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  Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

Thursday, 03 December, 2020

A Most Terrible Loss

Date: 27 January, 2017

By: Chief

Imaget is with extreme sorrow, indeed sorrow which I cannot adequately express in some sort of coherent words, that I announce the untimely death of my wife and partner in life Bernice (Nina) M. Coxon who passed from this world 21 January, 2017 at 9:45Am after a savage month long illness. She was 64 years young.

Always herself

I never saw her down. In slightly over 20 years of being constantly together I never saw her down or in a bad mood or anything like that. Without doubt, every person who knew her said the same thing about her. She was always up, always in a good mood, always happy. Even when things were not going her way she never let bad news stand in her way. Not once. Not ever. She was a fighter and she always fought to win. That was her way. She was the epitome of strength.

Oh yes, I have seen her mad and truth be told I was always grateful she was not taking her anger out on me — that would have been a bloody mess with me doing the vast majority of the bleeding. And yes, I have had to calm her down a couple of times — compromisers could really get her goat. So did whiners come to think about it.

Another real strong point of Nina's was you always knew precisely where you stood. If you asked her a question you would get a straight forward and honest answer. You may not like the answer but you were the one who asked the question. Hence the rule was with her — don't ask a question to which you may not want (or like) to hear the answer too. In other words — she was always herself. She never put on any pretense or pretended to be some one that she is not. What you saw and what you heard was what you got. Period. If you didn't like it you had better get out of the way for that 120 pound steam roller named Nina Coxon was a headin' straight for you and you would be the one getting hurt. You know, I've always wondered how she could do that.

The move

We had sort of planned to remain in California but the legislature just kept on passing dumber and dumber laws and lots of them. So we decided to head on back to the:

"Land of room enough and time."

New Mexico. South East New Mexico in fact. We bought a little house on a small chunk of land and on 15 June, 2004 we packed up and left California for good. We arrived on 17 June, 2004 and have never once looked back. Every morning we would look to the East and watch a beautiful sunrise. And every evening we would look to the West at the gorgeous sunset. What was great is the two were never, ever the same from one day to the next. Then there is the season when the Thunder is awake. Wow. Talk about storms. Yeah we had 'em and we loved them. Lightning flashes in all possible colors. It was wonderful. It was Heaven on Earth.

For Nina it was Heaven on Earth. For me it was coming home after a 30 plus year absence and with her by my side we had a wonderful, wonderful life together. Everyday was a new adventure and that was how we treated life — a new adventure each and everyday. It is truly the only way to live. Indeed, our motto was:

"Every day is a holiday and every meal is a feast."

KeNa and Twone

My brother in the wind, the great Don Blanscet, gave us the nickname "KeNa" one day when we were visiting him up in Concord (California). "Ke" is for Kelly (that's me) and "Na" is for Nina. It fit just like it should. And we cannot thank Don enough. Then on another day when we were coming home from Monterey Nina said to me:

"You know we are really the same person. We are just in two different bodies. Sort of a two-into-one or Twone if you like."

I liked and it stuck. Believe me, I have been called worse. I was proud as hell to be part of "Twone." I still am and I always will be.

In fact you could hear people at the local hardware store or the feed and seed hollering:

"Here comes KeNa (or Twone)."

When we would show up to purchase a bunch of wood pellets for the pellet stove. Or material to either fix the house or restore a desk or table. You ought to see the dining table Nina restored. Magnificent. It was so beautifully done we named it "Gloria," which is short for "Glorious." Of course.

The very best part

In the little over 20 years we were together not once and I mean that, not once was there a:

I am not joking about that. We never had one. Period. We both lived the dream for 20 wonderful, blissful years. That is really not all that long a time when you sit back and think about it. To Nina and I it actually felt about like 3 months or so. Not 20 years. Not that at all.

Anther thing we could do was to have an actual conversation about whatever subject struck our fancy without verbally speaking a single word. Now, to tell the unvarnished truth, I had absolutely no control over my side of the conversation and Nina had well, a modicum of control. Hence she would always start the ball rolling and then I could respond. When we could make it work it was both really cool and, for me at least, kinda scary. Just please don't ask me how it worked — I don't have a clue.

Also, we never did anything strictly for ourselves. Whatever we did we did for each other and, as such, for the both of us. We were never selfish or greedy. We lived together in absolute perfect harmony and as absolute equals. Or, as the Navajos say we 'walked with beauty all around us'.

Time does catch up

The way things were going I thought our life together would never end. Then time started to catch up. On 10 February, 2015, Nina lost her right leg below the knee due to gangrene of her right little toe which started to spread to her foot. I did not realize it then but that was the beginning of the end. Why? Because she was confined to a wheel chair for 22 months. It took 20 months and 10 days for the final wound to heal and an additional 2 months waiting on the damned prosthetic leg. Finally, during October of 2016 she finally was able to get out of the blasted chair and start walking again.

Her walking was not the hard part — that was easy. It was natural — just do it and she did. It was regaining her sense of balance that took quite a bit of doing. That and dealing with the pain of her leg stump caused by walking. So she would walk about 30 - 45 minutes and then back in the chair for a couple of hours and then do it all over again. God almighty that lady had guts.

However, the 22 months in the wheel chair had caused her three main arteries to get really clogged up and not allow enough blood and oxygenated blood to flow and the gases to be exchanged in her lungs. She started getting winded very easily. She started getting tired quite easily. Being completely stupid I assumed it was an age thing. After all Nina had just turned 64 on November 3rd. I could not have been more wrong.

She got sick the end of October and it lasted until mid November. I look back and now suspect that she ended up with pneumonia. She went from 117 pounds, which was too light for her, to 109 pounds before she got over the blasted bug. She was able to regain some of the weight but very, very little of the strength she had lost. That would become a crucial factor in the weeks ahead.

Thanksgiving came and went and I have got to tell y'all it was perfect. Nina thought so too. In fact about a week after Thanksgiving we were talking about how perfect it had turned out and that the both of us truly had something to be thankful for — we were still alive, we had each other and had a great family to boot. We both agreed that we probably would never have another Thanksgiving as perfect as this past one. At the time I did not realize how true a statement that would become.

December 2016

December started off just fine but ended disastrously. On 22 December I had an ambulance take Nina to the local hospital. Her oxygenated blood level was down to 85%. That, friends and neighbors is way too low. 90% is the minimum a hospital will let you out unless you have an oxygen bottle with you up and running. She was airlifted to Covenant Medical Center, Lubbock, Texas and discharged on 26 December, 2016. In fact, she called me on Christmas day to tell me to come and get her on the 26th. She sounded fine, just like her old self. And allow me to tell you that was the finest present I have ever had. I picked her up on the 26th and drove her home. She seemed fine, fit, fun and sassy. Just like always.

Sadly it did not last. Less than 24 hours later (27 December, 2016) I had her back in the Emergency Room at our local hospital. She went into cardiac arrest and died on the exam table in exam room number 3. The doctor and nurses brought her back and were able to stabilize her. She was then airlifted to the Heart Hospital of New Mexico at Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque. Within a few hours of arriving there Nina suffered a massive heart attack. Once again the doctors and nurses were able to revive her. She was placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on blood thinners and antibiotics to kill off the pneumonia which had somehow survived the previous hospital stay.

I arrived at the hospital on New Years Day 2017. Once in her room I was told by two or three different doctors that she might not make it. Her heart had been severely damaged by the heart attack. And with the pneumonia, it had to be killed off before anything else could even be attempted. Furthermore, I was told the combination of diseases had really knocked the wind out of her sails. Additionally, she was terribly, no, she was dangerously weak.

Finally on 07 January, 2017, the doctors, myself and Nina all had a pow-wow in her room, the results of which I will never forget. Initially there were four options but by the time we were done there was truly only one viable option. The initial options were:

Slowly, oh so slowly, the doctors went through each and every option. At the end, with complete and utter regret, there was but one choice — home hospice. Her heart had been damaged far too much to withstand by pass surgery. Her kidneys were operating at about 20% which meant the "contrast agent" or "dye," which is used in placing the stents, could quite easily destroy her kidneys which would place her on dialysis forever. That was not an option as we both had discussed it numerous times before (although I did volunteer a kidney that idea was rejected because she was far too weak to withstand the surgery). Lastly her heart was too weak for the rehabilitation as well.

Heading home for good

So on 11 January, 2017 Nina came home by ambulance. She was gently placed on our bed (she and I both refused to have a hospital bed in the house) by the ambulance folks and then the Hospice folks took over. Between them and myself she was provided with care 24 hours per day. One thing I did which I am very glad I did was three days after she came home I placed her in the wheel chair and wheeled her about the house and the front porch. There was a huge smile on her face (and I am in tears right now writing this part) and when she saw the outside from the porch she said "wonderful."

On 19 January, 2017 Sweetie had a seizure followed by a stroke. She still received 24 hour a day care though she could no longer:

Time, as you might have guessed, was no longer on our side. And God knows this hurts me down to my very soul to say this but, after the stroke, even I realized that she was not going to get better and the end had to come soon and so I prayed to God to take her quickly so she would no longer suffer. Hence, on 21 January, 2017, at 9:45Am, Bernice (Nina) M. Coxon died and went to Heaven. Yes, I am crying now.


Sweetie taught me a lot of things over our 20 years of blissful happiness and utter joy but it was the final lesson she taught me towards the end of December, 2016 which was the most important of them all and she taught it to me without the need of saying a single word. Here, for y'alls edification and use, is that all important lesson:

"The single most important gift one person can give to another is the gift of their time."

As usual — she was right.

Finally, I can think of no better way to end this incredibly true story of absolute love, devotion, happiness and closure, as all true love stories must close, with sadness and emptiness than to borrow a couple of lines from two different poems. "The Blind Man Flies" by Cuthbert Hicks and, of course, "High Flight" by Pilot Officer John Gillespie MaGee Jr., of the Royal Canadian Air Force:

"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth;
Danced the streets of Heaven and touched the face of God."

Goodbye Sweetie. Thank you for 20 years of happiness, joy and laughter. I love you and I miss you. Estés Con Dios.

[A photograph taken a few minutes after our wedding. Enjoy everybody.]

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