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say uncle
About six months ago, my sole surviving uncle was diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Daddy's baby sister and he were married many years ago and lived a large part of their life in Minneapolis, raising a son and a daughter. Shortly after his retirement, they came home to Dyersburg to enjoy the warmer weather and proximity to family. Mom and Daddy and Kathy and Jere became constant companions for outings to eat and play rousing games of Rummikub with the other two already widowed sisters. They celebrated every.single.one of 'ems birthdays with a cake and a home cooked meal, rotating the host location at will according to who felt froggy enough to spend a day in the kitchen.

ALS is typically a long drawn out affair with degenerative muscle wasting to the point of near paralysis while the mind remains clear. In other words, it is hell on earth. Some patients live for several years after the initial diagnosis is made, slowly losing muscle control resulting in loss of speech, daily activities and ultimately the ability to breathe. This is what he was facing.

They went to bed the other night, he tossing and turning and she responding to his every little move. Eventually he got up to sit in the living room chair with an afghan over his lap and she settled on the couch at about 4AM. When daylight came she stumbled up and out from under her warm blanket and went to wake him but couldn't. There he sat...glasses perched on his face, legs crossed and with a covered lap. But he wasn't there at all.

Daddy was out in the pasture with Bubba checkin' on the cows when she called him on his cellphone. They went right over, but the paramedics were already there and said he was gone. We all knew it was coming, but didn't expect it so soon. That Big Ernie works in mysterious ways sometimes, don'tcha think? I sure do. What's really odd is that just two days before we had all been sitting around talking and telling stories about family and such and our conversation turned to Uncle Bud and how he yanked out his ventilator tube after some well meaning less than compassionate physician talked his wife into letting them put it in. Daddy sat with him the ICU listening to the whir and whine of the mechanical thing that kept Bud alive. Somehow old Bud managed to get the prayer request to Dad....to get him out of that place and that fix. Now, Daddy is a praying man and a faithful one. So it didn't surprise me one little bit when the tube got pulled by the patient himself and the next doc on call happened to be one who knew better than to torment the dying. I'm still in that undefined mood. If I ever figure out exactly what it is, I'll let you know.

Meanwhile, keep the faith. ^j^
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