Thursday, December 10, 2015

Robert Evans’ Trip Home

Jan Evans, CPA
My husband Dave’s parents, Robert and Lydia, are exceptional people. They were born in 1920 and 1921, and grew up in untraditional households in Oklahoma. Both of Dave’s grandfathers were killed at young ages in work-related accidents, and his mother’s mother died young in childbirth. Bob and Lydia were high school and college sweethearts. They married on Bob’s graduation day from the Naval Midshipmen’s School in New York City before he went overseas during World War II.  

After returning from his service, they lived in Great Bend, Kansas, before moving to Lawrence in the mid-1970s as his engineering business was expanding. They were very happily married for more than 71 years. I have known them for 33 years, and been their daughter-in-law for 30 of them.  They have always been accomplished, strong, resilient and wonderful people: well-read, interested in world and local events, ready for travel and adventure. 

Ahead of His Time

They definitely were planners and always had a direction moving forward in life. And their first priority was always love of family. Consideration for their family was so great that, before many people ever heard of advance care planning, they made sure that their children knew what their wishes were regarding medical treatment at the end of their lives. Years ago, they talked to us about their wishes so that we would know what they wanted (and didn’t want) and so they could be confident that we would be able to fulfill those wishes.

Last summer, my father-in-law died peacefully at age 94 surrounded by his beloved family on August 22 at his home in Lawrence, Kansas. He wanted to die at home, not in a hospital. However, his final illness progressed very quickly, and it appeared that he would not be able to return home as he wanted. Once again, even in a much-weakened state, he demonstrated his strength as a person. After a day or so in the hospital, the end was inevitable, but he held on, determined to be strong enough to make the trip back home where he would be comfortable in a hospital bed with family around, listening to the music he loved, the Royals games and the conversations of many visitors. It was truly a remarkable end-of-life journey for a very remarkable man.  

Tribute Tour

But it didn’t end there. Bob’s family always knew the places and people that were most important to him. He was very interested in his family history, and he passed that interest on to his children. A few weeks after his death in mid-October, his wife, children and their spouses took his ashes on a journey to important places in his life as a tribute to him and so we could all say good-bye. 

We traveled to Great Bend, Kansas, where he had established his business over 50 years ago, raised his children, participated in civic activities, and was active in his church. We also traveled to Oklahoma – stopping in Oklahoma City at the cemetery where his family is buried. His children offered various tributes to him, like hitting golf balls sprinkled with his ashes into the stream where his family had enjoyed many afternoons of summer picnics. He was moving forward again. 

It gave the entire family a sense of calmness and peace to know exactly what he wanted at the end of his life. We were able to spend our time together then and on our trip celebrating his remarkable life.  

Jan Evans, CPA joined the Center for Practical Bioethics in 2011 as Fund Accountant.

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