Tuesday, January 31, 2017

In Memorium, Jack Crumb

Jack Crumb with my mother Virginia and me, summer 2016

My father died the day before my 74th birthday. He was 92. In the obituary it notes that he was married to my mother for more than 74 years. There was no fuzzy math in those days: They were 17, as my mother proudly confirmed on Facebook, when they got married in 1942. I came along not long after. After months of uneasily assisting the hospice care under the guidance of compassionate and very competent home health aides, hospice nurses, social workers and volunteers—in rotation with my sister Eda and her family and under my mother’s wary watch—I was fated, it seems, to be there at the end. And then I went to work doing what I know how to do. First, from newspaper days, writing an obituary. And then, from my poetry musings, a poem.

John H. "Jack" Crumb

INTERLAKEN– John H. "Jack" Crumb died on Wednesday (January 25, 2017) at home in Interlaken, after a long battle with cancer.
A memorial service is being planned for the spring to honor his life.
US Navy veteran of World War II, Jack was 92 and loved to talk about cars, road trips and history. Born in Seneca Falls, N.Y. on November 14, 1924, Jack grew up in Jacksonville, N.Y. and graduated from Trumansburg High School. He was married for more than 74 years to Virginia Graham Crumb. An automobile mechanic, Jack enjoyed fixing up pre-owned cars for friends and family members. In "retirement," he drove cars for Ithaca area dealerships that were being transferred for trades or auction. A veteran of Navy aviation ordinance assignments stateside, he enjoyed attending air shows and visits to the former Sampson Naval Training Station grounds at Sampson State Park in Romulus.
Survivors include sisters Anne Crumb of Amarillo, Texas, and Carolyn Margeson of Israel; a son, Jan Barry Crumb of Teaneck, N.J.; daughters Janet Case of Spokane, Wash., and Eda (Jonathan) Baldwin of Rome, N.Y.; ten grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Jack was predeceased by a son, Ted; his parents, and brothers Edwin and Damon. 
For additional information, please contact Covert Funeral Home at 1-877-828-3411 or visit 

Death Watch

A girl in one of my college classes
Came to school zonked like a zombie—
She’d been designated by the family, she said
In a soul-wrenched whisper, to sit nights
With a dying relative.
I sat nights with my father as he lay dying
In a hospital bed set in the living room—
In rotation with home health aides,
Changing his diapers, spooning him
Slivers of ice cream and popsicles for water—
And toward the end, when he’d cry out,
Shattering a restless slumber, administering
Hits of morphine from the hospice kit.
Doctor said he had six months to live,
So planning ahead to when he couldn’t get around
He signed up for hospice, in mid-October—
He died early in the morning on January 25.
I walk around like a zombie, trying to do the math.