Friday, October 26, 2007

Marcella Armstrong's Journal, Installment 9

Dick had a second heart attack December 10, 1976. I had taken him to Dr. Gordon Massey, who said to take him to Hamot Hospital. Dr. William Underhill happened to be in the emergency room and became his doctor. In a hospital room Dick went into an attack. The "blue team" was caled and with electric paddles brought him out of it. He was in Intensive Care for several days. Then in a semi-private room he began to walk with a nurse in the hall. He came home the day before Christmas.

While he was waiting to come home, he realized that his roommate was in trouble. He called a nurse, who immediately called the blue team. Dick saved his life.

But all of the weeks into Spring Dick wasn't well. He would sit up many nights with hearburn and pain. Why didn't we find help then? He saw Dr. Massey many times. Dr. Massey called it diverticulitis. and later pneumonitis. He was not thorough enough.

Finally in April Dr. Massey realized that he was very sick so he sent Dick to Radiology Associates on _April 13th_. Dr. Underhill was determined that he would find the trouble. Blood work, then x-rays. They showed that Dick had cancer which had spread from the colon to the liver. It was too late. There was nothing that could be done. He was sent home.

My brother Joe Clarke and William Hiller from Westfield drove to Erie and brought Dick home. He was very, very ill -- and kept falling. That was _April 23rd_.

Susan and I tried to care for him. Susan had to work daytimes and couldn't stay up all night. We couldn't lift him when he fell. Susan arranged with Homemaker Upjohn Agency to send nurses around the clock.

So that is what happened. I bought a comfortable chair for the nurses. They came and went -- very kind and efficient girls.

Joan flew here from Washington, D.C. She was met at the airport by Donald Campbell of our church.

Ruth and Ella Grace came. They talked to Dick only briefly. He knew them. But Joan felt so badly she couldn't to in to see him. She helped me and answered the phone.

Reverend Baird came every day. He prayed with Dick and with us. The day came when he realized that Dick didn't know him.

Dick was so yellow. His abdomen was swollen and hard. He couldn't eat and soon he couldn't take medicine.

On May 3rd the North East Rescue Squad took him to Western Reserve Convalescent Home in Erie. Susan made the arrangements. The nurses were costing $1,000 a week.

I will _always feel badly_ that we took him away from home to a strange place where he knew nobody -- he must have realized. From May 3rd to May 8th, he was there. At 4:30 on Sunday morning, May 8, 1977, Susan received a phone call that he had died. Dear Dick.

Ella Grace, Ruth and Joan had gone home, but Joan, Don, Linda, Kathy and David drove here from Maryland. And Harrison flew from Eugene, Oregon. Joe and Clara met him in Buffalo. It was a sad time.

The following two years -- and more -- have been very lonesome. Susan and Ethel Wells have phoned every day. Susan has never left me alone on weekends or holidays. And Joan writes every week. They are the finest daughters that anyone could have. I will never like living alone.

Living Alone

Always I have seen homes where only one person lived, a widow or widower. I never wondered abouth is or her life. I never wondered how she spent her time. I never thought she might be lonely.

And now I am one of those... It is like a world set apart from the mainstream of life and activities of couples. There is so much silence unless I fill the air with stereo or radio music or TV.

When I close the drapes at night, I close out the world. Inside there's a small space with me and my thoughts -- and regrets -- and memories. There are the gost sounds of words said when my world was normal.

There is Dick's empty chair -- always to remain empty. There are his books, a notebook with pages in his writing: a schedule of what he planted in the garden -- with dates. There is the bookcase that he built in the basement. He had thought of standing it between the living room and dining area, making it a divider and more a continuing of the living room. He made the wood so smooth, satiny.

I try to find meaning for my life. I will keep going in the same direction as we did together. Curch, Bible study, prayer group, worship on Sundays, trying to keep friends.

To me, the church library is a ministry. To encourage someone to read the right book is a service. Perhaps I was getting ready for these years when I learned library procedure.

I am sort of "left over" from what used to be. Dick was the strong one, the intelligent and charming one, the one who was consulted and listened to. I think I am becoming stronger -- driving the car, managing the dividends which are accumulating; paying taxes; health, house and car insurance; writing letters; keeping the house.

Dick always said that he would die first. That is the reason for arranging his pension so that it would go on as long as I live, why he bought stocks and bonds. I do not have financial worries as long as I stay well. He was so good to take care of me.

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