The last word in 2007.

This was the plan: To celebrate Christmas with my family in Columbus on Saturday, head for Defiance on Sunday and celebrate with Alan’s family then. It was all going according to plan and we were en route to northern Ohio Sunday when Alan’s sister called with the news that his mother had fallen and was being taken to the ER with a goose egg rising rapidly on her forehead.

This was no surprise, in that Alan’s mom is 89, has had a series of strokes and was generally weak as a kitten. Also not surprising, though upsetting, was that the blow to the head was now a “significant” subdural hematoma, bleeding in the brain, the only treatment for which was invasive surgery. What was more surprising were the preposterous hassles all this touched off, even after her children made the difficult decision that this injury was not survivable in any meaningful way and that she be given comfort care only in the final days of her life, but, well, life begins in pain and ends the same way.

Alan’s mom, Marian Derringer, died Thursday afternoon in a hospice in Defiance. As you can imagine, this will preoccupy us for a while. We thank you in advance for your condolences, and we’re doing fine. Once all the hoops had been jumped early in the week — did you know you have to be in a facility where you can have brain surgery before you can refuse brain surgery? Visit beautiful Toledo! — the last few days were about as peaceful as can be expected. The hospice movement has been a great comfort to many families going through a difficult time. I expect that’s because after a long interaction with the medical profession, it’s pleasant to interact with nurses who speak plain English, move at a leisurely pace and let you have a dog in the room.

That’s what we did Wednesday — had our family Christmas at the hospice, with the dog. It was a nice afternoon.

There’s a lot going on in the world this week, and I’ve been jotting notes everywhere. (Heard there was a big to-do in Pakistan; you might want to check the papers.) But for now, I’m laying that stuff aside, closing the laptop and stepping out for a bit. Be back…let’s say New Year’s Day. You’ve been a great audience, and we’ll see you then.

Posted at 11:36 am in Friends and family, Housekeeping |

33 responses to “The last word in 2007.”

  1. Elissa said on December 28, 2007 at 11:44 am

    My deepest condolences go out to you and the Derringer clan.

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  2. Peter said on December 28, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Please accept my condolences.

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  3. brian stouder said on December 28, 2007 at 11:54 am

    You’ve always been a great website proprietress, and it is amazing that you served us anything at all, with all the other stuff going on in your life, just now. (one imagines how the Big Foot media people must have moaned and groaned when their beepers and blackberries lit up this week, while they were on holiday break. Perspective is everything)

    It sounds like you and yours got to say ‘goodbye’ to grandma – which is at least something positive (especially thinking of the young folks) to take from your 2007 holiday season.

    We’ll be thinking of you and yours, as we move into the new year

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  4. Kim said on December 28, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Condolences to you and yours, and gratefulness to the hospice presence that makes death a pretty awesome experience when blessed with the time/resources/circumstances to have it done “right.” It sounds like Alan’s mom got it right.

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  5. Sue said on December 28, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    My condolences. Thank goodness that your family all agreed on the course of treatment and you could all be together.

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  6. Lisa B. said on December 28, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    So sorry for your loss Nancy. My condolences to Alan. Our family went through exactly the same thing two years ago — a fall, a hematoma, a lot of hoops, and finally peace that the decisions made, however painful, were the right ones. Thinking of you.

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  7. alex said on December 28, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    My deepest sympathies.

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  8. LAMary said on December 28, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Sorry for your loss. I hope you all have a peaceful time now to deal with all that goes with it.

    People who work in hospice and palliative care are a remarkable bunch. Certainly among my favorite people to deal with here. They manage to be down to earth and easy to talk to and yet the most spiritually connected group in the hospital. Interviewing applicants for hospice and palliative care is always interesting. Not always in a good way, but that’s a story for another day.
    Peace to you all.

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  9. Julie Robinson said on December 28, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Amen to all above. Hospice workers wear wings.

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  10. Marie said on December 28, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    For whatever sympathy from a stranger is worth — you have it. Peace to you and your family.

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  11. Adrianne said on December 28, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Nance, I suspected the worst when you alluded to medical problems. I’m very sorry for your loss. My love to Alan and his sister.

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  12. 4dbirds said on December 28, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. You are so right about hospice and hospice workers.

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  13. MichaelG said on December 28, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    All my sympathies. It will be good to take a couple of well deserved days and start afresh in the new year.

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  14. Jeff said on December 28, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Alan & Nancy —

    I’m sorry for your loss and the gain during Christmastime of some hospice experience, but i’m glad you got what sounds like the best hospice can offer at the worst times.

    Here’s to 2008 and a very New Year.

    Grace & Peace,

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  15. Danny said on December 28, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Very sorry, Alan and Nance. Mother’s are special. They are hard to lose.

    I look forward to chatting with you in the new year.

    God bless you an yours,

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  16. Linda said on December 28, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    My sympathies to your and your family for your loss.

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  17. JGW said on December 28, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    I also want to express my condolances to you, Alan, & your family.

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  18. ashley said on December 28, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    Deepest condolences and sympathies.

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  19. Colleen said on December 28, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    My condolences. And sending extra good thoughts for Kate on losing her grandmother.

    Hospice is a godsend.

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  20. John Brown said on December 29, 2007 at 1:09 am

    My mother died the day after Thanksgiving this year. She started feeling bad around 6 in the afternoon Thanksgiving day and by 9:30 the next morning she was gone. Aortic dissection. She was 81. One thing about going into a hospital on a holiday is you soon realize that only the people with the least seniority are going to be working. It wouldn’t have made a difference in Mom’s case according to what I have since read about her medical condition but try telling that to her husband of 55 years.

    In my family which is predominately Irish we deal with the grief by telling stories about the departed which usually have a lot of humor in them. Maybe that would help you during this time.

    My condolences.

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  21. Joe Kobiela said on December 29, 2007 at 1:32 am

    Next time I am airborne looking at a beautiful cloud formation, I will whisper a prayer.

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  22. Deb said on December 29, 2007 at 9:34 am

    I am sure there is no ‘good’ time to go through what you-Nance, Alan, Kate, John Brown-experienced. I hope you are comforted by the fact that you were able to be with your moms at the end. I know it mattered to them.

    I wish you speed in healing and many, many memories and stories to share about their lives in the coming months and years

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  23. Julie Robinson said on December 29, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Joe Kobiela–a short time after my father-in-law died we looked up at the sun’s rays breaking through the gray clouds. It was so beautiful and comforting, as if heaven had opened up to receive him. He was in his 80’s and had suffered horribly the last few years of his life from Alzheimer’s. We all felt that at last his soul had been released from the captivity of his body.

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  24. Jim said on December 29, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    My condolences as well. I learned about the graciousness of hospice care when my mother died in 2005. They knew how the story would end, and they worked hard to make it as pleasant an ending as possible. I am grateful for them.

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  25. velvet goldmine said on December 29, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    I’m so sorry to read this, especially for Kate’s sake. I hope you consider taking yourselves on a frivolous trip when you have the chance — or plan for one next December. Holidays are tough enough after a loss without having the anniversary of a loved one’s death actually fall during the vicinity of one.

    Gee, sounds like I’m adding trouble on your behalf, but I’m actually thinking of an year in which we lost my grandmother and brother around the Easter holiday. The next year was especially dicey because of all the family gatherings and so forth.

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  26. poochlover said on December 30, 2007 at 12:09 am

    Thinking of you and your family, Nance. Amen to what’s been said above regarding Hospice. After things have settled, hope you can do something nice and relaxing for yourselves.

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  27. michaelj said on December 30, 2007 at 3:36 am

    Carry on, Nicola y Bart. I thought the world ended when my mom died. But it didn’t. It was only less excellent. She loved Warren Zevon but she loved James Taylor even better. My dad loves James Taylor, I’m pretty sure because my mom did. And Rhymin’. And there’s the ‘Mother and Child Reunion’ business. Fairly awesome song.

    My dad went to law school when he got bored with emergency medicine. I’m pretty sure he likes ‘Lawyers, Guns and Money’. Me, I’m partial to ‘When the Levee Breaks’.

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  28. Dorothy said on December 30, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    I’m late to read this entry since we were away for a week, but I do send my sincere sympathies to all of you. It’s never easy to lose a loved one, and I imagine with it happening at this time of year it’s even harder. I’m glad you were with family this week despite the circumstances. And just a note about Wednesday’s date – that would have been my dad’s 89th birthday.

    My dad was in hospice care only about 72 hours but it sure made it easier for him and my mom. I’ll be thinking of you and praying for a peaceful New Year to greet you soon.

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  29. Jen said on December 31, 2007 at 8:45 am

    Hospice is such a comfort. My deepest sympathies.

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  30. derwood said on December 31, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    Please accept my condolences.


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  31. Cathy Dee said on January 1, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Those we love never leave us.

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  32. Marcia said on January 1, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    I’m so sorry, Nancy and Alan. Losing a parent has to be such a hard thing, no matter her age.

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  33. Andrea said on January 2, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    My belated sympathies to you and your family during this holiday season.

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