Josephina Rodriguez: Final Expenses

“I’ll always wear Nike shoes. They help you run faster! And when death comes a’knocking, I’m going to give him a run for his money.” – Josephina Rodriguez

We are raising funds to pay the final expenses for Josephina "Josie" Rodriguez and to carry out her final wishes. Aside from the obvious expenses, such as the cost of cremation, there are alot of little expenses that add up in a time like this. Several trips to the Tucson Airport to pick up family as they start arriving, feeding them while they are here, the cost of printing memorial pamphlets, buying certified death certificates, etc. We wish that no one would ever have to know how financially and emotionally draining it is take care of someone’s final expenses and wishes without life insurance or a Last Will. Josie had neither; she would talk about what she wanted, someday, IF she ever passed away. However, writing down all her wishes and preparing for her passing made the possibility of her death too tangible. Which is an all too common thought pattern, unfortunately.

Josie had a few final wishes. She wanted a cremation without a viewing. She told us that she didn't want anyone to remember her like that. She wanted a service done at Saint Patrick's in Bisbee, where we are to play "Spirit in the Sky." She always thought it would sound beautiful in that old Cathedral. After the services, we are to find a vessel large enough to combine her ashes with the ashes of her husband Joe, and daughter Alicia. She had a long list of places that she wanted those combined ashes scattered, most of which are in Arizona, Wyoming, and South Dakota. True to Josie’s sense of humor, the means of spreading those ashes (whenever possible) is to be some sort of potato or t-shirt gun… with maximum spread. We asked her if she was joking about that part. She was not.

Services have been planned at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Bisbee, AZ for July 19th, 2017. In an effort to avoid some of the Arizona summer heat, the Rosary will begin at 8:30 am, and her funeral Mass will be at 9:00am with a reception to follow in the Parish Hall. At Josie’s request, we are asking that everyone wear something red. She loved the color red.

Thank you for taking the time to read my mother-in-law’s story. Our family appreciates every donation, no matter how small. Every little bit helps. Thank you.

About Josephina Rodriguez:
4/9/1951-6/25/20 17, age: 66

Josie was born Josephina Diaz Hernadez in Bisbee, Arizona April 9th, 1951. She married Jose “Joe” Rodriguez April 12, 1975 when she was 23 and he was 22. In 1979 Joe got a coal mining job in Wyoming and they moved North with their children, Alicia and Diego, while Josie was still pregnant with youngest daughter, Kristy. They remained in Wyoming for 35 years. Josie was a homemaker and caretaker to their handicapped oldest daughter, Alicia. In December 2005, at the age of 30, Alicia passed away. In 2014 Joe retired from the coal mine and they moved back to Arizona. Joe passed away on August 26, 2015. Josie remained in their Palominas home until her passing 1 year and 10 months later on June 25, 2017.

Josie had a long list of health problems. However, approximately 10 years ago she decided to fight back. In the next 3 years, she went from a size 6XL to a 1XL by maintaining her diabetic diet and exercising more. The damage had already been done. She had severe damage to her heart and kidneys, which required her to have an internal defibrillator surgically installed in her heart and dialysis done 3 times a week. But she was determined to get healthy. She was always up beat, smiling, and joking.

Less than 2 years ago, her beloved husband of 40 years, Joe Rodriguez, passed away. She was heartbroken. We all were. Her son, Diego, quit his job as a coal miner in Wyoming and moved his family to Arizona to care for her full time. A lot of her fire left with the passing of Joe, but continued to battle for her health and mobility. She felt that she owed it to Joe to get better. She was down to a healthy size Medium and was no longer insulin dependent, but, instead, was able to manage her diabetes by diet alone.

A year ago, she had springs put into her back, which greatly decreased her pain and increased her strength and mobility. She was a prime candidate for kidney transplant. Her doctors were impressed with her progress and determination. She had a positive outlook and looked forward to the transplant; doing everything the doctors told her so as to maintain her status on the transplant list.

A few months ago something began to change. She was always tired. Even though she enjoyed food and typically ate a healthy diet, food no longer held any taste to her and she struggled to eat even daily minimums. She became jaundiced and her doctor sent her to the hospital in Sierra Vista, AZ. The doctors at the hospital transferred her to Tucson within a couple of hours.

She was in Tucson for almost 2 weeks. She barely ate and did not even have the strength to sit up on her or move her own legs. She was not alone. Her son, Diego, was there with her nearly the whole time. He came home to Palominas only twice to restock his backpack with clean clothes. We were not given any answers as to what was causing this sudden and drastic change. In fact, on her discharge papers, the diagnosis was listed as “not on file.”

Then things started moving fast. She finally returned home from the hospital Tuesday, June 20, 2017. We contacted a nurse at a Home Health service who came to Josie’s home and trained us in the care of a bed-ridden patient.
On Thursday the 22nd, Josie’s Primary Care Physician gave us some idea of what we were dealing with. She told us that tests that the hospital ran indicated autoimmune hepatitis. Not to be confused with the contagious hepatitis that we are used to hearing about, this was her own body attacking her liver. It was not contagious, and was nothing could stop it; however, steroids would slow its progress. Her heart was also deteriorating, even with the internal defibrillator; it was not pumping near enough blood. Her blood pressure was low, and she was taking medication to keep it up to almost normal. She needed home oxygen and a home hospital bed. Then she told us the worse news: She was no longer a candidate for a kidney transplant. Josie took the news hard.

Kristy (Josie's daughter) and Dominic (Diego's son) arrived later that evening of the 22nd. Her oxygen arrived on Friday the 23rd. On the evening of the 24th Josie asked us to contact her brother, Manual, and Sisters, Gloria and Rita. They planned to visit at 1pm on Sunday.

Sunday afternoon, June the 25th, Josie passed away. Josie was very antsy in the morning. Later she asked us to put her in the wheel chair and take her outside where she ate her lunch. She liked having meals outside, so that wasn't too abnormal. However, we had to strap her to the wheel chair because she could not hold herself up in the sitting position. A little after eating her lunch, she asked where her siblings were and if I would call and tell them to hurry. They were only 30 minutes away.

She said she couldn't catch her breath, even with the oxygen on. She asked us to take her to the hospital. I ran into the house to grab her medications and medical folder while Diego, Kristy, and Dominic tried to get her into the car. They couldn't get her into the car. She started to become unresponsive, her fingers and toes were blackish purple, it was time to call 911.

Her siblings arrived just before the EMT's from the Palominas Fire Department. (And a great big Thank You to the PFD!). They took her vitals, her O2 was in the low 80's. It had been an hour since her lunch, but her blood glucose was still only 55. She was awake but could not speak. They gave her a breathing treatment and sugar. She started becoming cognitive, on and off again. But could only communicate by nodding or shaking her head.

The ambulance arrived and requested a Life Flight. They loaded her into the ambulance and told us that they will inform us as to which hospital as soon as the Life Flight Team assessed her and made that determination.

We followed the ambulance to Highway 92, where the Life Flight Chopper was starting to circle. More of the Palominas Fire Department arrived and was blocking off traffic on the highway and hosing down the dirt side road to reduce dust. The chopper landed there on the Highway. The Life Flight team exited the chopper with a stretcher and ran to the ambulance. We watched and waited. Nobody came out of the ambulance. Finally, an EMT came out and told us that they could not get her heart pumping again, they would do everything in their power to save her, but they would be taking her by ambulance to Sierra Vista. We followed the ambulance, but even at the hospital, they could not restart her heart.

At the hospital the doctor said he could tell that she was a fighter, even after her heart completely gave out, she was still trying to take a breath.

Again, thank you for taking the time to read my mother-in-law’s story. It feels like we are just beginning to heal from the passing of my father-in-law just to be cut raw again. The worse part of losing someone is that you can’t really grieve. You have to take care of business, cut through red tape, make many big monumental decisions, and be bombarded with a horde of tiny ones. Then, when all the immediate priorities are done, and you can finally process, people can’t understand why you are suddenly so sad when you were handling everything so well. You can never truly heal from grief, but rather, are in a constant state of healing.

Our family appreciates every donation, no matter how small. Every little bit helps.

Thank you!

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Amber Butterfield-Scott 
Hereford, AZ
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