We arrived at my Dad's house on Wednesday, a little after noon. He was swollen and didn't look good at all, but he was with his caregiver, his neighbor from across the street, Krys, and Brandy, his great niece. He was in and out of sleep, but woke up and was coherent when we arrived. He looked at me and said "I'll be damned. I didn't think I would see you again".
He raised his arms when he saw Linda, and gave her the biggest hug. He seemed pretty stable, but certainly not well. Clearly he was in his final stages, and it looked like he might last a few days or a few weeks at most. But he talked to us, talked to his first caregiver, Ashley, on the phone, and was able to communicate.
His poor legs couldn't hold him anymore. The caregiver and I were able to get him up and in a wheelchair and to his recliner in the living room, but that took a lot out of him. He slept more comfortably in his recliner and was breathing better, so we thought he might be improve slightly, but he didn't wake up when his other great niece, Samantha, arrived. He was barely coherent enough to help us get him back into his bed.
After the call we got on Tuesday, I arranged to have 24-hour care for him immediately, so another caregiver arrived to help us with him through the night. We had put him under the care of Hosparus around the end of August so that he wouldn't have to continue his long list of medications, his never-ending, unproductive doctor visits, and his periodic trips to the emergency room.
He had a rough Thursday morning, and we had to call in a nurse. She made medication changes to make him more comfortable and got him stabilized once again. I had a few lucid moments with him, but he never woke up enough to recognize the parade of visitors he had all day.
About 7:00 a.m. on Friday morning, October 21, the overnight caregiver called to me and said she thought his time had come. I was with him as he peacefully passed. Apparently, all he needed was to see us one last time, and he knew he wasn't going to make it until we got back here in November.
We are blessed that were were able to make it in time and have some final quality time with him. We are blessed that he didn't linger in a state of being he would have hated. We are blessed that we were able to fulfill our promise to him that he could live at home and ultimately die there. We are blessed that we had such a wonderful team of people over the past couple of years that allowed him to stay home and that loved him and spent time with him while we were gone. He worked his way into the hearts of his nurses and caregivers, and though they aren't supposed to get attached to their patients, they couldn't help themselves.
I'm crying as I write this, but mostly we are celebrating his life and the blessings. He had 94 great years and he was happy and content in the end. We are saddened, but we are also so very relieved. We'll no longer have to worry about him, and it feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off our shoulders. I don't think we really realized this until we turned our cell phones off overnight for the first time in well over a year.
So, while we will miss him dearly, and I'll continue to have my moments of grief, we choose to tell stories and laugh and be thankful for the memories. Thank you all for your continued support and for allowing me to get through this better by sharing the personal details.
And most of all, thank you Dad for adopting me way back when I was three days old and showing me what can be accomplished by hard work, belief, and a positive outlook on life. The values you and Mom instilled in me have served me well, and I will continued to strive to do my best to make you proud. Love you.