Friday, June 01, 2012

Family Matters

Ruth with Dad in 2006.
As you may know if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, my stepmother, Ruth Funk, died this morning. She was a good egg. Married to my Dad since the late 1970s, she had a great relationship with him, much better than my Mom ever had. With Ruth at his side, Dad mellowed considerably and enjoyed a long, happy, healthy partnership until last year, when Dad had a stroke and fell into dementia. Until then they had a very active retirement, full of friends and charitable work.

Ruth had suffered from a painful but mysterious urinary tract condition for years, about which she seldom if ever complained. Last month, signs of internal bleeding sent her to the doctor for tests. Result: cervical cancer. I think this was her second week of combined chemo and radiation treatment. When I spoke with her on Monday she was gamely trying to force food and stop the unwanted and dangerous weight loss.

Given Dad's dementia, it's hard to be sure just what happened this morning. Dad told me that he got up around 6 AM and went into the kitchen, where Ruth was in a chair, bent over and vomiting. He tried unsuccessfully to help and they ended up on the floor together. He tried to prop up her head but she breathed out, a long sigh, with no intake of breath to follow. That's when he called my stepsister Jan, who fortunately moved to Wilmington recently to be closer to her mom.

Ruth was my friend, advisor, advocate and ally, and I loved her. I'm flying out in a few days, not just for the funeral but also to consult with my two stepsisters about Dad's care. Ruth told me a month ago that she had always assumed she would be around to care for Dad for the rest of his life. Now she won't be.

My brother was released from a ManorCare nursing facility yesterday, saw a doctor today and is trying to get moved into an apartment this weekend. He's still wearing a defibrillator/heart monitor vest until his cardiologist signs off on ditching it in a few weeks (we hope). I doubt that he's well enough to fly out for the funeral, even if he's so inclined, which he may not be.

John is willing to have us move into a bigger house that will accommodate Dad and Steve living here, if that turns out to be what's best for Dad. I doubt it will happen, but it's a generous thought.



barrettmanor said...

I missed that this morning, Karen. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Jama said...

Deepest condolences to the family, may she rest in peace.

Carly said...

Hi Karen

So sorry about all you are going through, don't make any snap decisions, explore all options. Sometimes a skilled facility is best for everyone. 24 hour care and being able to rest assured they are never alone.

Take care of yourself, I will keep you guys in my thoughts.