One day after posting our previous blog account, my stepmother Dolores (Dottie) passed away in her sleep in the wee hours of the morning. My father, oldest stepbrother, and his wife were by her side. It was another four days before we had our truck back from the Moyer Ford Service Department in Foley, Alabama before we could get ourselves, Suite Pea included, back on the road headed to Michigan.
It had taken Don’s calling the customer service personnel at Ford Headquarters to get the ball rolling in the right direction. We were immediately assigned a case number and a representative contacted Moyer Ford to get the low down on our pick-up. A Ford think tank then brainstormed and came up with a solution.
They suspect the problem dates back to 8 years ago when we first brought our new truck home. Two weeks after taking delivery of it Don noticed an oil stain on our newly laid driveway. Come to find out the rear seal gasket was damaged, needing replacement. Because of the gasket’s location the entire engine needed to be pulled out in order to reach it. Somehow during this process a wire was frayed and shorting out. Over time the damage worsened causing us a host of repair issues. Of course Ford Motor Co. doesn’t accept any responsibility but at least we were not charged for any parts, only labor, and Moyer Ford gave us a nice discount on that.
As we journeyed northward on April 18, I was on my cell canceling all of our Spring, Summer, and most of our Fall reservations. This year our focus will be on my father and making sure he is in a position to take care of himself physically and financially before we head south again for the winter. Our goal is to persuade him to come south with us.
It did feel good to have our wheels rolling again. We were ready for a change of scenery and after 3 very long days on the road, we arrived at the family compound in Kalkaska, Michigan, affectionately dubbed “The Property.”
Don had Suite Pea backed into her full hook-up slot and set up in no time flat. My father was assuredly happy to have us finally here.
We didn’t waste anytime in trying to get a handle on things. Dad directed me to give ma’s clothing to the local organization KAIR, Kalkaska Area Interfaith Resources and many miscellaneous items to Goodwill. I did this while he and Don cut up trees and large branches that had been brought down during the winter. They also began raking up the endless supply of leaves, a futile effort if you ask me.
One morning I went with dad to pick up ma’s cremains, then to the credit union where they had all of their accounts. Dad needed to notify them of mom’s death and to get a bank card in his own name. I suggested he get a print out of his checking account so he could balance his checkbook. After spending most of what day remained trying to decipher ma’s method of balancing her ledger we threw in the towel and decided to start a new ledger. We also drew up a tentative budget for dad, tentative because we can only guesstimate what his income will be at the moment and he’s unsure of what all his bills are. He’s never handled the household finances before.
It hasn’t been all work since we arrived. On 3 consecutive days Don and Tucker have roused deer on their morning walk. We’ve taken time outs to watch the antics of the numerous squirrels as they try to reach the bird feeders and we’ve been entertained by the turkeys that visit several times a day every day. But our biggest excitement came early one morning when a young black bear paid dad’s feeding station a visit. He wrecked havoc on the suet feeder and pop’s can of corn.
In 8 days time Don and I had to be in Indiana for doctor and dental appointments we’d scheduled months before all of this. On the day prior to packing for that trip another crisis occurred. Tucker began his day feeling out of sorts. It was obvious to us he wasn’t behaving normally although he didn’t seem to be in any pain or distress. We made the decision to do nothing at that time except to observe him as the day progressed. During breakfast Tucker vomited up grass and we assumed he’d ingested something that didn’t agree with him. Having expelled it we felt certain he would begin to improve. That wasn’t to be.
As the day wore on Tucker deteriorated. At one point when he tried to stand Don saw that Tuck was wobbly and we knew we needed to act immediately. Dad and Don carried Tucker to my father’s truck, then dad got behind the wheel and took off in the direction of the veterinary clinic he uses while I called ahead to alert them we had an emergency and were enroute.
By the time we reached the veterinary hospital Tucker was incapable of standing. Two staff members loaded him onto a stretcher and carried him into an examination room where the vet, Dr. Ackler did a hasty but thorough exam. He then ordered blood work and x-rays. It took only minutes for the good doctor to determine that Tucker had internal bleeding. He suspected it was coming from Tuck’s spleen. He recommended we consent to immediate surgery as it was vital to Tucker’s survival.
Tucker was prepped for surgery before we’d even left the clinic. Don and I were beside ourselves with fear. Memories of our Golden Retriever Maggie’s last day washed over us. She too had been unable to walk at the end.
Two hours later Dr. Ackler called to let us know that Tucker was resting comfortably from his surgery. He had removed 2 liters of blood from Tucker’s abdomen and the cause was indeed a ruptured spleen. The vet said there were tumors on the spleen which more than likely contributed to it rupturing. It was sent off for a complete histology report and Dr. Ackler hoped to hear something back by week’s end.
When Tucker was released to come home we were informed he was in no condition to travel and would require at least 2 weeks to convalesce. Since my doctor appointment was of more importance than Don’s, I drove down to Indy alone while he stayed behind to care for our fur baby. I arrived in Indiana 2 days prior to my doctor visit in order to help my youngest prepare for our granddaughter’s 1st birthday on Sunday. I also wanted to attend my grandchildren Gabby and Ian’s AWANA ceremony at church. Regrettably it’s not always possible to attend most of their activities or special events so when I get the opportunity to do so, I take it.
(I wrote all of the above while staying at my mom’s in Indiana with the intention of posting it when I had a wifi connection. However the following couple of days left me reeling & unable to finish until now.)
My doctor appointment was on Monday, I planned to drive back to Michigan early Tuesday morning but that changed late on Monday evening. A phone call from my daughter Kristi informed me that my granddaughter Maddy was in active labor, 3 weeks earlier than her expected delivery. I contacted Don right away with the news and stated I’d be delayed a day. Maddy gave birth the following evening to our first great grandchild, Mia Bree. A good sized baby, 7 lbs. 2 oz., for having made her debut 3 weeks ahead of time. After having made her acquaintance and being assured both Maddy and Mia were doing fine, I was on the road early Wednesday. About 2 hours into my journey home I received a call from Dr. Ackler. The histology report stated that Tucker had an aggressive form of cancer. Dr. Ackler couldn’t say how much longer we will have our Golden boy with us, 2 months, maybe a year. In answer to my question about treatment I was told that chemo would only prolong the inevitable and may hinder his quality of life. I thanked him for his call then pulled off the road and bawled my heart out. I called Don when I was able to speak again. It was a very long and sad trip home.