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.