Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Passing Of My Sister-In-Law (12/8/11)

Hello Folks,

On November 26, 2011, my sister-in-law, Dore Jean (Thompson) Houck, passed away in Deming, New Mexico. She left behind three small children, ages 6, 4, and 1. Dore was 43 years old.

On Mother's Day, Dore's second husband, Shaun Hock, passed away from a heart attack. Shaun had  his first heart attack three years ago and later a stroke while living here in Mt. Joy, Pa. It was after these two health events that he and Dore moved their young family to Deming, New Mexico to be with his stepmother and stepfather. His father also lived nearby, but they didn't live with him. Shaun's stepmother was willing to help them get back on their feet.

Within the first year in New Mexico, Dore became pregnant with their third child. This baby boy was born on Mothers Day, 2010... Remember, I said that Shaun passed away this past Mothers Day.

Dore had been suffering from severe back pain from an injury she received as a certified senior nursing care assistant. It is not uncommon for folks in this profession to injure themselves lifting and turning larger patients day after day, year after year. She also had been in an automobile accident that re-injured her back.

Her pain was treated with prescription pain killers which Dore eventually became addicted to over several years. When she arrived in New Mexico, her new physician helped her get off the Oxycontin. However, three days before her death, the doctor prescribed morphine in an attempt to help her handle the constant pain.

After her death, an autopsy was performed and a toxicology test was given. Although the autopsy is completed, the toxicology results may take several months until they return. Therefore, no cause of death has been determined by the coroner.

My wife lost a younger brother seven years ago and a year later, his wife passed away. They left us with their 16 year old son and a 10 year old daughter. The children lived with us immediately following their mother's passing. The son eventually returned to his home town to live with a family he had been living with prior to his mother's death and the daughter lived with us for nearly a year.

Once the school year ended, our niece's aunt on her mother's side came to take her to Alaska for a visit. She had called a few days before her arrival letting us know that she had a pastor and his family who were interested in adopting our niece. Because I was experiencing a lot of serious health problems during this time, we were very open to the idea of her living with this much younger and vibrant family with children her own age. She is now 16 years old, healthy, and doing quite well with her adoptive family. We stay in touch with her through Facebook.

Dore's children are currently living with their step-grandparents. Although they are not blood-relatives, they have been gracious in offering their home in this time of great need. Julie stays in touch with them almost on a daily basis to keep track of the children's care. We have also been in touch with a certified adoption agency in Arizona (Next Door To New Mexico) regarding a permanent placement for the children. Dore always said she wanted her children to stay together if anything ever happened to her. That was her wish and we will do our best to honor it.

The agency has a young couple who is willing to consider adopting all three children. The one major concern we have is that Dore's six year old son has autism and is already receiving special schooling through the state of New Mexico. He is high functioning, but definitely needs specialized services.

Dore's oldest son to her first husband is a young adult and responsible for the care of Dore's remains. It will cost him ~$2000 to cremate his mother. We will do all we can to help him financially. In fact, my wife and I paid for her younger brother's entire funeral costs, plus interment of his and his wife's remains. Despite the fact that my wife had four remaining siblings at the time, none offered to help us with any of the costs. I was still working full-time back then and we could better handle the costs.

Fast forward to today and my wife's remaining siblings have already told us that they will not be helping this young man care for the cost to cremate his mother, their youngest sister. So, you can see where we are coming from on this issue.

We are hoping that the adoption agency and the prospective adoptive parents will be able to move along quickly in order to place these children in a supportive home setting. Our only wish with the agency is that the adoption be "open' and we can stay in touch with our niece and nephews. They claim that this will be no problem.

As you can see, it has been one heck of a year for my wife and me. We have both experienced surgeries. My surgery was major and has left me crippled, walking with a cane or walker. My wife has been off work since the end of September and is currently receiving Workman's Comp. Her wrist and hand surgery took place in October and she is currently receiving PT. She will not be allowed to return to her full-time position until she can perform all duties required of her on the job. Her next surgeon's appointment will be in mid-January.

After all of that, my wife's sister passes away and we are the closest living relatives "willing to be responsible" for the placement of our niece and two nephews.

If you can find it in your heart, please say a prayer or two for these small children and my wife. Facing this world and not remembering your parents will be a very difficult thing for all three of these children.

Being responsible over the past seven years for her deceased siblings' children has taken a toll on my wife. She is a kind, loving, and caring human being and these children are fortunate in having her as their parent's oldest sister, their aunt.

It's been hard getting out fishing over the past month with all this happening in our lives. I find it fortunate that my wife is currently off work, despite the circumstances, and at home with me so that I can support her daily through her loss. We have spent a lot of time together, talking, crying, and supporting one another. I definitely appreciated this quality time we spend together.

17 days until Christmas. I hope that you are all enjoying and having a joyous holiday season.

Take Care and Be Safe!