Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Passing of Ruci's Father - 1 of 2 Parts

Ruci’s father, Al Iannuzzi – aged 98,  passed away last month, just about a month shy of his 99th birthday. Ten months earlier, his wife Ruth passed away at 95  (see my articles from last year about that). They had moved in with us in 2004. They said they wanted to spend the last years of their lives with us here in New Vrindaban. They had started their yearly visits to the community in the late 70’s shortly after my wife and I moved here.  After Ruth’s death, Al soldiered on surprisingly well.  They had been together for 75 years and he often expressed how he missed his wife tremendously.

At 98, Al didn’t look his age. He was in pretty decent health, and was mentally sound. During his last couple of years Al  had this thing about God and religion. There was so much fighting in the name of religion. Why would God allow that? And all the injustices that took place in the name of God. It didn’t make any sense to him. Still he acknowledged that he had a good life and that he couldn’t complain. Al was a good  and kind man. Even though there were problems along the way, things always seemed to work out. He was quite happy that he and Ruth had come to live with us. Over the years they often enjoyed going to the temple to talk with devotees and guests. Al really enjoyed meeting different types of people and he especially liked talking with devotees, and the devotees were kind and respectful to him.

In his last months, he rarely left the house. His condition went downhill in November. His left arm suddenly grew weak. He noticeably started to forget things. We suspected he had a mini-stroke. On a doctor’s visit the doctor wanted to run some tests and blood work to get a better understanding of his condition. “What for?” Al said, “I’ve lived long enough. I’m ready to go.”

After that, as the days passed, each morning in the kitchen Al would say how lousy he felt.  It became a morning ritual. Every morning he would say “What’s the purpose of living this long? It’s unnatural.” He advised against it. “I’m ready to go,” he would say.  Ruci and I tried to nudge him toward meditating upon Krishna’s name, but he just shrugged his shoulders. Not that he was against Krishna Consciousness. He often joked that when he reached his 100th birthday the devotees could come and sing to him – and he would sing along  too. Maybe, in his own way, he was petitioning Krishna to live to 100.

Then one morning in the beginning of January, he didn’t show up in the kitchen. Later in the morning I went to see him. I found him in his easy chair, barely able to move. Al said that he had a bad night. That he had been in pain. He was reluctant to admit it, but he finally said he was still in pain. And when he stood up he wobbled.  But he was stubborn.  He didn’t want to take my help and  Ruci was with her class. It took me almost two hours to convince  him to go to the ER.  I was exhausted. My son drove in from town to help Al get to the car. He was still reluctant to go but we finally left for the ER.