Darra Wray – Caring for a Father-in-Law with Heart Failure

Darra’s father in-law, Jon Lee Wray, suffered a massive heart attack in September of 2000. The doctors explained the devastating options… either undergo a risky octuple bypass surgery with experimental laser tunneling in hopes of extending his life by 5-10 years or begin putting his affairs in order with an expectation that he would likely die from heart failure in the next 3-6 months.  He was only 61 years old, so they chose surgery, with the hope of getting at least a few more years together.  Miraculously, Jon Lee survived the surgery and returned to his normal daily activities with Jacque, his wife of 30 years.

Grandson Mason, Jacque and Jon Lee at Mason’s High School Graduation in 2017.

Recognizing that both Jon Lee and Jacque were going to need more support in the coming years, her husband, Jonathan, and Darra moved the family to Boise, Idaho to be more available to assist them.  And, facing a declared life expectancy for Jon Lee, they pro-actively took the steps necessary to ensure that financial and household matters were attended to by other family members and advance directives were completed for both parents.  Jacque, a legal secretary by trade, led this effort and seamlessly assumed full responsibility for household management.

  • 5 years passed and they were grateful that Jon Lee was defying the medical odds.
  • 10 years passed, and they knew that Jon Lee was living on borrowed time.
  • Amazingly, more than 16 years after Jon Lee’s first heart attack, Jon Lee and Jacque attended grandson’s Mason’s high school graduation ceremony together.
  • But, 6 months after the high school graduation, Jacque (now 74), caught the flu and unexpectedly died 5-days later.

The family was completely blind-sided by this unexpected turn of events because they had 16 years of a practiced and reinforced expectation that Jon Lee would be the first to pass.  They did not have physical or electronic copies of Jacque’s advance directives, and  did not have the information needed to assume the management of her financial and household responsibilities.  In fact, it took four months of daily effort to manage her personal affairs and to organize household support for Jon Lee who was now 16 years past his lifesaving open heart surgery and 6 years beyond his life expectancy.

Their family experience led to the creation of the My Data Diary Family Information Management Solution which is designed to capture, store, manage, and share the personal, household, financial, legal, and health information needed to manage the business of your life.  This secure, digital solution brings peace of mind because it ensures that access to all the information needed for the family – whenever and wherever needed.

19th century poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he said, “People only see what they are prepared to see.”  Darra’s goal in sharing her story is to encourage you to examine your own expectation biases to ensure you are prepared to care for any member of your family at any stage of life.