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Catastrophe


After it was all over the surgeon described the situation as an abdominal catastrophe. She explained that most people never make it past the "event", let alone through hours of pain and surgery. She said, "she must have been a very strong woman." That she was.

It is well nigh impossible to paint a picture with words of my sister in law Judy; for me to do her justice, I'd need a movie camera. Alas, at this point, all I have is words. When the doctors used that term, event, she went crazy. "This is no EVENT--a party is an event, a wedding reception is an event, people are invited to an event!!!! No one wants to attend this kind of event. No, no we didn't, but we had no choice.

Driving home from the Magic game Friday night, Bruce's cell rang. It was Cris saying that their mom had gone to the hospital in an ambulance after calling 911. All we knew was she had abdominal pains, there was no thought that the call would be life altering. Even though I had little to go on, I began to imagine what could be wrong--maybe a bowel obstruction? After dropping me off at the house, Bruce drove to the hospital with three magazines to pass the time. Little did he know that those hours spent with her would be the last time she was coherent enough to know her children.

Cris, Jessica and Bruce spent the overnight hours trying to comfort her the best they could, given the extreme pain she was in, with Judy joining them around 3 in the morning. The blood work, x-ray and CAT scan showed that something was terribly amiss. Indeed, it was catastrophic. Valiantly, the surgeon worked feverishly, only to discover once she began, that her entire large intestine had died, with infection swarming her entire abdominal cavity. It was too much to bear.

And so it was that we found ourselves Sunday morning in a meeting with her doctors, discussing discontinuing the artificial devices that were keeping her alive. Aside from Matthew and Jonathan, the whole family was gathered, including her great granddaughter, Annabelle, who by the way, is just adorable.

True to her character, she spared us the painful proposition of removing life support, passing away into glory on her own, only minutes after the papers were signed.

You see, that's how she was, thinking of others instead of herself. She'd spent a lifetime doing so.

Anyone who knows me knows how I would sometimes go crazy about my mother in law, but never because she was mean. In fact, maybe she was too sweet for me, who knows? More than anything, I think I didn't understand her very well.

She was my mother in law for 36 years, however I knew her much longer, meeting her when I was 13. One of my earliest memories of her was thinking she was pregnant because she had a very "poochy" tummy! What's more, she was never very stylish, even as a young woman, which sounds so superficial, but I come from a family who always valued style. Nor was she an intellectual. No, my mother in law Judy (not to be confused with sil, Judy) was sweet above everything else.

Most important to me was that she birthed and raised the man of my dreams. A wonderful man doesn't just happen. It takes a good mom, and that she was, never forgetting a birthday, or anniversary all these years, fretting about doing the right thing, never giving unwanted advice, and last but not least, giving us goofy gifts! Oh, the gifts, how they have provided us with laughs over the years, many becoming part of our family lore. I am so sorry I just gave away the bellows, (yes you read that right) she gave me for my birthday a few years ago. I remember one year I received four pairs of pantyhose. In fact, the last day I saw her in person was this year's birthday. My birthday was on a Thursday, however she insisted on driving all the way from Zellwood to bring me the flowers from Sunday's church service, along with some hand cream. I tried to dissuade her, saying I appreciated the thought, but she was not to be deterred. Now, I'm so glad I was able to photograph one of the daisies from that arrangement.Actually the new header is of the same, so I suspect I'll keep it around for a while...

Mostly she was what might be called "old-fashioned", which with the way things are speeding up, our children will be thinking the same of us, probably before we are 60! True to her generation, she lived by the motto, "waste not, want not." Recent events have taught everyone that living like that is not such a bad idea.

So, life goes on, differently, but it keeps moving. We will bury her remains on Saturday, but she'll live in our hearts forever. As the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder....
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