Monday, March 09, 2015

A quick note from Philadelphia

The timing is so unlikely as to be actively confusing: my brother M. and I were already talking, in the car down here this morning, about how hard it will be to explain.

Our mother's husband Jim died two weeks ago.

On Friday, I got very worried when my father didn't answer our usual end-of-week phone call. I emailed him in case his phone had accidentally turned itself off, but I didn't hear back from him in either medium. Wrote another email saying I'd try the next afternoon instead.

I was so tired I went to bed at 7, slept till midnight, was up for a few hours and then slept again - made it to Chelsea Piers for my beloved 10am spin, then came home and went back to bed.

(Have been operating in huge fatigue hole. Common for this time of the school year.)

When I woke up in the late afternoon, I was suddenly consumed with alarm that there was still no email response. This is very unusual. And yet one must respect the autonomous habits and preferences of another human being?

I emailed B. with some rather frenetic thoughts and worries along these lines, and decided that it would not in fact be going overboard to call the Philadelphia police and ask if they could do a "welfare check." (The front desk person in his apartment building doesn't have keys or access to apartments and the maintenance workers, who do, don't work weekends.)

That was 6:30. I was glued to the phone for the next three hours waiting for a call back, didn't want to pester. Finally I called around 9:30 and it emerged, after some transferring hither and thither, that really nobody had ever gone to the apartment. The woman on the phone promised to send an officer immediately and suggested that I call back in half an hour.

The officer called me back less than half an hour later. He was outside my father's apartment door, with no response. (It's not an option to break down doors in this sort of situation.) He was leaning towards going away again as there was no obvious next step.

I said a few words about my father as a person of regular habits, with life spent between home and work. The officer heard me and said he would go and try to find the off-site security people to let him in.

He called back a few minutes later with bad news.

My father's body was lying on the floor. He had been dead for some time.

That was about twenty-four hours ago. (Could there have been a worse night of the year to "spring forward"?)

There is no doubt that we will get through this. But I am still rather reeling, Job-like, at the latest turn of events....


  1. That's rotten, I am very sorry. It's not too long until the end of the semester...

  2. For "dead for some time" read "since Thursday". Readers should be clear that no amount of urgency could have helped.

  3. It is as Brent says - the medical examiner seemed fairly sure my father died Thursday night, and there is really no possibility that he was still alive when I was trying him at the end of the day on Friday.

  4. My condolences to you and your family, Jenny.

  5. My condolences. This is such a hard thing.

  6. Jenny, so very sorry for your recent losses.

  7. Jenny, so very sorry for your recent losses.

  8. Dear Jenny, this is so difficult. My heart is with you, your brother, and all those close to your father. If I am reading correctly, you have lost two men in two weeks. So much. In small graces, we can bless the officer who found your father.