Broken Hearts, Part One

A year ago this week we lost Jack’s dad, Joe. Joe had a sudden heart attack and passed away with blessed quickness. Joe and Jack’s mother Jackie, had been married 53 years.

Joe and Jackie farmed for 40 years while raising three kids and caring for dozens of others. Joe’s three favorite things were Jackie, fresh-turned soil and his grandchildren. Jackie’s three favorite things were Joe, teaching and her family. They married when Jackie was 16 and the look in Joe’s eyes when he looked at her was the same the night before he died as it was in the wedding photos. He adored Jackie and she him.

2010 and ‘11 had been pretty hard years for Joe and Jackie. At one point we were calling it the Year of the Waiting Room since Jack and/or one of his siblings had one or other of their parents in a doctor’s office an average of once a week. There were back problems, COPD problems, cracked and broken bones, a colon cancer scare and heart problems on top of the more expected getting-older problems. Less than a week before Joe’s death Jackie had had a cardiac ablation procedure and was still very weak at the funeral.

Following Joe’s funeral, events progressed as per the new normal as Jackie had to have another surgery to correct an embolism at the ablation entry site. This, in addition to a massive flood in her home cause by a burst pipe, caused her to spend the next couple months back and forth between children and then, in April just as her health recovered, we moved Jackie into town to give her a fresh start. Although the move itself was stressful, Jackie seemed to enjoy living in town, however, soon the heart problems started up again and you probably won’t be surprised to hear that she was soon diagnosed with a temporary heart condition caused by stress called Broken Heart Syndrome. All those stories of husbands and wives passing only weeks or months after their spouses finally have a medical explanation.

Broken heart syndrome is easily treated and usually reverses quickly. Unfortunately Jackie suffered a major stroke and passed away before treatment could begin.

Devastation is not too strong a word for what has happened to our family. Two losses in such a short time are hard and while my heart knows that Joe and Jackie both had Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and are with Him, where we’ll see them again and my head knows that they’re happier together than they ever could be apart, I so sad. I’m sad for my husband who has lost both his anchors in a very turbulent time in his life. I’m sad for my children who have lost a legacy that cannot be replaced. And I’m sad for myself because I’ve lost my example and mentor.

Our hearts are broken.

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