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.