Jason and I took the boys to see my Dad this morning. He was at home. Hospice was there. (The doctors had started dad on morphine before he left the hospital two days ago.). Dad had a good day yesterday. He was happy to be home, although not exactly how any of us wanted, but he was home. A hospice bed in the place of his favorite chair. Dad lay there. His puppy Toh-Toh laying with him. Not really able to do much but watch golf. He loves his golf. He asked me to take a picture of him wearing his Grumpy cap. “Make sure you get Toh-Toh in the picture.” I only had my phone with me. I took one picture then dad asked me to take his oxygen tube off, then to take another. I did. He was smiling. He was in a good mood…. Shortly after that his mood changed. He was mad. Not happy at all. The nurses told us it was the effects of the morphine. It was scary how fast his mood changed.
This morning was a different story. Dad was sleeping pretty deeply. Jason and I tried to explain to the boys on the way there how different it would be when we got to Bunny & Poppy’s house. The bed in the living room, the nurses, how Poppy just needed to be as comfortable as possible now. We even bought Poppy a Wendy’s frosty on the drive there, another favorite. Dad had been eating them every day. When we got to my parent’s house I put the frosty in the fridge, dad was sleeping. Jason and I and stood with the boys as they said hi to Poppy while he was sleeping. I gave dad a kiss on his forehead. (Ive been doing it for years, when I see him and when I say goodbye). Dad never woke up while we were there this morning. I had already decided I would go back to see mom and dad later this afternoon after we took the boys home. Jason worked for a few hours after we got home, about 2:00pm I headed back to my parents house by myself. Praying the whole time.
Dad was still asleep when I got there. The nurses were doing paperwork at the table. It was quiet, music was playing, Frank Sanatra or something…. My parents love the oldies. I noticed Dad looked different. Paler than this morning. He was doing a breathing treatment. He did a few a day. But this time he fell asleep with it on him. I asked the nurse if I could take it off of him. It was empty. Dad looked so tired. It couldn’t be comfortable sleeping with that thing on. So she helped me take it off of him. My mom, big sister, and brother were there. It was different now. I think we all felt it.
I’m not sure how much time had passed but Dad woke up for a minute, he had something in his throat. A weird raddle noise. It wasn’t comfortable. He couldn’t talk. Just a noise from his throat. I watched the nurse, she made a phone call, another nurse (Phillis) rang the doorbell. (I met her this morning. I liked her). After she checked dad over, (I noticed her checking his feet…. more about that later) she asked mom for the ‘Magic Box’ or something like that. It was special medicine that was kept in the fridge. Not to be opened. Only by the head nurse. Mom, only leaving dad’s bedside when she needed to, went to the fridge got the box, then helped the nurse give dad whatever the medicine was. It went under his tongue. I couldn’t watch. I knew it was going to help him, but also knew it I didn’t like what was happening. The medicine calmed dad’s throat. The rattle noise lessened.
A little more time had passed…. Dad looked pale. I was scared. As much as I didn’t want to ask, but needed to know…. I asked the nurse “Is this as good as it gets?” She knew what I meant. Dad wasn’t talking to anyone anymore. He was quiet. Too quiet. I checked his feet and hands. I saw it coming. I was terrified, scared. I knew.
I asked the nurse if she thought he would make it much longer, or if she thought that this was it. I can’t remember exactly what I asked her, but she understood…. gave me a look like she didnt know how to put it into words…. What she did say is: Is your family here? Is everyone here that is close? I nodded. She then told all of us that Dad would not be able to talk to us anymore. That whatever we wanted to say to him we needed to say it now. He can hear you, but won’t respond. I quickly called my sister who had stepped out to run an errand. I called Jason too.
I told mom what the nurse had said. Not knowing if mom heard her or didn’t want to believe what was going on. Mom was by dads bedside (as always). My brother and I stepped aside letting mom be alone to talk to dad. It breaks my heart every time I think about her leaning over whispering in his ear, saying her last words to him. I couldn’t hear what she said. But I know. She loves him, always will. They spent more than 50 years together.
Mom later told me she told him to let go. That it was ok for him to go. She loves him so much. She talked to him a lot… loving words, she loves him so, so much. Mom went to the couch, sat down and cried.
I talked to dad. Telling him I loved him. He didn’t have to worry anymore, that everything is ok and we are going to take care of mom for him. He always told all of us kids to watch over her for him. He loves her so much.
I love him so much. I can’t breathe when I think about it. If it was possible to die of a broken heart we all would have gone with dad today.
I went to mom. She looked so small and frail sitting on the couch. She was so sad, talking to me. Asking how she was going to go on without him. I helped mom to dads bedside. We were only a few steps from him. but I just wanted us to be closer to him.
Mom & I stood next to dad’s bedside, watching his chest slowly go up and down. His breaths got further and further apart. It was quiet, only music playing. I really don’t know how we knew to go to him when we did, but once we were next to him we held his hand as the nurse checked his heart rate.
Standing with my mom, we saw it happen…. dad took his last breaths. They were slow. Quiet. After the last breath (4:37pm) the nurse nodded her head. He was gone. It was awful.
Mom and I just cried. My brother hugged us. After that it was a blur for awhile. Dad lay in the living room. We would all still whisper to him. Hug him. Cry.
I met my sister in the front yard. She came back from her errands to check on dad. I had to tell her dad was gone. It was awful. She was so sad saying she didn’t get to talk to him. She went inside to see him…. Talked to him. Cried and hugged on him.
We had promised dad a vodka tonic the day before. Which he never got…. We mentioned it to the nurse. She made it happen. We love her more for it. Cheers dad. Enjoy. You’re free. Healthy. We love you! Salute!
The Chaplin came and prayed with us. He asked questions about dads life, read John 14, said the Lords Prayer, and we sang Amazing Grace. He was so good for us. The nurses were good too. We couldn’t have asked for anything more. Dad was home. He is well. We miss him so much already.
The funeral home came to take him. They got him ready, we waited in the other room. They wheeled him in. It was awful. Mom whispered to him. Kissed him. Touched his hair. Everyone had a chance to say a final goodbye. I lay my head on his chest. I kissed his forehead…. for the last time. My heart broke.
They wheeled him out. My mom asked me where they were taking him. She stepped outside. I watched my mom wave to him as they drove him away. God be with her please.
I remember walking back into the house. Mom was with me. We passed the empty hospice bed. Mom quietly said how much she didnt like it. Wanted it gone. My brother, sister, and I disassbled it as fast as we could. Took it to the garage. My brother quickly put dads favorite chair back where it belonged. We watched mom put dads blanket on the back of it, with his Grumpy hat on top. We sat in the living room with dads empty chair. My brother made vodka tonics (dads favorite) for all of us. We toasted in dads honor. (I only took one sip, knowing I had to drive home.) Dad is healthy now. Walking on his own. Happy. Alive in his eternal home. We miss him. Always will.
Hours later. (It was late). Mom was tired, worn out. We all were. We talked a lot. Cried a lot. Lots of memories, but It was time to drive home. Life was moving on. (How, why? Jesus come now please.) I got into my car. I forgot how to drive. I was numb. I’m not sure how I made it.
I miss him so much I can’t breathe.
Please pray. Pray for all of us, especially for my mom.
We love you dad! You were (are) everything to us! You always will be.