Sunday night my wife called her dad to wish him a Happy Easter. We have new cell phones so he wasn't able to call her that morning when the doctor told him that he needed to start calling the family because his wife, a completely addicted chain-smoker who has been battling lung cancer for some time, was admitted to the hospital where she was told that she would die within a day. So, "Happy Easter, Dad. How are things up there? ...."
We got in the car about 9:00pm Sunday night and made the 1000 mile drive across a third of the United States to be there Monday. We crossed the border into Minnesota about 8am and called her dad to say good morning and to see how they had been that night. Jackie, his wife, had passed away just minutes before. He was hurt - Becky could hear it in his voice. We were still several hours away from his farm which is in the norther part of Minnesota. I wondered if we had driven all that way for nothing. Why did we get in the car after hurriedly packing and sending half apologetic emails to work to let them know that we wouldn't be there the next day? What did we go up there for, now that Jackie had passed away?
In part, these are perfectly rhetorical questions; but on the other hand - I don't know where the frantic impulsiveness comes from that makes my wife do insane things for her family. I just don't feel like she does. And that is part of the reason why I fell in love with her. The answer to the questions is - we didn't go up there for the dead, we went up there for the living. We went up there for her Dad, who was about to be very alone. But we didn't just go for him. He told us in an emotional moment just before we turned around and came home on Tuesday afternoon, that he told Jackie that night that we were on our way to see them (him and her) and she smiled. It was probably a small thing but it seemed to comfort her and it certainly comforted him knowing that she was a little happier at the end of her life - happier because of my wife's impulsive insanity. We went up there for the living, and may she rest in peace.
Below are a few photos from that afternoon. This is a huge part of why we went up there - can you believe that these are all photos of a man whose wife died only hours earlier? Maybe the real painful part comes later, when the house is too silent and the shadows all belong to one person.
I didn't crop any of these photos, but if you click on them you will be able to see a GRANDPA'S smile, not a recent widower's grief.
This is why we went up there - more than 30 hours in the car (round trip) to spend less than 24 hours there.