Figuring It Out As I Go…

{January 17, 2007}   I Miss You So Much…

I kept looking at my laptop yesterday, thinking I should post something about you. I’ve never had a problem sitting down and writing about how you were doing, and how your disease was progressing. After watching you take your last breath yesterday though, I’ve found it not so easy. Just opening this window, and knowing I was going to write about you, made me start crying. I’ve never cried as hard as I did when you stopped breathing. Even though we knew it was going to happen, and that it was going to happen anytime. It’s why we were there in the hospital with you, because we knew this was the end.
But seeing my Aunt Betty collapse onto your chest and finally start sobbing; well, I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I ran out to my car, slipping on the ice and snow, and just started sobbing. Sobs that sounded like screams and felt like my chest were turning inside out with each one.
I went back in, and we sat with you for a while, talking to you, holding your hands, kissing you, talking to each other. Finally, we knew it was time to go, and let the hospital staff do their jobs. I stood there staring at you, and I swear your chest was moving, you were breathing. But you weren’t. It was my own selfish, wishful thinking. I know you’re so much happier now. You’ve been in pain and confused for too long. You’re now back to being the larger than life Uncle Bill I’ve always known and loved. You’re back to being the gruff man who didn’t much care for kids, but would rock my baby Ariel for hours and hours and hours, and bite my head off if I wanted to go lay her down.
You and Ariel and your grandson Blair always had such a great relationship! They both thought you walked on water, and you could make anything fun for them. Just throwing dirt or kicking rocks took on a whole new meaning when they did it with you!
I remember when I was 3 or 4, and I did what I wasn’t supposed to, and I ended up getting hit by my cousin racing his bike. It knocked me unconscious , split my eye wide open, and left me with lots of bumps and bruises. Aunt Betty doctored me up and lay me on the couch next to you. I remember waking up, and the first thing I saw was the football game on TV. You looked over at me and said “You won’t do that again will you?” I don’t remember my answer, if any, but I curled up in your lap and went back to sleep.
The last couple of years haven’t been that man though. You started off by forgetting things; little things, like where you put your keys. But then you started driving places, just in town, and not knowing where you were or why you went there, and then after a while, you didn’t know how to get home either. So Aunt Betty had to take away your keys, which didn’t work because you’ve always been smart as hell, and you’d find them and the first thing you’d do is go off driving. So Aunt Betty sold your truck. God, I’ve never seen you so mad as you were then! But you forgot, as was normal with the disease…you forgot you’d ever had a truck, or that she’d sold it.
When Aunt Betty made the decision to move you guys up to Shingletown, I was so sad and worried and happy, all at the same time. Sad because I wouldn’t be able to stop in and see you guys whenever I wanted, worried because I thought it might make your mind worse to take you to a different environment, and happy because every time Aunt Betty talked about the move, she was so happy to be getting out of this area and getting to be closer to her daughter and 3 grandchildren!
The kids and I came up there to see you guys as much as we could. Ariel’s favorite thing was taking you to play in the snow with us, because you’d push them down little snowy hills on their sleds and throw snowballs at them. Our lat trip to the snow with you in January was a little scary. You kept wanting to walk out onto the highway, and I kept telling you you couldn’t. I was getting really worried that if I turned my back you’d try to cross the highway. Finally you got mad at me and said “Do you want me to just pee right here??” Apparently you had to pee, but it took you a really long time to get the words out. I almost started crying right there on the spot!
It wasn’t but maybe a month after that that we had to put you in the home. I thought that was the hardest thing any of us would ever have to do. My naive mind refused to believe that this meant you were getting worse, and fast. I refused to believe you would ever die.
And then I got a call at work on Monday that you were rushed to the hospital and not expected to live more than 2 hours. Your blood pressure was 70/0. I started crying and told my boss I had to go and I wasn’t sure when I’d be back. I raced up there, calling when there was phone service, and finding out that you were holding on.
A little over 4 hours later, I got to you. I walked into the hospital room, and it didn’t even look like you, not at all. I started bawling all over again, having thought the 4 hours of crying on the way there would drain me. But no, seeing you there, that was real, and it wasn’t something I was ready for.
After a few hours, nothing had changed. You hadn’t gotten better, but you hadn’t gotten worse either. My cousin (your granddaughter) Mellisa and I, refused to leave, and made the “adults” go to the hotel and get some rest. We got out Mellisa’s straightening iron (has she told you she’s just finished cosmetology school??) and she set out to straighten my ever so curly and thick hair. All the while, we were both facing you, watching you, making sure the rattle never left your chest, because it had become the thing that made you ok (in our minds).
My hair turned out great, and now touches my butt because it’s straight. I love it so much, and Melissa is going to do it permanently on Saturday for me. Every time I look at it, I’ll remember you, and that night. But that was an ok time, because you were there, and you were holding on.
By morning, I wasn’t sure what you were waiting for, but it was clear that you were waiting for something. You were breathing so hard, the rattle had gotten louder, and you were losing the color in your face. Finally Aunt Betty and Cheril got on either side of you, and I stood rubbing your leg. Aunt Betty told you it was ok to go, that your parents were waiting for you, and that she’d see you soon. She told you how much she loves you, and always has. I just kept telling you it was ok. I don’t know what was ok, but it was ok…you were ok, and we were ok. Finally, Cheril kissed your cheek, and told you that we would all take care of Mom (Aunt Betty to me). All of a sudden your breathing slowed, then stopped, within minutes. That’s all you needed to know, that the love of your life was ok, and was going to be taken care of.
I’ve never seen my Aunt Betty cry like that, and my own chest has never hurt so badly. I kissed your cheek, told you I love you, and went outside for a minute, which is where this tribute to you comes full circle.
I love you so much; so much more than I thought or knew or could comprehend. Watching you go, seeing Aunt Betty’s pain, and feeling my own heart literally hurting so badly…none of those compared to when we finally left, and we had to leave you there. We don’t get to see you again, except in our pictures and in our hearts and our minds’ eye.

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Such a handsome man! Nov. 2005

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All of us, Jan. 2006

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Playing in the snow Nov. 2005

I love you so much, and you are already so missed! I hope you’re fishing, just like Ariel prayed for for you. I love you…


Traveling Chica says:


Sorry to hear about your loss. From your post, he sounds like an amazing man.

SaM-GiRL says:

Wow…… your blog really touched me… I came into work really happy today, thinking that if anybody wanted to mess with me they’d sh!t! and here I read a normal blog, and my whole heart crumbles… and my eyes get all damp…..he sounded like a beautiful man… im sure there are many other people that will miss him, as it sounds like he was the kind of man that touched alot of lives!!! Hope you guys will be fine, keep an eye on your aunt.

Nosjunkie says:

You hear so many words when a loved one passes, this is because people fix things with words..
I offer you no words Only wishes that your hurt may heal and the sun in your days may return..

THE J Mo says:


Grooviechick says:

*HUGS* I’m here for you, if you wanna chat. You and your family are in my thoughts. Love ya lots chicky!

Dan says:

Arlene, my deepest condolences to you and your family. I know what you’re going through sweetie. I lost my dear father the week before Christmas. And then my dear Aunt Kate (who was like a second mother to me) died this past Friday. Two within a month. It’s very tough.

I’m giving you a big, warm hug right now. You are loved, as was your uncle.

Bone says:

Sorry for your loss, B.

Those are wonderful memories you have though.

Tammy says:

I am so very sorry for your loss. He sounded like a GREAT man.

suburban mom says:

Awww, what wonderful memories you have of such a special person.

shellibells says:


that is such a great post, i hope your memories help to ease some of your pain!

The Kept Woman says:

Awwww crap. I’m crying here.

That’s just a sucky, sucky thing but I love this tribute and totally think you should print it to save to share with future family members who didn’t get the chance to meet Uncle Bill.

My heart breaks for your Aunt Betty.

Malnurtured Snay says:

I wish I knew what to say, except that I think in situations like this — my grandmother suffered from alzheimer’s before dying — I really think its better for a quick and sudden death, instead of what is essentially a slow and drawn out process. I’m sorry for your loss, but at least you have your memories of him to comfort you.

Connie says:

What a wonderful memory you have of him. Keep his spirit alive for you children of him. Hugs.

kate says:

gosh… id even know you and I am crying for your loss… probably a bit for my losses too… I think these things bring up all that in our hearts.

There isnt anything anyone can say to make it better for you. Death just sucks for the ones who are left behind.

It was a lovely post and a great tribute. He looks like he was quite a character.

be sure to take time for yourself over the next few months… grieving is a real process and it takes time.

I’m not a real huggy person, but I would give you a big one if I were there.

Robyn says:

I’m sorry.

Kami says:

So, so handsome. I am so sorry for your loss. ((((HUGS))))

Arlene says:

You guys are so amazing! Thank you so so so much!

Rach says:

Oh I’m so sad for you. I’m bawling because this situation really hits close to home, tho my Dad isn’t close to passing but does suffer with Alzheimers.

*big hugs* He looks like such a fun and loving man.

Carlos says:

Aww….Shit Arlene. There ya went and brung a couple of tears to my eyes. I’m glad you could be there with Uncle Bill when he left. I was there when my Mom did in November of 2004. It wasn’t easy, just as it wasn’t easy for you; but I’m glad I could be there to see her off. Some day it won’t make me sad to think of. Uncle Bill was fortunate to have you and Ariel in his life.

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