Back to STL

Tuesday —

Morning at Pop’s house.  Hospice care furnishings arrive.  I work on bills and beginning to sort through papers.  People are in and out. Linda Hodges (mother of childhood friends) brings hot homemade vegetable soup from her house a few doors away.

1.20 p.m.  Say ‘bye’ to Pop.  I don’t know if I will see him again on this earth, but I’m hoping he makes it to Sunday when I’m back again.

Drive back to Saint Louis. Talk to the lead hospice nurse en route.  Grab a quick nap  Conduct a fundraising gig Tuesday evening, with Webster University Chamber Singers, at the Missouri Athletic Club.

The evening report from Lee’s Summit is that Pop is running a temperature, but ate today, which is a good thing.  He’s ready for bed at 9 p.m., a highly irregular thing, but understandable.

Pop and Kristen.

My nurse-niece Kristen visited today, with her husband, from Columbia.  Her mother Karen said she was great with Pop, and this certainly cheered him today.

At some point in the next few days, he will go to sleep and not be able to be roused. His blood pressure will start dropping, and we will see other signs of approaching death.  All this in the sure and certain promise of resurrection and a welcome home: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

I’ve done all the crying I care to do today, so I shall stop writing.




Monday, my father signed hospice papers, and is now officially under the care of Crossroads Hospice in suburban Kansas City.

At some point between the time we visited on Sunday evening and the Monday morning, Pop decided that enough was enough, and that nature was going to do what nature wanted to do.  Acute myeloid leukemia is a really angry malignancy.

We talked with the oncologist (the wonderful Dr. Jacob Smeltzer) in early afternoon.  By 6 p.m. the chaplain was at the house, followed by the intake nurse.  I left the home at 9.40 p.m., and all was done.

Hospital furnishings arrive Tuesday.

LILYetal-web - 7

With my sisters Karen and Beth, and Pop. 23 Nov 2017.

This is surreal.  Less than six weeks ago, we knew nothing of this leukemia.  A routine blood check led in quick doctor visits to a cancer diagnosis, a round of chemotherapy, up days and down, and then a hospitalization this past week.

Pop is sapped.  We all are just emotional shells right now, doing what must be done.

We are of course folk of deep Christian faith, and while we don’t fear the Beyond, this transition is fraught with emotion.

I’m reminded of the words from a favorite hymn:

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom, and point me toward the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

And at some point in the next few days, I will be writing an obituary for my father.  I chose his casket already (pending approval from my sisters).

Pop’s brother and sister-in-law were in town this weekend, from their home in Joplin.  I watched today as they said goodbye to my father, knowing that this would be the last time they saw him alive.  And I finally shed some of my own tears.

What a strange journey this is.  And what an odd Christmas this will be.

Rough week

pop-in-his-chairMy father Richard had a rough week last week, spending the bulk of it in hospital with an undetermined infection in his blood.

Pop’s acute myeloid leukemia makes him particularly susceptible to any germ at all.  His white cells are practically non-existent, and the number of neutrophils on Tuesday last week was 1% of what a healthy person would have.

Less than four weeks after the official diagnosis, this infection hit, with a vengeance that included a 911 call and an ambulance ride.

Pop’s wife, Joanne, has carried on the hospital watch, and my sisters have been in and out every day.

So I am in Lee’s Summit this morning, having driven over on Sunday evening after the Webster University holiday concert, A Gift to the City. I’ll join Pop and Jo at the oncologist’s office on Monday.

We appear to have dodged further complications this time, but acute leukemia in an octogenarian is a nasty diagnosis, and I am mindful that we are one misplaced germ away from another infection.

Heavenly Father, giver of life and health: Comfort and relieve your sick servant Richrd, and give your power of healing to those who minister to his needs, that he may be strengthened in his weakness and have confidence in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Christmas tree

My Christmas tree is in a different spot in the living room this year.

As usual, my favorite ornaments are those made by those I love.  Aunt Esther’s hand-painted ornament has its usual place of honor:

And here is one of my mother’s ornaments from 1983:

And one that I made in 1st or 2nd grade, from a milk bottle top:

A week of shows

‘Tis a week for shows.

Monday night: Wind Ensemble at school.

Wednesday night: The King and I at the Fox, with my student Spencer Donovan Jones as one of the royal children.

Thursday night: Pattonville High School holiday concert, where Aaron Garner (voice student) had a solo, and I was collaborative pianist.

Friday night: back to the Fox to see Spencer the company again.

Saturday night: A Christmas Story at CBC High School, with three of my private voice students in the show.

Sunday afternoon: Webster University’s annual holiday concert, A Gift to the City, at Christ Church Cathedral.