Ch.79 Pat’s Younger Brother Kevin Just Died
I heard the phone ring at 1 a.m. last Sunday night, three days ago. Then a message. Waking, I shuffled to the phone. The message: “Call Terri at [a nursing home] in Hudson, WI for information about a family member.” That had to be about Kevin, Pat’s 70 year old younger brother who had mysteriously disappeared two weeks before.
Kevin is a loner who hates “mushy” stuff like sisters and brothers-in-law who profess their love for him. Not telling people that he was in trouble to avoid the mushiness was typical Kevin behavior. In the days before this call, the staff at the local restaurant he favors every day, his portable oxygen specialist, and many others had joined the search to locate Kevin and find out what was going on. Together, we gleaned bits of information, concluding that Kevin had called an ambulance, been first driven to a local hospital and then to a larger hospital in St. Paul, MN, received surgery there (But we didn’t know for what), and probably was then released to a recovery center. It was mostly guesswork, though, because Kevin had declined to be officially listed anywhere as a patient. Under current social service rules hospital operators could only say, truthfully enough, that “nobody with that name is on our roster of patients at this hospital.” All that was “Kevin being Kevin” and it would have been understandable, albeit frustrating, if he eventually got well and resumed contact. But he didn’t get well. You don’t receive calls at 1 a.m. to learn that your beloved is doing great. Kevin’s heart had abruptly ceased beating and refused to restart despite the strenuous efforts of a paramedic team.
Pat and I hadn’t had to grieve for anyone since her diagnosis of Lewy Body. Not knowing how it would affect Pat, fearing she might disintegrate, I was uncertain whether to wake her immediately. But then I asked myself what I would have done if Pat didn’t have Lewy Body; the answer was that I’d wake her right away to share the shock and loss. So that is what I did, because one way not to let Lewy Body control our lives is to assume the best, in this case that Pat could handle this sad news without seriously decompensating. It took a few minutes for Pat to comprehend the situation, of course, as it would for anyone being awakened so abruptly, but then she understood perfectly what I was telling her about Kevin.
It’s been three days now since that call. Kevin has been buried after a brief virtual funeral today. I’ve noticed that Pat’s emotional response to Kevin’s death seems a little emotionally muted, not reacting as much as she might have in the past. The people in my caregiver support group tell me they have observed the same lessened emotional response with their partners. Lewy Body doesn’t take away a person’s ability to feel emotions but does seem to reduce the level of intensity.
Pat and I have been supporting each other through this difficult situation. We both have lost a good man and a good brother.
Pat’s comments on Pat’s Younger Brother Kevin Just Died:
I do think it was the right thing to do, waking me up right away [Ron: as against thinking Pat couldn’t handle the stress because she has Lewy Body].
I’m not surprised Kevin avoided telling people what was going on with him. This is just another example of his distance from me.