Peter’s last moments

Peter Hallock, at his kitchen table, one of his favorite spots in the house.

Peter Hallock, at his kitchen table, one of his favorite spots in the house.

I am sharing Jason Anderson’s account of Peter Hallock’s last trip home, as he wrote on the website:

This is a difficult journal entry to write. Paul and I packed up Peter’s belongings from Marianwood, loaded up my car, and then wheeled Peter to my car. Wondering how best to get Peter into the Jetta, it dawned on me: “Peter, give me a big hug and we’ll slowly get you into the car.” He did, and by 2:45pm, we were on our way home. As Peter and I passed through Issaquah, I had a sense that I was going to need help. I called Tommy. He dropped everything and began the trek from Ballard to Fall City. 

After passing exit 20, Peter asked “Did you miss the Fall City exit?” “No,” I said, “only two more miles.” We talked about how he wanted to enter his house: walker or wheelchair. He decided on the walker. At 3:32pm, we pulled into the carport, I set up the walker, he again gave me a big hug so I could help him out of the car, and we tried twice to get him stable enough to walk—no go. Out came the wheelchair and at about that time Jennifer from Providence Hospice arrived. I helped Peter into the wheelchair, wheeled him into his home, and introduced him to Jennifer. It was about 3:45pm. Peter gazed at his house, marveled that the cuckoo clocks were running (that was a Saturday cleaning party task), and then took his place at the kitchen table. Jennifer and Peter shook hands, said hello, and then Peter went completely cold—his face turned ghastly white, his hands a purplish-blue hue, and he became non-responsive. Jennifer tried to find a pulse and check for any blood pressure. There was none. Jennifer asked about a POLST form; we hadn’t filled one out yet. Peter had an advanced medical directive and a quick phone call to Gerry confirmed—DNR. At my request, Jennifer assisted me in getting Peter into his bed.Jennifer called 911 as she was required to do by law. Paramedics pronounced him dead at 4:10pm. Meanwhile, his neighbors saw the commotion and came to see what was going on. Marcia and Joe were first to arrive. I broke down in Marcia’s embrace.

Then the phone calls commenced—just like Peter had asked. To Gerry, Carl, Barbara, Tillie Ann, Jonathan, George and on and on. Jennifer offered to call the Neptune Society for me. I gratefully accepted her offer. Then the calls and texts came in—the call from Mary was a Godsend. 

After the paramedics and sheriff finished their required work, Tommy and I began to chant Compline at Peter’s bedside. It was so meaningful to sing Compline to him one last time, though it was incredibly difficult to get through some of the chants and spoken words. Tommy was cantor and I officiant. At the Nunc dimittis, Mary arrived, knelt at Peter’s bed, and together, we commended Peter to eternity. 

Mary offered to stay at the house so Tommy and I could return to Seattle and sing Compline. For this, Tommy and I are eternally grateful. To be with the Compline community and share our grief with each other was truly special. For the office, the choir offered a commendatory prayer for Peter at the beginning of the service, followed by his processional setting of the Pascha nostrum (Easter Canticle: Christ our Passover) for choir and bells. We sang Peter’s setting of Psalm 84, knowing how good it was for Peter to have arrived at home. The hymn was ‘We walk by faith and not by sight’ and we all found it difficult to wind our way through Henry Alford’s final verse: ‘that, when our life of faith is done, in realms of clearer light we may behold you as you are, with full and endless sight.’ The Nunc dimittis was the Tallis tone 7 harmonization, which the choir lovingly refers to as ‘The Party Piece’ complete with the seal of the Diocese of Olympia on the top right corner. We finished by singing Peter’s anthem Peace and the Final Responses, two of his earliest works for Compline dating to 1956. 

There will be both a burial rite and a tribute concert. Stay tuned for details. We are all in grief at the loss of our friend. Your prayers and well wishes are needed and accepted with grateful thanks. 

About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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6 Responses to Peter’s last moments

  1. Pingback: Peter R. Hallock (1924-2014) | Compline Underground

  2. Stephen Walton says:

    I was a friend of Peter’s in the early 70s. During a time off from college, I hung around St. Mark’s and joined the choirs and studied organ with Peter. At some point he had the daft idea of naming me the resident “choral scholar”, and I took an active part in assisting Peter in his work (along with many others) and being a friend to him. Although it does seem in retrospect to have been a daft idea, that should not seem surprising to those who know him. Peter was not afraid of such things. In fact, his hilarious way of characterizing it was to say: “You’ve lit the fuse (i.e., showed your interest), let’s run!” And it truly was a beautiful thing to do for me at that time. There was something fun and outrageously generous about it that made a huge difference in my life at that time, and I think he knew it.

    Beyond the personal value of Peter’s friendship, I will always be grateful for the many gifts he shared with me, with his community anda with the world: his music, his sense of humor, his love of so many things–food, cooking, flowers, nature, art, poetry–, and his deep spirituality and understanding of the importance of worship. All of these are enduring for me, but I think it is the first and the last that are most profound. I would say that Peter will be missed, but in many ways that is not true: what he shared with the world will endure.

  3. Duncan Saunders says:

    So very sorry to hear of Peter’s passing. I remember attending the Compline services in the late 60’s and 70’s and my heart and soul was always refreshed and renewed as I sat in the dark and was transported into another time and space.

  4. Carol Bucholz says:

    As one of the earliest attendees at Compline it is a challenge to share my deep feelings of loss at Peter’s death. Peter and I met at a workshop in Berkeley and I was hooked on the Compline service immediately. Peter graciously gave me a few lessons on the Flentrop. I could share many experiences of the early days, but suffice to say that we looked forward to the trip up from Tacoma on “old 99” every Sunday night. As a church organist it was a welcome chance to worship without the distractions of being responsible for what came next. My best friend met her husband there (Bill and Roxy Giddings) and we were able to introduce many other people to the experience of Compline, including our own children. Peter will be truly missed, but we still have the gift of his compositions and the Compline service to look forward to. Thanks for the chance to share.

  5. Karin Grice says:

    I’ve just finished reading your posting which gave me all the information I was wanting about Peter’s last days. The irony of it was that when he was at Marianwood, he was just a short block from where I live at Providence Point. If I had only known he was there…

    My acquaintance with Peter was when I worked in the St. Mark’s office in the 1980s. While there I met Peter and introduced him to my husband, and shortly after, Peter hired my husband to build his Fall City house. So both my husband and I had a connection to him that neither of us would forget. Now both of these gentlemen are gone, my husband having died in January this year. Perhaps they’re now talking about that house–what a challenge it was to built but what a wonderful result when it was finished. I will miss both of this wonderful men.

    • Dear Karin, I’m glad you found my blog posting about Peter Hallock’s last moments. What a gift your husband gave to him in that Fall City house! He absolutely loved it, and we’re glad that he was able to make it back home before passing.

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