So beautiful

I caught myself today wanting to ask Dad a question. I find it odd that for the past 20 plus years, I have called my dad “papaw”, because that’s what the kids called him. It was just a natural progression I suppose. But the last week he was with us, I found myself calling him “Daddy” when talking to him, and “papaw” when talking to the boys or anyone else about him. I’m not sure why.

I haven’t written much about his passing. I guess I wanted to keep it to myself a bit longer.  We knew he wouldn’t last long. I put the TV on the southern gospel music channel a few days before he passed away, hoping it would soothe him. The music was playing low, all the boys were home, Son4 had his girlfriend over. We were just enjoying spending time together one last time, as a family.

Most of the boys went over to the next town to eat. They needed some time away. So it was Stud, myself, Son3, Son4 and his girlfriend.  I had called the hospice nurse again, she had been out earlier but I was just uneasy. Dad’s breathing was still the same as far as frequency goes, but it was very shallow.

While we waited on the nurse, Stud got out Dad’s bible and started reading Psalms 23. It was a beautiful thing. Stud was overcome with emotion, and had trouble, but he kept going, kept reading, as much for Dad as it was for us. I attempted to sing, but after one bar, I was done. I couldn’t do it. I just wanted to spend the time, loving and talking to Dad.

The nurse arrived and she took his vitals and let us know his pulse was very faint, it took her several times to be able to read it. The same went for Dad’s other vitals. He was fading very fast.

Up until this point, when I would talk to Dad, stroke his hair, he would bat one eye. Just one. The other eye had closed about 24 hrs before, and hadn’t opened. But that one eye, stayed open. It was his connection to us, to me.

I know that the reason Dad lasted the last few months, was because of me. He didn’t want to leave me. He told me one night. He kept asking me to go with him and I kept telling him it wasn’t my time yet, but I would be there soon. He would shake his head no, and that was that. One night he begged me to never forget him. Like I could ever forget him…

The Wednesday night before he passed, Dad was up all night long. He wouldn’t lay down, he couldn’t sit still, he was up, down, up down, sitting on the side of his bed, all night long. He kept saying he had to go, he had to leave. He had to get home. At one point, I was standing beside him, talking to him, and he said he had to go. I told him we couldn’t go anywhere, it was the middle of the night, but to get some rest and we would go the next morning. He bowed his head, his shoulders slumped over, in defeat. After that he lay down in bed, and never got up again.

The next day when the nurses gave him his bath, was the last he was cognizant. Almost immediately after his bath, he started jerking, extremities were having spasms. It wasn’t a seizure, but spasms that were scary to watch. That was the beginning of the end. He slowly faded away over the next two days.

I think that night, sitting on the side of the bed, he gave up. He finally decided he had to go without me. Part of me wants to feel guilty. But he majority knows, he was ready. He was so tired. So lonely from missing Mom. If he had known what his mind had become, he would have been miserable. He wouldn’t have wanted to live that way.

In reality, it may have taken his body 13 months to leave, but his mind left when Mom died. Their love was real. Their love was true. Their love was strong. She was his lifeline, his reason to live, his reason to get up every morning. When she was gone, his brain went in to self protect mode and switched off the pain, and took him to a time where he didn’t know mom.

I am truly blessed to have been by both my parent’s bedside as they took their final breath. Dad’s was so peaceful, his breathes just kept getting more shallow until they just didn’t come anymore. He didn’t moan, groan, or even sigh. He just went.

It was beautiful.

 

The good girl

The house is quiet.

Everything about it is quiet. All of us turn our heads at every little noise, checking to see if Dad is ok. We all admit to getting up in the morning and heading to his bed to make sure he’s alright. Only its not there anymore.

I’m not sure how long it will take us to adjust to him being gone.

The phone is quiet.

His phone has rung one time since he passed. It was my sister.

She just wanted to let me know that a huge burden was lifted from her shoulders since dad died. She had felt weighted down, just waiting for the call that he was gone.  Now that weight was lifted.

I’m not sure how I was supposed to react to that.

I know I wanted to react in rage.

But I didn’t.

I guess even though Mom and Dad are gone, I still feel the need to do what they would expect. To be the good daughter.

I wonder how long it will take me to get over that?

Life to live.

We celebrated my dad’s life yesterday. He passed away on Sat. very peacefully. His breathes just kept getting slower and slower until they were no more.

I have cried.

I have laughed.

I have been nostalgic.

I am lost.

I stood in my living room earlier looking around, not knowing what to do. There is plenty to do, I just don’t know where to start. They haven’t picked up the medical equipment yet. In a way I’m glad, because it signals the end. I know my dad is gone. I know he’s not coming back. But once the hospital bed is no longer in the living room, then we have to move on. There will be a space to fill. Furniture to arrange. Life to live.

 

22

Today is Son3’s 22nd birthday.

That is incredibly hard to believe.

My middle child is now well past the age of legal adulthood.

He was my biggest child when he was born, weighing in at 9lbs 8 oz, and 22.5 inches long. He has overcome so many challenges in his life. He was born 6 weeks late, had a “blue” spell when he was a day old, suffered a concussion at 4 mo of age, all combining to cause multiple learning disabilities, and having to spend many years in speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

He was 2 years old before he uttered a sound, 4 before he could string simple words together, and 12 before he could read a word.

I am extremely proud of the accomplishments he has made in his life.

Today, he is the most generous, loving, caring, compassionate young man I know. He arranged his work schedule to be home with me more to help with Dad. When someone needs something, he is the first to step forward and offer assistance. He refuses to ever miss work, and let others down. He won’t even take a planned day off!

He is a rule follower, sticking to his morals and beliefs. Unwavering once he makes his mind up.  He loves deeply and completely.  Physically strong, his brothers nicknamed him Shrek, in a loving way.

With a listening ear and strong shoulders, he finds himself being the sounding board to those around him when they have a difficult decision to make.

He has grown to be an amazing young man that amazes me daily with his goodness and love.  Stud and I did good!

Happy Birthday Son3!

Shallow

I’m sitting here, in my dad’s chair, across from his hospital bed, listening to him take the last breaths of his life.  Earlier he was breathing deeply, but only 4-6 breaths a minute and you could hear it over the entire house. Now, his breaths are very shallow, about 8 per minutes, but quiet.

Its amazing, watching the body in this process.  His temperature has dropped, then spiked, now on the way down again. The same with his heart rate, and his blood pressure. All typical signs of the physical body shutting down.

I firmly believe Dad’s spiritual self is already gone. It left sometime yesterday. Now he is just waiting for his body to catch up. His eyes are glazed, he no longer attempts to speak. He will blink one eye when you talk to him and stroke his hair. He hears us. He knows we are here. He just can’t communicate with us.

I’m trying to be ok. I have to be.

I’m worried about all sorts of things in the near future. None of which I have any control over, or any remedy for, but God does. He knows my heart is troubled. He knows my mind can’t help but wonder what is going to happen.  I just keep holding to the things my Daddy taught me, that no matter where I am, what I need, God will be there. He will take care of my every need.

 

Downhill slide.

Dad has taken a dramatic step down in the past 24 hours. Thursday the CNA’s came and gave him his bath, shaved him and got him all spiffy, and were also able to get some applesauce with his meds in him. As they were wrapping up, getting ready to leave, he suddenly went stiff in all his extremities. Then they started jerking.

We watched him for a couple of minutes and it happened again. This was new. He couldn’t speak, other than garbled non words, and wasn’t able to swallow water.

His nurse and I had a long conversation about what our next step would be. He is dehydrated, and we believe he is having TIA’s (mini strokes) that are affecting his speech. Also, he is in pain. He cannot vocalize where, or how, but we can tell by his facial expressions, and moans that he is in pain somewhere. We think it is his heart.

We decided to continue to keep him home, we could have sent him to the ER, but all they would do is pump him full of fluids, which would overtax his heart, and send him home. Then once he got home, Hospice would have to pump him full of lasix to get rid of the extra fluid, which would blow his liver.  That isn’t how dad wants to go.

Many times, he has told me to keep him home, and just let him go.

That is what we are doing.

For the first time in his life, he is on pain medication, and anxiety medication. Both are to help him stay comfortable.  We are keeping the dosages low, so that he can communicate with us if he chooses and know that he is surrounded by loved ones.

His breathing has taken a turn this evening. Yesterday and all day today he has had steady, even breathing. This evening, is respirations have slowed to 6 a minute, and are very deep. His vitals are still good, although they are showing signs of him slowly fading.

We are on the downhill slide now.

 

Unanswerable question.

I have slowly come to the realization that as an adult over the age of 40, I don’t put up with as much.

I wonder if that has to do with my patience has worn thin, or if I have took hit after hit after hit from people that  I am just done.

Have I suddenly become overly sensitive?

Why do things that 10 years ago, would barely have warranted a response, now incite anger?

I’m not sure.

I’m not sure I like it.

Maybe its from living with so many men for so long I have absorbed an inordinate amount of testosterone and have grown the female equivalent of imaginary balls.

I don’t know.

Part of me actually likes the take no poo, woman I have become.

Part of me misses not really giving a care.

Last week, my oldest sister called, and immediately started apologizing for what she thought was the err of her ways, aka why she ticked me off.  She wasn’t even close.

I politely, with a very even, but confident tone told her what she had done, and why I would no longer put up with it, or her.  Stud was in the room with me, cheering me on and it felt amazing.

I honestly felt like 20 pounds of stress left my shoulders as I told her how I felt.

It was liberating.

She hasn’t called me since.

She called dad’s line once, but that’s it.

My older brother called, and I told him what she had said to me, that she kept bringing up that I am no blood relation to dad, his reply?  That had never entered my mind!

I do wonder why my sister’s, even after 40+ years cannot seem to fathom that I am their sister in every way, but the brothers have never given it second thought that I was not blood related. They just accepted me as their sister and went on with life.

Is it a woman thing?

Do we find it hard to accept that it is possible to love another human unconditionally without sharing the same DNA?

I hope I never find the answer.