As you can tell by the blurry picture, Dad was overweight. He had diabetes for the last 30 years. Despite this, he still loved sweets, but supplemented with Sweet’n’Low. He mostly kept it under control, despite his declining motivation to exercise.
Then, twice in ten days, we had to call ambulances to treat him for insulin shock. We have always thought low blood sugar was as dangerous as high, especially for someone Dad’s age. His specialist recently took him off a medication because it was no longer doing its job. But he was out of practice self-administering his own insulin.
(We got the following second-hand, so bear with me.)
Dad laid down after acting cranky with Mom, asking her to check on him in an hour. Maybe he thought he was over-tired? All I know is, when she checked on him, he had stopped breathing. She called 911 immediately, and the EMTs arrived soon after. But there was nothing they could do.
She called us after, while we were visiting our friends on Long Island, like we did most Saturdays. J was stoic right after he relayed the news; I, on the other hand, melted down for five solid minutes, full-on tears and screaming. I had joked earlier that, once, the only way any of us could move out of New York was after Dad had died. I was shocked at myself, that I had been joking about his death less than a few hours before he actually died.
Annie and Yvonne, however, both told me not to blame myself for that. Even now, over four months later, I wonder what could have been done differently. Should I have stayed home and made sure he was okay? Could I have called EMS when he started acting cranky? This was my first birthday without him, even though I was born on the “movable feast” that is Memorial Day, so he could never remember the exact date — or claimed he didn’t.
The rest of the night, until the coroner’s van could pick him up, we went through a cycle of numbness and tears. Mom had her best friend with her as she made calls to the family. (Turns out, for all five boroughs of New York City, there’s only ONE coroner’s van. It was two AM when Dad was finally taken away.) The next day, our friend John N., who runs a funeral home with his wife, walked us through the necessary paperwork for viewing, cremation, and funeral Mass. The days and weeks after, we were fairly inundated with condolence calls.
The worse calls to make were to old friends and Dad’s former co-workers. The worse one to come in was from a priest at one of Dad’s charities. He was returning a call Dad had made two weeks before and was finally returning it. I broke down again when I told him what had happened. He was nothing but sweet, saying how Dad was so proud of his son the published author (and I don’t blame him).
When the wake was finally held, a fair few former students came up to us and said how they wouldn’t have gotten through their particular programs without Dad on campus, giving them information and encouragement. But, as J pointed out in his eulogy, Dad would have just seen this as doing his job, and he was good at it.
What does this have to do with our moving woes? The buyer wanted us to move out the day after Dad’s funeral, less than a month later. J’s reaction was a simple “no”, if only because the movers he’d contracted with needed a two-week minimum notice to pack everything. (Again, the movers were a different problem.) We got in touch with everyone involved (the Buyer, Buyer’s lawyers, our lawyer, the moving company) and we kept to our original closing for the sale.
Then the movers came a day too early.