2011 was one of the happiest, and busiest, years of my life. 2012 was the saddest.
My father's first visit to the hospital happened during my appearance at the Kentucky Book Fair in November 2011. I joked with the authors beside me that he was trying to weasel out of a heart cath, so he couldn't be that bad off.
At Christmas, it was clear that he was in trouble. He was physically miserable and unable to do much more than watch television. Gwen and I asked then if he needed us to move down to Florida to help out. He refused, saying he wasn't 'there' yet.
On February 26th, he arrived.
He collapsed at his computer, and Mother called 911. He spent the next month in the hospital, while Gwen and I gave quick notice at our jobs and packed up the house. We wouldn't have made it without the help of Gwen's family. They helped us pack, made repairs on the house, and took turns on the drive to Florida. They were truly wonderful.
We arrived to a mess. My parents' house, and their way of living, required severe adjustments. Dad was wheelchair bound, so we had the local handyman over to put in ramps. He also converted the enclosed bath into a walk-in so Dad could use a bench.
Most of the bill-paying and medication ordering had been done online by my father. We strongly suspect that he had a mini-stroke when he collapsed, because when he came home he was no longer able to use his computer. Gwen and I took those over, and now they are done mostly on paper so my mother can participate.
His health continued to decline, which you may have gathered from the obit I posted earlier this year. In many ways, his death was a mercy. It was a hard way to die, and I am grateful to Hospice for making it as comfortable as possible.
I didn't post much here, but I did share the harrowing experience with my friends on Facebook. So many of them offered their support and encouragement during the bad times, I could not name them all. During the final week in the hospice facility, several were posting cute kitten and puppy pictures nonstop on my wall because it was my only relief from the emotional blast furnace.
A number of arrangements and filings had to be made, and we're still making bureaucratic adjustments nearly four months later. Enough space has been opened up, though, to see our future, and we don't have one. Gwen has a part-time job, and I don't know if I have a real post-holiday job with Macy's yet. We have no savings left and no health insurance.
I'm still looking forward to 2013, though... because I'm damned glad 2012 is over.