I have the sad news of reporting that Bruce and Carol passed away the first weekend of July; Bruce of probable heart failure, and Carol of a stroke and multiple system failure. For the past year-and-a-half, Bruce had put his life on hold, moving-in and taking full-time care of our Mom after she had surgery on her back in the last month of 2009. She was able to get around somewhat using a walker, but really didn't feel like doing much more than spend her time in bed. After her surgery, she had started having small strokes, which had greatly diminished her short-term memory. Bruce was providing meals and other help that she needed, and she and Bruce had an incredible amount of help from her niece Christy, who came over often and helped her bathe, and helped Bruce take care of the house. Bruce's health had been deteriorating (mostly his heart) for quite a few years, and he had many other problems that troubled him. The city had demanded that he spend considerable time and money on his house, which was vacant and had been vandalized after he moved in to take care of Mom. Bruce had taken Dad's death in 2002 particularly hard, and he was further saddened, and really never got over the death of his best friend Chris Taylor, who passed away suddenly in March of 2010.
I had talked to Bruce in the afternoon on Friday, June 30th, and he seemed fine, although in retrospect he did seem to be upset. I called him later that evening, but he didn't answer (which wasn't unusual, since he often left his phone in his room.) I called him Friday, afternoon, and still didn't get an answer. I called Mom and talked to her for a while, and she was happy, and sounded about like she usually did. I asked if Bruce was there, and she said that she thought he had gone for a drive (which also wasn't unusual.) I tried calling him later that night, but still didn't get an answer. On Saturday, I had spent the morning working with our video-techs at the church, and called again as soon as I got home around noon. There was still no answer on Bruce's phone, so I called Mom's number, and the call went directly to voice-mail. This wasn't a good sign, since her phone will only do that if it's off-the-hook.
I immediately went-up to the house to see if everything was OK. Both cars were in the driveway, and as I went in I called-out, but got no response. I walked by Bruce's room and he wasn't in there, where he spent most of his time. I continued into Mom's room, and she was lying on the bed, pale and very disoriented and incoherent, appearing to have had another round of small strokes. I walked back through the house as I called 911, and found Bruce lying on the kitchen floor. His skin was quite cold, and it was obvious that he had passed away.
The police, fire department, and paramedics arrived quickly, and hustled Mom off to the Hospital as I called Christy. She went down to the Emergency Room to check on Carol, while I waited for the Coroner to pick-up Bruce. They arrived shortly, pronounced him dead, and took his body to Medical Investigations for the autopsy.
I called Chuckie and Meghan, and kept in touch with Christy in the ER. Chuckie, Meghan and I arrived at the Hospital that evening, and Mom had been moved to Adult Intensive Care. When talking with her doctor, he told us that she was dehydrated, had atrial fibrillation, low blood pressure, and very bad circulation to both her brain and her extremities. Her lungs were filling with fluid, as well as the likelihood of having had more small strokes. He said that he was having a difficult time, as the treatment needed for one problem was just making the other problems worse.
We've had discussions with Mom many times previously, that if this were to happen, she didn't want to have aggressive treatment, but be allowed to pass-away comfortably and with dignity. The doctor agreed, so they were able to remove all the needles and cardiac leads attached to her, and gave her some Morphine through her IV line, whereupon she became much more comfortable, and her breathing became much less labored. Meghan and I sat with her, talking to her and stroking her hair until around 2:00 in the morning, but she really never did regain consciousness after I had originally found her. The next day she was taken to Kaseman Hospice, where we sat with her for much of the day. She was comfortable, but slept continuously, and she still never really regained any awareness. She passed away comfortably at about 4:30 the next morning. Fortunately neither she nor Bruce knew of the others passing.
I am doing fine, comforted by the fact that neither one of them is suffering anymore. They have both been cremated, and services are as follows:
Carol's Memorial Service will be on Friday, August 19th, at 1:30 in the afternoon at First Unitarian Church, with Lutheran Pastor Art Meyer officiating. A reception will follow in the Social Hall across the patio. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Memory of her daughter Lynn to: Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Directions to First Unitarian Church are Here.
Bruce's Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, August 21st, at 1:00 at the Cienega Picnic Grounds in the Sandia Mountains, with Rev. Angela Herrerra officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bruce's name to: New Mexico State Monuments. It will be very informal, and you are encouraged to bring a pot-luck to share. Be aware that there are no fires allowed in the forest at this time. Parking is limited, so car-pooling is encouraged.
Directions to Cieniga are Here.
The Guestbook will be up shortly.
Updated July 29, 2011