My wonderful mother-in-law, Helen, died last month. We knew it was coming as she had both Alzheimer’s and cancer, but it happened much more quickly than we expected and it was devastating nonetheless. She was an awesome grandmother, mother and mother-in-law, and we have not been able to accept the fact that she is no longer here.
Daryl’s dad took her loss very hard. He was wracked with grief. Family members took turns visiting him and helping take care of an infection on his leg, and on Monday he fell and needed to go to the ER. We spent the day in the waiting room anxiously awaiting news (they wouldn’t let us back because of Covid) and Daryl got to briefly see him before he was transported to one of the only open ICU beds in the state. He was doing well, despite having a pint and a half of fluid drained from one lung, and we were making plans to move him to a rehabilitation center when things went wrong very suddenly and he died Thursday night.
None of us has any doubt that he died of a broken heart. He and Helen were married 65 years and he didn’t want to live in a world that didn’t have her. That said, we’re all having a very hard time coming to terms with living in a world not just without her but without him too.
Chester was a war hero (he was badly injured in the Korean War and insisting on going back once he recovered, then survived another attack that killed every other member of his platoon and left him with lifelong PTSD — he spent the rest of his life giving talks to schools and community centers about the realities of war and working with younger soldiers who were dealing with its effects), a mayor, a fire chief, a die-hard volunteer for every cause in the community and one of the nicest people you’d ever meet. He loved to tease and he was the toughest guy I ever knew. He and Helen hand built most of their house when they needed to expand it for their growing family, side by side.
My parents died many years ago and Chester and Helen were our kids’ only grandparents. They were two of the most important people in all of our lives. It’s been a hard 3 1/2 weeks.
Our family has other news that is actually very good in these tough times, but I’ll leave that for another post.
Rest in peace, Grandma and Grandpa. Thank you for being so awesome.