Monday, August 24, 2009
Funeral for a friend
Sally and I drove to Bountiful, Utah, last night to say goodbye to our old coworker, Rand. Rand died on Thursday when his wife decided he'd had enough, and his doctors said there was no hope. The previous Thursday he had a stroke, and never fully came out of a coma. Sunday night was a viewing, the funeral is today.
Rand had been diagnosed with diabetes as a child, but when I met him in the early 1980s he hadn't been to a doctor in years. I suspect it was because he had no medical insurance. He and his wife, Judy, had four children, all of them now grown up. When Rand went to work for the school district he was suddenly insured and then he sought treatment.
None of us knew how much Rand's disease had progressed until the December day a few years ago we found out he wouldn't be at work for at least a month. Some time before he'd stepped on a nail. Some versions of the story said it was days, some said weeks, but he couldn't feel the nail in his foot, and when he found it his surgeon put him right in for an operation.
Things just got worse from that point, and then there came a point where he could no longer feel his feet. That's dangerous on a job that required him to climb stairs several times a day.
The last time I saw Rand alive was in April at the retirement party of another coworker, Norm. He was supported by a cane, his face was chalk white, and he was nearly blind. Behind his back a couple of us said we thought he didn't look long for this world.
When I walked up to see him in his casket he looked great. He even had the little smirk you can see in his obituary picture on top. His wife marveled, "I wonder how they got that look on his face? It's so Rand."
I thought, but didn't say, that he looked healthier dead than when he was alive.
Rand had been married four times to three different women. He was married to Judy, with whom he had four children. She divorced him. He married Chris, who already had ten children. He divorced her. He married his son's former girlfriend, Allison, a girl decades younger than him. She divorced him. Then he and Chris got back together, and she is his widow.
At the viewing everyone looked happy because they knew that the terrible disease that had ravaged him his entire life was now gone. I guess sometimes the only way you beat a condition like that is to die, and then it dies with you.
S'long, Rand, old buddy.