Posted by: Ken Wheatley | September 16, 2009

Visitation for Sheila and update

Visitation for my sweetie will be on Monday the 21st from 4 to 8pm at the El Camino Memorial located at 5600 Carroll Canyon Road in San Diego. The phone number there is 858.453.2121.

From 6pm to approximately 7pm we’ll have a rememberance period where people can share memories and/or stories they have about Sheila. And if my composure (and nerve) are intact I’ll try and share some music that was particularly meaningful to us. Regardless,  from 4pm I’ll be playing  music that we enjoyed.

Sheila requested that in lieu of flowers, if you want to do something for her, to please donate to the Lung Cancer Alliance so that more research can be done to find a cure. I will post information on that shortly.

I spent today visiting funeral homes stretching from Mira Mesa down to Bonita. It’s certainly an industry needing a make over. I also toured a crematorium, which was quite an experience. I won’t go into the details, but it’s more involved than I thought and gives me pause now as to what I will choose.

In any case, I was fortunate to find El Camino and Clayton Amundson, the memorial specialist. He unexpectedly ended-up lifting my spirits at the end of the day. I asked if I could go with them to the hospital to accept Sheila into their care, and he let me ride in the van with Debra. She offered to cook for me if I didn’t have anyone to do that! What people!!

The irony of the trip is that as we pulled up to the receiving area I suddenly remembered that when Sheila was hospitalized for 13 days last month her room overlooked that very area. I had looked outside the window then and saw some else accepting their loved one. And now here I was a month later looking up at that very window.

When they rolled Sheila out of the door on the gurney she was encased in a very pretty maroon velvet cover. Of course I lost it, again, for the umpteenth time today, but I was really happy to “see” her.

We gently placed her in the van and locked the gurney down for the short drive to El Camino.

When we got back I asked Clay if it was possible to spend a few minutes with Sheila and even though they had closed for the day, he immediately said “yes,” as long as Debra was willing to stay late and prepare Sheila, which she immediately said “yes” to as well.

So while we waited, Clay and I sat on the employee deck behind the building talking about our respective days in the military. We both worked on jets – him in the Navy on F18’s, and me in the Air Force on F4’s.

Within a few minutes Debra came and got me. She had put Sheila in the large visiting room where she’ll be on Monday. She was covered with a white blanket, and her head was veiled by a white towel. Now I was really happy to actually see her beautiful face.

I kissed all over her face like I used to. She loved it when I kissed both of her closed eyes. So of course I did that. Repeatedly, but not annoyingly, I hope. She was very cold to the touch, but I didn’t care. I buried my face in her neck, kissed her cheeks, and her lips. I ran my hands over her and massaged her feet a little. And then we “talked.”

I asked if she was happy with the choices I had made today. I asked how she was doing where she was and what it was like. I told her how much I missed her, and how difficult it was to sleep last night without her. I told her how much I was looking forward to seeing her again.

I didn’t want to keep Debra from her kids, so I said goodnight to Sheila, and she was rolled back to the prep area. I’ll see her again before Monday. They said that I could help dress her, and they’d also let me spend time just sitting with her.

When this all started in January 2008 I stopped dreaming for a time. And it’s happening again. I have not had a dream for the past two nights.

Tonight I’m preparing a CD (hopefully) of songs to play at the visitation that we loved and especially of the ones that I would sing to her while we danced in my home office, or while we were driving.

In the morning I need to select what to dress her in – something with long sleeves and a high collar.

And then there are photos to collect for display, finish up the obit, write acknowledgements, etc. So I should get busy.



  1. God Bless you Ken. I am glad that you chose El Camino. A year and a half a go my father passed away and we laid him to rest at El Camino and they were wonderful. It is a beautiful park and a lovely place to rest. We care very much about you and I know that God will give you the strength you need to go forward. Take care.

  2. Ken, I am so sorry Sheila lost her valiant fight. Amy and I have followed your journey. Last Thursday DAD lost his fight also, so the trip you made today locating caring people to take care of the details are ever so fresh. Our prayers are with you as always.
    Mike and Amy Wylie

  3. I heard a faint bell ringing…..I am sure it was Sheila getting her beautiful large white wings in heaven…..I came to know precious Sheila through one of her sister’s, Karen. Through the years Karen spoke and told sooooo many wonderful stories of Sheila, that I feel I know her almost on a personal level…..I know what a wonderful person she was on earth and how she blessed the lives of so many during her short time here amongst family & friends. Knowing that beautiful Sheila with the baby blue eyes, is with her beloved brother Riley whom she cherished soooo much, comforts me and reminds me that life is delicate. I love you Sheila. I am happy that you are finally at peace and suffering no more….. Please comfort those who love you. You will remain FOREVER in our hearts….I pray that Ken your husband who you loved with all of your heart, finds some contentment during his very sad time of your loss… It will take him a while to be able to go forward without you , but Sheila, with your help from the heavens above, bless Ken and give him strength to move forward one small step at a time…. Give him signs that you are here with us in spirit forever. Let your precious friends and family also know you are with them and give them signs so that there is no uncertainty that you are still here with us but in a different form, in everlasting spirit… Goodbye Sheila, for now. Save a special place for your loved ones, and know that hearts will mend when we all meet again…..Your love has made the world a better place…..Love Arlene

  4. I pray that Sheila gives you strength during the difficult time ahead of you. Find comfort in the hugs and arms of good friends & family that will support you during this turbulent weather. May precious and fond memories bring a smile to your face. God bless you Ken, and know that Sheila is looking at you at this very moment trying to tell you that she is soooooo happy and peaceful, and that she will watch over you in your times of need and despair. My prayers are with you both. Sincerely, Arlene

  5. Ken:

    I am thinking of you. Words cannot express how sorry I am to hear you lost your Sheila.

    Lean on your friends for strength, and always remember how much we care about you.

    Katy Scott

  6. My friend, there is nothing harder than watching a loved one suffer. Just take confort in knowing she is in a better place watching over you.
    I just buried my father last week. He too was a cancer victim. I think we both have a lot to be thankful for in spite of our losses. The life you had with her I’m sure will provide you with a lifetime of memories. And the saying is true. It’s better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all. Stay strong and think positive. And if you need to, email me if you think life is getting too heavy for you. I truly feel your pain.

  7. ken

    you are a beautiful man………………we all will figure what to do with our hearts………

  8. Ken,
    My deepest condolences go out to my favorite “G-man.”
    It just seems like yesterday that we saw each other in the cafeteria and you told me that you had just gotten back from your honeymoon…

    I understand the pain of watching a loved one slip away, but please know that lovely Sheila is at peace now. I believe that God gives us one angel to look out for us, and that Sheila is yours. She started her work here on earth and now can watch out over you from our Father’s kingdom.

    God Bless you Ken. You are in my prayers.

  9. Even though your heart is broken from the loss of Sheila rely on your close friends and loved ones who will be there for you. We all feel your pain. Take care of yourself now and find a way to replinish your spirit. I will be thinking good thoughts for you in the following days.

  10. Ken, it is so, so important that you spend all the time you need with Sheila before the last goodbyes. I did that with my Mom– spending the most time I could at the crematorium to get to some sort of semi-closure. I don’t know that you, or I, can ever get over the loss of Sheila. But, we can make sure we send her on a fond farewell to the place she is at peace. When my mother died, my children wrote notes and drew pictures and tucked them in with her. So forever more, she has them with her. I am so happy the folks at El Camino are so compassionate and caring with you. I want so much to come out to be with you on Monday… I’m trying to find a flight and work it out. If not, I’ll send something for Monica to read for me. I hope you’ll understand if I can’t make it. Sheila and I are forever joined as the “three muskateers”– she, Monica and I–and one of my best friends for 38 years. I am heartbroken and devestated as you are. I have loved her so…as I know you have. How lucky you are to have found her. And, how lucky she was, to have you. The biggest hugs, and love, Kathi

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  12. Dear Ken and Shelia-

    The sayings we hear so much through our life are so true. Some of my favorites are; there is no place like home and it is better to have loved and lost…. Many times we don’t even realize it until something rock us to the core.

    I was telling someone who I know that I was attending Shelia memorial on Monday. His response was “wow” if that isn’t a wake up call what is. I wonder to myself how many times do we get wake up calls and just ignore them. Until that day we get ones for are self’s.

    Reading about your trips to find a resting place for Shelia reminded me of my trip I made with my husband 6 years ago. I keep the whole experience in perspective and reading the wall made me smile. Because I know that the joy with the sorrows comes with a blessed life.

    Marring my husband was a blessing that uncovers itself even today and I know that through your times of travel you will find your way. Know that I loved you both and we will be happy, when we see again the ones that have left us.


  13. Hello Ken:
    You and I have never met and may never meet; however, I wanted to offer my most heartfelt condolences to you and to all who knew and loved Sheila. She is many things to many people, but to me she is what is best in all humans. She inspired many and she became a hero in a era where the reality of heroism is sadly perverted. I am truly saddened by our loss but enlightened to always have her in my thoughts and heart. Through tear stained eyes I humbly wish I could be a part of her life’s celebration and memory Monday but I hope you accept this heartfelt message as a testament to how I feel about her. Now that she is at peace, I sincerely hope you can find peace from within. Please take care and cherish her forever.
    Daniel Simmons & Susan Friesen

  14. I don’t know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..


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