1. Christy's husband, James Everett Jolley, died shortly after midnight. He was born on July 3, 1930 and died on November 30, 2020.
Because Everett's care was being directed by Hospice of North Idaho and because the hospital staff is a bit more lenient on the weekends, Carol, Paul, and I got to spend several hours today with Christy and Everett. When I arrived this morning shortly after 10 a.m., Everett knew I was there, could barely speak, and was floating in and out of sleep. When they were done with church, Carol and Paul came to see Everett and I returned home, knowing, at this point, Everett was supposed to be limited to three visitors at a time.
Carol and Paul sang hymns for Everett and prayed with Christy. Everett could no longer talk.
Around 3:45 Christy called Carol, Paul, and me and asked us to return to the hospital. By listening to the rhythms and patterns of Everett's breathing, Everett's nurse said that Everett would likely pass away sooner than later. Under these circumstances, no one at the hospital objected to Carol, Paul, Christy, and me all being in his room at the same time.
Carol and Paul sang more songs for Everett. I sat silently in deep thought and prayer. Everett's nurse and CNA checked in with us regularly.
At around six o'clock, the night nurse and CNA took over Everett's care. We all waited for the new nurse to come in, met him, and said good by and thank you to the departing nurse and CNA. Paul, Carol, and I went home, Christy stayed with Everett for another half an hour or so, and then she went home to make sure Riley was all right and to take care of some other things. While home, she was in regular contact with the night nurse and, for most of the evening, his condition didn't change a lot. Shortly after midnight, though, he quietly and peacefully passed from this life to the next.
2. I thought a lot today about how Everett stayed so young for so long. I was amazed, as I thought back to 2015, when Christy and Everett moved from Martin Creek to Kellogg. It was a two day move and was nearly unbearably hot -- the temperature exceeded 100 degrees on the move's second day. Everett was 85 years old and worked just as hard, if not harder, than the rest of us hauling stuff, loading the U-Haul, and loading the cars and truck. Once Christy and Everett settled into Kellogg, Everett did tons of work around the house and in the garden and yard. He seemed indomitable.
But, over the last couple of years or so, he started to slow down. On October 31st, a month ago, he felt really sick and consented to making a visit to the ER.
Knowing this, I asked Christy if she was going to request an ambulance. Everett absolutely did not want an ambulance. He said he just needed to gather himself and he'd be able to walk to the car. It took him quite a while to gather himself. I happened to look out my window as Everett, with Christy by his side, consenting to Everett's insistence that he didn't need any help by not touching him, and hobbled to their vehicle.
Everett had been housebound for a while and I hadn't seen him for a spell. I was taken aback by how feeble he looked, how gaunt, by how much he'd aged. He refused to use a cane or a walker as he shambled down the sidewalk. Even with Christy right by his side, I felt anxiety. Could Everett make it to the vehicle?
He did make it. Once at the ER, thank goodness, he consented to being taken into the hospital in a wheelchair.
The contrast between Everett at 85 years of age in 2015 and Everett at 90 on Halloween thirty days ago and today was stark. None of us knew on the afternoon of Oct. 31st what lay ahead, but anyone who saw Everett that day knew that the illnesses he suffered had sapped him of physical strength, but not of his determination to get well again and return home. Over the last ten days or so, though, Everett's strong will began to relent his physical decline and today we witnessed his brave surrender as his life was coming to an end.
3. I also thought about and felt gratitude today for Christy and Everett's marriage. They married each other in August of 1997. From then until they moved to Kellogg in 2015, they lived a country life. They manured silty soil and established numerous flower beds and vegetable gardens. Everett made a gazebo out of a discarded satellite tv dish. Here, they could warm themselves next to a fire. They raised chickens (rabbits, too, I think), took in several dogs and cats over the years, and worked diligently year after year to improve their property. Living in rural northeast Washington State afforded Christy and Everett many opportunities to get out and marvel at the area's natural splendor, to camp, and to enjoy exploring the area's small towns, the restaurants, second hand stores, and other rural pleasures. Oh! And how could I forget? They became unshakeable fans of the Gonzaga men's basketball team.
They carried that same spirit of exploration to Kellogg when they moved here, and, when they could, ventured out into the beauty of North Idaho and Western Montana.
We all saw Christy's tireless devotion to Everett's well-being over the last few years as health problems began to plague him more frequently and as Christy stayed at his side as much as possible over the last month while Everett was hospitalized. Before that, Christy did all she could to help Everett eat well, provided him comfort whenever his body hurt, and did countless other things that enhanced the quality of his life and kept him going for so long.
Everett has always been devoted to Christy. He took great pleasure in their activities together, cared for her when she suffered illness or was hospitalized, and was generous with his listening ear and compassionate understanding.
Today, I enjoyed meditating on the loving companionship Everett and Christy shared so freely with each other over the course of their twenty-three years of marriage.
With his sweet disposition, gentle heart, profound work ethic, fun sense of humor, and devotion to goodness, Everett was a huge presence, not only as Christy's husband, but as a member of our family.
He leaves us with a void that can never be filled.