Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Is it bad form to call one's father a nitwit?

My uncle (my mother's oldest brother) collapsed and hit his head in Texas yesterday afternoon, with little to no explanation. He had the momentary presence of mind to instruct bystanders to call my aunt. By the time the news had wound its way through the family to my mother and then to me, he was at the hospital and no longer responsive. That was about 6ish last night. Mom had nothing more to report; they weren't sure if he fainted or if he just fell, or if something precipitated the collapse.

Dad sent out an email last night, stating that it didn't look promising and that my uncle was not expected to make it. (He'd had a rather harrowing brush with death a couple years ago following back surgery. Mom spent several weeks in Texas playing nurse while my aunt was abroad, visiting their son in Korea, not knowing that such horrible complications would set in after she left.) Further, Dad said, a CT scan done earlier in the evening showed zero brain activity. Not a good sign. Mom would be flying down to Texas in the morning.

At an awful hour in the morning, as it turned out. When I called Dad this morning, he'd just gotten off the phone with my sister, the CNP, and prior to that, my aunt (Mom's sister), the lab tech. Not much new to report; they suspected a ruptured cerebral aneurysm, and they had him on life support now, in an effort to keep him alive enough until the rest of the family could make it, and to help keep his organs viable until death could be declared.

And that's where the story takes an odd twist. A, my cousin, has already flown from her part of TX to her dad's part of TX to be at his side. J, her brother, well....

J lives in Seoul, South Korea, with his wife and daughter. He's the pastor of a Nazarene church there, and teaches at Korean Nazarene University. Naturally, getting ahold of him with the time difference is going to be just swell.

But wait! There's more!

J is not presently IN South Korea.

He's in Africa. Tanzania, to be precise. Leading a short-term missions trip. No cell phone can reach him.

A managed to get through to a friend in TX who was making contacts at the mission base J is currently working out of, and there was a group searching through the national parkland where he's been doing the bulk of the mission work, trying to find him.

Updates were pitifully thin throughout the day. Uncle D is in the ICU, so no cell phones allowed. A's page gave a brief update at 11:30a that his BP had tanked, and dopamine was ordered to stabilize it.

Dad called at 805p to pass along some information, completely forgetting it was bedtime for the Fries, who were all clamoring for me to read their favorite story. I actually had to middle-name Large Fry, because she kept standing up on the futon when I told her not to. If I'd had the ability to give her a swat and not lose my cell phone at the same time, I'd have done it. I asked if there was anything new with Uncle D, and he said no.

Medium Fry's "Pwease!" cries were getting louder, so I hung up with Dad and had Large Fry come stand next to me while I dialed Mom's cell.

I figured, when your brother is dying, talking to an awful cute 3-year-old grandchild who will say, "Okay, I love you! I love you, too!" with nary a break between the sentences is probably just the ticket.

I grabbed the phone back before Large Fry dropped it, and talked briefly with Mom again.

And herein comes the part of labeling my father a nitwit.

"Did your father tell you that they declared him dead about 11a today our time?" Nothing new to report, Dad? Golly.

She went on to explain that there was no brain function in last night's test, none in the test today, and that they'd sent tissue samples to the lab to get markers to see whom might benefit from his organs (he wanted to donate). Within six to seven hours, a transplant harvesting team would take what organs could be readily used. Mom said she, her other siblings, and his wife would all like a list of what organs were procured for transplant. J still has not been found; his wife and young daughter are flying back in from Seoul, however. The funeral will likely be Monday.

Mom says it's very hard to come to grips with the fact that her brother is gone, when he is still warm and "breathing" and all. I'm sure it will hit hard, and with great force, when the transplant team has finished their work, and all the machines are turned off.

My big concern is my cousin, who still does not know his dad is gone. But prayers for all would be appreciated.

Now I just have to tell my father he's a nitwit....

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