It’s Saturday again. Saturday nights are the worst for me. Although Kramer died on a Sunday, memories always come to me on Saturday. He’d want it to be remembered as the Sunday. He fought hard to live until Sunday.
That last week Kramer was with us was a bit of a whirlwind. The Sunday before on the May 26th he started talking about how he wanted to go to the Memorial Day observance here in town. He had never gone as he was always farming. This is the year he was going to go. He could so he was going to….so Kelli and I started scrambling. We knew he needed a wheelchair. She could borrow one. We knew he needed oxygen, we could get a bag to hook on the wheelchair. We did what we could to try to make it work.
Memorial Day came. We started getting things in place. He was dressed and then “had a spell” only to realize he wasn’t well enough to go. He was so bummed.
Tuesday came. Kayla was suppose to drive him to Lacrosse but I could see that Kramer wasn’t well enough for anyone but me to take him. That was the day of the PET scan and when we found out he only had a few weeks to live. Here’s the post on that if you missed it. I didn’t tell all of you until Friday. I had blog posts already scheduled and I needed a bit of time.
On Tuesday the scrambling started. We had these things on our list:
-Schedule baptism for Georgia and Gannon. We had scheduled it before but we had cancelled due to Kramer being sick. Get it done ASAP.
-Get a cemetery plot
-Call the minister
-Talk to Kramer’s boss
-Get Karl home (he got home Thursday)
-Get family pictures
-get our will revised
So we started that night with the cemetary plot. That was a few phone calls and a trip to the cemetery. At first it was only Kalissa and I going. In the end Kramer decided he wanted to go too.
He picked a spot and then asked me it that was okay. I told him, I didn’t care. I’ve never really cared where he went. I only knew that wherever he did go, I wanted to go with him…so if that’s where he picked and that’s where I’ll be going with him when the time comes. I’m so glad he came with. It was another touching time between us that I’ll always remember.
Wednesday Kramer, the kids and I started making funeral plans. The girls scrambled and figured out how to get off work. In the evening he met with his boss. It was so good from Kramer. It was good closure that he needed. His boss was great to him.
Thursday came around. Karl made it home. It was lawyer day. We knew immediately that morning that Kramer would not be able to go to the lawyer. He had gone down hill considerably. He was fine to be home but traveling – not even the 15 miles- was something he could do. It was then that I contacted his family and said if you want to see him, you need to come soon.
The hospice nurse also came on Thursday. That took a bit. We were so happy that we got a nurse we knew. She was kind and super considerate. She laid things out for us with meds and supplies.
Kramer’s family came. They had a wonderful visit. At the time others were in and out and I never got to visit with them much. All I know is Kramer was so glad they came.
That evening Kalissa scheduled someone to come and take pictures.
I’ll admit. We all were a little frustrated with Kalissa. This was super important to her but not so much to the rest of us. The spouses had to get off work early and everyone scrambled to make it happen. We had the best photographer. I promise to show the pictures off sometime. They are still a little hard to look through. The one above is one she took. She’s considered a lifestyle photographer and I finally actually liked the pictures.
That night we burned the couch. I got my turn to say what I need to say to him. He got his chance to say what he need to me. (Read about that here if you missed that) In retrospect, I’ll always be glad that stupid couch broke and we burned it.
Friday the minister came. We made the funeral plans with him official. Kramer had a good talk with him. We had communion as a family here at our house.
Buck and Karl drove to Cedar Rapids and quickly mowed all of the lawns he has in his lawn care business. The plan was for them to come home Saturday after they were all done.
The firemen and first responders came that evening. (Read about that here if you missed it.) I will always remember this very fondly.
Saturday came….Kramer was again worse. I really didn’t know what to expect. Would he lapse into unconsciousness? How would IT happen? I started to not feel really good about things so I called Buck and Karl to tell them that I wasn’t sure but that Kramer had gotten worse. The boys finished up the lawns and drove home as quickly as they could.
Kramer slept most of Saturday. We had visitors come. Kramer asked not to see them. He said he didn’t want them to remember him like this. He wanted them to remember him picking rock with the tractor like the visitors often did. Then in the afternoon when the boys got here he woke up and acted totally like his normal self. He got up and was at the computer desk. He talked and visited with us all. One odd thing he said was that when he looked outside, it all looked white. Then at supper time, he was back to mostly sleeping.
That night when I went to bed I held his hand and talked to him. I told him if he needed me to have Kalissa wake me up. I made him promise if he needed me, he’d have Kalissa come and get me. He did. Kalissa and Kelli had been taking turns sleeping on the couch and keeping an eye on him overnight. It’s great to have nurses in the family. I remember it being shortly after 10 when I went to bed.
I woke up at about 11:30pm and laid there not sleeping and contemplating my current life. I had a house full of people. My husband was downstairs in the process of dying. It was icky and good all at the same time. I had people who mattered with me. My husband was leaving the world on good terms. I imagined a long and slow death….sitting at a bed…watching him gasp. I feared that Carver would be here and witness it.
Then I heard feet on the stairs. I looked at the clock. 11:58pm. Kelli was sleeping in my bed with Carver too. I quickly got up so Carver wouldn’t wake up. Kalissa said, “Mom, Dad wants you.”
We grabbed my robe and went downstairs. I sat by him. He had his eyes closed. I asked him if he needed anything. He said, “No.” Kalissa was giving him morphine as directed by the hospice nurse. I asked her if he had been like this long. She said only a bit. She had debated on whether she should come get me but then Kramer asked for me so she had gotten me. I noticed his breathing was a little uncomfortable so Kalissa went and got more morphine. Then Kramer asked me, “what time is it?” I thought that was a weird question but it seemed important to him. I told him it was shortly after midnight.
When Kalissa got back I told her that Kramer wanted to know what time it was. She looked at her watch and then told her it was 12:14am. A minute or so after his breathing was worse. Kalissa called the hospice nurse and got permission to increase the dose.
About then any doubt in Kalissa’s or my mind was gone. He was dying right in front of our eyes.
My mind was screaming – this is so hard. I don’t know how long I can watch this….the rest of me was trying so hard to make my body and motions be at ease so Kramer felt comfortable to go and so I’d be a support to Kalissa.
About then we noticed that Kramer was slouched a little and looked uncomfortable. We talked between the two of us that we needed to lift him into a better spot. Kramer said, “I can do that”, and he pushed up with his arms and scooted himself back.
I grabbed his hand and told him it was okay. He could go. I promised to take care of the kids. I promised to take care of everything. Kalissa grabbed his other hand. She promised him that she’d take care of me.
Kramer said, “I’m going now.”
The three of us grabbed hands. Kalissa and I said the Lord’s Prayer. Kramer took a couple big breaths and passed away.
Kalissa checked Kramer with his stethoscope and said he was dead. I’m pretty sure it was at about 12:20pm. The official death certificate says 12:53am but that was pronounced by the hospice nurse once she got to our house.
Of all the imagining I did, I never imagined this. This was a good passing if there is such a thing. To this day I can’t believe he said, “I’m going now.” I can’t believe he knew. This has brought me such comfort. Even though the cancer was getting him….he chose to go. Cancer didn’t steal Kramer away from me. Kramer chose.
I am so thankful I was there to the very end. I’m so glad Kalissa was there with me. The two of us will always be bonded over Kramer’s passing. If there ever was a doubt in my mind that she was still just a kid, how good, strong, supportive and kind she was, blew any notion of her not being an adult away.
Kalissa turned off his oxygen and I asked her, “Why do you think it was a big deal for him to know what time it was?” Kalissa said, “He wanted to make it to Sunday for the baptism. It was the last thing on that list we made of things we were trying to put together before he passed away.”
So after I told the other kids Kramer had passed, we got together. Kalissa and I told the story of his passing. Someone asked if we were going to cancel baptism which was scheduled for that afternoon. We all decided no. Kramer fought hard to make to Sunday. He wanted the babies baptised. They were going to be baptised.
Today marks four weeks since I told him to have Kalissa come get me if he needed me. Every Saturday night as I climb the stairs to go to bed, this all replays in my mind. For me…I often think that he passed away on Saturday…but then I am quickly reminded that he asked the time. It was 12:14am when he did. My Kramer chose to go and he chose Sunday not Saturday.