The Eyes and Memories of a Widow

Derek Ouellette —  January 24, 2010

This post is perhaps as personal as it gets on Covenant of Love. I promise they will be few and far between and if you prefer, it may suit you to quickly move on to the next post.

You see, last year at this time my father went into the hospital, and that was the last place I saw him alive.

He was not a very healthy man to begin with – type A diabetes was his most serious condition – but it didn’t help that he never took care of himself. He had at least two serious heart attacks and one major heart operation – triple bypass. He was never able to work very long and it was common to have dad rushed to the hospital by ambulance two or three times a year for slipping into a comma or puking his guts out.

Last year he made the decision to have his knee operated on. I am told afterwards that the doctors tried to dissuade him, warning him that in his condition the knee operation could cause a blood clot that could end his life. My dad told this to very few people, and had I known I would have pressured him not to have the operation. As it was I just thought he was having his knee operated on, how serious could that be?

The operation was a success, but for precautionary purposes everyone decided it would be best if dad spend some time in a nursing home where the nurses could keep an eye on him. Mom worked full-time and my little sister Katlynn was in school. It seemed to be the most prudent choice of action.

I have told you all of this to set the stage for what you are about to read – the week leading up to my dad’s heart attack told, as it is, through the eyes and memories of his wife, one year later. My mom sent me this email and with permission, has allowed me to publish it here. Comments in “[ … ]” are my commentary:

Jan 12th was on a Monday last year and that was the day he had his surgery. I was there the whole day and picked Katlynn up from school to see him after he got back to his room.

On Sunday night the 16th Katlynn and I went to the hospital to give him a haircut. I remembered telling him that I didn’t like the fact that his knee was so red and fevered. As we were leaving I told him to have the nurses have a look at it. He was heading there [to see the nurse], as the elevator doors were closing.

Monday his Mother went to Florida.

Tuesday the 19th, Barbara [his sister] moved him into Victoria Manor [rest home], (he told me about their argument on Wednesday when he called to give me the information about how to reach him at the rest home). He told me he wasn’t feeling well.

I didn’t hear from him on Thursday.

On Friday I called him and he told me that he was still vomiting. I told him that I was coming to the city with Katlynn to go to the mall and that I was going to invite him to have a coffee with me, “but if you’re sick maybe it’s not a good idea”. He insisted that He was OK and asked me to pick him up anyway. He said he would drink a ginger ale, and wanted to get out for a bit. So I picked him up, crutches and all. We went to the mall and we walked around for a while, but I could see how tired he was and his hair was dirty. I wanted a hair cut and so we went to Magicuts in Zellers and I treated him to a hair shampoo and blow dry. He rested in a chair while I got a cut. I purchased him some hair products for damaged, dry scalp.

He was thirsty, and I couldn’t get him a gingerale, so I got him an apple juice. He practically downed it. He told me that he better get back. As we were getting ready to leave and I was helping him get to the car…he vomited outside of Tim Hortons.

He had asked me to bring him his pillows and Bible and His Sparkling Gems [devotional] book, which he had brought over to the house before his surgery, so when I dropped him off, I brought them up to his room.

It was a small room and I was amazed that he hadn’t even unpacked his clothes. So while he rested on his bed…I put clothes away. I helped him get his support hose off, and I noticed again that his knee was still very red and swollen. He said that the nurses said that it was normal…but I thought the swelling should have gone down by this time. He said that the nurses at the rest home were checking in on him from time to time and he would be OK. He didn’t want me to fuss anymore and it was clear that he was tired and he just wanted to go to bed, so he walked me to the elevator.

We said our goodbyes and he hugged me real tight and asked me if I would come and see him?

I told him in a shocked voice, “Of course I’ll would come!!”

That was our last conversation.

Saturday I worked and I didn’t call him because He was sick and in order for him to call me he had to go downstairs to the only phone that the residents could use, and they had a time limit. Jennifer [his daughter] had called earlier and asked me how to get in touch with him, because she wanted to go and see him. She called back later that day and said that she called and the nurses gave him the message to call her…but he didn’t. When she called to see why he hadn’t called she said that the nurses said that he was sick and he didn’t want to call her. She was offended at first, but I remember telling her that he was really sick the day before when I had seen him.

On Sunday the 25th I had forgotten my cell phone at home, took the guys I was working with [she works with special needs individuals] to Church and out for lunch after.

It was 2pm when I got back to the program [work]. That’s when I got a frantic phone call from Danielle [his daughter] saying that they were trying to get a hold of me since about 11am. Danielle drove me to Henry Ford Hospital [in Detroit] where I stayed until Wednesday morning, the 28th. I can’t talk about what happened at the hospital because it would take all night, and I can’t bear to think about all that happened. So…, needless to say I am living in reality with lots of memories. I’m saying to myself all day long…at this time…a year ago, I was doing thus and thus.

Maybe I’m reliving it in such detail because of your Grandfather’s knee surgery, or it’s probably because of the 1st anniversary of his death, but I’m having a hard time to not think about him. I Love Him Still!!!

Dad, Mom and my little sister Katlynn

Dad was only 49 when he died. That year we were planning a big 50th bash. (1959 – 2009)

The Day Dad Died

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • Geneinne

    It would be so nice if we our minds were like a ticker tape that we could throw away the memories that hurt and only keep the good ones.
    Perhaps some of us, as my meme used to say, feel too deeply!

  • Lomer

    Dad i miss you and i will see you again.

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  • Wendy Hedrick

    Thank You Son. Love Always Mom

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