One day a little over two weeks ago, Susan Pinley, our head bookeeper at this newspaper, stopped me at the door to tell me there had been a death in my family.
I knew it had to be my mother or sister. My instincts told me it was my mother. She was, after all, in the on-deck circle.
I nervously called the number. It belonged to my ex-wife, who also has remained very close to my mother. She told me what she had learned.
Then she drove 200 miles to help us work through all the papers that had to be found and deciphered. My ex is the best. Twenty years we were together and to this day we still love each other. Somehow we metamorphosed from spouses to siblings.
The death certificate said it was an aortic aneurysm that killed Leta. There’s that word again. Aneurysm. It continues to haunt our family.
The neurosurgeon who examined my oldest daughter said he could do nothing because one of the largest arteries in her head exploded, drowning her brain with blood. He thought there was a chance she’d rally but she was dead by morning. Thirty one years old and “almost” in perfect health.
I asked God that night why he hadn’t taken me. Like any parent, I’d have gladly taken her place.
She was the mother of two pre-schooler daughters, one of them four months old; born in the same hospital where her mother died.
Back in Texas, this wasn’t the first time Leta had sacrificed for others. When her son, David, was growing up, she bought him a toy drum set.
She was a single-parent mother most of that time and living in a small apartment in Austin. She raised a great kid. He’s 46 years old, married to a great woman and is a go-getter at everything he tries.