Thursday, May 5, 2011

A "see you later" to a wonderful man

I have been absent from the kitchen for the last few weeks for a few reasons, and I know I already mentioned soccer being one of them. The other is that we have been spending the last few weeks with my father-in-law Norm.
On April 8, he had an accident and was admitted to a hospital in Lincoln and we thought it was all over that night. We were blessed with his recovery over the next few days. The next weekend, we went back up to Lincoln Friday night and were planning on leaving Saturday afternoon to get a few things done at home. Norris' aunt, uncle, and their two adorable boys had just come up and we hadn't gotten to really talk to Norm much with him being able to see and understand us, but we thought we had to leave. We left town and got 20 minutes outside of Lincoln, stopped for gas, and wound up driving straight back to where we came from. We couldn't leave. At the time we didn't know why but now I'm sure God told us exactly what to do (like He always does, but sometimes we don't listen...). We spent the evening with the family and when we arrived at the hospital the next morning, we met a friend in the parking lot who had just come out of Norm's room and said he was sitting in a chair, they shook hands, and he was doing really well. We were so surprised and all but ran up to his room to see this. When we got there, we were able to talk to him, touch him, and have him know we were there. We were able to tell him we love him and he was able to understand. We had no idea that would be the last time we would be able to do that.
He was moved to a rehab hospital a few days later and was really making progress. Unfortunately, at some point while he was lying in the bed there, he developed a blood clot in his brain that the doctors deemed inoperable. That was a Saturday, and we were back in Lincoln by 11 that night. They sent us to a room where we could all (including Norm) be comfortable. Over the next six days, we all took turns sitting with him, talking to him, and spending time with him. It was tough to watch, but we couldn't imagine that Norm would have done it a different way had any of us been in his place.
Friday, April 29 was the day Norm went on. We were all able to be in his room surrounding him with love as he passed. As hard as it was to be there, it was so important for us to be there. I have said this many times--as a Christian, I already believed that the body is just a vessel while you're here on this earth and the spirit passes on to leave the shell here when you leave this world. Never before have I actually experienced those words until April 29. I am able to confirm that there is no way we were watching Norm in the last ten minutes. His spirit had gone on and his shell was just finishing its job here on Earth. It was an incredible moment to be a part of and I am so thankful that God shows us that he takes care of our loved ones when they leave us. I will never forget that experience but will always remember Norm by the way he lived and loved, not by what we experienced that night.
Norm and Deb have always made me feel like their daughter rather than an "in-law". I have been incredibly blessed by all of Norris' parents and family members to feel like a full member of their family. Norm always had a smile and an incredible boisterous laugh to go with it. He always made sure everyone was comfortable and happy around him and wanted everyone to have a good time. As we kept saying this week--he worked hard and played harder. I never knew him in his working years, only in his retirement years, but I can see by what he has built and the people he knew that he worked really hard during those working years. He was a great man and will truly be missed.
We had services for him at their cabin on the lake and it was the most personalized service I have ever attended. Every detail was covered from the pallbearers' red ties (he was a big Husker fan) to the song selections by Deb. His friends did the service and they were great. At the graveside, another friend brought a riderless horse which was so thoughtful. We had a reception afterward at the country club, his next favorite place to be. The whole day felt like we were surrounded by Norm's spirit and for that I was thankful.
Norm, I love you and miss you. Thanks for the wonderful memories.


Macaroni and Cheesecake said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I will keep your family in my prayers.

Cassidy said...

Cara-I am so sorry to hear this but so glad you shared. What beautiful memories you made in the last few days you had with your FIL. I'll be thinking of you and Norris' family.

Amber said...

You wrote that beautifully... love you guys!!!

Anonymous said...

Well said, Cara. Thank you and love you. Thayne