Today is Oct 23rd. Yesterday at 3:30, Oct 22nd, my father passed away. It was on Oct 12th that he was admitted into the VA hospital with a mild infection and weight being below 100 lbs. After 1 week, he was scheduled to be released into a rehab to get his strength back up. That was Monday Oct 19th.
By Tuesday, he was in failing health. I hopped a flight out of Dallas-Love Field on Wed. Arrived and was whisked away to the VA by my brother-in-law. Upon arrival everyone of the Brockman clan was there visiting him.
Upon entering, I could see it was not good. After a few hours of talking to him, and watching, I knew what he meant last week by the words "don't let me". I called to see the attending physician to discuss his condition for the long term. Since I am the only one to have power of attorney, I made the ultimate decision to dispense with any meds (heart/blood pressure). I had have many hours to think about this since I arrived and know it was the right one, but still it hurt to see him like that.
Once I made that decision, my hope was that he would not last the night. So, I went to my sister's house to grab a car and come back. Sis came back with me, but left after a few hours. I stayed the night until 4:30 am, went home cleaned and headed back. Again, he was still holding on.
During this time, I met many of the attending, nurses, and other people who serve on the 7th floor. I truly wish I could remember all of their names, but, I do not. I do remember the gentleman who brought in 2 recliners for my sister and me. Once she (sis) left, a wonderful nurse brought in pillows and sheets for me to use while I slept there. I truly wish to thank every one on the 7th floor for taking care of Pop. I witnessed the gentleness, kindness and caring each one displayed.
Around 10ish, I met with the Hospice Dr., Social worker, and Navel Chaplain. We talked until I felt it was time for me to leave as they wanted to transfer Pop to the Hospice Ward. What a Hospice, they had just remodeled it and it was wonderful. Once I left, I knew they, with great care would transfer him downstairs. As I was returning into the parking lot a short time later, I received a phone called telling me his status had changed, so I had arrived back just in time for Pop to depart this world. Time of death, 3:30 pm on Oct. 22nd, 2015. Pop was 92 years and 2 months old.
Here is just a little of what Bill Nelson, a close friend of his wrote about him.
"Another one of the "Old Guys" has passed away. If you knew Errett, you wouldn't forget him. He was a real character. You always knew when he was in the area, because his "Blue Runner" ('68 Ford van with a raised roof) would also be in the area. He finally abandoned it a couple of years ago when he moved from his son, Dale's, home in Apache Junction, AZ to his daughter, Carolann's, home in Lake Worth, FL.
Dale told us last week that Errett was moved to a VA hospital and would probably then be moved to a nearby VA nursing home. He turned 92 in August. We talked with him for a while on his birthday and he was his usual curmudgeonly self. While he's been in Florida, his routine including going to a local burger place and getting a cheeseburger and fries. The fries were for the birds. He'd go to a park near the shore and put fries on top of his rear view mirror. The birds would come and eat them there while he watched.
His electronics career began while he was in the Navy during WWII, when he worked on and later trained others on the early radar systems. He worked for Philco which was later purchased by Ford, for quite a while before going to work for Sentrol, an early competitor of Industrial Nucleonics/AccuRay/CE/ABB. They didn't have a very large service organization, so his area ranged from Eastern Canada to Florida. He'd bought the Blue Runner with a Ford discount and ran up the first 600,000-miles while working for Sentrol. He had a spare parts van and would rebuild transmissions, engines, etc. as needed. While he worked with us, he was based in Camden, AR and Bastrop, LA. His wife, Bea, was unable to get around very well unless she was in a wheel chair. He made a seat lift out of a tractor seat, a Johnson outboard starting motor, and a slew of AccuRay parts. It worked and I was the first to try it. (He didn't want to risk her falling off, if it didn't work. He'd swing it into the side door and transfer her to a rearward facing bucket seat. Bea died before he left Bastrop.
He's stayed in touch with a group of guys in the Bastrop area since his retirement. While they still lived there, they'd meet at the restaurant of the Bastrop motel every . We sat in on a couple of those meetings and those guys could lie as well as any ABB guy! The last time we saw Errett, was at the home of one of those guys during the time he was moving from AZ to FL. He already looked pretty frail, but still insisted on doing his own driving most of the time. He was sounding pretty frail the last couple of times we talked on the phone. He said he couldn't get around very well anymore and had to get into a "three-point stance" to feel secure.
I can only imagine how that went, but have balance issues myself, so know about hanging onto stuff to stay upright. He's had skin cancer problems as a result of too much FL sun earlier in his life and has been having numerous small surgeries to remove elisions for the past several years. He had a heart attack several years ago and drove himself in the Blue Runner to and from the VA Hospital in Little Rock. We think his body just wore out. Hope he's comfortable now."
Written by Bill Nelson a very close friend in the Paper Field.
Ok, back to a few more words about the last few days of Pop. One of the final (best) things that happen to veterans at the VA is the procession from patient room to the morgue. The body is prepared for transport, a flag is draped over it and then it is wheeled thru the halls. Along the way, people will stop and pay homage to the fallen.
Along the way, I witnessed many people stop, salute, cross their heart to pay homage to Pop as we slowly made our way. Among, the family and friends present for this procession were David & Andrea (Carolann's son & daughter-in-law), Richard & Barbara (Andrea parents), (Andrea sister), Jason & Michelle, (Carolann's son & daughter-in-law) Carolann & Ken (my sister and brother-in-law).
Finally, a last few words about the VA. As I stated, the 7th floor A wing was fantastic toward Pop, helping him, keeping him comfortable, especially with all the comings and going of family and friends.
The Hospice section was brand new. The Hospice facility was just opened this week. People had just moved in and were still getting use to everything. From the rooms to the people themselves. I personally met with Dr. Silverman and his team, just some of the names I remember are Dr. Miller, Lynnea Valpatic and a Navel Chaplin Officer. I do apologize for my oversight in not writing down each and everyone's names, but considering this week did the best I could.
In the past I have heard of issues with the VA. What I have learned and witnessed is this. The VA staff are the most caring, loving and wonderful people in all the hospitals I have seen or been in. This is especially true of the West Palm Beach VA hospital. No where else have I witnessed this to be true.
So, in closing, I say this:
Pop has left this planet for a better life.
There is a opening for his job
Title - Certified Public Nuisance
or to use the title that his friend called him :
The part of a washing machine called - Agitator.
Pop was a Self Taught Man. His biggest instruction was this:
The most important plastic card in your possession......is a library card.