"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Monday, June 15, 2009


I am very thankful that I returned home when I did. I was sleeping beside my husband when the call came, at about 12:35 this morning--his brother informing us their father passed away in hospital in South Carolina.

In recent weeks my father-in-law, a tough New England Yankee, had endured a difficult time and many challenges. A combination of conditions prevented him from recovering from the surgery he had over a week ago. At age 87, and despite the vigor he displayed in advanced age, it was increasingly obvious that time was running out. Over the past month he had visits from his daughter (when still at his retirement home), my husband (when in hospital but discharged from ICU), and his other son (who was there for the final days of tranfers from various care units and all the medical interventions.)

My brother-in-law returned to his PA home last night. There was a conference call in the evening with the 3 siblings, to prepare them. Except that nobody is ever prepared, really, to lose a parent. Or so it seems. I feel blessed to have mine still, and spoke to them this morning.

When the D-Day observances took place last weekend and commentators spoke of the diminishing population of veterans, I was all too aware of the precarious state this particular aged vet who had arrived in France from the UK a few days after that famous landing. Now there's another loss from that brave contingent, a man who personified the Greatest Generation in all the best ways. Son, soldier, husband, father, businessman. It was quite a journey, from lovely Salem, MA to the war-torn Europe to North Carolina (where he met and married a Southern beauty), to Milwaukee where he built a career and where his three children were born, to retirement in North Carolina, to the hospital across the state line where the long and well-lived life ended. And of course, the countless summers at the New Hampshire lake cottage, winter recreation on the frozen lake, autumn foliage--making the most of that very special spot we all cherish.

We don't yet know the exact time of death but likely it was after midnight. There's a certain comfort in his leaving us today--the birthday of his first wife, my husband's mother, who died 20 years ago. He leaves behind a widow.

The Chap stayed home from the office today. Lots of phone calls ahead, arrangements to be made long-distance, and informing far-flung relatives and friends, most of whom won't be expecting this unhappy news.

I'll say it again. I'm very thankful I'm back home at the Lodge and not in Chicago or even up at the lake cottage. There's not much I can do, I speak what comfort I can, but just being here with the Chap right now is so necessary.

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