My wife's father John Ely died at our house on Friday. He had cancer and we have (had) been taking care of him the last several weeks with help from Hospice. Thursday night all the family was around him telling stories and having a great time while he rested. We think he knew we were all there.
Friday morning my wife thought it was going to be OK for me to go teach so I went to school. Her brother and sister and were there. But I did something I don't ordinarily do and that is leave my cell phone on while I lectured. Sure enough right as I was starting my 11:00am class the phone vibrated and it was my wife telling me he had died.
She had told the rest of the family to go out for breakfast and she would watch him and had just gotten herself something to eat and put on some bluegrass music on for him when he had a couple of rattling breaths and he died. By the time I got home he was laid out and the Hospice people including the chaplain had arrived. As I type this in our master bedroom where he died, everything is quiet. My wife is in bed and I think when death comes I hope it comes to me as gracefully as for John Ely and with my family around as well.
One of the stories I remember was about the time the power company sent the "Electric police" to check on him. He was so frugal with his use of power that the utility thought that he was stealing electricity from the neighbors or that his meter was broken. In fact having seen how he lived...he defined frugal living. Those yuppie advocates of simple living can't hold a candle to him. Yet he had a sense of grace and humor right up to the end.
Both my parents are gone and that leaves such a hole in the mind that it never fills completely, and that loss hits at unexpected times and I see the same thing with my wife. She was fine until she came into this room last night and just couldn't take it knowing how much life there had been just the night before. Right now it is so quiet but I think it will be awhile before we are able to sleep here again.