(Originally posted on Facebook and duplicated here for legacy).
I couldn’t decide whether to write on Facebook about this because at this moment it seems so beneath the magnitude and depth of gratitude mixed with sadness I feel.
Proper etiquette says no. My brain says don’t do it. My heart is elsewhere. But the writer in me says “I can’t not.”
A very good pal of mine died yesterday.
I’m not a doctor, but my cousin is a doctor and a pathologist. She long ago said that when a hip breaks in an older person, it usually breaks and leads to the fall — it is not the fall that causes the break.
She said it is the body’s signal that it is ready for eternal rest.
For my pal, at the moment of break a few weeks back, there was no fall, it just broke. It took two surgeries to put it together in a way that would not cause him to suffer. Then the unfortunate happened: he was exposed to the Coronavirus at the rehab center to where he was moved. He contracted Covid-19. Shit.
All of us assume this expedited his death.
He hung in for as long as it took to hear by phone from each of his sons with wives by their side. My daughter and I shared an earbud on our iPhone while we talked to him. I am his daughter-in-law and he is my daughter’s grandpa.
The nurse in the hospital’s COVID ward was kind and would make sure that each of us was able to talk through the phone to him as the oxygen machine gushed in the background… and as he drifted in and out of consciousness.
After his 5th of 5 sons drove from New York to Maryland and was allowed to actually see him, he passed away the following morning. This is just like my father-in-law, Bobby. Stubborn to the very end. He would not leave until he heard from each son.
My heart is destroyed. I thought I had this. There have been weeks to prepare. I used those weeks to lift the spirits of as many of my brothers & sisters-in-law, and nieces & nephews as I could. I would check-in, send silly comments, funny photos, and do whatever a person can do from across an ocean, quarantined with no flights in, no flights out.
Sometimes when someone dies “you know it has happened.” I didn’t feel it. My sister-in-law let me know in a call to Spain from the States… thank goodness. Bobby’s daughters-in-law do a superb job of keeping in touch.
So much good was Bobby Jacobi.
After he became a widower, following the long illness of Susan, I would visit as often as I could. I had the privilege to stay with him weeks at a time.
Together, we navigated the ins-and-outs of how to run a washing machine, how to properly wash the dishes, how *NEVER* to use the stove, oven, or dishwasher. We were sure he would burn down the house. The microwave is a-okay.
I tidied up his life one room at a time. It drove him nuts when I moved an item from where he expected it to be.
After I totally cleaned out the garage from years of accumulated “we may need this someday” clutter, he was determined to always park his car in the space provided. He was really crappy at this.
One morning he discovered that the passenger side of his car had been scraped from headlight to back bumper. “Who did this and left the scene?” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it might have been his car’s driver.
When the state of Maryland took away his driver’s license, I would chauffeur him to the grocery store or doctor or gym. Many times I did not take the route he thought was best. Due to hearing aids, he didn’t know that my iPhone Siri was providing better directions in real-time. On one of these occasions he yelled at me and we got into a fight at a stoplight. It was a bad day. He hurt my feelings so much and made me angry.
The next morning, he came down the stairway to the breakfast room where I was nursing a drip-coffee. He apologized to me. He had tears in his eyes. This made me cry too. From that point forward we both had a deeper understanding of each other and this is when I feel we became very good pals. Like, you know, pals-pals, instead of daughter-in-law / father-in-law.
He trusted me. And I tried to never let him down.
I hope he understands why I can’t be there for his funeral on Sunday… it’s not because I don’t know the best route to get there.