Thursday, June 5, 2008

8 Years ago.

This is an event in my life that I have told parts of the story but never the whole story. I have refrained from discussing about it the last few years because it was a sticking point in the relationship I had for 4 years. Since that is now over I can resume talking about it.

Monday June 5, 2000 was like any other day. I got up, got dressed and went to work at K-Mart where I was the manager of the Hardware and Automotive departments. 6 weeks previously my wife had had knee surgery and was still not moving real well. She was due to see her surgeon on Thursday to see if she could start moving around more. She had an appointment to see a counselor so I came home at 12:30. The plan was to take her to her mothers house, which was very close and her mother would take her to the appointment. All she wanted for lunch was a piece of watermelon which I got for her. When the time came to go we headed for the car. She was using a walker so she did not put much strain on the knee. As we headed out the door I patted her on the butt and she made a joke about it. When she got to the car she froze. I still don't know how she managed to get into the car but she did. Her eyes rolled back and she coughed. At this point I didn't think it was extremely serious and I told her I was going to run in and call her mother and tell her to meet us at the hospital. Her exact words to me were "No. Now." We got into the car and went. The hospital was 4 miles away, straight down the road. As we headed out we met a small funeral procession. In Georgia it is customary to stop for those. I slowed down and she hit the dash with her palm and said "Go Go Go." I talked to her on the trip, telling her to hold on and that I loved her.

When I got to the hospital I ran into the ER waiting room and was told to go around to the ambulance entrance. I went into the ER and told them. Immediately 3 people went outside. They pulled her out of the car, laying her on the sidewalk and started CPR. Someone brought out on of those carry boards and they put her on it, then lifted her to a stretcher and took her in. I was told to go register her and then I called her mother and work. We were put into a small waiting room and were there about 45 minutes when our doctor came in. At that point I was fully expecting for him to say what was wrong and I figured she would be staying in the hospital. Instead he apologized and said they had tried all they could but she was gone. At first I was shocked and had a brief moment of denial. I didn't want to believe it but then reality sunk in and I knew it was true. They asked if I wanted to make any calls, so I called work to let them know and I called my mom. A couple of sheriffs deputies asked to talk to me. They said it was routine in a sudden death like this. After I talked to them the doctor asked us if we wanted to go see her and we did. Her body had a bluish tinge to it. I said goodbye and then left the hospital. I went to Arby's, which was nearby and I was working part time at. I let them know and I went on home. I picked something up out of the passenger seat and noticed it was wet. I then realized she probably was already dead before they pulled her out of the car. The deputies were waiting for me and took all of her medicines. I called my mom and she told me that my brothers, her and dad were coming down. I had not expected that. It is a 600 mile trip and my dad's health was not good. I truly appreciated their coming.

The cause of death was never determined. My doctor and I had requested an autopsy, but for some reason they simply conducted a physical examination and nothing else. I believe she died from a blood clot caused by the knee surgery. She had clots before and the previous week had complained of pain, saying she didn't know if it was from the surgery or if it was a blood clot.

My message is one that you have heard before but for most of you have not had to face. Appreciate those you love while you have the chance. You really never know when the end will come. I am not posting this looking for sympathy. Life goes on. Right now it is looking brighter than ever. I have found love again with a wonderful woman who truly knows what I am going through. Her husband was killed in a factory accident 4 and a half years ago. I have 2 jobs that I like very much. In fact, today I will be working both of them, which helps keep my mind occupied. I have a great friend in Illinois who I talk to constantly. I have some great friends that I have never met on the Captain Comics Board. You can bury yourself in the past and never go on. Life is short enough as is. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Remember the past, but don't make it your chains dragging you down. Give those you love a hug and tell them you care. To all my friends reading this, you are a great group of people. We may have never met in person, but your friendship and encouragement is valuable to me. Words alone cannot express how I feel. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Dedicated to the memory of Debra Kay Bagby June 19, 1955-June 5, 2000.


rrlane said...


Thank you for the courage to share this even after all this time. My heart grieves for you, and I want you to know the point you made at the end struck home. I don't think I take my wife for granted, but all the same I got up and gave her a extra kiss this morning after reading your entry.

Take care, brother.

Ana said...


As one of you many invisible friends over on the board, your courage and continual exhortations to love have always been a inspiration. Thank you.


Dr. Mike Parnell said...

First things first, Howard you are good man. Your goodness shines in your strength to retell a painful story. I applaud you and tell you how glad to be your friend.

I have a similar story. My father had knee replacement surgery. He died in almost the exact manner. We never got to say, "Good bye." It is amazing how alike the two are.

Your lesson is mine as well. I never fail to continually tell those that I love how much I do and how much they mean to me.

Rob S. said...

Oh, Howard. You're absolutely right. I'll be giving Kathy a big kiss and hug when I see her this afternoon. And calling my mom right now.

Thank you so much for sharing something so personal. As Ana said, your courage and hope is inspirational.


Robert said...

Thank you for sharing Howard. Thanks for making me stop to appreciate what I have. And thanks for being a positive presence in the world. I always look forward to reading your posts.

- Robert

dsmcaron said...

I admire you for sharing the story. My father died suddenly and without explanation, so for that part, I know the feelings of "What the heck just happened here?"

Thank you.