I figured it was time to write another entry for my March blog. On April 2, 2016 my father passed away so we are coming up on the 2nd anniversary of his passing.
So much weighs heavy on my heart, because sometimes life you have to make important decisions and try to know you made all the right choices. I know deep down in my heart that I did, but sometimes in my mind things come back and make me second guess myself.
My father was very sick when we had to take him to the Emergency that late afternoon. Somehow the fear in his eyes told me the day we placed him in the car, that he was never coming back home. See my father stayed away from doctors his whole life, he always felt that they were too quick to throw a pill at you then to try and figure out what was wrong with you, so he wanted no part of it. Which to this day, I believe if my father would have trusted doctors he would have never lived as long as he did.
But this time with all the weight loss, labored breathing, weakness and not being able to eat, we knew he was in serious trouble. We granted dad his wish, no doctors long enough. But finally, the day came, and I told dad we can’t do this anymore, that we had to get him to the doctor, he begged, I cried, I so badly wanted to grant him his wish, but knew I had to get him some medical help. So, we finally loaded him in the car that evening and took him to the hospital emergency, he wouldn’t allow us to call an ambulance, so we carried him to the car.
After arriving at the hospital, we found out that dad had a hiatal hernia, for those who don’t know what that is, it meant his stomach was sucked up into his chest cavity, he was in serious trouble. The little hospital had to find a larger hospital with specialist to treat his condition, so he was sent out by ambulance, but he needed several pints of blood before they would even transfer him. The doctor asked dad if he wanted the surgery, and dad said yes, he wanted to live, he knew that was his only hope. The doctors told us that dad could die with the surgery, but he would definitely die without it, so I had no choice but to sign the papers for his surgery. As we waited, we just knew that it was going to be very slim that dad would survive, but dad had such a will to live. The doctors came out and said that dad survived the surgery, but they were unsure if his stomach would ever work again.
The plan was to put a feeding tube into dad’s stomach, but even then, the stomach wouldn’t work, so at that time we knew there really wasn’t much they could do for dad. Dad was not allowed to eat anything or drink anything for the next 5 weeks, the only thing keeping him alive was in his IV’s. His body grew weaker, but even at that, dad would talk about going home.
I would travel over 100 miles daily to be by dad’s side, we’d talk about everyday things in life, but not once did dad talk about dying. Once I remember I tried to get him to talk, so asked him if there was anything that he wanted me to get for him at the house, or anything that he wanted to tell me, the only thing he said was, “Oh, you might want to go and get that gallon of milk you bought, I sure wouldn’t want that to go to waste.” I just smiled and said, “Okay dad.”
As each week passed, infections set in, more test were ran and test revealed that dad had a mass on his lung, and a mass on his liver which were cancer, kidney failure, emphysema and pneumonia too. But he still talked about going home, and how he needed to get a new battery for his truck.
After 30 days in a hospital and if they can’t treat you anymore they want you out. They wanted to transfer dad to this place that was across town, I went to check it out and it was horrible, they had 4 people per tiny little room, we felt that being dad had good insurance he deserved to be in a nicer place, so I told them there was no way that they were going to put him there. At least at the hospital he had a private room most the time.
On Easter Sunday morning, my kids and grand-daughter came, and little Emma was doing her Easter egg hunt, when the cell phone rang, it was the doctor on the other end of the line, my heart sank. He said that he felt there was nothing more they could do with dad, and he suggested it was time to stop all the nonsense, because the outcome was still going to be the same, dad wasn’t going to live. I agreed that dad had been through enough for the past 5 weeks. So that day the doctor asked if they could remove all dad’s IV’s, and allow everything to be in God’s hands, and God’s time and I said, “Yes, it’s time.” I asked the doctor how long dad would have after the removal of everything and he said probably 4 or 5 days. So, after the Easter Egg hunt, it was time to head to the hospital to see dad. When I walked in, dad sat there with a smile. He held his arms up and said, “Look, no tubes!” He was so happy, we talked off and on for the next couple of hours, then it was time to leave and let dad get his rest.
We found a beautiful Hospice home in Hughson, CA for dad, he was transferred on Tuesday evening. When we arrived, he seemed so much more relaxed and was so happy to be out of the hospital, the hardest part for me was, I think dad thought he was just at a rehab facility to get stronger so that he could go home. To this day, I cry because I don’t know if he was trying to protect me, or I was just protecting him? He was happy, they were allowing him to eat jello and broth after not having anything for 5 full weeks, and he was so happy about that too. Little did he know that his stomach wasn’t working and all of what was being ate was coming out one of the tubes in his back. I don’t think he realized that his stomach was never going to ever work again.
On Wednesday family came and went. Dad had a busy day, one of his favorite little great granddaughters came for a visit. Dad kept asking me if little Emma would ever remember him, I kept reassuring him she would. Emma was 16 months old at the time, and remembers her visit, when we talk about it now. I brought in some M&M’s for dad to share with her like he did when she would come to visit at his house. I took a small video on my phone and Emma still watches it often. After we left that day so that dad could get some rest, little did I know that dad would make such a drastic change through the night.
I arrived on Thursday morning, I walked in his room and his eyes were shut, I walked over to the bed and softly said, “Hi dad, it’s Sheri how are you doing?” Dad raised his hand up and reached for me, I grabbed it and he opened his eyes slightly and said with a smile, “Your hands are so cold.” I smiled back and said, “And your hands are warm, dad.” I then said, “You know what they say dad, cold hands warm heart.” Dad opened his eyes one more time with a smile and said, “That’s right.” Those were the last words we spoke, the last real conversation that we had. Dad died 2 days later on Saturday night April 2, 2016.
The hardest part of all this was telling the doctor “Yes, it’s time.” Not a choice anyone wants to make. But I feel that being dad survived the hernia surgery was a miracle, and God chose to bless us with 5 ½ weeks of living, loving, and saying good-bye. Even though dad had to go to his new home, I am sure he was happy once he met up with Mom again. God, I hope they are both happy…
Thank you for taking the time to read my March Blog, sometimes it just helps to talk about life, and share life with others to show that, we all live, love, and sooner or later have to say good-bye….
Sending much love to you all, Sheri Lynn