The Loss of a Great Man: Ed Truhlik (7/7/1928 – 10/11/2016)

 

Dad - Christmas 2007

It is in the depths of great sorrow that I report the passing of my father, Ed Truhlik, who lived a good long life until Congestive Heart Failure took him suddenly from us on Tuesday morning, October 11, 2016.

It was overwhelmingly traumatic while on the phone with the 911 dispatcher as my Dad was gasping for air. The EMS Techs and the guys from the fire department worked on him for 40 minutes but couldn’t bring him back. It was devastating.

At least he’s no longer in pain. For the last few years, my Dad suffered tremendous pain in both his shoulders. The arthritis had him bone on bone in both. He desperately wanted to have surgery but no one would touch him because, at 88, he was declared a high cardiac risk. So he suffered every single day. The only saving grace with his passing is knowing that he’s not hurting anymore.

My father was a great man. Everyone who met him loved him. He was a very genuine down-to-earth man. A big man, he stood 6 feet tall and hovered around 234 lbs. but he was gentle and quiet.

Dad 11-28-2004

He certainly was no stranger to hard work. A bull-worker I’d call him. He was an awesome provider and worked hard all his life, retiring in 1990 from his job as a Millwright (skilled tradesman) at General Motors (Harrison Radiator, the radiator and air-conditioning division of GM in Lockport NY). When he wasn’t working for GM, he was busy working around the house. “Tinkering” he’d call it. He was always doing something, fixing something, building something. He stayed busy.

It was especially sad that in recent years he was no longer able to really do much. He had neuropathy in his feet and it made him very unsteady and he used a walker to get around. Over the last year that he and my Mom have been staying with me, he fell a number of times, each time requiring a call to 911 for a lift assist request from the wonderful guys at the fire department. It was heartbreaking to see my big strong strapping dad lying helplessly on the floor. As they say, getting old ain’t for sissies.

My dad was a proud military veteran, having served in both the Navy and the Army — serving on Naval supply ships during WWII and then transferring to the Army he served during the Korean War. He was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne and was later an MP (Military Police) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. My parent’s car sports an Airborne license plate and so many times people have stopped and went out of their way to approach my Dad and thank him for his service. I always thought that was so nice.

Dad's Airborne license plate

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A few years ago when my folks were visiting, we were sitting out on my deck on a gorgeous Spring day when I started asking my Dad about his military days. He began recounting and reminiscing and as he talked, I sat there and took notes on my iPad. There were some stunning revelations that I never knew about his military service. It was incredibly interesting and I’m so grateful that we had that conversation. He had such a rich history!

One of the many things that I’m going to miss about my dad is seeing all his tattoos. He had several, I think 13, and they looked so cool. Getting all of them during his early military years they were old faded blue that was the telltale sign of that era, and they looked so fantastic on his tanned body. He loved to sit in the sun so he was tan year ’round.

Dad - November 2004

He had tats of naked women on his arms and thighs, a crucifix on his upper arm, sparrows above each tit, one reading “Sweet” and the other “Sour”.  Plus some other designs, including a parachute to honor his 43 jumps. Probably what I loved the most were the tats on his knuckles: on one hand were the letters L O V E and on the other his name E D D Y. I was holding his hand after he passed and rubbing those knuckles on the hand that had his name. I thought how sad that I’m never going to see his tattoos again. They were just so much a part of him and his history.

 

I will be forever grateful to have spent this last year with him. My folks came down (from North Carolina) last November to spend the winter with me, but my Mom ended up having open heart surgery in February so they’ve been here all this time as she has been recovering. I would’ve been more than devastated if he had died so many miles away from me.

During this past year, I’ve had the privilege of learning more about my Dad, his childhood and his life. I’ll miss the dinnertime conversations and all the opportunities I had to ask questions. I’ll miss taking him to Costco where he loved to sit in the food court, watch people and eat hot-dogs while I shopped. I’ll miss taking him to Rick’s Flattop Shop for his haircuts, where he so enjoyed talking about the good ol’ days with the barber.

Dad at Rick's Flattop Shop - April 2016

I’ll really miss him greeting me each morning. He’d come out of his room every day saying “Good morning, good morning, good morning!” I’d say “Hi Dad” and he’d say “Hi Dupe.” All of my life, since I was a baby, he’s called me Dupey. I’m sad that I’ll never hear him call me that again.

Thankfully we’ve had all this amazing quality time together over the last year. Talk about priceless!

More than anything, I’m forever grateful that God gave me the wonderful man that was my father. He will be greatly missed by many, and especially by our family.  One thing that I know for sure: he loved me deeply. There wasn’t anything in the world that he wouldn’t do for me. And I loved him so much.

I miss you Dad! Keep an eye on me from up above and give me some signs that you’re still with me. You’ll always be in my heart. Thank you for being such a great father. I love you always.

 

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Remembering Finnegan (Oct 19, 2005 – June 13, 2011)

fawn greyhound lying in the grass

Three years ago today my boy Finnegan made his transition to the big Rainbow Bridge in the sky. We had such a short time together, eight months only. When I adopted him, even before the adoption was finalized, I took him in to get a dental cleaning but during the examination, my vet told me that we wouldn’t be doing the dental that day because his lymph nodes were swollen. She didn’t like the feel of them and decided to do a needle aspiration. A few minutes later she came back into the exam room and told me the news: Finnegan had Lymphoma.

She was as devastated as I was. She told me that I might want to consider not adopting him because she didn’t think my heart could take losing yet another dog. I had just lost three in less than a year, two within six weeks of each other. It had been a grief-stricken year and she was concerned that one more loss might be more than I could bear. She said she really wanted to see me get a dog that I would have for years. As it was, Finnegan’s prognosis was one to three months.

But I refused to even consider getting another dog. I went ahead with the adoption so Finnegan would go out of this world being a family member and part of a loving home. We went on to treat the Lymphoma with steroids. Whenever he had a flare up his lymph nodes would swell and I’d take him to my vet; she’d give him a power shot of steroids, send me home with a prescription and a word of warning to get prepared because the end could be very soon. But we’d go home and I’d treat him with the prescriptions plus Fish Oil supplements and the swelling would go down and he’d return to normal within a day or two. And then we’d have a few more months of remission, until the next flare-up.

Instead of the one to three month prognosis, Finnegan and I had a fabulous eight months together. He had an amazing spirit! He was a young boy of five years and he had playful energy. He loved to play with the ball and the Frisbee in the yard. He’d toss the ball up in the air and catch it in his mouth, throw it down, make it bounce, catch it in his mouth then run laps of glee. I’d toss the Frisbee and he’d retrieve, run around with it, chew on it for a while and then bring it back for me to toss again. Inside, he loved his stuffy toys. Watching him play, no one would’ve ever guessed he was sick. He had a zest for life and he didn’t want to leave.

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I’m convinced that Fish Oil had a lot to do with the extra months we had together. My vet informed me that some studies had shown that fish oil had an effect on suppressing or slowing the growth of the lymphoma cancer cells. So I loaded him up on Fish Oil every day. Instead of giving him the recommended two to four capsules each day, I was giving him twelve to eighteen capsules every day. He loved them. I usually put them in his food but he’d take them right out of my hand and eat them like treats. He recovered from several flare-ups, against all veterinarian expectation, and I really do believe the Omega 3 Fish Oil capsules played a big role in those recoveries. That, and maybe the fact that he was loved so very much.

I miss you sweet Finnegan! You are forever in my heart. Until we meet again, may you be tossing balls and running on clouds. Remembering you today, and always.

FINNEGAN (aka Biker Boy):  October 19, 2005 – June 13, 2011

Transition Ceremonies & Memorial Services: I’m a Guest Blogger at Talk2theAnimals!

My article, Transition Ceremonies and Memorial Services for Your Animal Companions, is posted on Janet Roper’s Talk2theAnimals blog. I love being a guest blogger there! There are so many good stories. Check out my article and while you’re there, be sure to click around and read other narratives of the human-animal bond.

white candle burning

photo by Smabs Sputzer

A Tribute to My Precious Foster Hannah

TRIBUTE TO HANNAH

Hannah the greyhound saluki mixHannah came to me as a foster dog. Her back story is mostly unknown as she was found in a ditch with a litter of puppies. Her early years were obviously unpleasant, and maybe even cruel.

She came to me from her present owner who was in a desperate situation and needed a place for Hannah to stay. And stay with me she did, for the last two years.

Hannah was an incredibly sweet dog with the gentlest of souls. She was part  Headshot of Hannah the greyhound saluki mixGreyhound, part Saluki. The Saluki heritage gave her a very reserved demeanor and one that was fairly expressionless. What I mean by that is the expression on her face NEVER changed! She held the same expression always –and some folks thought she looked a little melancholy. I thought so at first too, until I got to know Hannah. Her expressions came through her body, not her face. I knew she was excited not by the look on her face but by the thump of her tail against the couch cushion when I came in the room. I knew she was having fun, not by her facial expression but by the way she moved, the way she jumped from bed to bed, leap-frogging and bed-hopping. Her ears would stand straight out and she’d turn and look up at me from her landing position, as she considered pouncing again. I knew she was content when she would lay in the sun, rolling in the grass, from side to side, over and back, and finally come to rest on her back, her legs stretched out and her front paws poised like a praying mantis.

Everyone who met Hannah instantly feel in love with her. She was just so sweet, so calm and so mellow. Hannah liked mellow. When the other dogs started to get boisterous or rowdy in the living room, she would just pick up and retreat back to the bedroom and hang out there until things quieted down.

When Hannah first came to me she was obviously feeling displaced and probably a bit confused, having left the stable home that she’d known for several years. She didn’t want to eat the first few meals. That’s quite normal when a change occurs in a dog’s environment. But she needed to eat! So I would bring her bowl over and hand-feed her. Goopy gobs of kibble mixed with mushy canned food. It was a messy job but at least she ate everything. And this went on for awhile, day after day of hand-feeding, when I finally realized, she’s playing me! She’s just a diva and wanted to be hand-fed all the time. Silly girl.

hannah the blue greyhound saluki mix

When she started eating on her own, she liked to eat in private. She didn’t like any distractions or any movements around while she was eating so she took her meals in my bedroom, usually on top of my bed. She was such a princess!

But then she stopped eating. Wouldn’t eat anything. At all. I took her to my vet and she was diagnosed as heading into kidney failure. There’s no recovery from kidney failure so she was on borrowed time. I was told it could be a few weeks or a few months. That was two weeks ago.

After her 4-day stay in the hospital getting pumped with IV fluids she came back home and was doing fabulous! I was so happy. She was back to her old self. Trotting in the yard, rolling in the grass, bed-jumping. And she would get especially excited at treat time. But she was still being very finicky with the food. I had to get really creative with meal planning just so she would get something into her belly. And she went back to the Diva mode and I would hand-feed her meatballs, chicken nuggets, ham, bread, rigatoni noodles with sauce and whatever else she would eat to keep her strength up. I ended up throwing a lot of stuff out. Surely she’ll eat tuna-fish, right? What dog doesn’t like tuna fish? Hannah doesn’t. She ate oatmeal one day and I thought, Great! Oatmeal is good for her. So I made a big pot of it. She never ate oatmeal after that first time. One day she’d eat something and the next day she decided she didn’t like it. I kinda think she went back to playing me, but I was happy to oblige.

She had lost a lot of weight and was continuing to lose weight, but again, she seemed like she had really turned a corner. Until Tuesday. Monday she didn’t eat anything at all. And believe me, I tried EVERYTHING! She would take food in her mouth but spit it right back out.  Tuesday, same thing. Wouldn’t eat at all. She was getting weaker. Then she suddenly couldn’t sit still, like she couldn’t get comfortable. She finally settled down, as we all did for the night.

On Wednesday morning when I got up she was unresponsive. Breathing, but unresponsive. I rushed her to the vet and the clinic staff whisked her back to a room. The vet came out a short while later and said that her blood pressure was so low they couldn’t even get a reading. They had her on oxygen and did a blood draw, but her blood was sludgy and coagulating. The vet wanted to see what the blood work looked like because she thought it might not be the kidneys. When the results came back it wasn’t good. She came out with the paperwork, a paper with a lot of red ink, indicating Hannah’s levels that were abnormal — so many of her levels were abnormal and not just a little abnormal but way out of normal range. At this point it was obvious that something else was going on inside Hannah and there was just no coming back from it.

It was time. So I had to say goodbye and release sweet Hannah to be with all my other babies up at the Rainbow Bridge. It was heartbreaking to see her in the condition she was, especially when just the day before she was bouncing around.

Hannah was a very special girl who left paw prints on the hearts of all who met her. I’m very grateful to have had these last two years with her.

                              Godspeed Hannah!                                                        

I know you’re up there rolling in green meadows and basking in the warm sunlight. Until we meet again, feel my love and know that we miss your sweet spirit.   Hannah walking

UPDATE 1/24/14:  I had just come into the house from doing poop-duty outside and as I was about to slip back into my house shoes I noticed something white on the inside of my left shoe. When I picked it up, there lie a little white feather. I have to think that was Hannah stopping by to let me know she got her angel wings!

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