Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Pain That Won't Go Away

Yesterday I wrote that I'm glad this shit is over; but as I have been so many times before, I was completely and totally wrong. The aftermath of BDR's death isn't over, it's only just beginning.

We (Mom, Sis, and I) are all so hurting and confused right now that it feels like this might not ever be over. Did I mention that I've been on a roller coaster of emotions the last few days?

Part of what makes this so difficult was the sudden and unexpected way that my Father passed away. BigDaddyRat was a large and vital man, he had survived two wars (Vietnam and Panama) and still exercised regularly. He had put on a few pounds since he got out of the Army, but was still in pretty decent shape for a guy that was almost 65 years old. Even after Dad had blown out both of his knees and was hobbling around on walker, the last thing anyone expected was for him to suddenly drop dead. I guess I should explain what happened.

BDR worked for AM General as the "Director of Government Relations," which means that he was a weird kind of lobbyist. He used his extensive contacts within the military to assess and analyze their transportation needs as they related to AM General and their line of products. He would then explain those needs to his colleagues at AM General which would allow them to market vehicles to the military (the Army in particular) more aggressively and effectively.

What this also means is that a big part of BDR's job was taking guys out to lunch and playing golf. It's nice work if you can get it. So he was out at a golf course in Maryland, but because the course was kind of soggy it was cart paths only that day. While walking out to what turned out to be the last golf ball he ever hit, BDR slipped and blew out his patella tendon. Then while he was at Walter Reed to get the final word on what needed to be done, he slipped and blew out the other knee in the exact same way and as an added bonus he tore his rotator cuff while trying to catch himself. Yes, you are reading that correctly; as a result of a round of golf, the COL blew out two knees and a shoulder. When I saw him in the hospital after the fact, he joked that he was one more accident away from being a quadriplegic. After getting the two knees fixed and coming home from the hospital, BDR left this mortal coil when a blood clot entered his lung (pulmonary embolism) and took the big man down.

Now there had initially been some hysterical talk of law suits for wrongful death, etc. but I wasn't really with it. Subsequently I found out that UncleRat (BDR's youngest brother, a Federal prosecutor) has been advocating this position as well. I have the utmost respect for UncleRat as a person and as a professional, so if he's the one saying it I guess we have to at least consider this law suit thing one last time.

It's not like any of us are hurting for money and hitting the Tort Law lotto is the only chance we have for a financially happy life. I think the real motivation is that we want someone to blame. Dad's death is leaving a gaping void in the life of everyone that knew him and I think many of us want someone to suffer financially or professionally thinking that it will make us feel better, but it won't. Dad will still be dead, my Mom will still be a widow, and all that would have really changed is that some lawyer would get a new Porsche out of the deal.

Yesterday one of my close friends was speaking ill of Walter Reed AMC, but I don't blame the folks that work there and I told him so. The real deal is that the facilities and staff of WRAMC are overloaded. For the last 16 years we have been whittling down our military and its resources to the bare bones, thinking that the collapse of the Soviet Union meant there wasn't going to be another large-scale war. The smackdown we laid on Saddam during Desert Storm further convinced our nation and its leaders that our military was more or less invincible, so we cut people and we closed facilities and now we are paying the price.


monkeyrotica said...

Apart from the personal loss, the hardest part about dealing with a parent who dies is that this link to your past is suddenly gone. There's this parent-child chain that stretches into your family history; pull that parent out, and there's this profound sense of loneliness and disconnect. At least that's what happened in my case. So you try and keep that memory alive and take those bits of knowledge and morals or whatever and instill that in your kids. Like when I was loading up the boy's Nerf pistol with Nerf bullets, I told him, "Remember, you always save the last one for yourself." That was my dad talking right there. He was always saying $h!t like that, crazy bastard. I don't think a day has gone without me thinking about him.

nylonthread said...

Wow, unimaginable. With the unexpected blood-clot plus the three-month wait (??!?) for Arlington, there is no wonder you all are inside-out and raw. And you're right, it's not over. Your hearts are all ripped up, and metaphor aside, your emotions need time to heal over the same way a broken bone does. Peace and light to you.

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