I've been blessed in my life to have an aunt and uncle who have been like a second set of parents to me and brothers and sister. My aunt is my mother's only sibling, and she married an only child. They had one son, and then lost two more from birth defects. They never had any more children after that, and sort of adoped us. My only cousin on my mom's side of the family is more like a brother to me and in many ways I'm closer to him than to my own brothers, because we both stayed in our hometown, and the others all moved away.
An avid fly fisherman, he realized a lifelong dream and owned a cottage on one of Michigan's most famous trout streams for 30 years. His own son didn't inherit his interest in fishing, but Bill patiently taught the art of fly fishing to my youngest brother, and my own three sons, and was always as excited as they were when they made a big catch. My oldest son in particular became an avid fisherman and will drop a line in just about any body of water that might have a fish in it. He lives in Florida now, and fishes the ocean, but he fondly remembers those early mornings drifting down the AuSable waiting for a trout to hit.
Bill, has always been just a genuinely nice guy, and you can't help but like him.
In December, he had to have his left leg amputated. At the time, we thought he would spend a few weeks in rehab and be home with a prosthesis in a month or two. But the trauma of losing a leg seemed to start a decline in his mental status and his general health. Four months later, he is confused and largely unresponsive, and after several surgeries over the last few weeks to try to restore circulation to his right leg, it is beyond salvage.
To complicate matters further, his wife of 60 years was admitted to the hospital and had emergency surgery on Sunday for a bowel obstruction. She is doing well after her surgery, but has had to make some tough decisions from her hospital bed.
Today, she made the decision not to put him through any more, and to provide comfort measures only. He will be transferred to a Hospice Center tomorrow, and they will control his pain and keep him comfortable for whatever time he has left. She was taken to his room today in a wheelchair, and was able to hold his hand, and kiss him (she said he kissed her back), and tell him she loves him, and that it was time to stop. I asked him if that was okay with him. He seemed more lucid than he has been for several days, and he answered, "Yah .... yah."
Then the nurse gave him some medication for pain, and told us he will probably be pretty sedated from here on and he drifted off to sleep.
Bye, Bill. I love you.