Ron was 66 years old when he passed away very unexpectedly. We had been married for only 6 ½ years, it was a second marriage for both of us; but we had many plans for a long future together and we were very happy.
So in death, he is still helping others as he did throughout his life.
“Goodnight dear, I love you.” These were the last words he spoke to me as we went to bed at night the day after Easter. The next morning, Tuesday, April 7, 2015 his alarm went off but he didn’t shut it off as quickly as usual. I couldn’t easily wake him, and as I reached over to shut the alarm off myself, I realized he was cold. My first memories after that of that morning were of crying as I kept trying to wake him and of dialing 911. The Police and Fire Department came. A police officer called my brother and Ron’s brother, I couldn’t dial those numbers. Family started to come and the emergency personnel began leaving. As the medical examiner was going out the door, she said there was no need for an autopsy, as it was just a natural death. Nothing pointed to a heart attack, he had no grimace on his face, he wasn’t clutching his chest and he had not formed a fist, he just died…a natural death.
Soon after, someone from LifeSource called to ask permission for Ron to be a tissue donor. Seemingly this call came out of the blue, because I knew he didn’t have it on his license. He was going to add it the next time he renewed it. It was not a hard decision for me to make, I didn’t have to think hard about saying yes, but I was concerned that he could be a donor as he was a cancer survivor, and had been a Vietnam Vet exposed to Agent Orange. I voiced my concerns, but they said enough time had elapsed and it would be OK. LifeSource took care of the details of having him transported to Abbot, including the operating room for the recovery and then transportation on to the mortuary. The tissue recovery process did not alter the way Ron looked and we were still able to have an open casket at his funeral. By 5:30 that evening I got a call saying they were finished with the recovery and he was on his way to the mortuary, it still didn’t seem real.
Ron was able to donate bone, connective tissue and skin as well as his eyes. At that time up to 60 people, over the next five years will benefit from his donation. Whether it will be for actual patients or for research he will still be living on. Knowing this helps me get through the days. What an incredible opportunity for him and what a feeling of peace to know that he did not die in vain. His life as we knew it had ended, but he would be able to help others to live on. So in death, he is still helping others as he did throughout his life. I have been assured and truly believe that he was handled with care and respect throughout the recovery process. I, myself, have been treated with utmost kindness and concern by everyone at LifeSource and I am very grateful to have received that phone call on the morning that he passed away.
The initial shock has worn off, life has continued, very different from the way I knew it, but it has continued. Each day it becomes clearer to me that although he has died he is really living on through other people and what a legacy that is. Ron was his own person, he was kind and considerate but said what needed to be said. He was honest and loyal, loved being a grandparent and was proud of having been a Marine. Ron enjoyed being retired, playing golf and getting together with family to play cards. He liked to go on road trips, watch the history channel and listen to polka music. He worked at perfecting his recipe for homemade sausage at Thanksgiving and Christmas much as his grandfather had done. Ron thought of my son as his own and was helping him remodel his home. He was a great storyteller and teaser. Ron was one of a kind, he was truly my best friend and soulmate. I miss him very much.