Robert went to the Lord Friday, August 7, after a 14 year battle with presumptive corticobasal degeneration. He was 75 years old. He donated his brain to the Mayo Clinic Brain Bank, so we should have some clarity, eventually, as to the cause of his years of decline. I have been conflicted about sharing this news with all of you because I knew that the end of his life was approaching and wanted to tell you that it was peaceful for him and for me but... it wasn't, except at the very end. His degeneration, overall, was painful and humiliating, but I think I was more aware of it than he was at the end, which was really the last four months. The two weeks preceding his death were especially difficult because he wanted to live, in spite of all the suffering, and fought to keep life going. The last week was a torture for him and for all of us because although his body was failing him and he weighed only about 85 pounds, he had the heart of the athlete he was all his life and his heart kept supporting his body and keeping it going even though he struggled to breathe. With the help of Hospice, he passed at home as he and I wished. My daughters and I administered morphine and an anti-anxiety drug to diminish his pain, sat with him, whispered to him our love, swabbed his mouth with moisture, held his hand and played the music that he loved. At the very end, it was beautiful. I was playing an instrumental version of "Send in the Clowns," a song that he played well on the piano, held his hand and whispered to him. As the song was ending, I kissed his hands and then looked up at him, and he had left us.
The funeral was a beautiful Mass at our church, which allows masked and socially distanced congregants and a burial in the adjacent churchyard with military honors. So many tributes to him have poured in from all over the country and they all have been uplifting. As my brother-in-law said, "The condition defeated Robert's body, but it never defeated his spirit." I am so grateful to all of you who have walked this stone-strewn path with me. Thank you.