The holidays just aren't complete without sadness mixed in with good tidings. Around this time last year I lost my grandmother; the year previous our golden retriever Abby. This year makes it three for three with the loss last week of my good friend and my mother's husband, Peter Phillips.
Pete had been a part of our family for ten years. I met him the first time when Andrea and I were moving our stuff into my Mom's garage in preparation of selling our house. I could tell right away that there was something special between him and my mom. He literally swept her off her feet, taking her dancing and showing her a great time.
He never slowed down, constantly having several projects at once going on. And, the best part was that he finished them. He wasn't one of these guys (like me) who tinkers away with something before a new shiny object comes along to occupy his interest for a little while until another one comes along. He and my mom did a lot of renovations on her house, making it their home.
That's why it was so surprising when Pete suddenly went down for the count a few months ago. He went from 60mph down to 0; laid up in bed with back pains. It wasn't unlike him to overdo it and we all figured he probably just inadvertently hurt himself. As time passed, however, he didn't get better. If anything, he got worse. The pain was such that he couldn't get out of bed -- and he just wasn't the kind of guy to laze about.
One doctor told him it was just a muscle pain. Another told him it might be a pinched nerve. You can probably tell where I'm going with this... After a few weeks and a few more doctor appointments it turned out that Pete had cancer. It was Stage 4 cancer of the liver that moved into his spine and had been ravaging the area and moving into other areas. They tried surgery to shore up his spine with the hopes that he might be able to regain some mobility and get out of the hospital and back home where he could live out the rest of his days with my mom and their dog, Missy. But, that wasn't to be.
The oncologist told them that it was too soon for hospice care and that Pete would be with us for months to come. My mom started looking into getting a hospital bed and wheelchair ramp for the house. She counted on having time to deal with Pete's prognosis and accept his eventual demise -- as much as anyone can. Mom already had one husband ripped out of her life when she was in her 20s -- that was my dad. At least this time she knew that it was coming, for better or for worse.
Doctors being doctors; the oncologist was completely wrong. Pete managed to get out of the hospital and into a nursing home for all of three days before he was admitted back to the hospital last Monday (12/13/2010) where he passed away two hours later.
Pete, you will be missed.