Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sister Connie Jo

Thanks to everyone who reached out to the family as we dealt with the loss of Connie. The funeral at Peace Lutheran in Alma Tuesday was well attended; lots of church friends, former neighbors, relatives, etc. Connie has been laid to rest in Riverside Cemetery in Alma alongside our parents.

I've never been much of a fan of the whole process of having the mortician work at making the person look good. It really was wondrous in this case, though. Connie looked better than she has in years. The really remarkable thing to me is that the expression on her face had gradually gone from confusion and bewilderment over the last couple years to discomfort and pain last week- the expression on her face in the casket clearly showed her at peace and relaxed... anyone who knew her journey of the last few years commented on this. Our niece Heather from Atlanta and nephew Sean from Chicago made it back, and we had cousins from Ann Arbor and Denver make the trek. Thanks to all of you!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sister Connie Jo

The story I heard my Dad tell many times was that when Connie was born, the Doctor was delayed in getting to the hospital. When reached by phone, he made it clear the nurses were to delay the birth until he arrived. They took some rather extreme measures, such as laying across Mom's legs. Connie was oxygen-deprived at birth, and Dad always felt it led to her later health problems.
People who did not know her as a youngster may be surprised to hear that she was a "normal" kid. She was healthy, active, interested in others, passionate about hobbies, pets, and friends. She had a great gift of memory; we all depended on her to remind us of birthdays, give us any phone number we could ask for, keep us all on schedule with school, meetings, work schedules, etc. For a number of years Connie endured the relentless teasing of two brothers and had to share a room with an older sister. In spite of that she was probably the most consistently cheerful of the group, adding an important dynamic to our family.
As she grew into adulthood, Connie slowed down. It was as if she had gradually become developmentally disabled. Tests revealed a hydrocephalic condition, and a shunt was installed to reduce the fluid pressure on her brain. Her condition gradually declined over many years, until finally we helped her move to the Laurels of Mt Pleasant. Several years ago as Connie's cognitive and motor skills were declining, a new brain scan showed significant loss of brain tissue.
In recent weeks Connie had been hospitalized for bronchial and urinary tract infections. The Doctor believes that she suffered first a slight heart attack and then, a couple weeks later, a small stroke. She was no longer able to communicate.
Connie rarely complained about her situation, or about anything for that matter. She continued, until her passing at 63, to inspire us with her attitude. We will miss her.