I am a 57 year old mixed-signal integrated circuit designer in Beaverton, Oregon, which is about 10 miles west of Portland. My personal web page is http://www.keithl.com/. You can call me at (503) 520-1993, but be aware that I am hard of hearing.
I was fortunate to spend most of Cathy's last two weeks with her. In November, Cathy was diagnosed with anemia, which along with her CongestiveHeartFailure, and lung damage from her smoking early adulthood, was starving her for oxygen. Dr. Siqueira prescribed weekly epogen injections to bring her blood count back up. Her blood count stayed low, and on December 21 we admitted her to St. Vincent Hospital for two days to get blood transfusions. She was home (ChristianaAdultFosterCare) for Christmas, and Lori and I had dinner and opened presents with the other residents. Char was back east taking care of her mother, returning on January 1.
On Monday December 27, Cathy relapsed; she could no longer walk or hold up her mysteries book for reading. I had bought her a bookstand, but she could not even read with that. So I read her a few chapters (note: most mysteries sound much more lame when spoken than when read fast).
On Tuesday December 28, she was worse. Cathy signed the papers for hospice, and saw Jim Ruyle, the assistant minister from her church.
I spent the morning attempting to locate the low-cost crematory service she requested. I found an interesting organization called the Funeral Consumers Alliance, whose Oregon chapter has low cost, honest contracts for members with local providers. Membership costs only $15, but takes about a week to process. I signed Cathy up, on the remote chance she might have a week. When I returned that afternoon, Cathy was slipping in and out of coma. My sister LoriLofstrom was there, and we spent the evening with her. Cathy came briefly out of coma and we said our goodbyes at 8pm. Lori stayed in our spare bedroom overnight. Cathy died peacefully at 200am on Wednesday December 29.
We still had no arrangements, but at 230am the kind folks at Providence Hospice connected us with Autumn Funeral and Cremation, who faxed us a contract and other information pages; we were signed up and the remains were on their way by 330am. Their prices were as low as the F.C.A.contract price, and they behaved very caringly and professionally. I recommend them -- and I recommend avoiding the need for them .
I won't be macabre and put a picture of the container on this page; it is not flashy but it will look proper at Cathy's service. We will scatter some of Cathy's remains in the garden at Christiana, some in Forest Park, and some at the coast if permitted.
There has been some weeping at the oddest times, and there will more be later; for the most part I just soldier on and take care of the things that need taking care of. Cathy and I had wound down her affairs over the last two years; her condo was sold in 2002, her car given to friends, much of her furniture to Lori, and the accumulation of a lifetime mostly already dealt with. She left good and simple instructions, and her records are in order. Cathy knew she was living on borrowed time, and minimized the impact of her passing. We are still tracking down an asset or a bill or two, and making a lot of phone calls to distant relatives and friends, but having practiced these motions in my head for some time, the reality is familiar and strange at once.
Cathy was a regular and welcome burden; she is released, and there are other burdens waiting. My friends are also losing their parents (two in the last two weeks), and our time is coming as well. [keithl@kao wikiraw]$