6.01.2007

Sibling Assignment #23: Honoring A Simple Request

On this day in 1996 our father Raymond "Pert" Woolum died after a short struggle with liver cancer. Our sibling assignment this week was to reflect on what we remember during that time. Raymond Pert’s is here and Silver Valley Girl’s is here.

Dad lived out his last weeks of life at home. That was what he wanted. His doctor came to the house. The people from Hospice provided care. My brother took a leave from work and came home. I split my time between school and Kellogg. Silver Valley Girl brought her family up to spend a week also.

We were inexperienced with cancer, Hospice, and care taking. What I remember most is how each of us fell into roles that were needed at that time. Mom worked hard at keeping a routine. She cleaned, cooked, greeted friends, gardened, and calmly worked side by side with the Hospice staff. My brother, sister, and I tried to fall in roles that we thought would help. Raymond Pert relieved Mom and sat with Dad at night. Silver Valley Girl brought her children home to their Papa Pert which gave all of us joy and a needed distraction. I floundered between entertaining children, keeping track of my dogs, sitting with Dad, running errands,organizing food, and grieving. Raymond Pert arriving at the Prichard Tavern with Dad.

Dad had a large circle of friends in Kellogg. Many of them had been friends since childhood. On May 13th Dad had a simple request. He wanted to take a drive up the Coeur d’ Alene River for the last time. He wanted to meet some friends at the Prichard Tavern and have a beer, a burger, and conversation. That was a request we could honor.

Each of us kicked into our roles again. We called friends, organized the trip, loaded up a caravan, and headed up the river. It was a cold, rainy day but that didn’t put a damper on our spirits. During the drive on that May day I tried to see Dad’s favorite river with new eyes and put myself in Dad’s shoes, thinking how it might be knowing it may be the last time to see a natural beauty that he had loved and appreciated for more than sixty years.


Lasting memories were made that day. The Princess learned to play pool in a tavern at age five. Dad and his friends sat around a table and reminisced, laughed, enjoyed a beer, and good food. (Dad is in the red suspenders. Brother Raymond Pert is to the right overseeing "the crony corner".) Having a day out of the house was good for Mom also. She relaxed, visited, and enjoyed herself. Silver Valley Girl and her husband videotaped, and laughed at their children running around in a tavern. I took pictures and a walk with two of my nieces.
The Princess and Zu2 outside taking a walk with me. Zu2 loved to say "cheese."

We all naturally fell into our roles during that month in 1996. Often times we were confused about what we were to do next. Considering our lack of experience I think we all did the best we could do at the time.
Digging through pictures today was bittersweet. There have been so many times we wish Dad was here to fill in the gaps on Kellogg trivia he knew so well, straighten us out on some goofy thing we did, or look at us with misty eyes and say, “ I know I don’t always tell you this, but I am proud of you.” I love and miss you Dad.

7 comments :

  1. Ive read your siblings posts and now Ive read yours..... all so very moving...... you seem a wonderful close loving family.......

    special people you all be ;)

    x

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  2. Very soothing and comforting. . .your writing demonstrates your heart.

    PS - Love the new color scheme!

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  3. Thanks MT...even though it has been a long time ago now it was hard to write.
    PIMD... thanks for noticing the new colors. It is about 100 degrees here which ended my garden work so I decided new month.. new colors!

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  4. I love these pictures. The day at the Prichard Tavern was the last really fun thing we could ever do with Dad. I love the picture of Mom and Donnie Rinaldi talking across the table. (Expert?) Man. Those roles. I'm glad we were all there for Mom. I think she wanted to perform every role and then some. For such a grievous time, it sure was wild..visitors, food, kids, dogs, phone calls, Uncle Harry...my nightly stroll down to the Humdinger for comfort food...I think Mom finally realized I wasn't doing that because I disliked our food at home...I just needed some air and taste of Kellogg from my youth! I'm probably going to write another post about this sometime about planning the funeral...that was the one of the very best times I've ever had with you and SVGirl and Mom...and with Burt, for that matter...I thought that planning and then how it happened so beautifully once the service began was, in the true sense of the word, awesome...Oh..I'd better stop,...I think I'm writing that new post! Get feeling better...keep resting

    rp

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  5. What a touching - and inspirational tribute, not only to your Dad, but also your family - how you all pulled together during such a trying time, to make the most of your time together. ((hugs))

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  6. RP:thanks for the comments. It adds more to think about.
    Tinker: I was glad we could do this tribute. It was good for all of us.

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  7. Anonymous13.1.08

    Nice tribute; I remember your father. Grew up in Kellogg. The same sentiments about the river; we always said we are going up the river and everyone knew where we were going. My dad loved that river and I am glad glad Pert got to visit it one last time.
    best,
    L.A.Scrafford

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