29 June 2009

Jack II

We came home this afternoon from San Antonio where we had been spending the last week. My father-in-law, Jack, passed away on Tuesday, June 23rd. He had his stomach removed in April (cancer) and had dropped from 210 lbs to 140 lbs before the doctors decided to give him two kinds of feeding tubes so he could receive nutrition and hydration. Then last Sunday his stomach tube got clogged, and he developed a fever on Monday and died of sepsis (infection) on Tuesday afternoon. His obituary reads:

"His career was centered around caring for people with mental retardation as an employee of the Austin State School and most recently the San Antonio State Hospital in the Competency Training and Development Department. Jack was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed mountain biking, camping, hiking and fishing and had the opportunity to explore many national and state parks and wildernesses throughout the country and most recently Washington State. He enjoyed his daily cup of black Starbucks coffee, watching Sci-Fi and perfecting the tropical garden which surrounded his 8,000 gallon Koi pond. Jack's life touched the lives of thousands and his legacy will be celebrated for years to come."

We totally ditched the kids on my parents and went south to be with my step-mother-in-law, Vickie (I love to call her that because she is so cool and with a title like that it sounds like she shouldn't be). The family drew together and although we cried, we really tried to celebrate Jack's life and accomplishments (think mariachi band).

As I drove north today, I was thankful that we were able to spend that time there- that my parents, who live a few miles away, were able to step up like that; that we had seen Jack the week before; that Vickie's church supported her in the hours before the family arrived; that Jack was so fondly remembered by so many; that we were able to stay a day later than everyone and sort of ease the transition, a little, to the emptier house. We're getting together again this weekend to celebrate Jack's mother's 86th birthday, and Claire's 8th (the same day). Vickie's 2 other daughter-in-laws are both expecting babies soon- a girl in July and a boy in October (Jack's birthday month), so she will have some beautiful and welcome distractions. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to spend time with a huge extended family and that James has such excellent employers. His company sent a huge edible fruit arrangement to the house in San Antonio!

Jack. Such an Eeyore sometimes! Loved Battlestar Gallactica. Would get Starbucks coffee refills by bringing in his paper cup from earlier. Loved his Dalmation. Called me "James' wife" and never really accepted the idea that his son, fifth generation Texan, married a Yankee. Gonna miss him.