Wifes Urn Project

Wifes Urn Project

This is by far one of the hardest projects I have ever worked on emotionally next to the cross I made for my wife and my cross neck urn to hold some of her ashes.

Anyone can go out and buy an urn for their loved one somewhere but not everyone has it in them to make one. I loved my wife and appreciate every year, month, day, hour, minute and second that me and my boys were blessed with her in our lives.

My wife knew how creative of a person I was so I know she would see this as normal and almost expect this as something I would do. My creativeness has been my main outlet for directing all the pain I have felt inside in losing my wife and helps to give me strength as also do my boys. I also get to use my creativeness to show others how I feel and hopefully that inspires others and their mutual bonds between them. I’m still going to give grace where it is due in that I may be creative but its a higher source that grants me that and guides me.

I’d give anything to have my wife back but in reality I know what is just is. It doesn’t mean that I have to forget, stop appreciating or doing things in light of my wife’s shadow. Even now she inspires me and I’m pretty okay with that.

Back when I was in a waiting pattern of getting my wife back from the butchers block (Coroner) I had an initial inspiration for an urn and drew it out on paper so I wouldn’t forget it, along with an angel statue that I wanted on her tomb (not represented here). So, I pondered on this for awhile (in Tagalog it is called muni-muni) and through several iterations came up with a final design for the urn I wanted to my wife’s ashes to rest in.

Some things I still keep in my head but where there is more detail I like to try and sketch it out as best as possible. I did have some trouble thinking of what wood I wanted to use so I decided to make three samples and see which one would be the softest for carving so I got some scraps out of my bin for birch, oak and some other wood that I forgot.

Making my samples

For the birch I only had thin pieces and since I knew my design for the cross was going to be layered in order to get the depth leafy beam sort of look I glued three of the pieces together like pancakes.

My samples

Having my samples I then needed to draw out the cross in a template fashion so that I could transfer it to each of the sample pieces of wood that I had.

Drawing out the full size cross

Cross template

Cross template

This is the final drawing I used on all of the samples. It is a flat drawing but once carved it will have beautiful layers to it.

Decision time

After adding the drawing to all three samples, I tested each to see which one would be easiest to carve with. As it turned out, the birch on the far left had just the right balance of firmness and being easy to carve.

Birch is softer to carve

I don’t have very extravagant tools but a mishmash of hand tools and a Dremel. I used my utility knife to mark out the edges of the cross and some hand carving tools to remove the bulk.

Model complete

With the cross cut out I meticulously started carving various layers, working in one area and branching off to the next. I cut myself quite a bit so literally blood and sweat went into this creation.

Adding some level of depth

Getting more detailed

Fine detailing and sanding

Added a little more fine detailing and changed how some of the ribbon beams looked. Took some sandpaper to smooth out several areas of the piece.

I was pretty happy with this so gave it a fine sanding to prep it for some staining. I chose an oak stain and applied it with a rag. I would dab the cloth on a different piece of old scrap wood to that the stain was not so dark and heavy. After letting dry for a few days I very lightly went over it with some fine grit sandpaper to give it a sort of weathered look.

A light oak stain

Just a glory shot

I am pretty happy with the result and it is very close to what I had originally projected. Drawings hardly ever come out exactly right as there is always tweaking during the creative process.

Happy with the results

I borrowed a table saw from a friend and started cutting the sides for the urn. I wanted 45 degree angles to hide the edges and that worked out real nice. Below I am dry fitting the sides together.

Cutting the urn box

Dry fitting

While I was staring at the urn I had a design idea and quickly grabbed a piece of paper, taped it to the urn and started sketching it out.

Urn idea

I decided to have the cross be inset into the face of the urn. Where the cross is above is pretty much where the inset will be located. I will trace it out onto the face of the urn and carve out about an eighth of an inch which the cross will sit in. Sort of like an embedded puzzle piece if you will.

Inset completed

Above shows the inset carved into the face of the urn. I finally got to use my dremel rather than having it sit in the closet. Honestly I have a lot of blisters and cuts so the dremel was a welcomed tool. After I routed out a rough outline I then used my hand carving tools for the finer points and lines.

Inset Dry Fit

Fits like a glove. I’ll be updating this post as progress is made or once the urn is completely done.

Stained with inset

Urn with a primary coat of oak stain. Inset actually looks pretty cool but Im still going to mount the cross into it.

Cross inset into urn

Cross fitted into the inset of the urn. The stains do not contrast each other in this picture but in different light they do and the cross stands out.

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This is one of those brainstorm ideas I had after staring at the lid and thinking it looked extremely plain. I decided to roughen up the lid and carve a sort of tablet to the top of it with a cross a heart and an Irish clover.

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Carved and sanded. I decided to roughen up the edges of the lid as well with a wood rasp.

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A little more detail sanding and then ready for staining.

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Done with the staining of the lid. Will let it dry a day or so and then fit a guide under it which will slide into the urn and hold the lid in place.

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Dry fitting the lid. I didnt take a picture of the guide underneath the lid but its there.

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Finished urn. Will package it up for the Philippines to take with us soon. Once in the Philippines my mission of getting my wife there and laying her to rest next to her dad will be complete. Now the journey begins.

Wife’s Cross Project

Wife’s Cross Project

I had gone through making several iterations of crosses for my wife to wear before settling on the final one. I carved our crosses out of oak and both originally started out quite small but the final ones are a little larger than normal. It’s my gift to her for the after-life, this old Irish guy to my beautiful Filipina girl.

My wife was holding her cross at the viewing and it will follow her into the next world as the Mortuary assured me she would be cremated with it. I have finally finished mine which I mounted her wedding ring on and that will ultimately hold some of her ashes once I get them, as well as some of her hair. I opted for something a bit more simplistic in design but still used the cross I had made.

Please enjoy the pics.

Initial crosses I made

Above are the initial crosses I had made, old style and very simplistic. It is quite coincidental, and unnoticed at the time, that the strings each sort of form a heart shape. I didn’t notice until some time after the pic was taken.

Crosses cut out

I had a chunk of birch so I carved out the small cross in a rock to put on a shelf. The two crosses are actually from the same piece of wood. Once I had the cross cut out I then cut a quarter of that away for the intention of making my wife’s cross while the larger would be a neck urn for myself.

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Coming along nicely and much as I intended. I’m trying to stay somewhat simplistic while at the same time putting my heart into the design. I want a sort of Irish Catholic feel to them.

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Finished with their designs, bore is drilled into the bottom of the larger cross, next will be to stain them and add individual aesthetic decorations.

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Post light staining process to the crosses and I also rubbed some tongue oil on them both. I will let them dry for about 48 hours or so.

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My wife’s cross is wrapped and finished. It will go with her on her journey from here.

Final design

Finished my neck urn cross. The idea for my cross was to respectfully use her ring in a neck urn that would contain her ashes and a few strands of her hair.

I know a halo cross is actually three beams representing the trinity but with regard to the black string I couldn’t make that work out exactly but there are representations of the halo cross in religious works that look like a plus sign. In any regard, I know what my intentions were so I’m good with it.

With regard to the bore drilled into the bottom of the cross, that will hold a small round cylinder that I will put some of my wife’s ashes in and a few strands of hair before gluing/sealing it shut.

 

Bring Cristina Home

Bring Cristina Home

My beautiful and shining wife of thirteen years, Cristina Carlos Gossett, has unfortunately passed away on Thursday, February 24, at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. She leaves behind her husband, awesome twin boys, mother, and family and friends from all over the globe.

My wife comes from a large Catholic family, born and raised in the awesome place of Guiguinto, Bulacan, Philippines. More of her passing can be read in the loose diary towards the bottom.

My wife was a shining heart, always on top of family, on top of her siblings helping them out whenever possible, helping friends out, she was a beautiful caring individual. She gave so much of herself in her brief 52 years, touching the people she met in different ways. So much so, that the outpouring of her passing has reached friends and family in multiple countries.

She was a freelancing CNA, Certified Nursing Assistant, liked to work mostly nights, which she loved, essentially doing her own thing her own way. One of our sons has high functioning autism so her schedule gave her the flexibility in making sure both our boys got to after school study programs, activities or services during the day. I would take over in the late afternoon and evening, or sometimes work from home to help out in getting things done.

I have shared a lot of best times with my wife but none have surpassed our meeting in Hong Kong, the boys being born or when visiting family in the Philippines. It’s sometimes amusing to be the only Americano in the barrio. I could write pages on my beautiful honey bunnie.

I met my wife over Yahoo Messenger back in 2002 while she was working for a family in Hong Kong and after chatting and calling off and on we spoke of marriage so I decided to fly to Hong Kong to meet her.

We were married the following year, 2003, in Admiralty, Hong Kong. Shortly after I had arrived back home she called me to let me know she had been to see her doctor and that she was pregnant. She asked me if I was sitting down and told me the awesome new that she was with twins, both boys.

When I was last in Hong Kong we got a lot of paperwork done for her to come to the US but since she told me of the pregnancy I started contacting people at the state department and INS to expedite papers, which I was successful in doing, so she was here in the US by middle of 2003, giving birth a few months later.

My wife’s father passed away a few years after we married and we couldn’t get a flight to the Philippines. My wife said her goodbye over the phone as one of her siblings held it up to her father’s ear from some 10,000 miles away. I never forgot that. We decided to have her mom come live with us and post paperwork she was here in about a years time. Here mom is like my mom and she loves the boys so much.

The hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life is come home to tell my wife’s mother that her daughter had just passed away. The second hardest thing was telling my boys.

Our boys are 12 years old and will be 13 soon. As I am thrust into being not just a single parent but a widower, I remain on top of things as best I can and remain taking care of her mom. As I said her mom is like my mom. I love my wife’s family and it’s tough on all of us, no doubt about it.

Because of the soulful heart my wife had, in no way did she deserve to leave the earth the way she did, and neither she nor her family deserve the injustice bestowed upon her here in the states by the medical system or the coroner’s office.

A Victim of Healthcare

To borrow in summary from the loose diary below, I mainly believe that my wife died as a victim of the bureaucracy of the health care system and doctor’s who wouldn’t listen to us complaining about her pain. Her primary care physician is questionable at best. He wouldn’t sign the death certificate because he said she shouldn’t have passed away (causing even more pain for us). However, he knew her condition and my wife had complained about how much pain she was in.

She had finally got a referral to a specialist to do an ultrasound and he was flat out shocked by not only how many fibroids my wife had but their size. We explained to him that she was having severe trouble and pain having bowel movements.

More can be read below but the end result was he said he will make the call for a cancer specialist who specializes in this kind of thing. Despite him saying she needed hysterectomy surgery right away it did not happen. We saw the cancer specialist who saw her for all of about five minutes, without any intrusive examination, agreed she needed surgery and then essentially left the room saying the girl handling scheduling will help us.

She gave us a surgery date of just about a month out and we were both shocked. She couldn’t give us anything earlier because she said the doctor was going on vacation. We were both speechless on the way home and I recall remarking to her at home that those doctors are idiots. So because her primary doctor would not sign the death certificate that meant that the coroner had to take her. That was on February 25 and they have had her ever since. As of today, March 11, they said it could be up to another ten days before her body is examined.  That puts this possibly into April until her body is examined.

This situation is most appalling and adds nothing but added grief for my family and extended family in the Philippines. Nobody deserves to be treated like this, not even our dearly deceased. What is happening to my wife is really on the bounds of unforgivable. We have essentially given up on having a proper viewing at all. We are so beside ourselves with grief and this adds to it ten-fold.

Seeking Help

Our deceased loved ones do not have a voice for this but the ones left behind.  Changes need to made and whether foolish or not, this is my way of getting the word out.

Because of the length of time it is taking the coroner’s office, I have tried many outlets in seeking anyone who can help and so far it seems nobody can. Among the many I have contacted include the Philippine Catholic Church, our own Archdiocese in Los Angeles, the Philippine Consular General, Congressman Adam Schiff, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Filipino newspapers, Filipino news organizations as well as our own local news outlets via Facebook, Twitter or Googling email addresses. The only return I got was from the Philippine Consular General telling me that they can’t get through to the coroner. Not even a response from my own Congress people.

Bringing Awareness

As of the day my wife was assigned a number, put in a body bag and stuck in a refrigerator, she was the 1,578th person to die in Los Angeles County since January 1, 2016. Every day I call the coroner’s release desk at 323-343-0506 and told she is not scheduled for examination. As of three days ago, I was told by a nice young lady at the corner that they are just starting to get into the 1300’s. My foremost thought is what the hell is going on with so many dead? At being February at the time, that means there are approximately 789 bodies that come into the corner daily. How alarming! What’s equally alarming is the coroner apparently does not have the staff to keep up with the influx of deceased!

My dearly departed wife is as much a victim as any other families loved one but we all need to start writing our Congress people and other Representatives to look at this and find a humane solution. It is a downright travesty that is occurring to the deceased, their families and to individual cultures (in this case my wife’s Philippine culture).

I strongly feel that the more exposure this problem gets, the louder the voice may become so that it gets attention and families do not have to deal with this kind of grief.

The issue here is that my wife, and us as a family, are literally held hostage by a broken understaffed system which has now cheated me and my family out of any ability to have a proper viewing for my wife. This is completely disrespectful to all families who have lost loved ones and something needs to be done.

Our dead deserve respect, families of passed loved ones deserve respect, and this does nothing for respect of any kind to anyone on any level. If any politician wants to tackle something meaningful, tackle this issue as something clearly needs to be done. Analyze and assist in taking on this broken system. California has enough problems, now which apparently includes properly and timely burying of the departed. That’s a whole new low on the embarrassment scale for this state. It’s a pothole blemish.

Families should have a right to bury their loved ones in a timely manner and have enough grief to deal with when their loved ones die than having to deal with a system holding their bodies as rotational numbers.

As of today, March 14, the coroner has finally performed their examination, release her, and the Mortuary now has her. We can now have our viewing for our final goodbyes, get her home to the Philippines to inter next to her dad and move forward to give our families peace.

 

Loose Diary – The Tragedy of Cristina Gossett


I apologize in advance for anything offensive. Writing is my therapy to help me through all that has happened to me and my family. All physician information is completely in the public domain and searchable via any search engine such as Google. I have pulled nothing that is not already within the public domain.

Wife’s primary care physician
Herman Carillo
14342 Ramona Blvd
Baldwin Park, CA 91706
Baldwin Park-El Monte Medical Group
Citrus Valley Physicians Group
626-338-4088

JAN 19 and FEB 1
I could not get out of going to Jury Duty on Feb 1 so didn’t go to that appointment at Dr. Carillo’s. My wife’s condition is not apparently a valid excuse. I went to the Jan 19 appointment for Dr. Tangchitnob though.
Dr. Dumrong Tangchitnob MD
1135 S Sunset Ave
Suite 401
West Covina, CA 91790
(626) 338-5377
We were not in the waiting room that long which was nice. We were called to a waiting room so my wife sat on the table and me in a chair. The Dr. came in a few minutes later with two young female assistants. I do not recall him saying their names. They had the normal type medical uniform on and essentially stood to the rear of the table my wife was on. I recall the room layout so well that I could draw it.

He had to insert an ultrasound tube up her vagina and I’ve never heard her yell like that in pain. He kept saying Wow, wow, I have never seen anything like this before. My wife was in excruciating pain, crying out. The Dr was noticeably worried and concerned in his tone and he even looked at me to ask if I was okay because I was immediately worried about my wife and what he was finding. His assistants looked at me as well. I felt helpless because I’m just sitting there in a chair, holding my wife’s stuff while she is moaning and yelling in pain on the table.

He said the fibroids are huge. I told him Yes, she has trouble having bowel movements and she is always in pain. He apologized to her several times in saying he had to check her anus. She again yelled out in pain. He kept apologizing but continued. He said its huge and blocking her. Yes, we already knew that. I thought why are we just going through this now then if its so bad. Why wasn’t this done in December or January?

He told us that she needs to have surgery right away. He mentioned the cancer specialist Mirhashemi and said he is really the best specialist for this. He said he would call for the specialist himself. Ultimately it meant we had to wait for yet another authorization for something.

This LA Care insurance of my wife sucks.

FEB 9
2:45 PM appointment
Ramin Mirhashemi
South Bay Gynecologic Oncology Associates
Janette Magdirila
Supervisor/Surgey Coordinator
23600 Telo Ave., #250 Torrance, CA 90505
Office: 310-602-5040 Surgery Only
Fax: 310-602-5051
310-375-8446 Appointments
Fax: 310-375-8489

My wife and I left for the appointment in Torrance/Lomita. She cant drive and vibrations from the road exasperate her pain but there is nothing we could do about it. We put the car seat as prone as it was comfortable for her and left.

When we got to the second floor office it was packed. Even people in the hall standing against the wall and sitting down. My wife was able to find a seat in the waiting room after several minutes, I remained in the hall. Other people just left to walk around. I began to pray in the hall, asking the Lord to please give me her pain instead. I paced, walked around in the hall moving my arms around. I noticed a camera so stopped. I didn’t want any trouble from someone thinking I was mental or something.

I saw an old lady and helped her by opening the door to a different office for her. My wife motioned that a seat was open. No sooner that I took it several more people showed up. I thought to myself of how this place even functions being so packed like this. Waited in waiting room for over an hour. The waiting room was still jam packed. All we ever heard from people there is how good he is and that’s why he is so popular. Quite frankly, I now disagree.

We were finally called back, she got vitals and we went to a patient waiting room where we waited another 20 minutes for the doctor. As we were waiting I playfully took a picture of my wife sitting in the examination room chair, kind of holding herself up to take pressure off of her lower area. I didn’t know that would be the last picture i would ever take of my wife alive.

The doctor came in and asked her what’s going on and she explained. I mentioned several times how much unbearable pain she has, so much that she cant get around and is almost bed-ridden. He had her lay on a table and prodded a bit. It took all of about five to seven minutes and that was that. I was personally amazed because I was expecting more like what happened at Tangchitnob’s office with an actual examine.

As we were leaving the room I had to ask them if that was it. We were told to see the scheduling girl and she looked at scheduling and said she doesn’t have anything for at least a month, March 8 or 9 because the doctor is going on vacation. Me and my wife both sighed. I remember the pain in her eyes as we looked at each other. I asked why not anything more urgent because of her condition. I verbally told the girl that my wife is not going to make it that long and what good is an appointment if you are dead. She simply said “You know this is a cancer clinic right?” I thought to myself what the heck is that supposed to mean. We reluctantly took the earliest March date and drove back home.

On our way home I actually felt cheated and that the trip was not worth the meeting with this specialist that we thought it would be. I thought he would notice her pain and immediately send her to a surgery. He did not. Instead we were driving home, waiting for another month to go by. Later that evening, as my wife was laying in bed I recall saying over and over again how stupid doctors are and sarcastically said that I hope that Mirhashemi enjoys his vacation.

FEB 23
I came home from work and as I put my bag down asked my wife how she was. She looked almost asleep and simply said she was not good. I sat at the edge of the bed rubbing her feet off and on during the evening. At one point she got up to take her pain medication, if you call it that, 800mg Ibuprofin, which she said she could only take every 12 hours, and to eat a pop-tart with it. She had an orange earlier as well.

It was hard for her to get around but she wanted to do it. She’s not the type to let a sickness beat her. I cooked dinner but she doesn’t eat full meals because eating will make her want to have a movement. After I fed the boys and her mom I came back into the room. I turned on Food Network because she likes to watch or just hear what happens. She couldn’t sit up completely in bed and had to lay in more a prone position. I rubbed her feet some more and then I turned off the TV and started making preparations for bed. I asked if she needed to go to the bathroom first and she said No. We went to bed.

February 24 between 2:30 AM and 3:00 AM.
My wife went to the bathroom at about 2:30 AM and when she came out of the bathroom she said she was having trouble breathing and wanted to go to ER. She looked to be hyperventilating so I momentarily tried to calm her down while she got dressed. She slowly walked out to the living room and onto the couch laying back while repeatedly saying that she was too young to die in between breathes. I grabbed her purse and me and her mom helped her down to the car.

We were at ER in about seven minutes, having most of the green lights. I was actually driving at a speed to attract police attention to help us get to the hospital faster and never saw a single police car. We went to Huntington Memorial at Congress and Fair Oaks. I stopped outside and saw no wheelchairs. I quickly went inside and saw someone actually sleeping in one.

I told the guy at the desk that I need a wheelchair because my wife is having trouble breathing. They looked around and found one. I got the wheelchair, came back to the car for my wife who already had the door open. Took my wife in and again explained that she is having trouble breathing. She was taken through the door for a vitals by a guy and a girl named Jay.

I explained what happened, that my wife got up normal to use the bathroom and then came out saying she was having trouble breathing and wanted to go to ER so I brought her. I also explained that my wife has been suffering from Fibroids and is supposed to have surgery in two weeks. I mentioned she is spotting, that she had more blood than normal on her panty liner. Nobody really paid attention to that. Jay told my wife she was hyperventilating and told her to calm down and a few times Jay said “Look at me, Look at me, you need to focus”. My wife said she needed oxygen. She didn’t get any right away.

My wife calmed down a bit and then said she needed to use the restroom so I wheeled her to it just behind us and she tried to have a bowel movement. She gave up because she couldn’t do it. The fibroids actually block her ability to have a proper movement. When we came out I told Jay that my wife didn’t go and that its most likely because of the fibroids that block her ability to go.

Jay started an EKG and took some readouts. They moved her to an ICU room and moved her to the table/bed that was in it and she started getting worse. I heard my wife exhaling and moaning loudly. There were several people in the room by this time and I was asked to remain outside the room as the curtain was pulled closed.

Doctor Willard, on that night, introduced himself and asked whats going on. I explained again what happened. He asked if she has diabetes and I said No. He asked if she was on medicine and I said Yes but that I couldn’t recall the medicines at the moment. I did mention she had a pain killer. I didn’t recall at the time that it was 800mg Ibuprofen. He asked if she had any history of high blood pressure and I said maybe, that I couldn’t recall under the circumstances. My head was swimming.

I also mentioned that she has fibroids, is supposed to have surgery and that she is spotting. Meaning bleeding from her vagina. She doesn’t have periods because of menopause. I also mentioned she has trouble with movements because the fibroids. The doctor said Wow, must be pretty big. He asked if she had been moving around and I said No because of the level of pain she had been experiencing was so great.

The doctor went in and started assisting while I waited just outside the ICU room. He came out and told someone that he needs to incubate her. I don’t know what that means. A moment later a woman rolled with a heart defibrillator, looked at me and said it was just a precaution. I was then asked to please wait in the waiting room.

I only sat for seconds when the door opened and a woman asked where the husband is. They told her as I was looking at them. She introduced herself as Nida, the ER Social Worker. She brought me to a small seating area, asked me what happened and then explained that they are working on her because her heart stopped.

I was finding it hard to really acknowledge what she was saying since my wife originally looked to have only been hyperventilating. I remained calm as she spoke with me and said she would be back to update me. I started texting her brother in the Philippines and flat out told him that Cristina is very ill, they are working on her and to get the entire family to pray like they have never prayed before. I started doing the same, begging and pleading for the Lord to take me instead. I was chanting for the Lord to please save my wife.

Nina came back later and told me that they were still working on her and having to perform CPR. I still couldn’t fully register the situation. She left to get an update and then came back with Dr Willard who said they are still working on her. He said they are giving her drugs to thin out her blood in case of a clot and also medicine to try and get her heart beating again. He left and I told him I was keeping faith.

I still remained in a calm demeanour. Freaking out and stuff does nobody any good. Im thinking it was just three years ago that I lost my dad to cancer and now I’m sitting here losing my wife to something else we could not see. About 15 minutes later they both came back, sat down, and Dr Willard stated it was unfortunate but my wife has passed. I was numb, trying to figure out what the heck just happened to my wife. He suggested that the clot may have triggered a heart attack.

I recall saying I was a bit numb and couldn’t think. I sat for a few minutes sort of mumbling about how its not very fair that good people should die. I was also thinking to myself that I was about to drive home without a wife to tell her mother and our two boys that she had died. Nina asked if I would like to see her. I said Yes. She left and came back a few minutes later and lead me to the room.

My wife still had two tubes sticking out of her mouth and little bit of blood on her left hand. I touched her forehead and she felt cold. I noticed her stomach looked a bit larger than when we came in. Her stomach was large because of the fibroid issue and she had fluid build-up inside as well.

I held my wife’s forehead and stroked her hair, speechless for a first few minutes. I just shook my head because it didn’t make sense. I said some things to her for a few minutes and then asked if I could have a lock of my wife’s hair. Nina said they cant do that. You can only do that after the body is released. I asked her if that means I couldn’t do it either and she said I couldn’t, its rules.

She had a book and showed me what number to call later in the morning. She wrote her name in the book as well in the event I needed anything. She explained about the death certificate, that if the doctor wont sign then the coroner will be called to do it. She walked with me to the door and I left the hospital. I walked to my car in a kind of slow pace because things just felt numb around me. I thought again that I am about to go back home to tell her mom and my boys that she has passed away.

It’s about 5:30 AM and I paid my parking and drove home. I waited several seconds before entering the door and her mom stood up and asked where Cristina was. I took a deep breath and told her she passed away. She didn’t take it well and had such a fit that I thought I was about to have her in the ER as well. I felt like she was on the verge of passing out so I firmly told her that she had to be strong. She has to be strong for Cristina and the boys.

About 6:30 AM I went to our bedroom and started calling family friends to notify what happened to my wife and to please come and console my mother-in-law. My wife is Filipino and her mom does not talk a lot of English so to have them there will be best for my mother-in-law. My boys started waking up and my mother-in-law brought them in as she was still very upset. I was sitting on the edge of our bed and took a few moments to compose myself. I then explained that mommy has been very sick, that I had to take her to ER and that she has passed.

One of my sons was crying and the other not so much. He is autistic and doesn’t fully understand these things. He does understand going to heaven but he never cried. They have both seen me crying and know I’m sad though. During this whole experience I couldn’t get it out of my head that I went to ER with my wife and came out with a book basically telling me what to do next and her clothes, I didn’t even get her panties back. Apparently they kept or threw out her panties that had her panty liner on it.

What sucks is we had been to this very ER multiple times since January, even Urgent Care, and complained about the amount of pain she was in. Nobody, anywhere, ever took us seriously. The specialist that was supposed to have performed her surgery could not have done it sooner because he was going on vacation. If he did, I’m a believer that she would still be here today. I firmly believe that.

Approximately 6:30 AM I notified Elijah’s one on one aide in his class that my wife had passed away. I called both my boys schools to let them know my boys will not be attending school and why.

Family friends started arriving to console us. After 9 AM I called the Decadent number in the book to inquire about my wife. She asked her name, placed me on hold, came back a minute later and said she had not received anything with regard to her yet. I explained to her about what the social worked told me and this woman explained something completely different to me. She said I have to contact a Mortuary and that they will handle the aspects of getting my wife’s and body and stuff.

I started looking on-line for Mortuaries and came across Cabot & Sons which is local in Pasadena. I called and talked to a woman named Esther and made an appointment for 2 PM. I came in with a family friend and spoke to a man name Wendell. I explained I don’t have money to send my wife overseas so me and her mother had agreed on having her cremated and that we would take her ashes to the Philippines to inter next to her dad. Wendell asked me questions, we agreed on the price and we had a viewing set so that her mom and family friends could dress her prior to the cremation.

I called my Aunt Dena and let her know what had happened. She was in shock as the rest of us are. We spoke for a little while. Later I had called Jeanette at Mirhamshemi’s office and left a message to let her know that I was right when I told them that she would not make the appointment date that was set. She called me back some time later but it was worthless. Stupid doctor and his vacation was more important I guess. He could have rushed her across the way from his office to the medical center at any time. It’s hard to believe that this was the only specialist who could have performed the surgery…???

FEB 25
Dr. Tangchitnob called me because he had heard of my wife passing and expressed shock. He was asking me several questions, including about any other previous health issues, she really had none. He just couldn’t believe it. He expressed his condolences.

Wendell called me and said that there was a problem with the death certificate. He said that her primary care doctor will not sign it because he felt she was too young to pass away. He said that means that the Coroner will take her for examination. I asked him how long that will take and he responded that sometimes they are quick while other times they are not. He said it should be a couple of days. I expressed I am concerned with that and that it was frustrating but understood. It made me see how I was making a good intended decision but now realizing that at least now we may get some information on what exactly caused my wife’s death. I am not so convinced it was a clot but more from her fibroid issue.

Rasheam, Elijah’s one on one aide in his class stopped by about noon with some food. We talked a bit about the frustrations. He recalled times where my wife would pick up Elijah out front the school but she couldn’t get out of the car so he would help her by getting him to the car. He recalled other times he noticed she was in pain. Elijah’s bus driver, Rhonda, was the same. She told my wife not to walk down our front stairs any more to have Elijah get on or off the bus but to just send him down or that Rhonda would just let him walk up the stairs to meet my wife.

Rasheam, as well as myself, couldn’t figure out why nobody paid attention to us with regard to my wife’s pain. He had me talk to his sister who has some experience in the medical area. I explained everything to her and in a nutshell she told me to document everything because something just doesn’t sound right.

I emailed Claudia Laura from Lanterman and Danielle Gies from PCDA to let them know what had happened and to let her know I will need help to figure out things for my sons services. I don’t want him to lose any services by not being able to meet appointments during our family tragedy.

In monitoring my wife’s email, Roxxi Bartlett from Community Works was wondering if Joseph was coming to tutoring. He has missed sessions since I took over picking up the kids because of my wife not being able to get around. He has been going to the Police Activities League since. I called her to let her know what had happened and she said that she will leave a space open for him as I figure everything out.

I emailed two of Joseph’s teachers, Tovar and Kovacic, to let them know what had occurred. I don’t have a lot of faith in the phone system at either of my boys schools for leaving messages. Miss Tovar actually called me and we spoke briefly which was nice.

I made a reluctant call to the Fidelity people, our life insurance to find out what I need to do. They will send me a packet.

I started going through all of our accounts on-line to make sure what’s what and at least paid our mortgage so it doesn’t get missed. My wife would normally do this since she was the finance person so I never really checked anything. She was amazingly organized.

FEB 26
Helped Nanay try and figure out how to use her SSI credit card because she doesn’t know her pin. Apparently my wife was helping her most of the time with that. I called the customer service number and was able to reset her pin for her. Her and a family friend walked to a teller to try it out. Our family friend told me that Nanay doesn’t know where it is so she went with her.

I took the boys to In&Out, we needed to get out of the house for a breather. Nanay called on the cell just after I already paid, saying she bought sandwiches from Subway. It would have to keep until dinner.

I carved a pair of crosses out of wood, one for me and one to put on my wife. I found a way of incorporating her wedding ring onto my cross so it looks nice. I nice Irish act of love.

I also started going through every paper, bill, etc., I could find everywhere in the house. For a chaotic paper system of having things scattered my wife had things amazingly organized.

Feb 27
Another day of going through papers, bill, etc. Miss Anne, Elijah’s aide in his former class last year came by. She brought food for us, a gym bag for Elijah and visited, that was nice. Merriam, another family friend and from church, came over for a while with her kids. We talked a lot and she mentioned this thing called the Nutri-bullet. Because of being a bit overweight and what just happened to my wife I was all over it and went a few blocks down the street to Target to buy it as I was buying cat litter. I need to do it for my kids and my wife. Merriam also set up to have my wifes name read at evening Mass. We will go to 5 PM Mass at St. Andrews. I kind of like the Father there.

Vanilda, a family friend, came over to cut the boys hair and then we went to 5PM Mass. The lady speaking at the podium announcing prayers for those who have died mispronounced our last name as Gosst and not Gossett though, but God knows her name. I asked the Father after the service where the justice was in taking someone from the earth who had such a good heart and always helped people when the scum of the earth are always left no matter what happens to them. We talked a bit and he said he has no answers. He was in agreement that its something I will most likely find when its my time. He gave a prayer for me and my family. Prayers are always welcomed.

FEB 28
Called the Mortuary this morning and spoke to Chris. He said they last talked to the Coroner’s Office yesterday and she is still not scheduled on their list. He said they call daily. 323-343-0507, case # 2016-1578. I wrote to the Chief of Police in Bell Gardens today, explaining what happened and asked if he could call anyone at the Coroners to expedite. He knew my dad when my dad was on the department back in the day.

FEB 29
Took Elijah to speech at 8:00 AM and then Joseph to school. Wendell Cabot from Mortuary called. I need to sign a consent to release body from coroner although my wife is still not ready as of this morning so he will try again tomorrow.

10:53 AM called Coroner’s Office for status on wife. Said she is not on schedule for today and that I can call back tomorrow. I asked what the average turnaround is for this and was told five to seven days. I will try again tomorrow.

MARCH 1
Called coroner again, wife still not on the schedule, this is day five. Release desk suggested calling 323-343-0714 to see if an investigator has been assigned yet. I did and one has not. I explained to the guy who answered that this is day five and that I was earlier told the turnaround is five to seven days. He was polite and told me that the coroner is swamped. He checked and said there is between fifty to seventy-five cases ahead of my wife’s. I thanked the man for his time and said I would check again. He said to try checking on Saturday.

MARCH 2
Called coroner, wife is still not on the list for examination today. I was able to piece together the following appointment dates my wife had at Carillo’s office for 2015: 4/22, 6/24, 11/4, 12/3 not sure what each was for though.  I have put anything medical in a single large envelop.  At 8:00 AM called Neli Alishan with IHSS to find out what to do with my wife’s last time-sheet up until the day before she passed away.

MARCH 3
Cabot & Sons called me, they called the coroner and my wife still is not on the schedule. Went through more papers at home.

MARCH 4
Called the coroner and my wife still is not on the schedule. Went through more papers at home.

MARCH 5
Went to evening Mass with friends and we all came back home for a big dinner.

MARCH 6
Went to evening mass with one of my boys.

MARCH 7
8:00 AM. Took Elijah to his speech services class at PCDA. Called the coroner and my wife still is not on the schedule. Sent back IHSS paperwork to Neli Alishan, now will wait to see if I am granted support services.

MARCH 8
12:20 PM Called the coroner and my wife still is not on the schedule. The woman transferred me to investigations. I spoke with a girl named Courtney. She checked to get an estimated time of when my wife might be examined. She said they are just now getting to cases in the 1300’s and that it looks like it could be another week. She asked me questions with regard to her passing. She asked if she died in the hospital and I told her yes, about an hour and a half after we got there. Asked me if she had other health issues and I told her the main one was fibroids of the uterus which had her in extreme pain all the time. She told me that someone had her down as having a thyroid problem. I told her that my wife has never had a thyroid problem. She assured me that they are getting closer and went over my contact information to make sure it was correct. She explained that she asked me questions and took notes in her case so to save time for the investigator when one is assigned.

MARCH 9
Took Joseph to school and I went to work for half day. Nanay waited with Elijah for the school bus. Had the kids go back to school since its pointless to have them out while we wait to see when we get their mother back. I came home and made lunch for Elijah for when he gets home. Picked up Joseph.

MARCH 10
Kids to school, I went to work half day. Called coroner, wife not ready. Started getting passports together to see what I need to do. Need to get a new US passport for Joseph and new Philippine passports for both. Mine is good, Nanay’s is good as well.

MARCH 11
Kids to school half day. They get out early because next week is spring break. I went to work. Picked up Joseph, came home and made them hot dogs for lunch. Nanay said she will cook tonight. Wendell Cabot called from the mortuary. He said that he called the coroner and that they told him it could be up to another ten days. I will keep calling each day because things may change. I have a lot of hatred for this state now.

MARCH 12
Called today anyway but told the same thing. Not scheduled for examination. They don’t take calls on Sundays. Tried the Philippine Consulate General again but this time they have not responded back.

MARCH 13
FINALLY!!! I just received a call from Kimberly of the coroners office. She said my wife should be seen and released by possibly Tuesday, maybe as early as tomorrow. I will call the mortuary in the morning to let them know so that they can keep checking. I’m not sure who all were responsible for this new change but Im first going to give props where they are deserved – thank you Lord!!!!

MARCH 14
In checking, my wife is on the schedule today for examination and we hope to have her back tomorrow. Another week or so and it would have been a complete month. This has been one sad emotional roller coaster that I hope to not have to repeat any time soon in this life. I still thank the Lord and all friends and family for the support we have received over this time.

I have finished my wife’s cross for her to wear. Can be viewed here.

11:55 AM The doctor whom performed my wife’s autopsy had just called me. He let me know that internally around her uterus and stomach area she had a lot of blood. Apparently one of the masses she had ruptured just behind the uterus so my wife essentially bled to death at the hospital. I recall telling the doctor on staff at the ER when my wife was in ICU that there was blood from my wife’s vagina but I doubt they paid attention to me, otherwise they would have checked that out and maybe had her in surgery right away. Still there are a lot of failures to go around with regard to this, more so with the specialist that went on vacation rather than having the time to more urgently address my wife’s condition. In the end my belief remains, if she would have had her surgery earlier then she would still be alive.

The doctor who called let me know he would call me once the detailed report is done so I would know when I could order a copy. I plan on it and plan on seeking legal advice to see if I have a negligence case. At this point I’m simply waiting for my wife’s body to be released.

Update – Mortuary has my wife now. Because of the length of time she has spent at the coroner, the mortuary will prepare her. I will take a dress to them in the morning that was purchased for her. I will also speak to them about blessing her body. More to follow.

MARCH 15
My wife needs a lot of work so I gave the mortuary time today to do that so nothing is rushed and we will see her tomorrow.

This is awesome!!!!! Read the headlines that have been flowing out and weep for proper recognition of a failing system!! My pleas that went around to two Congress people, news sites as well as other outlets is simply one spoke on the cog-wheel of demanding someone give it attention but I’m damned proud to have been a part of bringing this issue to light. I’m not laying claim to anything but its highly coincidental that I started my personal campaign for this at the same time this went more public in February/March. In any regards, I’m happy it has exposure now. Hopefully it wont lose steam and just fall by the side without anything being done.

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/government-and-politics/20160311/outgoing-la-county-coroner-describes-department-in-turmoil-its-nuts

http://ktla.com/2016/03/12/l-a-county-coroners-office-workloads-could-threaten-accreditation-sources/

http://www.pjstar.com/news/20160312/los-angeles-county-coroner-resigns-amid-body-backlog

MARCH 16
Had viewing for my wife this afternoon at 3:00 PM. We were able to get a Father to come and bless my wife’s body in a small ceremony.

I saw her first and remarked to her how the Cabot’s did such a good job at making her seem so at rest. I was grateful to them that they also included the cross I made her.

I held her hand and turned into a blubbering cry-baby, telling her how much I’ve begged and pleaded with the Lord to change our places, how I pray every night for a miracle for him to restore her and bring her home. He has the power by breath of nostril to do that. I begged.

I spent a few more private moments with my wife, said a few more things to her and then called our boys in. Both boys had a sort of blank stare, especially Elijah. I told Elijah that mommy is sleeping, at rest in heaven now. He knows about that from his Catechism classes. I told them both that she is resting now.

Next I told Joseph to go ahead and call in Nanay which he did. It was hard on my wife’s mom to see her daughter laying there. She cried and prayed pretty heavy. I hugged her and told her she’s at peace. I told Joseph to go get ate Norma, a friend of our family. She helped console Nanay and at the same time started crying also. After several minutes we let the rest of our family friends in and the Father began his blessing of the body. A couple of us said a few things. I could have said a lot more but those present knew my wife, that was the awesome thing. But that’s really what this was all about, remembrance, last good bye’s and blessing of her body.

During the Father speaking, once or twice I saw Joseph brush away some tears but I didn’t let him see that I saw him. I later consoled Elijah, telling him that we will take mommy to the Philippines soon and he understood that. I have told them both.

Anyone who knew my wife knew she was a simple woman and would not have wanted something overly extravagant, material. She would have known that the true ceremony of her life among family and friends would be done in the Philippines anyway, not the ill soil of the U.S. Come June, we will absolutely celebrate my wife something proper in Pritil.

What was pretty tough for me was holding the phone so that her sister Susan in the UK could view her. I love Susan and her family and the last thing I would have ever thought in this life was that we would ever be on opposite ends of a phone at my wife’s, her sisters, viewing. Never in a million years would I have thought.

It was tough watching her cry. Tough to be helpless from so far, not being able to hug her and try to console her in something that makes absolutely no sense in happening. Even consoling Nanay, I just want to wake up from this bad dream.

Nanay had broke down again but quite a bit more than before, I asked everyone if they would step out to give Nanay a little breathing space and they did. After several minutes we had everyone come back in.

I overheard friends reminiscing about working with my wife, friendships, going shopping, exercising, church, eating, going places, how she inspired people. There was a lot to be said of her. She touched so many.

Towards the end of the viewing, I had told everyone that we would have a gathering at our home and all were welcome. When people had left they said their goodbyes to my wife and we all prayed in mass over my wife.

When all had left, me and Nanay said our last goodbye to my wife. I recall holding Nanay and telling her that its not fair. Something I reiterate a lot. I kissed my wife on the lips and whispered to her “Until our next life”.

I’m sure Nanay has thought the same thing as me, that children should grow to lay their parents to rest and not parents to lay their children to rest. I will be posting video pretty quick but with some respect to my wife so it will probably go out to key family members via Facebook and not in mass. I apologize ahead of time for that but I assure you its totally meant in respect for my wife and family.

MARCH 17
Mr Cabot from the mortuary called me, the cremation will be done today. He let me know that the death certificate currently states deferred which is not good. That means I have nothing to give our bank or insurance people. Deferred means there is no determination yet of cause of death, regardless what the doctor who called me stated. I believe its because he sent out some tissue samples to be analysed so they cant officially close her case yet.

9:55 AM. I called the coroner and asked to speak to their investigations department. Both the lady who answered and the person she transferred me addressed me in a demeanor like I was the last person they wanted to speak with. They have no obvious respect for grieving families and again its deplorable behavior from them. The man I asked the question to at the investigations department even cut me off and just said if the certificate is marked as deferred it will take 6 to 8 months for the final death certificate. Why do I have to be addressed like that in such a demeaning manner? They need some serious sensitivity training. Again I’m just shocked but I hope it doesn’t really take that long.

I read in the latest news articles of the problems with the LA County coroner that it was taking that long but mistakenly thought that with the current attention they were getting that things might be sped up a bit. I see now I was wrong in that assumption. I read how families were losing their homes over the amount of time it was taking because they had nothing to give their banking institutions or life insurance people. As it stands right now, I might have to dip into my retirement fund for a small loan to keep us afloat. Problem is that needs to be paid back.

After all is settled and done, we need to get out of this country for awhile.

MARCH 18
So I kind of expected I would begin running into things like this while looking into survivor benefits with Social Security. I checked and it seems I qualify for a lump sum benefit of a whopping $255.

“A surviving spouse or child may receive a special lump-sum death payment of $255 if they meet certain requirements.”

Wow, am I not fortunate?! Why not just rub shit in my face at the same time huh? Maybe that was a lot back in 1937 when the lump sum payments first started but that isn’t anything today. On the plus side though, I may be entitled to up to 75 percent of survivor benefit amount of my wife’s because of the boys but there are other limits to consider.

“Widow or widower, any age, caring for a child under age 16 — 75 percent”

So anyway, I will make an appointment and see what happens. Their office is only two blocks away from me. Better to do it, see what happens than not have tried at all. THAT is something my wife taught me.

This whole survivor-ship journey is really something else. I just want to make sure the boys are at least taken care of and we are able to at least maintain a roof for the next several months. I also need to make a hard book journal of all that needs to be done should anything happen to me so at least Nanay or the person I designate can follow it. Hopefully things will go more smoothly and they can collect my life insurance for the boys. I’m certainly hoping that when that time comes it is far less difficult than what I am going through with my wife’s passing. If I have any control I hope its in old age, my kids are set and its in the Philippines.

MARCH 20
Should get my wife’s ashes back on Tuesday. Once that is done I can start making some plans for the Philippines for June. Need to update one US passport for one of the boys though and both need updated Philippine passports.

I have finally finished my cross I was working on which I mounted her wedding ring and that will ultimately hold some of her ashes once I get them, as well as some of her hair. I opted for something a bit more simplistic in design but still used the cross I had made.

MARCH 21
I gave Mr Cabot at the mortuary the information for the cemetery my wife will be interred at so that I can get a permit to hand carry her ashes. He gave me advice that in his experience over the years that I should not go through the Philippine Consulate because of the red tape involved. He told me in his experience that the permit is all that is really necessary. Wendell Cabot, at Cabot & Son’s has been a Godsend to my family through our experience. It is almost as if he has known our family, he is that attentive and compassionate. I plan on writing a strongly appropriate letter to Cabot & Sons commending his attention to detail and doing his family name justice. Mr. Cabot has earned a place within my nightly prayers.

MARCH 22
I have picked up my wife’s ashes today so now she is home. I also got a permit from the mortuary so I can take her ashes by carry-on when we travel to the Philippines but will also go the route of the paperwork the Philippine Consulate expects. When I last spoke to Mr Cabot at the mortuary I told him I wanted two death certificates anyway, regardless of them stating deferred, so I got those also. Its no good for life insurance purposes but should be in dealing with the Consulate.

I was able to finish and seal my cross with my wife’s ashes inside. I made a small metal insert to contain them and then sealed the end of the cross with a wood plug. Cant even tell actually.

MARCH 23
What is it that makes the essence of a man. Is it his deeds, his failures, all of the above? Ever morning I wake up I feel a sense of failure and still being in a void at the same time. Like my brain shuts down but I am cognizant. This is not my normal routine.

I just cant get it out of my head how this all played out. Bleeding to death from one of the masses just behind her uterus that burst, and in ICU of ER of all places? like what the hell!? Whats happened to doctors paying attention to the signs of ailments? Wouldn’t rapid loss of blood pressure and then the heart stop beating at least point to an internal issue? I’m not medical major but it is the first thing that would come to my mind.

I told Dr. Willard who was on that night that she had fibroids as well as blood from her vagina. I don’t understand how he couldn’t put together 2 and 2 with the rapid loss of blood pressure. In about thirty minutes of being in ER she was already in cardiac arrest, by an hour she was gone.

All I know is that if someone, anyone, would have listened to us at any time between doctors, specialists and ER about my wife’s pain, what she was going through, not having bowel movements, whatever, that she would still be alive today. that mass that burst would have been one among the rest that were removed and it never would have haemorrhaged causing her internal bleeding.

My wife saying over and over that she is too young to die.

If that Mirhashemi specialist would have performed my wife’s badly needed and emergent surgery sooner instead of going on vacation she would still be alive. If he paid any amount of attention to the ultrasound specialists report and what my wife told him then he should have acted on it right away and she would be alive.

Me hauntingly telling the girl making the surgery appointment that my wife will not make it that far and what good is an appointment if you are already dead, eats at me.

On the same coin though I also blame her primary care physician who obviously did not perform proper follow-up and advocate her issue enough. The day she passed was her appointment with the primary care doctor to go over pre-surgery details and in just two weeks past that was her surgery date. Just two damned weeks.

How helpless I still feel by not being able to protect my wife. What more could I have done through all of this?

Telling Nanay and the boys she is gone.

These are all things that haunt me on a daily basis.

Pray for peace? I want some justice. I will continue to firmly advocate that someone somewhere dropped the ball on my wife. Whether its the bureaucracy of the LA Care Health Plan she was on, her doctor or specialists, someone has responsibility for this and needs to have accountability. It’s an unnecessary failure of the system.

I still have several weeks to wait for the final coroner’s report so that I can order one. When I do I plan to have this legally reviewed to see if I have a negligence case. It’s not about money as they couldn’t give me enough for the value of my wife and what our family is missing. It’s about failure and accountability. If it turns out I got nothing to stand on then so be it. My wife would tell me its better to have tried than not, at least I will know.

I don’t know how I do it. I haven’t had my day of mourning yet. And I mean my day. I do what I do for the boys and the good of the family. Down the road, sometime after my wife is safely home on Philippine soil, sometime after the boys are squared away, I’m sure that Nanay is fine, loose ends are tied, I’ll have my moment where it will all come out and lighten the load on my spirit that I currently carry. Until then its left foot first, right foot second.

MARCH 24

This is actually for last night. Last night I went back and forth with one of my wife’s sisters with regard to the size of my wife’s urn so basically it turned into the idea for her tomb as well. Before it was going to be a simple square one next to her dad but after some thought I wanted it to have an angel on top. I went through two iterations. The first was of an angel sitting on top, leaning against Tatay’s tomb with her head resting on his as you would affectionately visiting someone. The next, and final iteration, is of an angel standing on top with her arms out in a welcoming fashion, a window for her urn and a plaque under that. I will make the box that will contain her urn, carving a cross to be mounted on its front. Pictures are below.

Still working on passport forms. Will take one of my boys to morrow to get that started and probably expedite. Nanay is good to go, her friend helped her. She said they went to Glendale Post Office and then her friend treated her to all you can eat buffet. Both boys need Philippine passports renewed but because they will have US passports I am not that concerned and can do those more leisurely.

I have filled out the Report of Death forms for my wife and will need to take those to the Consulate next week. Luckily the train runs almost direct to their front door.

In reading more to educate myself, it appears I “may” actually need an Immigrant Visa for extended stays without penalty, unless I find a US company to work for. I would still get it though if possible. The boys are dual-citizens so they are covered. If I don’t go that route then I simply have to leave once a year for a 24 hour time period. I can do that but we’ll see what happens.

I made another round to several media outlets with regard to our issue with healthcare plan and the coroner. Still, nothing, not a single contact back. I have to assume that all the news about the backlogs with the coroner and such have simply fallen silent. Not unusual really for news stories in California, to bring them up once or so and then they take a back seat just to disappear. Probably because of elections I guess. In any case, I’m feeling comfortable that I have tried enough times to get my story out so I’m simply going to move forward with other tasks I need to do.

MARCH 25
Took care of passport for one of the kids this morning so should get it within the next few weeks. Will deal with the Consulate on other unrelated paperwork next week.

I have heard nothing with regard to the final coroners report yet but I am hoping by end of April for that. I will start calling again about that time.

Need to start sending boxes to the Philippines soon. Probably next week also. These cargo boxes are huge so unfortunately I can only take one at a time to the cargo place for shipping. Maybe two if I am the only one taking them because I can put all the seats down. I like taking Nanay to Seafood City though whenever we are in Eagle Rock, and I’m a Jolly Bee junkie, we’ll see.

MARCH 29
I got a response from one media person who has an on-line talk show with local KPCC radio. He expressed sympathy for my issue and he let me know that they are actually following the issue with the coroner’s office and reporting on it. Exposure is better than nothing I guess. I am in hopes that somewhere along the line my story will be used to help others in similar plight.

MARCH 31
Finally got my Social Security appointment to find out what survivor benefits me and the boys qualify for. Only had beginning of May as first appointment so I took it. Hope its good news.

APRIL 2
Today was the first time I have had to console one of my boys. I found one of my boys crying in his room and in asking him what was wrong he said he missed everyone. I know he meant his mom. So I sat on his bed and hugged him as we talked a bit about the spirit and how mommy will look in on us from time to time and that he just needs to be strong and turn his pain into something positive in moving forward. I also told him that even though mommy is not here we will see her again one day.

I had found out yesterday that one of my boys was found to have nodules on the thyroid on his throat. He had an ultrasound on March 26. I was hoping that his last ultrasound would have been okay. The doctor called me to say that in review they have not grown or anything so that’s great but I need to make another appointment for them to take a biopsy to see if they are benign. Essentially they will do an ultrasound to pinpoint them again and stick an ultra thin needle in his neck to extract the sample. Since my son has autism I will try and explain to him at the time what needs to be done. Usually he is pretty brave with needles so we will see if he needs twilight sleep or not this time around.

Tell me something Lord, are you done with me and my family yet? Just take me instead of subjecting my children to anything. As with my wife, I offer myself in their place. You did not take my offer for my wife but please do so for our children.

APRIL 5
Nobody called me yet for my sons ultrasound so I called Kaiser instead. A young lady looked over my sons info and said she will have someone call me about my inquiry.

APRIL 6
2:35 PM I got a call from a lady at Kaiser with regard to my sons next ultrasound. The lady told me I needed to call a number for their Diagnostic Imaging Department. I told her that the doctor told me someone would contact me for scheduling an appointment.

She said I needed to call so I called the number she gave me. After about a ten minute hold I got someone who checked his record number and then passed me to another lady named Esther. She told me that the ultrasound specialist wont do the ultrasound biopsy procedure on him because he is too young so the specialist will call the doctor and tell him so he can figure something else out.

I’ve wasted three days thinking someone was going to call me and nobody has, so if I didnt call I probably would not have heard from anyone.

This is exactly the kind of disconnect I have experienced previously with regard to my wife. My sons have Kaiser but my son who needed the ultrasound biopsy procedure has Kaiser under, what else, LA Care, just like my wife.

At the suggestion of a friend of mine I started a Gofundme for my wife to try and help with only our necessary expenses. Will see how that goes and hope for the best. Anything is a blessing right now really.

APRIL 8
Nobody from Kaiser has called me back yet with regard to my sons issue. The lack of integrity of doctors under LA Care killed my wife, I’ll be damned if I am going to sit still with this system over my son.

APRIL 9
The Gofundme for expenses with regard to my wife has been great. Among those who donated are people from work, anonymous people, and I noticed co-workers that I had not heard from in several years even found out and donated. I keep reiterating to myself how nice it is that I have touched so many that they would consider giving. I was unaware that I have even done so, so this is quite humbling to me. I am not simply fortunate but blessed. I have something else to thank the Lord for now.

APRIL 12
The doctor for my son called me back and he is trying to schedule the same ultrasound but for the main facility down in Los Angeles. Someone will call me he said.

12:39 PM Called Coroners to ask to speak to someone with regard to ordering the Doctors autopsy report. A woman named Bishop answered and transferred me to another number where I got an answering system for what sounded like Nathalie Perez. I left a message that last I spoke to the autopsy doctor he said a report would be done in about four to six weeks and that this is why I am calling and left my name, wife’s case number and my phone number.

12:52 PM Nathalie called me back from Coroners about getting the autopsy report and let me know that I wouldn’t see anything for at least 60 to 90 days from the date of March 14. She said that the autopsy doctors time estimate was inaccurate because they are largely back logged. That places anything hopeful to get around June/July so I will have to try back around the end of June. She said I can also check on-line at mec.lacounty.gov.

APRIL 19
I received a call from Kaiser finally and my sons fine needle biopsy appointment for thyroid nodule is for May 2 at 6:30 in the morning. The lady said its that early given his age. I really hate this age crap to be honest. Given what happened to his mom though the age thing is least of my worries.

Thyroid nodules are apparently very common, affecting over 3 million people each year, but less common in children than adults, and are mostly benign but its the procedure itself that I cant exactly get behind because about 10 to 20 percent of biopsy specimens are interpreted as inconclusive or inadequate, meaning that the pathologist cannot be certain whether a nodule is cancerous or benign.

A fine needle biopsy uses ultrasound to help the specialist guide the needle for the biopsy. Even his mom had an ultrasound to verify her problem but that didn’t mean shit with regard to anyone timely resolving her illness. Hopefully in my sons case the nodule is just normal and will shrink away in time. We’ll see.

APRIL 21
Started calling to get copies of my wife’s medical records from three of her doctors, starting with Dr. Carillo.

Dr. Carillo’s office
4:03 PM. Some girl who talked way to fast in Spanish answered the phone. I had to ask if it was Dr. Carillo’s office and she hurriedly replied that it was as if she had no time or something. I couldn’t understand her because her accent was so thick and she talked to fast. I asked to speak with the person in charge of medical records. She said something like Dolores is on another line would I like to hold. I said Yes.

A woman answered the phone in Spanish but I did make out the name Delores. I asked how I would go about getting a copy of my wife’s medical records. She replied it is best for the new doctor to ask for them because its faster. I inquired what doctor and told her my wife was deceased. She excused herself and put me on hold to check with someone and then came back. She said she was transferring me to someone but I could not make out the name because of the way she was talking and her accent. Another woman named Marrissa or Maritsa answered. I restated my question, asking how to get a copy of my wife’s medical records for 2015 to 2016. She said I would need to come by first and sign a request for the records and that it would be a $25 fee. She explained once I do that, it will take a few days. I thanked her and said that I at least know the process and will try and get there at my earliest possible convenience.

Dr. Tangchitnob’s office
4:15 PM. Called and got an exchange. They said that the lines are all full and to keep trying back.

Dr. Mirhashemi’s office
4:18 PM. A woman named Rosie answered the phone. I asked for medical records and she transferred me. I got a recording for Medical Records and left a message with my name, that I was calling with regard to my wife and gave her name, stated that she is deceased and that I would like to get a copy of her medical records for 2015 to 2016 and my phone number.

Dr. Tangchitnob’s office
4:36 PM. Call number 2. A girl answered and I asked to speak with person in charge of medical records. She said she could possibly help me. I explained who I was, that I was calling with regard to my wife and stated her name, and that I would like to get a copy of my wife’s medical records for 2015 to 2016. She said she will need to put me on hold while she inquires to the office manager. The girl came back and said they were not exactly sure and could she have my name and number to call me back. I gave her my name and phone number.

Aside from this I have several appointment and lab results that my wife kept, going into last year, including the appointment where something found on her uterus. I’m in hopes that medical records will show communication between doctors as well as diagnosis of her ailment to be able to form a timeline of knowledge on the doctors part.

APRIL 22
So far no calls from the two specialists office, Tangchitnob and Mirhashemi. I’m not surprised. One office doesn’t even know the procedure, the other has not called me back.

Went to Dr. Carillo’s office, my wife’s primary care physician, in Baldwin Park to sign a release form for my wife’s medical records. The girl said that if (emphasizing the word IF was used) the doctor authorizes release she will get the records together and Maritsa would call me when they are ready. As far as I know I have the right to seek my wife’s medical records but if he denies it I’m sure any legal help I retain will have no issues getting them. Now I need to wait until next week.

APRIL 25
3:15 PM, received a call from the autopsy doctor. He is still working the report and results but he called me because he had said he would last we spoke. At least someone has integrity. Im still going to wait for the full report but essentially he said that my wife died from a rare form of cancer, emphasis on rare. Its so rare that they don’t even have studies documenting it.

The doctor said that the tumor was located in a rather odd area but it was what bled causing her death and that in most cases tumors are benign but this one was not. Understandably I had several questions for him such as why it was not caught before. He couldn’t answer because he is a pathologist and not a surgeon but he hypothesized that it might have been missed because of her fibroid issue. He didn’t agree but did not necessarily disagree either.

He asked me if she ever had a CAT scan and I told him that I do recall something like that occurring but would have to go back through paperwork I found for some of her doctor and specialist appointments. I did tell him she had a very detailed and thorough ultrasound done.

I’m much closer to a closed autopsy report and final paperwork that I need so I have a small level of relief. Still though, this would have been something seen should she have made it to her surgery date, which unfortunately she did not. I am still feeling that somewhere negligence occurred and someone didn’t pay attention to some detail.

I’m going to reserve the rest of my thoughts for the report and stuff when I get them.

APRIL 28
The doctor called me back and said he was finishing up on the report and the final death certificate. He also gave me the name of the tumor to research, which will also appear ion the report, it is called sacroccygeal-chordoma. It was growing in the tail-bone area which is what was generating so much of my wife’s pain.

Now, that being said, I have a suspicion that it actually shows up on the ultrasound that one of the specialists did since they performed it rectally as well as vaginally. I will need to look into that further once I get the final report. The doctor gave me his contact number in he event I want to talk to him about the report and findings. I have to say, I really like the fact that out of all we experienced, the autopsy doctor was the most personable and human. Restores some of my faith.

MAY 03
We arrived at Kaiser in LA early but it was not a long wait. He was due in at 6:30 for the procedure to be done at 8:30. I gave him a lot of support and explained everything that was going to be done. They took his height, weight, put in an IV for when the will give him the anaesthesia and the nurses were great. Elijah was terrific during the whole thing and was even smiling as he went into the surgery room. An hour later he was recovering and we were out at a little past 10 AM.

MAY 09
The doctor called me with my sons test results a little bit ago and it is good news. He does have what is called colloid nodules but they are not cancerous. I couldn’t even express how happy I was with that as it was eating at me for the last two weeks. For routine, he will simply have a regular ultrasound wrapped up into his physicals each year just for monitoring.

So here’s some updated info about what a colloid nodule is. Colloid nodules are one or more overgrowths of normal thyroid tissue. These growths are benign (not cancer) and may grow large, but they do not spread beyond the thyroid gland.

What causes a thyroid nodule to form is that sometimes the thyroid begins to grow (overgrowth), causing one or more nodules to form. The reason why this happens is not known. Cancer is the biggest concern when nodules form. Fortunately, cancer is very rare – it is found in less than 5 percent of all nodules. Nodules develop more often in people who have a family history of nodules, and in people who don’t get enough iodine. Iodine is needed to make thyroid hormone.

Neither me nor my wife’s family has had any history of thyroid issues so it is not genetic within either of our families. As I said though, it will be monitored as normal maintenance during physicals so that’s good.

MAY 10
Seems I have someone interested in reviewing what occurred to my wife but for the preservation of privacy that’s all I will say about that for now and just pray for the best.

Remembering My Dad’s Passing

Derel Gossett 1936 - 2011

Derel Gossett 1936 – 2011

Writing is sometimes the best therapy and maybe I just needed to finally do it. My dad’s name is Derel Gossett and back in 2010 my dad was having a rough time of it, being diagnosed with cancer but his issues were also a bit compounded with a couple other things.

He had thus far put up a damned good fight, and why not, he’s a Gossett, but I had come to find out in March 2011 that he has lost the fight and it’s merely a matter of short time. He still wins in his battle of will and courage though at the ripe young age still of 74, spitting in the face of pain and suffering, again a mark of being a Gossett.

When he was a police officer I measured that bravery as heroism but its really true life in the end that defines how we are to be remembered. Not just because he is my dad, but I say in the end, in his end, he is the bravest human being I had known.

I’m not going to go into the politics of the hospital that was taking care of him, that gave him surgery but didn’t get all the cancer like they said they did or that couldn’t find where he was having internal bleeding from for more than five days – that day they found a mass in his lung that couldn’t be operated on given his frail condition, so essentially that’s it, game over.

I say to anyone who reads this story that if you haven’t spoken to your parents in some time you need to. Call them just to say hi, if you have disagreements amend your differences, if you cant call them send them a letter, but just do it while they’re here. Don’t let it end without saying what you need to. It is the proper way in life for children to live long enough to be able to bury their parents, and not parents to bury their children, so I feel grateful for that. I wish I had more time with my dad, I wish he had more time with his grand-kids. I’m an idiot for just wishing, nothing can change that now. Please accept my lesson in life and learn from it.

I recall the Friday when I received a text message from my step-mom that my dad has requested that us kids come. I had an “Oh shit” look on my face and wondered how the hell am I going to get to Texas, we are flat broke. I put it on a card anyway. I recall talking to my dad just the night before I flew out. I told him I was coming and he said good and that he loved me, there was force behind that so I knew it took a lot out of him just to say that. My step-mom is one strong lady. They were married thirty years if not a bit more. Imagine her side of this, watching the man she’s loved all this time who used to be like a tree-trunk wither away to skin and bones in mere months.

I arrived in Dallas and took the connecting flight to Wichita Falls where my step-mom picked me and my son up. I took one of my boys with me, Joseph, so that hopefully my dad could see one of the grand-kids before it was too late. It was for the most part. As soon as we were picked up we stowed my gear at my dads house and went to the hospital right away. I love my step-mom, I love my dad, but the person I saw laying in that bed was not someone that I immediately recognized. It took a bit to set in that the man in that bed was my dad.

So when I got there my dad was already glazed over, his eyes were glazed glossy, almost milky like some fog, but I could see his lips move and when I grabbed his hand he squeezed it. That phone call the night before I left, that was it verbally, I’ll never hear his voice again. Inside I lost it, outside I couldn’t fall apart for the sake of my son being there and for my step-mom who has been so strong. He could still respond to questions by squeezing his hands so that was enough for me. My step-mom took us back home and she returned to the hospital, they made a bed for her next to his bed.

After my dad retired from the Bell Garden’s Police Department many years back he and my step-mom moved to Texas, his birth state. He was Texan, we are Texans, Irish Texans who take no shit! My dad worked for the very hospital he now lays in as security for several years up until his illness, and now he lay there as a patient. He was a teacher while also a police officer and continued teaching and speaking for awhile. He went around to the local schools and gave speeches to teens of all ages about what they can do with their lives, even in Texas where he lived. He helped his neighbors.

If he was driving by and saw you outside he’d stop for a spell and chat with you, help you out if you needed it, he also had a P.I. business. Yet for all his love thy neighbor’s, for all the lives he touched, for all he did right in the world and could still do if not given his illness, there he laid, holding our hands on his way out. Something bad happening to someone good when there’s so many bad people in the world. I will not question this, I’ll wait to know the reason when my time comes.

The next day, Wednesday, March 2, I spent quite a bit of time at the hospital, holding his hand, reminiscing, assuring him that everything was okay, that we would all be okay, that he could let go with no regrets. We had been waiting for my sister to arrive and I had finally received a call that she was waiting at the airport. It was less than ten minutes away so we went to go pick her up. We dropped off her stuff at home and went to the hospital, that was at just shy of 4:00 PM.

We spent some time with him and about 4:30 the nurses came in to give him a treatment and said we should probably wait outside. We all complied and essentially got water and stretched. They came out and I was the first to go in. One of the nurses was cleaning his chin saying he just threw up but I noticed at the same time that I took his hand that he wasn’t breathing anymore and then his eyes popped open. I seized the opportunity and grabbed my son and we stood at the foot of his bed. I knew what was happening but I wanted to make sure that me, my son and his wife were the last people he saw on his way out.

I went back to his side because he was still reacting a bit to letting himself go. This was his call and he called it, going out once the kids were together. Glancing over at the clock I noticed it was exactly 5:00 PM, imagine that, checkout time. Even his last breath of life was on a schedule. I whispered to him again and said it’s alright to let go, everyone is covered, there’s no regrets and no more reason to stay. He squeezed my hand and stopped breathing for the final time, he was gone.

Throughout the entire time I was with him, there was so much pain in his face and now I saw nothing but peace. No frowns, no contorted looks, no whispers, just a sleep. I went out to the hall to call the code to the nurses station and they came in pretty quick but it was more to just verify he was gone, and he was. Thirty plus years of marriage just stopped for my step-mom and a whole life of my dad and what could have been stopped for me. I held her and walked her out to the hallway so the nurses could dress him up.

Once they were done we came back in. Without all the pain contorted on my dad’s face, he looked exactly like he was sleeping. It looked as though I could have nudged him and he would have woken up. For the first time since I arrived to see him, I could actually recognize him.

After awhile the nurses came back in to take him downstairs until we can make plans. It was a Wednesday, I had to leave on Sunday, and me and my step-mom had funeral arrangements to make and people to call and my step-brothers were still trying to make it from Austin, TX and Long Beach. We decided the best thing to do was a cremation and a simple service after. My step-mom is very active with her church and what a Godsend all of those people are. They brought us food, comfort and anything else we needed. I also cooked at my dads house and helped play maid, the less problems my step-mom had to deal with the better.

By Thursday evening we had a crematory in place and a day for the church the upcoming Saturday. On Friday the cremation was done and my step-mom picked up his ashes. We did the service the following day and I gave a small speech. My step-mom gave me my dad’s Bible, the same one he carried with him in the Army back in the ‘50’s, some pages actually chronicling his time in the military. I never asked for anything from my dad, it was nice to get something like that.

Remembrance

Remembrance

As it turns out, not all my dads ashes would fit in rather large urn we had so I brought half his ashes back with me. I sort of had fun with him on the way back home, trying to make light of his passing, even sat his box on a play slide in the airport at Dallas, took a picture and sent it back to my step-mom showing him still goofing off. My dad loved a good joke and was a funny guy all the seriousness aside. Im sure he got a chuckle out of each expression from the TSA agents when they would ask me what I had and I told them my dads ashes. Talk about a blind look on their face – Kodak moments for sure.

Death is a wonderment to me, so many questions, we look at it in a painful way but its a blessing really. Freedom. Besides, we will all meet in the end anyway. I like to think that because there is no time where heaven is concerned, no measurement of it in that regard anyway, that we are all already together simply looking back on our lives and when our time comes we are simply catching up with ourselves.

I have experienced death with friends and family more than I would like to recall and I know at my age Im not finished being a witness yet. The process, this transition, is not glorious to see by any means but the final result I tell you is simply peace.

Someone once said that only on Earth do we weep for those who die but the universe could care less. Maybe so, and if so, damn the universe then. I have yet to weep for my dad’s passing. Maybe it’s just the Gossett way, maybe it’s the Irish way. Maybe one day it will just happen. I love my step-mom, love her church and congregation, Pastor Virgil is the man there without a doubt. I look forward to returning to visit her as often as I can.

Oh, my dads favorite song that my step-mom told me is Big Time by Trace Adkins. I cant say I have a favorite memory of my dad since all memories are the best, but I do know he was always excited when I was going through the Police Academy and would call him to ask questions while I was studying. I also did my early years working security. Apple’s don’t fall far from the tree when you’re a Gossett.

Nice brief obituary for my dad from Owens & Brumley

Update March 21, 2016

Before I forget to add this, here is a picture of the first detail to man the Bell Gardens Police Department where my dad got his beginning. Credit for this goes to Bill Curd, son of Officer William Curd, who had written the current Chief of Police Robert E. Barnes about his dad having an upcoming 80th birthday and asking if he would send a letter or certificate thanking him for his service. Not only did Chief Barnes dig up the photo of the original detail but did the next best thing and honoured Mr. Curd in a small ceremony, including an honour guard, in front of City Hall next to the police station.

My dad is in the picture as well, red arrow, but sadly passed away a few years ago in 2011. I just wanted to add this picture in honour of his service as well as the entire first detail. My dad was a pretty simple guy so I was at Mr. Curd’s ceremony as a spectator and support, although I was allowed to say something.

Dad in formation

Saudi Princess

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It wasn’t that long ago, a few years back, that we had a year repeatedly graced with the presence of a Saudi Princess from the Royal House of Saud. She is actually the daughter of a Princess but herself a Princess just the same, also in line for the throne, with all the charm and grace you would expect from a Princess but so unexpected from someone so young. Her name is Haifa and at the time she was almost four years old but you would have thought her to be at least six.

My wife’s sister had worked for the Royal family for some years as care taker of Haifa and since the royal couple (Prince and Princess) were in the US for one of their yearly trips they allowed her to visit with us and dropped them off, along with Princess Haifa, for the day. That particular day we went to a birthday party at a park nearby and I was drafted to be a sort of bodyguard for the Princess. However, nothing worth writing for a resume.

I was amazed and often awestruck by her beauty, candor and demeanor for essentially being a child her age. She was indeed a child but she carried herself with an amount of maturity and inquisitiveness that was exciting to both watch as well as participate in. She is certainly a form of poetry in motion, just very intriguing. I recall how inquisitive she was toward everything at the party, items on our shelves at home, our cat, watching SpongeBob, playing Lego’s with our boys or lining up books on the floor and reading through the pictures she even danced with a Fireman’s hat on.260052_2011568622423_95842_n-small

I recall the Princess, her mother, calling to check up on Haifa and she expressed a bit of amazement that Haifa was talking and singing in the background. Im not really sure why, perhaps she is shy or does not have the same sort of interaction when in her home country. In any regard, Haifa is a really smart little girl and we enjoyed the few visits we had that year with her and my wife’s sister, I feel fortunate for my family to have interacted with her. On the last visit i recall the Prince and Princess coming to pick her and my wife’s sister up. They both actually got out of their car, the Prince shook my hand and thanked me for watching their daughter and the Princess was amazed at our twins and kissed them both on the head. That alone is a high honor. The royal couple were as beautiful as they were charming, it was amazing.

Sometimes I look back and remember the Princess that came to visit, it will not occur again given circumstances beyond my immediate family’s control but at least there are memories and once in awhile I can brag that a Princess once played here.

Nice Thanksgiving dinner

The bacon wrapped ham I baked turned out as I thought it would and was awesome. It was simply a combination of traditional servings with some Filipino dishes as well. Man I just wouldn’t mind eating like this all the time.

Time Standing Still

In my stuff I found this old watch that I got many years ago when my Grandparents had a garage sale sometime back in the 80’s. Its an old watch from the 1920’s. Its going to take some serious cleaning but I think I can do it. If not then I’ll take to a watch-smith. Neat to look at anyways.

BBQ Lunch

Nice to kick back since the weather is just right and cook a few hot dogs and some chicken for lunch. I didn’t think I would love a gas grill all that much but I’m getting used to it. This little thing my wife bought at Walmart is a bit on the awesome side!