My niece Kathy sent me this. She is my niece from The Better Half’s side of my marriage. She lives in San Diego near us. We are very close. Her father died unexpectedly about 18 months ago from a heart attack. He was only 54. She finds solace in this passage. I thank her for it as I think it is beautiful.
Unlike Kathy, I knew my father was going to pass soon. It was only two weeks ago that he was given about 6 months. I felt deep down that it would be shorter than that, but had no idea it was only going to be two weeks. Although caught off guard and somewhat shocked by his quick passage, I am ok…all is well.
Dad was going to get sick, real sick. I was concerned for him as I didn’t want him to suffer. I was concerned for my mother having to watch him deteriorate knowing there was nothing she could do. I was concerned for my brother here in Roanoke and the extra pressure on him to help, yet maintain his work and family. I was concerned for me calling from 3000 miles away and only being able to get here occasionally to help.
Dad asked to not be resuscitated. He asked that no one try to prolong his life with heroic measures. He didn’t want to suffer. He had just signed a do not resuscitate order on September 10, he died on September 16.
He was home alone when he died. Mom was at her part time job serving lunch to seniors at the senior center where she works. Most of her seniors are actually younger than she is. Her boss told me that she often tells her that when she (my mom) gets old, that she isn’t as bitter or miserable as this or that one who just complained about some trivial thing.
He hadn’t been alone for long as the house keeper was here with him until noon. She had brought him some biscuit sandwiches for lunch. She said she sat with him before she left as he shared a story about one of his college memories. He was in good spirits. My brother had called him at 12:30 to see if he wanted to go to lunch. Dad declined as he was full from the lunch Linda had made for him. He told my brother he was having a good day.
Mom arrived home at 2, he was dead. It wasn’t a pretty scene. He had bled into his lungs, the lung cancer tumor had ruptured. His lungs had rapidly filled with blood which by now was all over him, the couch and carpet. While it was a gruesome looking scene, it’s a very quick and painless way to die. He would have suddenly become short of breath, coughed some blood and passed out almost immediately. Maybe a minute, two maximum, would he even be aware something was wrong. No pain, no suffering.
I am glad my mom was not here when it happened as there was absolutely nothing at all she could have done. If she had to watch him for that minute or maybe two, it would have seemed like eternity. Watching helplessly as a person struggles for breath, no matter how short the time, is traumatic. I’m not saying walking into the house to find him wasn’t a trauma, just less than witnessing what would appear to be horrible and seem like eternity, when it was actually quick and painless, but just a little messy.
He died at home. He wanted to die at home. He’s gone, but he isn’t dead. He has two more great grand children coming in the spring. He taught us to laugh, to cry, to love, to give and to share. We teach the great grandkids what he taught us. You see he was given gifts, he gave us those gifts and we give those gifts. Life is a circle, a circle that we are blessed to experience.
Thanks Dad, I love you.