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Rest In Peace, My Father - Joel Rudoff

 By Paul Rudoff on Jan. 20, 2014 at 9:00 AM , Categories: Personal, Tributes

* Page 1 - Introduction
* Page 2 - The Funeral
* Page 3 - A Life In Pictures

It is with a heavy heart and a great deal of loss that I'm writing this message to inform all of my dear friends and online associates of the passing of my father, Joel Richard Rudoff, at the age of 69.

This was certainly NOT the first post of 2014 that I intended to write. I was actually hoping that post would be to happily report that I bought a new computer; a purchase that may happen at a much later date, or not at all at this point.

For the past two months (since the ween before Thanksgiving) my father was suffering from what we all thought was Bronchitis or Pneumonia. He went to his doctor numerous times, was given more and more new medicines, but was not getting better. He even went to the emergency room of Franklin Hospital (here in Valley Stream, NY) about a month ago, but they gave him some more meds and sent him on his way. Since I didn't go with him, I have no idea if he asked them to admit him or not.

Fast forward a bit to Wed. January 8, 2014, and he went back to his regular doctor (who is also mine). He gave me father an Asthma inhaler (the same one I take) for a touch of Asthma he apparently detected, and two new meds, and again sent him on his way. Within a few days after this visit we all noticed that he developed a new symptom. He was very lethargic and was sleeping more than usual. He tended to take a few naps throughout the day, but nothing like this.

So this time, he went to his doctor's again on Tue. January 14th, and either he or the doctor, finally got him admitted to South Nassau Community Hospital in Oceanside, NY. My father stayed at this hospital numerous times over the years for lung infections (like Pneumonia), and he always liked this hospital, and disliked Franklin. He called home at 2:21 PM and left a message on the answering machine to tell us that he's at the hospital and will be admitted. When he left home a few hours earlier, he had a hard time calling for a cab as he was jumbling his words. He was quite the opposite in his phone message, as he spoke a few sentences in a quite clear and coherent manner. This would be the last time I would hear him talk as much and so well. Had I known that, I would have never deleted the message.

My mother and I went to visit him the very next day (Wed. 1/15), and he was completely out of it. If he wasn't asleep, he was groggy and unaware of his surroundings. He was worse that day in the hospital than he ever was at home. He didn't eat his lunch at all, and it was a bit of a chore to get him to eat a few small vanilla wafers. When we got home, we received a phone call from the head nurse, who told us that the reason he was so sleepy and groggy was because he was anemic (his red blood cell count was low, if I recall correctly) and that they were gonna give him a blood transfusion to help add some new blood cells into his body. I think she also said that he had a lung infection, which would explain the hacking cough (with mucus and phlegm) he's had for the past two months.

We spoke to a male nurse in the evening on Fri. 1/17 (if I'm not mixing up the dates) who told us that my father was doing a bit better; he even had a bit of a conversion with him where he mentioned me (his son) by name. This male nurse, whom my mother and I never met, would never have known my name if my father didn't tell him. So this make us feel good.

My mother and I visited him again on Sat. 1/18, and were surprised to find that he was moved to a new room in a new wing. At the time we didn't know the significance of the room change. Anyway, he was significantly better than on Wednesday, but was still not back to his usual self. He was a little more talkative, and somewhat alert, but still seemed a bit off. He was on a breathing treatment AND oxygen, yet was constantly crying out for his nasal spray (which he regularly takes at home). We couldn't give it to him since we didn't have it and we weren't going to mess around with the meds they were already giving him. The nurses said they would contact the doctor and get it for him, but they never did. I doubt they ever asked, but I also have to wonder if he really needed it, or if he just *thought* he needed it because he wasn't aware of what they were already doing for him.

While at the hospital, I called his sister (my aunt) who lives out in California with her husband and kids. He was able to, literally, say a few words to her, but I don't think he said anything that was clear and made sense; I don't even know if he knew it was his sister on the phone. This would be the last time she would hear his voice. He ate more of his lunch this time, though it took a little effort on my part to get him to eat as much of it as he did. My mother and I left the hospital on Saturday under the impression that he was slowly improving. It would be the last time we would see him alive.

Early Sunday (1/19) morning my mother called his room and was able to have a fairly decent conversation with him. According to what she told me later, he was "half in and half out of it", but apparently she was able to speak with him more than we were the past few days.

Right after she got off the phone, at 9:45 AM, Dr. Lee called to give us a diagnosis. He said that my father might have Lymphoma, which is a blood cancer, and that's the likely reason for him being anemic (tired and groggy) - the illness is making his body destroy his own blood cells. He said that Lymphoma, which give a victim big lymph nodes (which he said my father had) will kill him if left untreated, but it IS CURABLE! Those magic words gave us so much hope. Dr. Lee said that this potential diagnosis was the reason my father was transferred to the Cancer ward. (We didn't know when we visited on Saturday that that was the Cancer ward.) The doctor said that he's a little better, but he's still pretty sick, and that he's not out of the words yet. The doctor said that they're going to do a biopsy on him tomorrow (Mon. 1/20) to get a definite diagnosis, then they can treat it.

Sadly, my father would not live to get that biopsy and the subsequent treatment. At 1:19 AM on Monday January 20th we received a phone call. I immediately knew something was wrong since no one would be called at that time. When I looked at the Caller ID and saw "South Nassau", I immediately knew they were calling to report the worst. His heart stopped (we're told he went into cardiac arrest), and they've been trying for 20 minutes to revive him. The doctor asked if we wanted them to try a little longer, and of course we said YES, but the writing was on the wall at that point. We got dressed, called for a cab, and got to the hospital to find him peacefully "sleeping" in the same hospital bed we saw him alive and awake in a mere 36 hours earlier.

We said our tearful goodbyes, took a few private photos to share with other family members who couldn't be there, and came back to our empty home an hour or two later with his personal belongings in tow. The clean clothes we brought him on Saturday, which he was supposed to wear when he came home from the hospital, but now he'll never wear again. The little chocolate-scented stuffed bear my mother bought him as a Get Well gift (we intend to bury him with it, along with the Valentine's Day tie that she was going to give him next month, and some photos and personal trinkets).

The image you see at the top of this page is the last photograph ever taken of my father while he was still alive. It was taken on Saturday December 28, 2013, my parent's 38th wedding anniversary, intended to be used for a photo ID. All four of my family members took individual photos just like it. Afterward, we took a trip to New York City to celebrate my parent's anniversary. A nice thing happened that day: after we got back to Valley Stream, we went to a nearby diner for dinner, and when I was ready to get the check, a staff member came over and told us that a guy who was sitting at an adjacent table paid it for us. That has NEVER happened before in my life, and I wish I could thank that mystery man a million times over for putting such a happy ending to what would be the last time the four of us would go out together.

On a sad note, my father never wore the Planet Hollywood t-shirt I bought him that day, and I regret that I never took any photos of him or myself in the City. However, I'm VERY grateful that he was able to be well enough to make that trip. It was one of only four times he ventured out of the house (except for doctor's visits) between November 19th (around the time he got sick) and January 14th (when he was admitted into the hospital). The other times were: Wed. December 11th for the holiday party at my sister's house, Sun. December 15th to shop at Target, and Fri. December 20th when we both went on a small trip to Five Below in Westbury because he wanted to buy some of those solar dancing figures. We were planning on going back soon to pick up a few new ones, but now we never will.

I really don't know what more to say at this point. Had he been admitted into the hospital a month earlier, I firmly believe that my father would still be alive today. I think the blame for that falls equally upon him, his doctor, and the staff at Franklin Hospital's emergency room. At this point, there's no sense in playing the blame game because it won't change the final result.

[UPDATE - 1/23/2014]
We got the Certificate of Death from the funeral home. My father is listed as officially dying on January 20, 2014 at 1:21 AM (Eastern). The causes of death are officially given as Cardiorespiratory Arrest, due to or as a consequence of Lymphoma, due to or as a consequence of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, with Anemia listed as a significant condition contributing to death but not related to the immediate cause of death (Cardiorespiratory Arrest).

[UPDATE - 1/22/2014]
My mother and I are very fortunate that my uncle in California (he's married to my father's sister) is paying for the entire funeral, and thankfully there's a really good funeral home on the same block we live on (just two blocks down the road). A Rabbi friend of the family is offering his services free of charge, for which we are really grateful. The funeral will be tomorrow at 10 AM.

After that, the next issue is to possibly find a new place to live as we can't afford to pay the rent here without my father's income. When we spoke to the landlord on Monday (they run a CPA firm behind the house), they told us not to worry about it; that they might be willing to work something out so we can continue to live here. While they definitely seemed genuine about it, until there's something in writing, it's still something I'm gonna be worried about.

After all the crap we went through with Hurricane Sandy, which we're not 100% fully recovered from (I still need a new "good" computer, damaged VHS tapes need to *try* to be salvaged, and stuff is cluttered in the attic and closet), it REALLY hurts for this to happen now. We've only been living in this new place for 13 months and 10 days! We intended on spending the next 10-20 years here, not 1.

Also, there's a memorial page for my father on Memorial Solutions. I didn't even know about it; I found it through the funeral home's website. My sister Michelle created a tribute Facebook page for my father.

[UPDATE - 1/26/2014]
I was totally blown away to find out today that Chad Paulson of Ghostbusters.org created a PayPal Donation Button for me to help in my family's time of need - and he started off the fundraising with a $100 donation! I never asked for this, and my mother was totally shocked that he did this for us. My heartfelt thanks to Chad, and to everyone else who donates through this button.

Donate Now

If you want to share this button, here's the html code:

<DIV ALIGN="center"><A HREF="https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=DF49KXRPNVLDN" TARGET="_blank"><IMG SRC="http://www.ghostbusters.org/static/img/rudoff-donate.png" WIDTH="250" HEIGHT="153" BORDER="0" ALT="Donate Now"></A></DIV>

[UPDATE - 5/24/2014]
My eternal thanks to everyone who donated to my family in our time of need.

By the way, it probably goes without saying at this point, but SPOOK CENTRAL IS BACK ON HIATUS! You can check in with the Spook Central Facebook page if you want the latest in Ghostbusters news.

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Comment from: [Member]

I’m sorry for your loss Paul. Take all the time you need with this. I wish you well and send my sympathies for your loss.

Jan. 20, 2014 @ 13:38
Comment from: Mrmichaelt [Visitor]

My condolences to you and your family, Paul.

Jan. 20, 2014 @ 21:21
Comment from: Ale [Visitor]

I read all this, and saw all the pictures, I don’t know you, and neither knew your father, but i saw a beautiful person in his eyes, and cried for him
i dont know why… sorry for my bad english, i am from argentina, and today I put my thought , and my good intentions, for your father, he realy looks like a great person, that can easily be seeing in his eyes…
I am sorry for your loss.

Jan. 20, 2014 @ 23:08
Comment from: Ryan LeClair [Visitor]

Paul- My absolute sincerest condolences and love. I also know the pain well. I lost my step-father right around New Years. He was 60 and passed from an undetected brain tumor. The man was more of a father to me than my own biological father. He taught me everything I know. From tying my shoes when I was 5, to everything else in-between, with me now being at 30 years old. At first, for awhile, it almost doesn’t even seem real. It’s hard to understand why such good people have to pass on leave us from this earthly plain. But I have no doubt your father is looking on with a big smile and love. My thoughts & prayers are with you and your family, Paul. God Bless, my friend.

Jan. 21, 2014 @ 03:58
Comment from: Shane [Visitor]  

I know some of what you are going through paul, I don’t know you but I know your grief. In 2011 my Father passed away, after moving out to Arizona a few years prior after surviving and partially recovering from a stroke. Seeing my father under the effects of a stroke was one of the hardest things I’ve ever encountered, at that time. My father was on his way to see me to talk to me about something, and on the way to my apartment he had a stroke. I had no idea what was wrong with him and seeing my father like this just made me brain dead. Thankfully my father hit a mailbox on the way and someone called the cops, to which they followed his trail and then came to my apartment and diagnosed him.
He stayed with me a few months after the nurses let him check himself out of the Hospital, instead of explaining that the VA would help to cover his stay.

One day he came home with a camper in tow and told my wife and I he was leaving for Arizona. I physically never saw him again. We talked over the phone several times over the next few years, with him saying constantly he would come home for a visit one day. And he sent me money every month, to which I have no clue why. One day in August of 2010 a Police Officer I’m aquainted with comes to my mother in law’s home and says to call my Uncle handing me a piece of paper with a number I’m unfamiliar with, thinking it’s my wifes uncle I go in the house, grab my phone and call it. It’s my Dad’s brother who I’ve never spoken to in my life. Says my Dad’s been trying to get ahold of me, after a brief conversation he hangs up and my Dad calls me, he says he’s ready to come home, and I tell him that I’ll help him find an assisted living area for him to move into, and that I’ll come get him afterwards. My Wife and I immediately begin looking, going to her work and beginning the paperwork and about a week later my Dad calls back and we speak and I tell him it won’t be long.

A day later my Uncle calls again telling me the Arizona VA is trying to contact me, giving me a number to call. Which I do, then I’m told they’ll return my call as soon as possible. Telling me they’re dealing with a critical patient and as soon as they’re finished they’ll call me right back. They never tell me it’s my Dad and that he may be dying. They’ve had him in the Hospital all day and just now contacting me. A half hour later they call back and tell me my Father passed away while they were trying to bring him back. He passed from complications brought on by pneumonia and bronchitis. I sat on the phone with the Dr. for 2 straight hours crying profusely and talking with the kindest Doctor I’ve ever heard from. We talk about the most morbid thing I’ve ever discussed in my life, my Father’s last moments.

As the first born child I now have to drive to Arizona from Ohio and take care of my Father’s affairs. I tell my Wife when I go back inside who was not born of this man but breaks down in tears because of this man, how he touched her and made her feel. My Father loved my Wife, loved my kids, because of him, I married her. He treated her like she was his daughter. Always asking about my kids, and talking, flirting, teasing my wife.

I have to ask people for money, beg for money from my Uncle so I can drive to Arizona after spending a week with the Hospital and the Funeral Home on the phone or fax machine making arrangements for my Father’s cremation. As the VA didn’t give my father, who served the entire Vietnam War enough money to have a casket, or shipped home or buried at home in the Arlington Cemetary.

After that I’m off to Arizona, in an unfamiliar, scary territory, talking with all my Dad’s aquaintances. Crying my eyes out as these people tell me about my father and how much he talked about me. Going through his personal belongings, I can’t take anymore and even before finishing I turn tail and run home.

I’m truly sorry for your loss paul, it doesn’t get any better. I eat myself up inside with a lot of guilt and I miss my father terribly every day. I know my Dad loved to talk, to anyone about anything. So maybe our Dads’ are in Heaven, watching us and talking to each other constantly. May they have finally found peace

Jan. 21, 2014 @ 05:56
Comment from: Rich [Visitor]

My sincere condolences.

Jan. 22, 2014 @ 01:09
Comment from: Doreen [Visitor]


Jan. 24, 2014 @ 23:17
Comment from: Derek [Visitor]  

I am so sorry for your loss. I wish you peace.

Jan. 29, 2014 @ 20:55

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