Twenty years ago today, at 420 pm, my daddy died. I was there with him, at the Hospice residence, when he passed from this world into God’s hands. He died on a Friday.
My dad basically died from failure to thrive. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in May and he already had emphysema and COPD. He didn’t even want to walk to the toilet because he was so out of breath.
The whole week that my dad died was crazy. My dad had a DNR order (Do Not Resuscitate) and his doc was out of town. The doc who was filling in wanted to force my father to eat by placing a feeding tube in him, because he didn’t want him to die on his watch! We refused and after much haggling with the health insurance company, we got him transferred to Hospice.
So off to Hospice we went on Tuesday. These people are ANGELS. Amazing, compassionate human beings. They made my dad comfortable. He was still pretty lucid on Tuesday… But tired of the fight and in pain. The only medication he was getting was morphine by IV.
On Wednesday my mom and other family members came to say goodbye. My mom and dad were madly in love with each other right up to the end, and my mom didn’t want to see him suffer. I called my siblings to tell them that they should probably come (most of them lived about 4-5 hours away). My Uncle Andy (mom’s brother) and his wife Aunt Cleo stayed around the clock at the Hospice house. Their strength was amazing. Wednesday afternoon my daughters Jenni and Tiffany (who were 9 & 6) came and read a couple of books to their pop-pop and then cuddled up with him for a 2 hour nap. I am so glad they had that time with him. And I know he was comforted by their presence.
I worked the night shift Thursday night and was able to talk to my friend Carolyn who was my rock during that time. At around 5 am the Hospice called me to let me know that my dads blood pressure was slipping and that soon it would be time. I left work and headed there. All day Friday I kept my family updated and sat with my dad. He was not lucid most of the day and I knew it would be soon. I told my dad that I would take care of my mom and that he was he best husband, father, grandfather, brother and son anyone could ask for. I told him it was OK to go and a tear slid down his face… He was gone less than an hour later.
As I left the Hospice House to go to my little sister Nannette’s house, to let the family know I turned on the radio and Amy Grant started singing “I Will Remember You”. I remember sobbing while driving and being on autopilot all the way to my sister’s house.
I called my husband, who was living in West Virginia, and told him my dad had died. My son Nick and Michael drove to Florida in less than 15 hours. Michael didn’t want to upset Nick, so he didn’t tell him his pop-pop died. He just told him that they were starting their vacation a week early (we had a planned trip to our time share in Orlando for the following week). I think the most devastating moment of the entire week was seeing my son’s face when he walked into my mom’s house with Michael. He was 4 weeks from turning 11 and he knew… He immediately asked where his pop-pop was and my mom told him he had died. My dad was Nick’s hero. This is my mom and dad with Nick the day we brought him home from the hospital…
The viewing was Sunday and I took Nick early to the funeral home. He needed time to say goodbye without everyone else around. The funeral director brought a stool next to the casket and Nick leaned in and laid next to his Pop-pop and cried and cried and kissed him and said goodbye. I am still grateful for the funeral director allowing my son the time he needed.
The funeral was on Monday… The place was packed. Lots of people we didn’t even know. They had worked with my dad over the years and came to say goodbye. That day, July 20, 1992 was the first time all 7 brothers and sisters had been together since my oldest sister married in 1969. We haven’t all been together since, either.
I miss my dad. He was a pretty amazing human being. He rarely raised his voice. He was compassionate and supportive, he was a mentor and encouraged me to speak around adults instead of being hushed. We read the paper together on Sunday mornings. I wish, so wish he was here to meet my grandkids… They would have simply adored him!
I will be walking one day
Down a street far away
And see a face in the crowd and smile
Knowing how you made me laugh
Hearing sweet echoes of you from the past
I will remember you.