Friday, April 05, 2013

Very Sad Day

Late yesterday afternoon when we arrived home we had two messages, both breaking the sad news that Dad had died. His 95th birthday was coming up this summer, but it still is very hard to process such news. I never wept when my own father died. He was 89 and had been in a virtual drug-induced coma because of pain, so I was relieved. Hearing the news of Dad yesterday was entirely different. We had been visiting with them out at their Allendale farm the previous night. Both of them were so chipper and eager to hear our news and tell stories of old times. And then less than 20 hours later he had taken his flight to join his daughter Myra Jean (John's dearly departed second wife) in heaven. Dad is Albert Kraker, John's second father-in-law, whom I've known less than nine years.

Last night we were out at the farm again, this time with the family. Mom, stoic as always, told the story almost matter-of-factly. After we had shared coffee and cookies with them and left the previous night, he had his usual bowl of ice cream and they went upstairs to bed. They woke up as usual, had breakfast, went through the usual morning duties, had lunch, laid down for their usual nap, got up, and got good clothes out to dress for a funeral at church. Mom showered, then Dad. He came out, dried off, sat down on a chair, and she helped him get his underwear on and bound up his perpetually sore toe. He commented that he could not even take a shower anymore without feeling tired. He was sitting right there in the chair and he put his head back and his mouth fell open. Mom asked if he were all right. He didn't answer. She asked again and again and asked if she should call an ambulance. No answer. The Apostle Paul said: Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new---perhaps not in that context, but it fits in this context. If the details appear to be too private to post, all I can say is that to me these details comprise a beautiful story of mutual care-giving that continued for more than seventy years to the very moment of til death do us part. 

Mom's telling the story mater-of-factly does not remotely imply that she does not feel indescribable pain. How often we spoke of theirs as the perfect marriage. Their different personalities blended so perfectly together. Mom is feisty and outspoken, and we adore her. Dad is the gentlest, sweetest man you could ever know---never an unkind word for anyone. The photo makes him look sterner than he actually is. They always tell funny stories. The night before last, one was about son Ivan's taxidermy efforts as a kid. How we laughed. Another story was about an unbelievably ugly critter in Mom's hen house. (She was always the queen of the chicken coop!) Anyway, she was afraid to even go inside, chomping the bit until Dad came home from the field. He arrives home, thinking she's making a big deal out of nothing and simply goes in and comes out carrying an opossum by the tail. It was left to Mom to clean up all the cracked eggs and dirty mess left behind. Oh, what fun hearing that story after so many years in their memory banks. And how we will miss those visits to the farm and hearing those tales of old told by the two of them. We love you, Dad, more than words can ever say.