The memorial service was today. I published my reading of my father's writing, How Old Will I Be?, and my eulogy, as their own posts.
Update 2008-12-03 10:50AM: His obituary appears in today's Asheville Citizen-Times and Hendersonvile Times-News, the text of which I've added below. The memorial service will be held tomorrow at 1pm at Thomas Shepherd and Sons; they're hosting an online register on their Web site.
Holding the hand of my father on his deathbed at Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina on Saturday, November 29, 2008. He was on palliative care, only oxygen and pain medication to keep him comfortable. Except for a brief moment of recognition later that Saturday, he was already gone. His heart stopped at 5:15am this morning, December 1, 2008, after prolonged illness.
This image was used to illustrate the online article, From Pain to Palliative Care in the WBUR radio documentary "Quality of Death, End of Life Care in America".
He went into the hospital for the last time on Friday. He was never alone. My sister and I flew down first thing Saturday morning. Blog Widow John joined us last night.
I'll be staying in North Carolina through the week. We'll be making arrangements this afternoon for a local memorial service later this week.
Here's my Mom and Dad on the porch at Woodfield Inn in October 2006. We celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary there in the Winter of 2007. This is how I prefer to remember him, one of the last few times he was relatively free of pain and discomfort.
No more pain, Dad. No more pain.
Update: 10:51pm, December 1, 2008Some closing thoughts at the end of a long day. My eyes ache.
In his will, my father directed us that his body should be "cremated without ceremony and dispersed into any river in the United States at some date agreeable to living relatives. A memorial ceremony of a non-religious nature may be held at any time." We arranged the details of that memorial this afternoon when we met with the funeral home.
Earlier this afternoon, I helped my mother compose this email, which she sent out to "all our friends and family" for whom we had email addresses at the ready.
Needed to communicate this way because of all we knew and loved. Sad news. Jerry passed away this morning at 5:15AM at Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina; our children are here and helping me with everything.
He had many illnesses this year but the most important one was that his kidneys were failing and he couldn't take dialysis because of his low blood pressure. He was in Mission from Friday til this AM with palliative care giving him pain medication; his legs were very bad and his pain was intolerable. [He was never alone. One of us was always with him. My mother stayed with him Friday night. I stayed with him Saturday night. My sister stayed with him last night.] Karen [my sister] was with him at the last minute and we had gone to a "McDonald" type house to rest nearby. [The Lewis Rathbun Center, a wonderful place. Our stay there was thankfully short.] She called and we got there about 2 minutes too late. He had a lucid moment on Saturday and recognized both Karen and Chris and even called them by name. [The "brief moment of recognition" I mentioned at the top of this post. He did look at me directly and call out my name. My mother and sister had stepped out; we called them back. It seemed to me that he also recognized my sister, but quickly fell away from us again.] He is at rest now and no more aches and pains.
We will have a memorial service this Thursday, December 4 at 1:00 pm at the Thomas Shepherd Funeral Home, 125 South Church Street, between 1st Avenue and Allen Street in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Per Jerry's wishes, there will be no viewing; he will be cremated and his ashes will be scattered at a future date. There will be a notice and obituary in the Asheville Citizen-Times and the Hendersonville Times-News tomorrow and Wednesday.
In lieu of flowers, you may make a donation to the Mineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson County, 400 North Main Street, Hendersonville, NC 28792. Their phone number is 828-698-1977. [My father was a founding member of the museum. Some of his contributions are in their display cases. He remained active to the end, as his health permitted.]
Update 2008-12-03: ObituaryHendersonville - Gerard "Jerry" Kreussling, 77, of Hendersonville, died Monday, December 1, 2008 at Mission Hospitals after a prolonged illness.
A native of Brooklyn, NY, he was a prior resident of Florida and New York where he was very active in community theaters before moving to Hendersonville 16 years ago; the place he chose to live. He is preceded in death by his sister, Patricia Rubak and his loving uncle, Emil Kreusling.
He served in the US Army from 1952 to 1954 and was employed with Grumman Aerospace for 37 years.
He was a founding member and volunteer for the Mineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson County. He also was a member of the Henderson County Gem and Mineral Society, local photography clubs, and volunteered with the Henderson County Sherriff's Department.
He was a loving, generous, humorous, and gregarious person and will be dearly missed.
He is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Mary Kreussling; a son, Chris Kreussling and his partner, John Magisano of Brooklyn, NY; a daughter, Karen Provinzano and her husband, Mike of Brick, NJ; two granddaughters, Michaela and Cassandra Provinzano along with several nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday at Shepherd's Church Street Chapel with the Rev. John Magisano officiating.The family will receive friends immediately following the service at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to:
The Mineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson County, 400 N. Main St., Hendersonville, NC 28792.
Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors and Cremation Memorial Center is in charge of arrangement. An online register book is available at www.thosshepherd.com.
Related ContentMy father wrote two, and so far the only, guest posts for this blog. The third, "How Old Will I Be?", was published posthumously the day of his memorial service.
How Old Will I Be?, December 4, 2008
Guest Post: The Man From B.R.O.O.K.L.Y.N., May 17, 2007
Guest Blogger, Parental Unit Y: Blogs and Bloggers, Golden Age, and Generational Differences, October 21, 2006
Eulogy, December 4, 2008
Give Thanks, Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2007
Woodfield Inn, Flat Rock, North Carolina, January 22, 2007
Some of my photos of my father [Flickr set]
LinksMineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson County
Lewis Rathbun Center
Obituary and online Guest Book, Thomas Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors
Obituary, Asheville Citizen-Times, 2008-12-03
Obituary, Hendersonville Times-News, 2008-12-03
'Fantasticks': Charm Major Asset, Theatre Review, p. 7, SUNY Stony Brook Statesman, V.17 n. 88, July 11, 1974 [PDF], a review of the Theatre North performance at the Setauket Holiday Inn. My father played one of the fathers in the play.