Sunday, March 25, 2018
John Ferrell Stafford, Jr
This is very difficult entry to write and it's taken me a couple of weeks to do so but I cannot leave the month without writing about it.
On Wednesday, March 7, about 1pm I got a phone call from Janet who heard over the police scanner of a death. Her first question to me was; Where does John Stafford live? Then she asked, When was he born? I told her. And she very quietly said, I hate to tell you this but I just heard that John Stafford has died.
I was hit so hard with this that I could not comprehend it. I knew it had to be true. Janet would know. But I couldn't call Linda Stafford. I had to wait. About 2:30pm Linda called and asked if I was sitting down. I hadn't moved since Janet's call...still trying to sort things out. And next Linda said, John is dead...and thus followed horrible wracking sobs. From her and in my heart.
I knew John had gone to read scriptures to his mom the day before and had fallen outside the nursing home. He felt pain in his back and in his ribs. In the evening he took himself to the ER at Mercy Hospital. He called for a blessing and Robert and Bob Powers went together. Both men told me that John looked normal. Robert asked John what his pain level was 1-10. And John answered 9 or 10. That surprised Robert because he wasn't writhing in pain or moaning. Bob told me later the same thing. Plus that John seemed perfectly coherent. When the nurse came in the 2 men left.
The rest of the story is this: John went home after the ER had taken X-rays and scans and told him that he was constipated, gaving him a pain pill, He told Linda he was in pain, horrible pain. Then he started saying he was dying. Linda scoffed and said, Quit being so dramatic.
John decided he felt more comfortable sleeping on the couch in the front room. Linda, as per her usual, went upstairs to bed. Linda usually goes up and either watches TV or plays games on her laptop til the wee hours and then goes to sleep.
On Wednesday, Linda got up and showered and when she went downstairs about 1pm, she found her beloved John dead on the kitchen floor. She called 9-1-1 and then her kids and her neighbor. He held her hand, prayed with her and stayed by her. The coroner came and pronounced him dead officially and there had to be an autopsy.
What follows is nothing short of pure nightmare. The autopsy was performed and showed that John was not constipated but had died of internal bleeding in his stomach and intestines. The coroner told Linda that this death was PREVENTABLE and that he was going to go back to the ER and see what they didn't see. This word PREVENTABLE only made the death so much worse. Adding to that was Linda's comment to John about him being dramatic. Linda hates that she wasn't with him all night, that he had to die alone.
I made all the phone calls or texts/emails she asked me to and added a few more. Later Linda Bruderer suggested I send out emails to the rest of the ward since many of the people might know him in ways we were unaware since John had touched so many lives. I did so. The results were always the same. The phone rang and rang with people who wanted to know what happened.
The viewing was held at a funeral home in Amherst Sunday afternoon/evening and the funeral was from our chapel on Monday, March 12. It was a lovely funeral but no one can get a grip on what it means to be without John Stafford. All the kids were there with spouses and grandchildren. Linda is distraught.
John's male family members had never made it to 70 years of age but John was planning a big party when he turned 70 in 2019. Plus that would be the year John and Linda would have been married 50 years and were going to combine the celebrations. Sadly, that will never happen.
John was a delight. He served so many people without any fanfare. Always took the sacrament in to the homebound, ill, aged. He was always visiting hospitals. He had been bishop in Lorain. We laugh at what a messy eater he was and Linda says she still wraps herself up in his robe with a food stain on the color. She is not going to wash it. She just wants him near.
I waited for Linda to come to church today for the first time without John. I stood at the back door, helped her take off her coat. I had told her she needed to change pews since sitting in the very back row without John would be terrible so she came and sat with Robert and me. I think she will continue to do so.
I think through these past few days/week, I have renewed my time and appreciation for Robert. We just never know when death will come to either of us.
From John's Obituary: