Four Generations in Four Months

It was the summer of 2005 and we were visiting Karen’s Grandmother at the nursing home in Connecticut.  A day or two earlier, Karen made the five hour drive there with the boys from our summer home in Northern New Hampshire.  I had flown the plane down that afternoon to pay my respects to Karen’s family and to be part of the visit to her grandmother as well.  After all, she was 103 and not on a single medication, I might add.  We took this picture of us and as we were leaving, we were wheeling her into the dining room for dinner.  As we were saying good-bye, Karen began to cry.  “Why are you crying?” I asked with a smile.  “Because, I know this will be the last time I’m going to see her” she said.  I was a little surprised because, to me, nothing seemed any different than the previous years we had visited grandma she still looked and acted great!

But, sure enough, February 25th 2006, we got the call that grandma had passed in her sleep.  Bertha Negri was 104 years old.  God bless her!

Less than two months later on April 12, 2006, I was in our home office in Santa Barbara, making calls and doing paperwork.  Karen was driving the boys to school for the day.  It felt like she had just left when all of a sudden she was back at the outside glass door to my office visibly shaken and hysterical crying.  I threw the door open and screamed; “What happened?” all I could think of was a car accident and our two beautiful boys.  I yelled again in panic, what happened? Were you in an accident?  Are the boys OK?”  “My father shot himself!” she said in a horrific voice.  “Oh my God!” I screamed back and began to cry myself.  ”What?  How? Why?” I was asking, shocked and shaken.  We all knew for a very long time that Pat was on a ton of medication for everything from Rheumatoid Arthritis to a slew of stomach problems.  Apparently, he was through with it all.  After years of trying, the doctors never truly found out what was wrong.  I’m sure this and other factors were making him depressed.    Patrick Negri, dead at age 76.
 I stayed home with the boys and Karen flew back to Connecticut for the funeral.  As much of a challenge as it was, I did well taking care of those two boys.  Friends from church brought us three boys food for dinner, knowing that I was no cook.  Easter Sunday was on the 16th and Ted and Barbara, our other dear friends from church, had us over for their annual Easter dinner with their friends.  Everyone was, as usual, enamored with Dawson and Ian.  I was missing my Karen though.  This was the first time we had been separated this long from each other since we were married.
 Just about a week after she left, I was picking Karen up at the Santa Barbara airport.  I was waiting right inside the door from the ramp where she had been walking across from her “puddle jumper” from Los Angeles.  As she walked into the building where I was standing, we immediately embraced.  But as we did, she let out this huge sigh of stress.  With that she said; “you have no idea what kind of week I had!”  I pulled away and looked at her and asked; “What do you mean?”  She began to explain; “Every day, someone either died or went in the hospital,” she said.  “It was unbelievable”
I can’t recall when I first noticed it but I remember after a few days or weeks, realizing that my favorite “girl” Tobi was coughing more than a dog normally coughs and it just didn’t sound or seem normal to me.  So, I said to Karen; ”This coughing of Tobi’s just doesn’t seem right to me, it’s been going on too long now” Being the amazing mom she always was, Karen took Tobi to our Vet for X-Rays.  Tobi and Lindsey had the best team of vets in town.  When they got back, Karen said: “They found a spot on Tobi’s lung and were asking if she had been out of the area recently like someplace where there may have been mold or a lot of dampness”.  As the next few weeks went on Tobi’s coughing didn’t seem to get any better.  So, we continued to investigate and eventually they discovered it was cancer.  It had spread to her kidneys and it was just a matter of time.  By Memorial Day weekend it was time.  She was clearly distressed having trouble breathing and not even moving around too much anymore.  It killed me. She was the best dog I ever had.  When we returned home that Sunday afternoon, little Ian who just turned five a month earlier said; “And then there were five” I was shocked that he verbalized exactly what I was thinking.  The happy family of six just lost one of their nine-year-old twin sisters.  Being of pointer and Lab mix, I always referred to them as the “Pointer Sisters.”  It was just like losing a child.
Well, that was Sunday, May 28th and come July 1st, well, we all know by now what happened on that date.  So, Karen’s Grandmother, her father, herself and Ian, were gone, four generations in four months.

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