(Photo at left Christmas 2005: Nora Skerry Orrell, Reverdy Lewin Orrell III, Sara Orrell, Reverdy Lewin Orrell IV, Reverdy Lewin Orrell Jr, Jean Orrell)Yesterday was a bad of mixed emotions. My father & mother, in their house for 34 years, decided a few months ago to purchase a new heating and air conditioning system. My mother’s brothers, all sheet metal workers, were going to do the duct work and coordinate installing the systems. This has been one of the very things that my father has been very persistant on. He wanted to make sure this was taken care of. Installation was to take place yesterday, but the family had thought we’d put it off for the time being.
My father said ‘no’. He only had a few last requests.
1.) The most important one was to make sure that my mother spent time at his side, and not running around the house doing things. Everytime anyone sees my mother doing this we tell her to sit with him, which she does.
2.) He wanted to put the car in my mother’s name.
3.) As mentioned above, he wanted the heating and cooling system installed.
4.) He also wanted to receive his Masonic penny from Bonnie Blink this year.
5.) Another thing he wanted was a fried oyster sandwich. The other day the nurse asked him what he would like to eat, if he was able to taste and eat better. I told him I’d get him a fried oyster sandwich when he got home.
6.) He wanted to make it to his 86th birthday.
I promised I’d make sure everything would be done, knowing full well, that with the completion of each item, he’d feel more comfortable. I also knew that with each step, he’d slip one step closer. As each item saw completion, I knew he was preparing himself more and more.
The steps for putting the car in my mother’s name were completed on Saturday, before he came home. The transfer paper and title have been signed by him, although we have not gone to MVA for processing.
When I mentioned to him that we’d take care of the heating and cooling system later, he said he wanted it done immediately, on Monday, as planned. My mother’s brother, Bill Malle, was to coordinate everything. Naturally he thought this would also be put off until later.
My father said he didn’t wanted visitors; however, for someone who said that, he’s perked up whenever anyone arrived. He was in old form on Sunday with his brother Richard, his sister in law, Catherine, and their children Jim & Phyllis. Staying up until 10:45 PM, he talked about everything and really enjoyed seeing everyone.
My father has also been very close to my mother’s other brother, Ron Malle. Ronnie called me on Sunday saying he wanted to come up, but knew my father didn’t want ‘visitors’. He also said that Billy had said they’d cancel Monday.
I then told Ronnie my father was insistant about the Monday installation. I told him to call Billy and tell him everything was still on for Monday. I also told Ronnie that Billy would probably need ‘help’.
So, about 10 AM yesterday, Ronnie burst through the door, into the living room, where my father was. “That damm Billy,” he told my father. “Here I’m retired and he calls me up to help him out. I had to come anyway to make sure Billy didn’t mess everything up. You know how that Billy is.” My father lite up like a Christmas tree and starting laughing. Ronnie went on and on for several minutes and my father really enjoyed the show. JoAnn (Ronnie’s wife) also came.
Most of the work was finished yesterday; today, the rest will be done.
Yesterday afternoon Nora and I went to Arundel Crab House. He bought my father an oyster sandwich. Surprisingly, he eat several bites and said how good it was. It was hard to watch him eat this, as I knew, another of his wishes was being fulfilled. Of course, that made me happy, but slowly important items were being checked off his list.
I received a call from Ed Kraft, Secretary of Palestine Lodge. He had received the Masonic pennies for this year’s Corn Husking. I met Ed at the lodge about 6:30 last night. I could hardly speak to Ed as he gave me the pennies.
When I returned home, I presented my father with his 2006 masonic penny on behalf of the Grand Master, Grand Lodge, and Palestine Lodge. He was speechless and filled up. I think this was one of the proudest moments of his life. He held the penny and showed it to everyone. I placed it by his bed, letting it rest in front of the picture of my mother that he wants with him forever.
This had a major effect on me, as I now realized all of his important items and wishes have been completed.
After my wife left, my son arrived to be with his grandfather. My father always adored my son, never being so proud as he was the day Reb IV was born and I told him that I was naming him Reverdy Lewin Orrell IV, after my dad and his father.
Later my aunt Mary and her daughter Mary Lynn arrived with a German apple cake. I was surprised as he ate several bites.
My mother, father and I watched the Raven’s football game on TV.
My father received several birthday cards from friends. He was amazed by several of the cards and notes he received from being he had never met. A cousin, John Morris, from Lithicum, Maryland, sent a card, letter, and photo. He too, had been a printer.
The birthday card that has generated the greatest response out of him was from Nora and my friend, Elizabeth Gerringer, of San Francisco. Elizabeth is a poet, writer, and artist, whose website I designed last year. A wonderful lady, we often email each other about all sorts of things. Elizabeth has some wonderful painting for sale on her website. Often she sends me photos of her paintings, which I scan, then put on her website.
She painted a beautiful birthday card for my Dad. He loved the colors and shows everyone the birthday card. I’m not at home and don’t have access to a scanner. I’ll put it on the website later.
As promised, I asked him at 6 AM today if he wanted to go out (meeting a trip to Hopkins for blood and plasma) or stay here. He could barely speak, but said he was too weak to travel.
I leaned over and gave him a hug and kiss and wished him a Happy Birthday.
I slept by his side, as I have done for the last several nights. He was restfull and slept well. He said he isn’t in any pain, but he lies about how he is feeling all the time.
Our main concern now is to keep him comfortable and pain free.
He has seen all of his final wishes fulfilled. I know that and what it nows means.
I love you Dad !
NOTE: In the upper right hand corner of this blog is a link to view all of the updates on Reb Orrell, Jr.