yes I remember Mama!

Where did she get her wisdom? I remember how she overlooked countless mistakes and encouraged me even in my smallest successes. I never felt she was ashamed of me or embarrassed because of me. I remember how proud I’ve always been of her and how we have always loved each other. She accepted my husband as she accepted me…without hesitation. She loved and cared for each of my babies as they have come one by one into our family, and she taught me even more about a mothers love by the way she loved her grandchildren. She seemed like such a “natural” at being a grandmother. Through all my years she supported me, laughed with me, cried with me, and loved me. Someday I hope to be just like her.
Yes I remember Mama! 1985 For Mothers Day - Joyce

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Entry 207: 2002 My Dad Died

     My dad died on April 10th.  He had chosen to have surgery to repair a problem with his heart.  It was an elective surgery.  He chose to have the surgery hoping he would live longer to take care of mom who was starting to have problems with Parkinson’s disease.
     Dad was suppose to be in intensive care for two days then on the main ward for four or five more days, then come home.  He remained in intensive care for almost two weeks.  During the surgery his diaphragm had been damaged making it impossible for him to draw a breath on his own.  He made some improvement and was finally put on the main ward.  The very next day he was moved from the hospital to a nearby rehab facility.  We were all relieved.  We just knew they wouldn’t have moved him from intensive care, and even from the hospital, if he wasn’t getting better.  I let the kids all know the good news.  Robin went to Modesto to see that grandpa was all settled in.  While she was there she rubbed his feet.  He still had the tracheotomy in his throat but he managed in no uncertain way to let her know how thoroughly he was enjoying his time with her. 
     I got a call from the rehab saying dad had been having trouble breathing and he had been sent back to the hospital.  When I asked if we should go to him the answer was it would probably be a good idea.  The person on the phone had not sounded like there was a need for urgency.  I asked Heidi if she’d like to go.  I picked Heidi up, then mom, and we headed for Modesto.  I called Robin.  We had a good visit on our drive but wondered if dad would need to remain in the hospital for a few more days.
When we went in the main portion of the hospital we were told he was in the Emergency section of the hospital and we needed to go there.  It was a short walk around to the other side of the building.  When we entered the Emergency area I told the receptionist who we were there to see.  She got an uneasy look on her face and asked us to follow her to a room.  We expected to find dad in the room but it was a tiny room with just a couple chairs in it.  We were told to sit and someone would be with us in a minute.  All three of us began to suspect the news on dad was going to be a little more serious.
     A woman doctor came in.  She verified who we were there to visit.  When we told her it was Rodney Starn she took a deep breathe and blurted, “Oh I’m sorry, but Rodney has indeed died.”  We were all in shock!  We had been told he was having trouble breathing not that he had quit altogether.   In a very matter-of-fact tone she then opened the door and pointed down the hall.  His body is in the first room to the right.  You can stay as long as you need to.”  Then she scurried off in the other direction.
Mom started repeating “Holy Moses, Holy Moses,” over and over.  Slowly we entered the room followed by a very quiet little nurse.  Dad was lying on a bed covered by a sheet.  His hand was uncovered and laying by his side.  Mom grabbed his hand and held tight as the nurse pulled the sheet from his face. 
     Immediately mom began to talk to him.  “Rod, you lied to me, you said you’d never leave me.  Now you’ve gone and left me, what am I suppose to do?  I can’t take care of myself, who will take care of me?  How could you lie to me like this?  Holy Moses, Holy Moses.”  Her eyes left his face and gradually turned downward.  She would not sit, she remained standing beside him. 
     I called Larry and Phillip and David.  I called Pastor Don.  After a few minutes mom wanted me to call EL and Margie Howard, lifelong friends since grade school.  It seemed imperative they know dad had died.  Next she wanted me to call Brian and Barbara Miner, who were neighbors.  Heidi and I both concentrated on comforting mom.  Finally, when her legs grew tired, she sat.  Mom started listing people she and dad had known all their lives and asked me to call them.  By now it was after 11:00.  I finally convinced mom calling everyone who ever knew him in the middle of the night wasn’t necessary.
     Larry and Phil arrived.  Adam and Robin arrived.  Greetings, hugs, and tears started over each time someone new entered the room.  We started telling mom it was time to go home.  She argued saying the nurse had said we could stay as long as we needed to and dad’s friends hadn’t arrived yet.  I told mom his friends weren’t coming.  They would see her the next day or soon after that.  She seemed puzzled, like she thought everyone dad had ever known was going to hurry down to the hospital and look at him.  I thought that was curious.
     We finally convinced her it was time to leave.  Phil took her home and stayed the night with her.  The rest of us headed home.  I remember turning the TV on in our room and staring at it for the rest of the night.  A lifetime of little memories flashed through my mind as I laid there.  Wonderful memories, silly memories, and little flashes of memories kept me from sleep.  I remembered how Robin had loved for grandpa to rub her feet and now, as it turns out, she was the last of us to see him alive and what was she doing?  She had been rubbing his feet!
     I thought it had been incredibly mean for the rehab to give us such an inaccurate message concerning dad.  “Mr. Starn was having a little trouble breathing you might want to come see him,” hardly seemed appropriate to me. 
     The morning after he died I was so weak with grief I was actually unable to life arms above head.  I remember I was going to put on a slip over blouse and couldn’t raise it above my head.  I had to wear a button up shirt.  I felt as though even my body was in mourning.
     April 10th is our Cari’s birthday.  He died on her 27th birthday.  Our Joyce and Jayne were born on the 27th of August.  This could be coincidence but I always thought it was God sending me a message that Cari, Joyce, Jayne, and dad were all just fine and all together.  That may seem ridiculous to some but if he had died a day earlier or a day later it wouldn’t have worked.  I truly believe God knew I needed that bit of encouragement and comfort!