Saturday, November 7, 2009


 The sound of Taps snapped me out of the sorrowful reverie, interrupting recollections of the past 19 days. Beginning with the fall, followed two calls at work summoning me home and now ending with a funeral ceremony at the National Cemetery, the memories of the last few weeks were a blur of imagery and emotion.

The sound of people sniffling was the only sound I heard as I walked down the hall. An hour earlier, I had been at work, finishing up paperwork after an easy Sunday at the healing place. My phone rang as it usually does, the ring tone not indicating the serious nature of the call. I called the District Commander and arranged for coverage, then drove down to my in-laws house.

Then, as I listened to the sniffing of my weeping family, I dreaded going into the room and seeing the suffering of my father in law and the pain of my loved ones

My father in law had taken a turn for the worse. It was as if his fall had flipped a switch, causing him to realize that his fight with cancer was not to be won. He had grown weaker over the past months, his opponent beginning to overtake him. 

As I entered the room, I saw my children and their cousins weeping quietly in the dim light. My niece was holding one of  grandpa's hands, my wife the other - both with tears silently creeping down their faces. My father in law lay semi-conscious in his bed, aware of our presence, but unable to respond to our voices. This scene was just the beginning of a vigil that lasted 7 more days.

The following days were spent making grandpa as comfortable as possible while his condition worsened. Through it all, his tenacity was displayed by a few brief periods of lucidity and even fewer determined attempts to get up and use the bathroom. Toward the end, these periods decreased in occurrence and soon ceased altogether.

The second and final call came last Sunday night. As usual when something bad happens, I was at work. The call  was from my oldest son. His young adult voice told me that grandpa had passed, his struggle was finally over.

The past week was spent planning a funeral and starting the business of death. Finally, the arrangements were made and we were sitting at the National Cemetery, watching two U.S. Marines carefully fold the flag and present it to my brother in law.

The next phase will be the settling of the estate and tying up the many loose ends one leaves behind when they pass away. My in-laws were awesome in this regard, there are fewer loose ends than most people leave behind.

As with any human being, my father in law was not perfect. Yet he was loved and admired by many. He placed a high value on his family, had a great work ethic, was very generous and truly enjoyed people. We will miss him, even as we try to return our lives back to normal.

There are a few silver linings in this cloud. First of all, my father in law is no longer suffering. Second, the actions of my wife over the past weeks have reminded me why I chose to marry her so many years before. Her actions were selfless and truly displayed the nature of her loving character. I am blessed.

Thanks for reading,



  1. Tears are in my eyes.

    Prayers for you and your family at this time. Take care.

    The Observer

  2. My condolences. He is in a better place now!

  3. Cap - God Bless you and your family. I know how much this hurts. You'll be in my prayers.

  4. Dear Captain Schmoe,
    I am very sorry for your loss. Please extend to your wife and family also my condolences.

    Ann T.

  5. Cap,

    Just went through something similar with my dad. We weren't close, but watching someone die is never easy.
    We Marines do take care of our own.
    Semper fidelis,


  6. A belated thanks for the kind words. They helped us through these trying times.