Monday, May 11, 2009

Sad Mother's Day in Iraq

In a sad coincidence of time zones, I was in Church in late morning yesterday listening to a Mothers Day sermon at about the same hour in which my mother-in-law Carol Jo Crannell passed away in her sleep in a hospice in Maryland. She had been ill for a long time, suffering from rapidly advancing Alzheimer's and some related complications. My wife had written me the day before about her care, but no one knew she was so close to the end of her life.

And that life was very impressive. My wife Annalisa is the oldest of three daughters of Carol Jo who, like their mom, have advanced degrees in science and math. Carol was a solar physicist at NASA Goddard, so I could truthfully say my mother-in-law is a rocket scientist. Her devoted husband Hall Crannell is an emeritus professor of physics at Catholic University. His field was particle physics, so between their two parents, the Crannell girls grew up meeting people who studied the largest and smallest spheres in the universe.

My son Nigel was just three when my mother passed away so Nana was the only grandmother he knew well. Carol doted on Nigel when they were together. In one of the happy side effects of the disease Carol suffered with, her loss of short-term memory meant she could happily watch Nigel play with his trains or repeat a story again and again. Carol was never bored with the repetitions of little children.

I may or may not be able to go home for emergency leave because in-laws are not quite immediate family, but my unit is doing their best to make it possible. Annalisa in her always practical way said if coming home for Carol's memorial service would cause me to miss my scheduled leave, I should stay here. That is the best plan.

I will let you know how things go.