A Grievous California Trip ……#216 (the 90’s)

Never forgotten

Never forgotten

The Friday of May 22 1992 was adherent as most,  Gary returning home from his quotidian pursuit at the Anthony Hospital,  initiating a new home project  having received a mail order garden-supply catalog,  subsequently ordering 300,  12 inch in length bare root hedge plants,  their diameter very minuscule,  to be instituted on property lines  to designate a separation from his neighbor’s yard on the north and the city access alley on the west.   The northern  boundary already displaying a sparsely spaced hedge and the western property line requiring  75 feet of implants,  the driveway and garage providing the remaining alley border,  the novice landscaper comfortable with the procured quantity of saplings to be spaced 6-8 inches apart.

The early evening having arrived,  Gary about to resume his outdoor project,  the family having seen Robert off for a weekend with friend,  a journey for an extramural adventure at a campground and lake in western Kansas,  the sound of the phone interrupting his return to the yard work .   The call was from California,  his mother on the line,  Gary detecting a somber inflection in her voice,  then the disclosure,  his 73-year-old father having passed away that morning.   The call was brief,  the initial shock silencing,  the reality and affliction of the what had transpired was starting to emerge,  but a acumen of rationale emanated,  first things first.  Robert needed to be notified and return from his travels,  Jan placing a call to the Highway Patrol,  relating the campers travel and destination,  requesting the Authorities intercept and inform them of the situation.   A short time later,  a telephone call, the travelers having been notified of the circumstances,  Jan proceeding west to retrieve Robert.

Saturday morning Gary placing a call to the new Interim  Hospital Administrator,  informing him of the circumstances and that he and Jan would be absent from their duties,  Jan having been established as Director of Nurses the previous fall,  the two hospital employees yet unable to give the Administrator any definitive time frame for their return.   Gary communicating with his mother,  to inquire about the funeral arrangement and its scheduling,  discovering the American Legion was organizing a Military Funeral.   Gary disclosing his family would arrive as soon as round-trip flight reservations could be obtained,  but his Mother was forthright,  insisting that he make one-way reservations,  wanting him to take possession of his Fathers Chevrolet Blazer and employ it for his return to Kansas.   This was troubling,  it was not an easy to say no to his Mother,  especially at this junction in time,  after several attempts to persuade her otherwise,  he agreed.   Gary proceeded to communicate with his children in Oklahoma City,  securing that they were appraised of the circumstances in California, discovering all were mindful,  his daughter Marlo,  husband Chris and Grandson Garrett,  as well as his oldest son Scott deciding they would foster the road trip and drive to California.

Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport

The sequential calling of airlines began,  presenting some difficulty,  never at any time in his flight experience had Gary ever attempted to make reservations on such a short notice and was totally a gasp at the pricing for one-way tickets.   To his dismay,  another setback,  every airline having cancelled its bereavement fare policy because of the airline industry’s economic difficulties.   The airline reservations finally accomplished at a premium cost,  Gary’s father-in-law,  Bud Murrow, agreeing to provide the families transportation to Mid Continent Airport in Wichita.   The grievous California journey having commence.

The airline flight concluding with the family’s arrival at Columbia,  Gary’s sister’s residence.   His sister Nancy providing an auxiliary home for his parents since his Fathers previous heart problems, their secluded mountain Pioneer home affording the elder Willson’s occupancy during the more desirable seasons of late spring,  summer and early fall.   Gary was desiring knowledge of the tragedy,  his Mother discerning the saga of the tragic event.   An awakening in the morning of both parents,  his mother the first to rise to use the sanitation facility,  her return to the bedroom,  discovering her husband not breathing and unresponsive.   She immediately called 911,  the responder questioning her,  dispatching an ambulance and a verbal attempt to explain the CPR procedure to the very distraught 71-year-old.  A futile effort was undertaken but to no avail, Gary’s mother alone in the silence of her surroundings, the torturous waiting, the ambulance having to traverse the time consuming 16 miles of highway from Jackson and locate the Pioneer Township secluded residence.   The concluding EMS ambulance written report addressed some vital signs during the run to the hospital,  stating the patient expiring after arrival.   Gary having spent many years with the Kiowa Ambulance Service,  summon two annotations,  the first being the Golden Rule of EMS,   “No one dies in the ambulance”,   EMS personnel proceed with CPR until they reach their hospital destination.   The second,  but little known annotation,  ambulance protocol dictates that  EMS personnel are to remain with a discovered deceased until the coroner,  or an authoritative person arrives.   Gary surmised that his Father had passed  before his mother returned from the bathroom, long before the ambulance arrived.   The logical explanation,  EMS didn’t want to allocate their morning waiting on the coroner,  so they initiated a transport,  administering CPR, and documenting their induced vitals.

A reflection of his father’s memory

Gary acknowledged the summary of his Mother’s experience,  but it was no vindication for the inner pain he experienced with the loss.   Gary performing an endogenous audit of himself,  concluding a consequential fact,  thru the years his  failure to find time to know his Father,  the son abiding in a self-interest world for the past thirty-three years.  Gary accepted the mounting anguish within,  enduring  the self-accusation of what could have been,  should have been and now will never be.

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