Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Dennis...A Long Overdue Update

Doug's brother, Dennis, has been mentioned in several of my posts over the years; but I've recently felt that I needed to fill in the gap since my last mention of him. 

To briefly summarize, Dennis had his left leg amputated below the knee in 2014, due to complications from diabetes. It meant that he couldn't return to his apartment in Coldwater, Michigan because the structure couldn't be modified to accommodate a wheelchair. It fell to Doug and me to find an apartment for him so he would have a place to live when he was released from the hospital. 

We were so blessed to find Silver Star Apartments in Battle Creek, Michigan, adjacent to the Veterans Administration Medical Center there. The fully furnished apartments had been built to accommodate homeless veterans, of which Dennis was now one. And the cost was subsidized according to ability to pay. It was an answer to prayer. 

With the help of Home Health Aides, Dennis was able to live on his own at Silver Star until September of 2020, when, after a fall in his apartment, he was hospitalized for a time. Then he had to go to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation. Things went downhill from there. He was back and forth between the rehab facility and the hospital, losing ground steadily. 

He died on March 12, 2021. 

Dennis had three daughters but was divorced from their mother when the girls (who are now grown women but who we still refer to as "the girls") were about four and a half, two and a half, and one and a half. They moved to northern Michigan with their mother, and Doug and I had never really known them until all this began to happen with their dad. 

When Dennis had his leg amputation, the two older daughters came to see him in the hospital. The youngest had never really had an opportunity to know Dennis very well and was okay with leaving things that way. 

During the final few months of Dennis' life, Doug and I used social media to keep the girls up to date with the changes in their dad's health. As a result, our relationship with them began to strengthen. Now, although we are separated by several hours of travel, a healthy relationship with our three nieces is developing. 

Just recently, we all met at Dennis' gravesite, in commemoration of his birthday, after which we all went to Station 66, where we could sit at a picnic table in the shade of a tree and visit for as long as we liked over ice cream treats.

Before we parted that day, the youngest daughter, who had been essentially estranged from our side of the family for most of her life, suggested that we get together again before winter. It made my heart beat with joy. 

Family is important!
In the above photo, that furry little blob of black and white is the pet skunk of Daughter #1.

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