welcome back wednesday story readers.
if you’ve missed the past few weeks of the krause family drama, please click here to see past stories.
i’ve decided that next week will be the end of my side of the story. as you read this, remember there are a lot of interesting viewpoints that would probably like to weigh in. my mom, karen, karen’s daughter Tracy, my sister, my dad. I, too, would love to hear their versions. we’ve all talked about putting a book together. talk talk talk.
contrary to what I said last week, it is not therapy for me to write this. I don’t need it because the whole situation turned out to be a wonderful experience. this is going to be quite long but engaging … so grab a coffee or a wine depending on what time of day it is or mood you’re in (tee hee)
REWIND: you have my dad who after 34 years of a (happy, loving) marriage left my (beautiful, wonderful) mom. got remarried, moved to our childhood vacation island and then got cancer and a 4 month sentence. there, you’re caught up. but here’s how things began to change…
in a very sad way, I think dad felt guilty for what he did to mom that he acted somewhat relieved to get cancer. like he deserved it. but his concern now wasn’t just my mom because he had married this other wonderful woman, karen. he was in a predicament. so during his bout with cancer he got the two women together. first at my condo and I believe it was mothers day. can you say together:
he was very sick and could only lay down on the red leather couch and watch curb your enthusiasm on tv. ironic that he chose to watch that program. mom and karen and I made small talk. like very small talk. I believe it was even a Sunday afternoon too so we couldn’t even pound the wine to cover up for the… weirdness. I think mom was perplexed and Karen was very open to the whole situation.
my dad’s diagnosis was esophageal cancer but oddly enough it wasn’t in his esophagus. after the tumor left him, we had a bit of a reprieve. during this time we got to take a trip to oregon for a krause family reunion.
my sister and brother went as well. and as they said goodbye they never knew if they would see him again so the goodbyes were extra emotional.
the cancer then went to his brain. we found this out at campisi’s pizza on mockingbird. we went there and ate dinner – karen, dad and I – and he was dragging his feet on the way out and she and I looked at each other sideways. he started radiation. I need to put in a side note here:
dad hated going to the doctor. hated everything having to do with needles. however on his first day of chemo for his tumor, the doctor put us in a waiting room. that room was filled with lots of things you couldn’t see. fear, hope, love, sadness. but next door we could hear through the walls that their room was filled with a lot of hurt. we couldn’t hear anything at first but knew a doctor had just consulted with a family and they were given bad news. very bad news. they were sobbing loudly. my dad grabbed our hands and said let’s pray right now for that family. and with that he did. mind you “let’s pray” wasn’t something dad was accustomed to saying. it was something you typically rushed through at the dinner table before the steak and corn on the cob got cold. 4 months.
after the cancer went to his brain, we had another blessing. his brain radiation eliminated the cancer and we got very hopeful. maybe you who are reading this now was a recipient to his emails that he sent out. I wish I could find one. although he was thin and weak we all had a lot of fun. talking, playing cards, laughing. this may not be funny to most, but if you knew my dad you knew what a great sense of humor he had. even sicker than a dog, he had us laughing. like the time he went to whole foods (la dee da) and was in a motorized card with his cane sticking out the back. he went down the wine aisle and before I could even yell he had spun around and his cane grabbed one of those nicely stacked displays and brought some tumbling to the ground. he looked at me like a kid and shrugged his shoulders. sorry.
then the cancer went to his spine and just like that… that was it.
he was 6’4″ and a BIG MAN. not fat, just big. he couldn’t get up from the couch and we knew something was wrong. keep in mind, his mind is fine, his body is not working. it was at this time that karen went to michigan to be with her mom who was also sick. dad was doing fine and she left for just a few days and then cancer snuck up and got his spine. katie and I took him to the hospital where he was admitted. we slept in his room with him. they put him on heavy duty steroids which made him very paranoid and I will leave it at I spent the worst night of my life in that room. where was my dad? I needed my mom. so I called her the next day. she came to the hospital. she sat on my dad’s bed and held his hand. they started to talk about good times so I left. I left for 2 hours and when I came back they were both in tears. I learned later that he apologized to her and told her he had
always loved her and had made a mistake.
he told her what every scorn woman by a good man wanted to know. he gave her what she needed to move on with her life. but this doesn’t at all diminish his love for karen. or our love for karen.
dad’s awesome doogie houser doctor came in to see him the next night. this guy came highly recommended by slone ketterling and md anderson. he told us both (and my dad was completely fine in the head) that there was nothing they could do. my dad shook his hand and said “we put up a great fight didn’t we, doc?” and with a tear in his eye the doctor hugged my dad “yes we did”.
at that point karen was heading home and we called hospice. everyone jumped into work at the logistics. but it was me there with dad on his last night in baylor. he was a little out of it now. because he was acting as if nothing was wrong. like it was just another day. the next morning, ambulance drivers came to pick us up and drive us to his apartment. I remember this day like it was yesterday. they rolled him out of our temporary safe home and past all the sweet, sweet nurses that had been with us and I walked behind him clutching his pillow and sobbing pretty much at the top of my lungs. I felt safe here, now we were going home to die.
dad came home and fell into somewhat of a coma. karen invited my mom over and karen’s daughter and family came over to say good-bye. it was the first time I had ever met my “step-sister”. but here is what I’ve been dying to tell you. karen reached out to my mom. my mom reached out to karen and one day they spent THE WHOLE DAY talking. karen apologized to my mom. my mom accepted her apology. today my mom and karen are best friends. more on that later….
I want to tell you about an experience I had during this time. after all, what good are experiences if you can’t share them on your blog? we are all Christians in my family. we know where we are going when we die but what I experienced one night was… interesting. we decided to pray hard for dad. not to save him but for God to be with him. it was night and I suspected he would go any day. we all gathered around his cot in the living room. we all had flash backs in our heads of better times. it was karen, mom, jimmy, katie and me. we put on some music and held hands and we just were silent praying around dad. it was then that I felt another presence in the room. it was just something that I knew. I knew Jesus was there with us. in fact, I lifted my head and just smiled. what a savior and what a comfort and soothing hand on our shoulders.
the next day, while I took 10 minutes off and went to whole foods to get something to eat with my mom after being up all night watching my dad’s chest go up and down, my dad died. I wasn’t there. I had stayed up all night holding his hand.
here are some pictures for you: