Raymond and I during happier times.
I'd known for a few months that Raymond was sick. He pushed himself all summer to water his beloved plants and trees, help our daughter and granddaughter cut the lawn, and ride his tractor at every opportunity. He started sleeping too much and having headaches that continued to worsen in September. He'd planned to attend our 17 year old grandson's first football game and wasn't able, I knew his health was not good.
It wasn't until the end of September that we rushed him to the hospital with an unbearable headache and nausea. He was diagnosed with a cerebral stroke. We were told it was a big one. He made a bit of a come back and came home a few days later, weaker but still functioning. In home rehab gave him some strength back in his arms and one leg but not enough. He was able to transfer from his wheelchair to bed or chair but not do much else. One day he did insist on vacuuming the kitchen with a new kitchen vacuum from his wheelchair and we both were pleased that he felt well enough. He always wanted to help when he could.
Our son in law build a ramp in the garage so that we might get him in and out of the house in his wheelchair for appointments. But that wasn't to be.
The third week in Oct. he had another stroke and was rushed back to the hospital. He did well for two days and we were sure he'd make another comeback. But he didn't. Each day saw a decline in his health. Two days before he died he stopped eating and sipping water. His kidneys failed as well as his heart. He had a staph infection in his pacemaker and they had to do surgery to remove it and placed a new one outside his chest, hoping to plant one inside when the infection cleared. He had a blood clot under one arm.
On November 17, our three daughters and I were with him, sitting on his bed, holding his hand, telling him how much we loved him. The last hour of his dying was unbearable. Though he was heavily sedated, he struggled to breathe. He left us at 4 pm that day.
His service was November 22, back home in West Virginia where he wanted to be.
He looked forward to his next birthday coming up on Thanksgiving Day. He loved his birthday, my birthday, and each birthday our children and grandchildren celebrated. Thanksgiving will be a sad day for me but because Raymond was always happy and smiling, I will be "happy" and "smiling" just for him. Or putting forth my best effort.