Saturday, August 29, 2020

And now…the end.

Concho Pearl RV Estates, San Angelo, TX – August 29, 2020


As most of you probably know by now my father, Bill Putnam, passed away on July 28, 2020. This was particularly hard on us and I’m sure it was on him also since we had not been allowed in his room since March 16, 2020 with the exception of a single day on July 22.

I am bitter, annoyed, upset, whatever you want to call it, that our country chose to make this virus a political issue. This led to hysteria at all levels of government with each politician trying to outdo the next one by laying on more and more restrictive measures to “protect” their constituents. How many folks lost loved ones and were not able to be with them? How many patients and elderly residents felt like they were abandoned by their families when that wasn’t the case at all? Oh sure, some medical facilities would let you visit on the final day of life after the patient or resident was comatose but what good is that? You want to be able to visit while they are still aware and are cognitive and know that you are visiting them and that you love them.

We are so grateful that our lifestyle has allowed us to spend so much time here in San Angelo, Texas over the last three years. Although Dad was fiercely independent, he had been needing more and more subtle assistance. We tried to make life simpler for him. We put his bills on autopay. We added my name to his bank accounts so I could do transactions for him. We took him to doctors appointments. We hired a physical therapist to help with strength training and balancing. We hired a lady to cook supper for him and to keep his pill dispenser full. In short, we did our best to make his life free from hassle. Our family did their part to by visiting and calling to keep his spirits up during his last few years.

Terry and Joy, my brother and his wife, helped to celebrate Dad’s last birthday, his 98th on June 18. My sister Fran and her family sent many cards for the occasion. The four of us sat outside his room with an open window so we could see him and talk to him. Communication was difficult at best, but at least we could see him and he knew we were there for him.

Since March that was how our visits went. Sometimes we had to argue to get the staff to open his window so we could visit. Once we had to involve the manager of the facility to pass the word down to staff that it was OK. Towards the end, the facility passed down the stupid rule that communication had to take place through a closed window. Understanding the impossibility of that working, staff remained accommodating and would open the window for us. For the last 5 months of his life, that little window was as close to a real physical connection as we would get.

Towards the end of June or early July, I finally realized that I had to give up the hope that Dad would ever return to his apartment. Early on he fought hard to get better and get stronger so he could come back home. I felt as if somehow I would be betraying him by letting his apartment go. But inevitability, he became too weak to fight any more. Even so it was a couple of months before I gave up on a miracle happening. So I told EJ it was time to begin in earnest the task of letting his apartment go.

Now here is where our two personalities come into play. Once I make a decision I am ready to  move on. I was all for hiring someone to come and empty out the apartment. “Not so fast” EJ says. “Let me handle it” she says. For the next 4 or 5 weeks, she proceeds to organize and advertise the contents of the apartment. It’s particularly challenging, because due to the China Virus no outsiders are allowed in the apartment building. (It’s full of old folks,you know. Potentially high risk.)

She would put flyers up on the bulletin board advertising some of the bigger pieces and invariably a resident in the building would snap it up. She even sold his power chair twice. (The first person that bought it decided they didn’t need it). Towards the end, almost everything was gone or spoken for except the clothes. Dad had lots of nice shirts, but we could get no takers. We eventually ended up donating all his clothes to the Salvation Army.

We were on schedule for giving up his apartment on July 31 when Dad passed away on the 28th. I guess our decision to let the apartment go was more timely than we care to admit.

He wanted no ceremony, he just wanted to slip quietly away. We honored his wishes. He was cremated and wanted his ashes spread over Ivy Cemetery in Admire, Kansas. All that remains now is to round up my brother and sister so we can make that journey sometime next spring.

Obligatory cat picture follows.

Maggie Sleep

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