Saturday, September 6, 2008

Tuesday Toast for Floyd

Here we are in Spokane, Washington without my dad. It is surreal actually. I keep expecting him to appear any moment. To me Spokane will always be about my dad even though I have so many other wonderful people that I love here.

We're here this week because Kathleen launched her book tour for the paperback edition of "The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry" in Spokane mostly because my dad insisted she do it. The turnout at Auntie's bookstore - a crowd almost entirely made up of friends of my father's or mine from my high school days at Mead - really got a treat. Kat is a wonderful speaker and provided an intimate picture of the process and thoughts that went into her memoir. I was so happy to see so many old friends come out and attend.

Friday, Floyd's dearest friend in Spokane, Frank Trutton, arranged a pool tournament in his honor. He even printed up shirts. What a great guy. His friend Rick brought the trophy which had "Floyd Klozar" listed as the last winner of the tournament. I was very proud. We had a wonderful time seeing all of these friends together again. My second family, the Coles, were there in force and I was thrilled Kevin Langford and his lovely wife Karen made a special effort to be there. It had been many years since I've seen him. They had just suffered the sudden loss of her brother-in-law in a situation eerily similar to that of my dad's loss.

I guess it brings home that our time on earth is not to be wasted. We all agreed that Floyd knew how to get the best of every little moment in life. He would have had a great time tonight. We did.

Here's to you Floyd. You'll never by forgotten.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Wishing he were here

Kathleen and I are in Paris, having just led a tour group from AAA Signatours travel here to experience Paris as we did when she attended Le Cordon Bleu. Last year my dad, his wife, and his good friends Eric and Joan from England were to join us on our research trip to Paris. My dad was disappointed they couldn't make it then and we were all hoping he would be here with us now.

He is here in my heart. Here's one for you, Floyd!

Thanks to everyone who raised a pint to my dear ol' dad in May. I'm sure it meant a lot to him and certainly did to all of us wishing he was still with us to make us laugh and sing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Friends of Floyd festivities

Toast Floyd every Tuesday in May

Thanks to all those that raised your glasses the last two Tuesdays in a toast, "One for Floyd." This Tuesday, call a friend, meet them for a pint, and raise one in his honor.
Next round...

May 20th
Spokane, at The 7th Rail or The Hi Neighbor
Seattle, at The Deluxe Bar & Grill
Manchester UK, at The Chapel House
Anna Maria Island, Florida, at Bortell's
Tampa, Florida, at Mad Dogs & Englishmen
London, UK, at The Queen's Arms
Fort Worth, Texas, at The Flying Saucer

Post your comments, add pub locations. Together we'll "have one for Floyd!"

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Celebration... what's on tap

After talking to my dad's most loved friends (which is all of you, but I don't have all your numbers), we came to the conclusion to celebrate his life doing what Floyd enjoyed most. Gather all his friends around a campfire, water, boats, food, and yes - a few beers too - and just have a good time.

But like all good things, we have to wait until summer for the party.

What

An outdoor gathering of Floyd's friends

When

Late June or early July on a Sunday or Saturday
(I want to make sure y'all can be there, and to give you time to plan)


Where

An outdoor setting. Spokane area, probaby north Idaho on the lakes he loved so much

Post your comments to this entry! Let me know dates you are out-of-town or post preferred spots. Floyd wants you there in the fun and family friendly environment he would love.



Monday, April 28, 2008

Military Salute "His Way" Video

I've created a video of the Military Honor Gaurd salute with the music my dad requested, a rendition of Frank Sinatra's "My Way." This is about 4 minutes in length and has audio with a few pictures.



If video does not play, click here

Monday, April 21, 2008

Funeral - Tuesday April 22nd


Floyd's friends and family took part in a Catholic funeral and mass at St. Anthony Parish, 2320 N. Cedar, Spokane at 10 a.m. on April 22, 2008, followed by a military ceremony at Holy Cross cemetery, 7200 N. Wall St., at 11:30 a.m.

It was a beautiful day in Spokane and so many wonderful people turned out.

Father "Joe" spoke about Floyd's life of 45 years with his wife, Betty and their four children. Gene, Teresa, and Mike were present. He talked about his travels through England, Alaska, Florida, Montana, and finally Spokane. He mentioned additional travels to Wales and Australia with second wife.

I was asked to speak, but found it almost impossible to do so. Sitting in the pew next to the casket that contained my father was emotionally overwhelming. I tried to speak of his love of people, and how he brought everyone together almost always over a beer. He also loved baseball. He was a true believer and truely loved everyone, never putting himself first. As I tried to say through my tears, he was also my best friend and I always wanted to grow up to be just like him.

Teresa spoke about a story where she and Gene, as teenagers, were vying for his 1964 Impala. One day my dad took them both outside, introduced them to a family of a young GI, his wife, and two small children, and said he was giving the car to them because they needed it. She broke down in tears as she finished.

Gene spoke about how "Dad" would have hated this ceremony. He loved to laugh and bring smiles and not have people be sad. Sadness was not what he was about, he was always an optimist and upbeat.

His last wife, Virgina, smiled ear to ear as she spoke about her time singing in the sweet adeline's chorus. She mentioned her travels all over the world to exotic places. She said Floyd went along with her and that he was "ornery." Only she knew this bitter truth, she explained, "because I had to live with him for 13 years and his kids didn't!"

At Holy Cross Cemetary, an honor gaurd played TAPS, and fired three volleys into the air, as the flag was lifted from his coffin and folded. It was a remarkable ceremony.

After cremation, Floyd will be placed next to his wife of 45 years, Betty Klozar, at Holy Cross Cemetary.

Donations to fund a new playfield named in Floyd's honor are planned. Also a baseball or softball scholorship may also be offered.

video

Floyd's notice in the Spokesman Review

This is what was published in today's Spokesman Review. A similar notice has been posted in papers in Cleveland, Ohio, and Salem, Ore. You can find the original online at the newspaper's site.

Floyd J. Klozar, Jr.,
of Spokane left us on April 12, 2008, at the height of his life. Born February 8, 1929, in Cleveland, OH, he was 79 years young when he was taken by a stroke on a sunny day, just after a game of golf visiting Cancun, Mexico. He was there with his wife, Virginia; his son, Mike; and friends Maria and Jim. Floyd spread humor, joy, and compassion to all those he met on his life's journey.

His loyalty to his family, friends, and country was legendary. He served in the U.S. Air Force for 33 years, including tours in Korea and Vietnam. He pitched for the Air Force baseball team that toured the world to a championship title and was later asked to try out for a major league baseball team. After USAF tours in England, Texas, Florida and Alaska, Floyd retired to Spokane in 1978, where he worked for the U.S. Post Office until 2000. Floyd served as the president of St. Vincent DePaul Catholic Charities in Spokane, which allocates money for families in need through non-profit organizations such S.N.A.P (Spokane Neighborhood Action Program).

Floyd was an adventurer in life. He loved whitewater rafting and camping and adored his dogs Linus, Chena and Koko. He worked to clean up local rivers, and could always squeeze in a round of golf, a pint of beer, or a game of pool with close friends. His thirst for adventure grew each year in life as he travelled the world on adventures to visiting Wales, Spain, Australia, and often to the beaches of Mexico, where he finally left us.

Floyd was an 18-year-old newly minted airman in the U.S. Army Air Corp when he met and married Elizabeth May "Betty" (Mootz) the day he met her in 1947. He remained her loving husband for 45 years until her death. He is survived by their four children: oldest son Francis Eugene "Gene" Klozar and daughter Teresa Ann Lamberson, both of Spokane; Sherry Louise Tieman, of Portland, OR; and Michael Alan "Mike" Klozar and daughter-in-law Kathleen Flinn Klozar of Seattle. He was loving grandfather to Christy Lynn Lamberson of Key West, FL; Michelle Ray Davis, Spokane, Genie Reid of Montana, and Alaina Klozar of Oregon.

After the loss of his wife Betty to cancer and heart disease in 1995, Floyd remarried Virginia Hall Klozar in 1995 in Gretna Green, Scotland, with his British "mates" and son Mike standing at his side. He is survived by his stepsons Timothy K. Sebers of Moyie Springs, ID, and Daniel Lee Hall of Spokane, and their families.

A Catholic funeral and mass will be held at St. Anthony Parish, 2320 N. Cedar, Spokane, WA, at 10 a.m. on April 22, 2008, followed by a military ceremony at Holy Cross cemetery, 7200 N. Wall St., at 11:30 a.m. Join us for a celebration of his life with music, dancing and fun, at the B.O.F. (Brotherhood of Friends), in Spokane, WA. planned for May.

Details of this event and contribution directions can be found at www.klozar.com. Arrangements entrusted to Hazen & Jaeger Funeral Home, 1306 N. MONROE ST.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

April 12th - He did it his way


Floyd J. Klozar Jr.
(Feb 8, 1929 - April 12, 2008)

As many of you know, my father Floyd sustained a major stroke while vacationing in Cancun Monday, April 7th, just fifteen minutes after I arrived to visit him there. He was admitted to the Galenia hospital in Cancun where Dr Rafael Marciel provided excellent immediate treatment to remove the clot. Floyd was recovering well when a complication arose at 4am Monday, April 8th, and Doctor Marciel decided that an emergency airlift was necessary. The treatment to remove the clot intervaneously, Thrombolitics, is effective in 9 of 10 cases, but has serious complications in 10% of patients. Unfortunately, my father fell into that 10%.

I arranged a medical airlift to Miami Jackson Memorial Hospital - one of the top neurosurgical hospitals in the United States. Ginger and I flew onboard with attending doctors and Floyd to Miami. Kathleen flew in from the west coast of Florida to join them. Floyd arrived sedated and in critical condition. He was immediately examined by Dr. Ahlberg, and CT scans were made. The Doctor advised myself and Ginger on Friday, April 11th, that the prognosis for recovery was not good. His granddaughter, Christy Lamberson, joined us at the hospital. Friday night at 10pm, when visiting hours ended, we all stood by his bedside. He was breathing on his own and we sensed he knew we were there. He remained in a coma in the ICU until the morning of April 12, six hours after we had visited him.

At 4:30am on Saturday, April 12, 2008, the nurses reported that over the course of just about one minute Floyd's vital signs slowly decreased beyond that necessary to sustain life. His breathing and heartrate both slowed steadily, peacefully, with no signs of stress. He was in no pain. He simply chose to fade away.

My father was dearly loved by me, his wife Ginger, his children Teresa and Gene, and his extended family, and certainly by his wealth of wonderful friends. His love of life, selfless nature, and quirky wonderful humor that lit up the lives of all that met him will be sorely missed in this world.

In life, he did it his way. And it was always a way that brought joy and smiles to eveyone. His wish was not for us to mourn but to throw a crazy party to celebrate his life. Of course, this is what Floyd would want, and that is what we will do.

Services will take place in Spokane, Washington. A Catholic service takes place at St Anthony Parish, 10am, Tuesday, April 22nd. A party will take place in May to celebrate his life. We'll be posting details here as they are available.

Cards and flowers should be directed to his wife, Virginia Klozar 2101 S. Katy CtSpokane, WA 99224. (509) 624-7145.

His loving son,
Mike

Friday, April 11, 2008

April 11th - Miami



Floyd looks better today. He does appear to be breathing on his own, but with the aid of a respirator. His heartbeat is steady, and his body temperature has balanced out.

However, his fundamental condition hasn't changed. We talked to his main doctor last night and it appears that this is little hope for recovery due to the overwhelming amount of blood that has seeped into his brain. He is no longer responsive to touch. Mike and Ginger agreed to sign a do not resuscitate order (DNR), so he will not be revived should his heart stops.

Mike's niece Christy who lives in Key West drove up last night, arriving around the time that we were talking to his doctor. The next decision is about whether to remove the machines that are stabilizing his condition, including the tube that they have installed to relieve the pressure in his skull from the bleeding. Although he is breathing on his own, and his heartbeat is strong, this will likely result in accelerated decline in his condition. We have decided at this time to keep the DNR in place, and to keep him in the ICU with the same care level that he has now until we talk to his primary doctor again on Saturday afternoon. They are monitoring his condition, but no longer doing bloodwork. The doctors assure us that he is not in any pain, that he's essentially resting, being fed via IV and kept on a steady drip of morphine.

Thank you for all your prayers and support.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

April 10th - Miami

We are still in Miami, where Floyd was flown on Tuesday evening. We have not seen Floyd yet this morning. The visiting hours are limited to the afternoon and a couple of hours in the evenings. We are expecting to talk to Floyd's main attending neurosurgeon this afternoon.

As of 11:30 a.m. EDT, Floyd remains in a coma, in serious but stable condition at Jackson Hospital in Miami. He suffered a stroke, and then had the complication of bleeding into the brain. His vital signs remain good, but his condition has not otherwise changed since yesterday. We are in a watching and waiting mode to see whether he wakes up from the coma, and if he does, what affect the stroke has had on him.

Please do not send any flowers to Jackson Hospital, nor cards or anything else as they are not allowed in the NSICU. If you'd like, please add your comments, whether for Floyd or for Ginger, Mike and their family. We will print them and read them aloud to Floyd.

Mike and Ginger are exhausted. Both of them slept poorly overnight and are now napping. It would be very helpful to limit phone calls to Ginger or Mike as having to replay the events of the past few days is very distressing to both of them. But we know that many people love and care about Floyd and we want to keep everyone involved, so we have started this site.

We ask for and welcome your prayers.

- Kathleen

April 9th - Miami

This is Kathleen's version of events on the 9th April.

Floyd was put into the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit (NSICU) in west Wing 8 at Jackson Memorial Hospital. In the afternoon, we talked to doctors within the unit. The reason Floyd was flown back to the U.S. and to this particular hospital was because it was hoped they may be able to surgically remove the clot in Floyd's brain. However, the doctors on site said that they felt there would be no benefit to a surgical procedure as the bleeding into the brain tissue was so significant, and while the pressure inside his brain was only at the high end of normal, the swelling in the brain tissue was so significant it was unlikely he could make a full recovery. They also told us that he was officially in a coma. They were concerned that surgery may cause greater harm to the brain tissue.

The doctors advised that he is very ill, his situation is critical and that if he does wake up from the coma, there's a strong possibility that he will have significant impairment. They have advised us to wait until the pressure in the brain has peaked, which will probably be in the next 24 hour to 48 hours, and then they make a further determination of his condition.

He does respond to touch, pulling away from nurses when they try to take his blood (something he does not like), and he moves his feet when Ginger rubs them. His vital signs appear stable, although is circulation has been affected and his skin is cold to the touch.

April 8th Complications - airlift to Miami

This is Kathleen's version of what happened the 8th April

On Tuesday morning, the doctors in Cancun informed Mike and Ginger that there had been a complication that occurred overnight. At about 4 a.m., Floyd began complaining that he didn't feel well to the nurse. The doctors investigated and found that a clot in his brain had begun seeping blood into the tissue. (Officially, a right parietal intraparenquimatous hematoma that affected his right lateral ventricle and secondary to the 3th and 4th ventricles, at that time starting to cause hydrocephalus.) They performed a precoronal ventriculostomy to relieve the pressure caused by this internal bleeding. In lameman's terms, they drilled a hole in two places in his skull and attached tubing to let the excess blood to escape to help relieve the pressure in his skull caused by the build up of fluid.

However, this was a serious complication. New CT scans taken at 5 a.m. found that he had developed a significant clot in the center of his brain. After much consultation, it was decided to fly Floyd back to a neurotrauma center in the U.S. and with Mike and Ginger, the doctors there settled on Jackson Hospital in Miami. Floyd was sedated for the flight and put on a medical plane with Mike, Ginger and his attending physician from the hospital in Cancun and taken to Miami. They arrived at approximately 12:15 a.m. 9th April. Kathleen boarded a flight in Tampa at 8 p.m. and met them at the hospital.

At 2:50 a.m., the three checked into the Sheraton Miami Mart Hotel. The phone is 305-261-3800. Mike and Kat are in room 515; Ginger is in room 513.

April 7th - The stroke (Cancun)

This is Mike's account of what happened in Mexico.

April 7, 2008
My father and his wife, Virginia, had been enjoying their timeshare at the Grand Mayan, in Cancun, Mexico with their good friends Jim and Maria. They had arrived on Friday and had spent a couple wonderful days enjoying the resort. Jim and Floyd had been out all morning on the golf course then enjoyed a few Corona’s at the club house, the 19th hole, when the merciless sun got to be too much for them. They returned to the room around 4:30pm to wait for me (his son) to arrive with my wife Kathleen. However, Kathleen was not able to come with me due to last minute obligation with her publisher.

5:00pm
I arrive at the hotel earlier than expected as my Alaska airlines flight pulled up to the gate ahead of schedule. I had met some wonderful people on the plane, including Bob Gamache from Richland, WA who is a wine grower and happened to be staying at the same resort. We rode the shuttle to the resort together, having a beer one the way (as you can in Mexico). When I knocked on the door, Maria was the first to greet me. This was my first meeting with Maria and Jim even though I had heard how wonderful and fun they were, and they both were everything my Dad had said and more. Jim was a bit stricken with Montazuma’s revenge, but my Dad, Maria and Ginger all jumped up to welcome me with hugs and smiles. My Dad proudly showed off the exceptional accommodations, pointing out the soaking tub on the patio, which usually bubbles but Ginger had the facilities manager turn off because the sound bothered her. We went onto the patio and he pointed out the trails to the golf course, the amazing restaurants, swimming pools, and bar all within a short walk. Proudly, he asked what I thought. I told him it was fantastic.


Just then, Ginger called to us to have a look at towels folded by the housekeeping staff “cruise ship” style to look like a little shepherd girl. She told my dad to take a picture so he grabbed his digital camera, leaned against the dresser, and snapped a shot. At this point, standing across from him, I noticed he looked a bit unstable.

I asked “are you alright, dad?” He said “Sure, I've just had too many Coronas.” He put his left hand on the dresser to stop his lean, but he slid a little, barely catching himself.
I asked again, “are you sure you are alright?”

He had a funny smirk on his face and said “yeah.” Then he slipped a bit more, so I moved over beside him to help him steady himself. Ginger said “Oh Floyd, you’re drunk!”

He said “Yeah, dear, I am drunk.”

But I’ve seen my dad have a few before and he could not only stand perfectly, but still shoot a mean game of pool. I knew he was not drunk. I asked him to lean on me and I’d help him to sit on the bed. But as we took the first step, he was an unexpected dead weight of 220lbs and all I could do, without proper leverage, was slowly lay him down on the tile floor. I went down with him. We both laughed as we lie on the floor and Ginger remarked “Oh Floyd, you’re so darn drunk you pulled that cute towel figure off the bed, put it back! I liked it.”

He said “Yessss, dear, I sooo drunk,” now slurring to such a degree it was hard to put together his words. I said "how many did you have?" He held up four fingers on his right hand and slurred the word “Coronas.”

That many beers could not do this I thought. “I’m putting you in the chair, help me get you up. You have to help me.” He still smiled, his eyes now narrowed into little slits and he looked plastered. He could not help however. I said “move your left leg over here.” He moved his right leg instead. “Can you move your leg or are you messing with me?,” I asked.

He slurred “messing with you son.” But he didn’t move his leg. I pulled up a chair, put my arms under his armpits and lifted him into the chair. Maria came in at this point, dressed to go out to dinner and asked, “What’s going on?”

Ginger said “Oh, Floyd is so drunk he fell down and pulled this cute little figure off the bed, and he won’t put it back. He did it on purpose because I liked it.” As I looked at my Dad, I noticed he was slumping to the left in the chair, his eyes almost closed, he had a weird smile on his face and the left corner of his mouth drooped down unnaturally, almost like a clown face. A chill ran down my spine and I thought, oh God don’t let this be a stroke.

I whispered to Maria, “we need a Doctor now, call a Doctor.” She speaks perfect Spanish and English. I have no idea what the signs of a stroke are, so I thought I had better document them for a doctor. I grabbed my digital camera, put it into video mode, and pointed it at my Dad. I asked him to show my his pitching arm, his left hand, the arm he is unable to move. He couldn’t lift it and drooped further over while wiping his head with a towel in his right hand. Maria did not hesitate, picked up the phone, and insisted a doctor be sent now.

Maria suggested we put Floyd on the bed and went into the hallway to grab a staff person to help. We struggle to lift him onto the bed. He was barely conscious now, slurring words that we could not understand. I asked Ginger if he had any medication and she mentioned Nitro pills. I said “he needs pills? For his heart? Do you have them?” Ginger said, “Oh, uh, I don’t know where they are. I forgot my nitro sprayer and I really need that. I need to find a pharmacy to get it but I don’t know where I can get it down here. I really can’t go long without my…” I cut her off. “Ginger, we only have a short time. My Dad is not drunk I think this is a stroke. Does he have any medication he is supposed to take?”

Ginger went into the bathroom mumbling to herself but came out and said “I don't know, it must be with my medication. I need my medication. I wonder where I can get…” Ignoring her, I turned to Maria who says“keep talking to him, we need him talking.” Maria and I asked my dad questions but he just lay limp on the bed, with an odd smile on his face. When we asked him to move his left arm he would flop his right arm up and down. I could lift his left arm and drop it. He had no control over it at all.

Suddenly, as if nothing had happened, my dad lifted his left arm up in the air and said clearly, “see, I can lift my arm. There’s nothing wrong.” Then he sat up on the bed and was absolutely normal.

Ginger said “Floyd, you’re drunk!”

He said, “Yes dear, I had some beers.” But now he was not slurring and was at full strength. I asked him “why didn’t you lift your arm when I asked you too before? He said “I couldn’t but I didn’t want to tell you that, son. I felt stupid.” I said “Dad, you have to tell me when something is wrong…” and he cut me off nodding, “I know, I know… is a doctor coming?” “Yes,” I said. “Well, I don’t need a doctor, you can see I’m fine,” he said. I can see you’re fine now but you are not fine, I think you had a small stroke.

“But… I don’t want to have a stroke.” He had a pained look on his face. I had just arrived. We were going to go out and have a corona by the pool here in paradise while it was rainy and miserable outside back home. I didn’t want this to be a stroke either. I had flown all day to be with him. This isn’t happening I thought. We just stared at each other, knowing we were both thinking and praying for the same thing.

Maria burst in with the Doctor. My dad jumped up and shook his hand. “I’m fine, doc” he said, “how are you?” “Bien… good, said the Doctor. “Who am I here to see, who can tell me what is going on?,” he asked. Ginger said “they went out in the sun golfing and drinking and now… he’s drunk.” Maria looked at me and said, “Mike, tell him what happened.”

I explained how he leaned, could not hold himself up, then fell slowly to the ground. How I put him in the chair. I told him of the limp left side, the slurring, and the mouth drooping to one side. He had my dad sit and hold out both arms, which he did perfectly. He lifted each leg. He spoke without a slur. I pulled the camera out of my pocket and said to the doctor, watch this. I took this 10 minutes ago. We both watched the video for the first time. The Doctor stepped back and said to my dad, “if I see you now, I think ‘he is fine’, but when I see this video, it is clear you have a small stroke.” He then looked at both of my dad’s eyes and pulled me over to show me. “Look,” he said, “do you see?” I saw one pupil was huge/dilated, while the other was a tiny pinpoint. My dad protested, “I’m not drunk, I’ve had a friend do that test before.” I told him one pupil was bigger than the other. The Doctor explained to him “you have shown clearly three signs of a stroke, now this is four. My dad jumped to his feet, almost dancing and laughing “but I’m fine, see?”

We went into the other room. I asked the doctor what we should do next. He said that there will likely be another stroke soon. If it occurs within 3 hours and it is small, that would be good. If it takes longer to come, that would be bad and likely fatal. “You caught it at the perfect time, we can take him to the hospital,” he said. “I don’t want to go to the hospital, I’m fine," my dad protested. "I didn’t have a stroke. I just had too many beers in the sun.” I sat on the coffee table across from my dad on the couch. I handed him a bottle of water and we talked for a few minutes.

“Let’s just go get it checked out then we can get back and go the 19th hole (the bar) for a drink. You’ve got to show me this wonderful place.” My dad’s eyes looked vacant for second, he choked-up for a millisecond and said “I don’t want to be like Eric.” Eric is his good friend in England who suffered a severe stroke and now is confined to a wheel chair. He cannot speak well and cannot do anything for himself. His wife, Joan (who is an angel), waits on him day and night, even taking him to the bathroom and lifting him onto the toilet. In England, the Gov’t sends caregivers (nurses) to help. But they are there only a few hours each day.

I told my Dad, “you will not be like Eric.” This is small, we caught it right away. The doctor will take care of it. He smiled a forced smile and we talked about nothing for a few minutes. He was totally normal. But then I noticed the water bottle in his left hand. He reached with his right hand to help lift it to his lips. He voice started to slur and his eyes slimmed toward a squint. I told him “I’ll be right back” and went to find the doctor who was outside instructing hotel staff. I told him “it’s happening again.” He said to the concierge “we’re out of time, back up the ambulance now.” He sat across from my dad, now drooping slightly on the couch. He told him to hold up his arms and talk to him. Just then, the paramedics arrived, wheeled in the stretcher and put on him on it. He was now almost unable to speak and slipping toward unconsciousness.

There was only room for one family member in the ambulance with my dad and Ginger insisted that she go, but then decided to ride in the front seat instead so she could see out and be comfortable. I tell Maria to ride with him since she can speak Spanish and have the concierge call me a taxi. While I waited I asked the doctor questions. He said my dad had two small strokes. That it could be a blood clot or a hemorrhage, the doctors would take a CT scan and fix the problem. As my taxi pulled up, he assured me we caught it at the perfect time.

6:30pm
It is a 40 minute taxi ride to the Hospital from the Grand Mayan at Playa del Carmin. The speed bumps are huge and I hoped that ambulance driver has taken care not to give my dad a bumpy ride. My taxi gets lost and takes me to two other hospitals first before finally arriving at the sparkling art deco glass structure. It is so modern and new it looks like something out of a sci-fi movie or a European hotel, not like the avacado tile floored 1960’s concrete block structures I’m used to in the USA. Certainly not what I expected to find in Mexico.

I walk in and find Maria and Ginger. Maria, who has a brilliant mind, quick wit, and a fast paced staccato cadence to her speech quickly fills me in on the situation in English while occasionally barking off orders and answers to hospital staff in Spanish.

My Dad is in the emergency admitting section. The Doctor looks like a daytime soap opera star – young and well spoken in English and Spanish. He introduces himself as Doctor Marciel. He takes us in immediately to see my dad. Ginger and Maria talk to my dad while I answer questions of his medical history. I quickly wrote down a list of all his medications before we came to the hospital. Dr Marciel tells me he thinks there is a blood clot, but they have not located it yet. They believe parts are breaking off and hitting the brain, blocking blood flow temporarily each time. This is why he is normal until one side of his body shuts down. He suggests that once they locate the clot, they will break it up. This will restore blood flow and he should be fine. He asks if we would like him to do this or if we would rather fly him back to the USA. I decide to have the procedure done now, that expediency and having him in a doctor’s care now is better than risking a long flight to the USA.

9pm
The Doctor shows us the CT scan and, although they cannot locate the clot they are sure it is in the neck to head area. They ask if there has been any surgery in the last six months, and Ginger says no. We remind her of his his illiyac aortic anyrism stint and inform the doctor.

10pm
The Doctor introduces us to the Neurosurgeon who prepares a procedure called, I think, a Trembolosis. This is used to break up the clot and restore blood to the brain. He says it is similar to what is done for a heart attack, which is also a blood stoppage but to the heart. We go in to see my dad and talk with him. He is a bit nervous. Maria makes him laugh a bit, I try to do the same by feigning to give him a huge sloppy kiss and then giving him a high five. Ginger walks over to him but is very somber as she gives him a little peck on the cheek and whispers to him. The Doctor comes over, puts his arm around her, and assures her all is well. As they all walk out, my Dad signals me back. He is a bit shaken to see Ginger that way and his confidence drops. He looks worried and says to me again, this time with real concern…

“I don’t want to end up like Eric.” I told him that would not, could not, happen. The strokes were tiny the Doctors said, and they were going to get rid of the blockage. Then it would be only a few days until we'll be having beers on the beach and playing some golf. He smiled and grabbed my hand and gave me a pained look of understanding. I tried my best to give a convincing, reassuring smile as we laughed a bit. I was sure everything would be fine and I wanted him to know that too.

11:45pm
Ginger is really hungry and wants a coffee with lots of cream and something to eat. The hospital has a café that normally closes at 10pm, but they open it up and make us tasty little egg sandwichs and coffee for her. Maria, Ginger and I wait for word of the procedure. Dr. Marciel comes out to us and tells us it has gone well. Now they are going to CT scan him again, monitor his condition, and make sure everything is fine.

1:30am
We wait and within the hour we are told it looks good and he is resting. That we should go home and sleep. He takes my cell phone number and gives me his personal cell phone number to call if we have any questions, anytime. We take a taxi back to the resort and I pull out the couch and make it into a bed. I try to get online, and I call my wife Kathleen in Florida and ask what she has found out about insurance. She is brilliant and resourceful and has researched both insurance names I have given her. Ginger could not remember where the ID cards were for the insurance and did not know any details other than the name "Tricare for life." I had found my Dad’s Doctor’s name and gave it to Kat. She called and was able to get numbers for medicare and Tri-care4life, the military medical insurance my dad uses. Kat notices that I have a hard time making sense and tells me to sleep and try to get online in the morning.

I try but cannot sleep well, my mind is going crazy. I worry that I don’t want to lose my father. He is my best friend and I've just arrived to see him.


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