Thursday, November 23, 2006

11/23 A sad way to note Thanksgiving

Last night we received a call from my brother Joe. He and Cindy had gotten a phone call from our brother Jim in Aurora. Katie, his m-i-l, died about an hour earlier. He and Karen were absolutely devestated of course. Katie's husband, Frank, must be in a state of shock.

Katie has had a tracheotomy for quite a while because of some major lung problems. She was always on oxygen, but when she slept or at other times when there were problems, the oxygen went directly into the trach. She's been in and out of ICU, but when at home you'd never know from her attitude that anything was wrong.

Karen's an only child (a far cry from Jim's experience), so I know this must be especially difficult for her. And Frank and Katie have been closer than ever since his retirement.

Jim will be profoundly affected too. He's the youngest of the nine of us, and our Mom died when he was 16. Katie took over the Mom role, and she and Jim had a beautiful relationship.

Death comes at inconvenient times. The day before Thanksgiving is a sucky time. Their holidays will be forever framed by this. Just as in our family--Mom died the day after Thanksgiving (1980) and Dad died New Year's Day (1986).

Katie is one of the kindest women I've ever met. Even when she just came home from the hospital she would always ensure that I was comfortable when visiting. So gracious and sweet.

I stayed at their home two weeks ago on my trek from Milwaukee. They live west of Chicago, so it was an easy stop. Katie was her usual beautiful self. Selfishly, I'm grateful that our last words to each other were "I love you." Those are the same last words I had with my own parents.

I'm going to do my best to fly to Chicago for the funeral. Hope to find out the details today so I can make the arrangements. The church will be packed. Katie retired as a teacher but she touched so many people, and they remember. She's a very loved woman.

'Bye, Katie. You made the world a better place.

9 comments:

Kelly said...

Well, that was the last thing I expected to read about when I read your blog this morning, Jer. I wish someone had told me. You wrote a beautiful post about her though. Karen and Jim, if you read this I'm so, so sorry for your loss. I know how special she was to both of you. You are in our thoughts!
Love you!

Cindy said...

Of course our hearts go out to Karen and Jim today also. I did not spend much time with Katey, but when you were with her she was warm and welcoming, always seeing to your needs. It was easy to see she was a devoted mother and wife. Karen can be so proud that she was given the opportunity to give her mom so much care these last years. I know she will continue to give the same support to her dad as they deal with the grief of losing someone so dear to them.

Jer said...

Oh, Kelly, I'm so sorry you found out this way. I told Rob and Beata last night, and I called Jill too. Your folks must have known you would be asleep so they didn't call you. Jane just found out this morning too because she was asleep when Joe called, so Pete told her when she woke up.

Jer said...

Yes, Cindy. I know Karen and Jim will take good care of Frank.

Jeff said...

I'm very sorry to hear this sad news, Jer. You and your family will be in my prayers.

Jer said...

Thanks, Jeff. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

Beata said...

It was a shock, to all of us. Katey was a wonderful woman and we will miss her. Mom, I wish I could go to the funeral with you.

Jer said...

It's a long way to Chicago, Beatka. I know you want to go, but I know the family understands. Even most of the ones in Quincy aren't able to go.

David said...

My sympathies to Jer, Beata, and your whole family. Katie sounds like a wonderful person.