Gary had been in the hospital since Sunday and it's Wednesday. He had surgery Monday morning and had been fighting all sorts of symptoms. I keep saying it but I honestly, honestly never thought he wouldn't make it. Gary had survived two cancers (totally unrelated). He got non-Hodgkins lymphoma of the thymus in 2004 and then colo-rectal cancer in 2009. The first cancer was a cake walk so to speak. 3 months of treatment, couple surgeries. Done. Cancer Free. Now colo-rectal cancer, stage 3/4 not so easy. Gary endured 18 months of surgery, radiation, chemo, illeostomy, reconnection, neuropathy, you name it. But Gary never quit working, never quit traveling, never quit watching his son's football games or rugby games. He never stopped being on the field or grilling for fundraisers. He never quit date nights. He never stopped or missed a beat. Gary even survived Cholera that he caught on a plane in 2010. Gary was strong, he was tough and he was determined.
But Gary had become the perfect storm medically speaking. In the weeks before everything happened Gary had not been able to have a colonoscopy due to scheduling between him and the doc. Gary also had severe neuropathy that he took pain meds for. They can severely affect your intestines. Gary had too many doctors not coordinating care. His oncologist determined his iron was low and put him on iron infusions. Then he got a tummy ache while on travel that he tried to ignore. After two weeks I insisted that he go to ER. Those idiots decided he just had to clear a blockage so they gave him gallons of Colyte which is the crap you drink while prepping for a colonoscopy. I argued with them and they kept insisting. In the end, it was all too much. Gary's intestines burst. They tried to operate but he went into septic shock which led to kidney failure which led to eventually his heart stopping.
He was in ICU Monday and Tuesday...we all visited him as we could. Tank came down from college. We had all our family and friends in and out. It was typical Pendleton style, tons of food, laughter, praying, colorful language and jokes. He was coming out ya know. As my sis and Gary's brother and I slept in the ICU waiting room that night the nurse came running in yelling at me. I didn't hear words...I looked into my sister's eyes and Bubba's and somehow ran. When I got there they were using paddles....I heard someone screaming....it was 3am....it was me. I watched the love of my life leave me and relocate to Heaven. I watched as all our family and friends assembled, cried and crumbled. I watched alllllll the boys he had been "Pops" to come in and you could physically see their hearts permanently break.
My man was strong and handsome and smart and funny as hell. He loved me unconditionally. We were the craziest couple and eventually the crazy family. My man was dealt a shitty deck from the genetics pool but he tried to make the best of it. He worked his ass off and then some. He was a friend to many and so much more to most. He was such a bullshitter and a comedian and a flirt. He was far from perfect and he would be offended if we tried to remember him that way. He liked his off colored language and humor. He was terrible at household chores and telling the truth :O). His heart was as big as it comes. He loved cats, and Dallas Cowboys, and his truck and his son and lived and breathed football. He worked hard to help kids and did tons of charity for kids with cancer that he never wanted anyone to know about.
In the days, weeks and months since this our world has been turned upside down. Dreams have been crushed, hopes have been lost and life has gotten real, real sad. But there have been just as many blessings and gifts from heaven. I have to remember both. As the year has passed the veil of grief has started to develop holes that let sunshine in but the hole left in my heart will remain. I will forever miss my man, until I see him again. Until then Gary's gang will praise him and tell colorful stories about him and keep his "Larger than Life" memory alive.