After the bad news about my dad and the scare with the baby, I was ready for life to calm down. I was ready to start having more energy, and to enjoy the rest of my summer. Life had other plans for me.
Thursday was the day I was finally able to get off bed rest. I had missed my birthday and we had postponed my family birthday dinner which was to have taken place the previous Sunday. It was okay because my brother, who had been in North Dakota for 5 months was returning, so by moving the dinner back one week, we would be able to have a Welcome Home dinner for him, along with my birthday dinner, and everyone would be there.
Thursday morning, as I was getting ready for my doctor's appointment, my mom stopped by to drop something off. She had taken my dad in for one of his dr. appointments. He stayed in the car, and as I spoke with my mom in the bathroom, while doing my hair, I sent my kids out to say hi to grandpa. Hubby went out as well. Don't ask me why I didn't put down the flat iron and run out there with them. I had spoken to him on the phone several times that week, and we would be at their house on Sunday. I did call my parents after the appointment to let them both know everything was fine. I really can't remember if it was my dad or my mom that I spoke to.
The next morning I received a call from my mom. She told me that when she had gone in to check on my dad that morning, he was on his back and his breathing was really labored, and his oxygen level was way down. My parents have slept in different rooms for several years, due to the many side effects of my dad's medication that affect him during sleep, and make it impossible for my mom to sleep. A stab of fear shot through my heart, but I reminded myself that he had been fine just yesterday and was even out and about with my mom. I told her we would be right over.
My brother was on his way from North Dakota. He was getting a ride and was to be dropped off at our house where he was going to try and get some sleep. I called him to let him know what was going on, that we would be out at mom's, and to let us know when he got in and we would come pick him up. Cowgirl was also at Girls' Camp, and would be heading home that morning. I called her leader and asked her not to bring Cowgirl all the way home, because we wouldn't be there, but that we would meet them at the freeway exit by my parents' house on their way home.
My mom called back a few minutes later and let us know that she had turned Dad's oxygen all the way up, and gotten him onto his side, and that his oxygen levels had gone up and were looking good. She said not to worry about coming out, but in my heart I knew that we needed to.
When we got there, Dad still hadn't woken up. We sat and visited with Mom, and each of us went in and sat and talked with Dad throughout the morning. Cowgirl and my brother both arrived about the same time. My other brother was already there because he and his wife are renting the basement in my parents' house right now. My sister whom is my dad's daughter from his first marriage had also made it over. We were all there and were able to spend time at Dad's side, and spend the day together as a family.
As the hours went on and we still couldn't get Dad to wake up, we started talking about what we should do. My mom had spoken with a hospice worker (they had just contacted hospice to start looking into what kind of in-home health care they could set up for dad). The hospice worker was supposed to come that morning to evaluate Dad and get things set up. They said they would still come over and check his oxygen, and his lungs and physical condition, so we would have a better idea of what was going on. Then my dad's lung doctor called and my mom discussed with him one of the treatments that they were supposed to be looking into, a machine that would push the Co2 out of Dad's lungs. The doctor told her that it was very likely that if they did that treatment, he would be able to come out of it and wake up. But, there was no guarantee, and it would require us calling an ambulance and him being admitted to the hospital. He also told us that once he was admitted, it would be very difficult to get him released.
There were a few things that my dad was very adamant about upon receiving the bad news about his health. When the time came, he did not want any drastic life-saving measures taken (as there was no actually recovering from this condition, just prolonging the inevitable, if it got to that point). He did NOT want to be taken in an ambulance to the hospital, and above all he wanted to be at home, in his own bed when the time came for him to leave this life.
We were now faced with a difficult decision. He had been doing really well in the couple of weeks since we found out that his lungs weren't going to hold out, and he had appointments that week to see if he was a good candidate for the treatment I mentioned above. If he woke up, that would still be an option, and he might have many more good months, or even longer ahead of him. For me this would mean him being here to meet my new baby, which was so, so important to me.
But we would have to go against his wishes and have him transported to the hospital via ambulance. And was using a bpap machine to push all the Co2 from his lungs considered drastic life-saving measures? Also, we didn't know how long he had gone without a sufficient amount of oxygen. Could there be a chance that there would be some brain damage as a result of prolonged deprivation of sufficient oxygen? It was so hard to know what the right thing to do was.
My brother that had been in North Dakota had just left for a short time to take care of some personal business. We called him to see if he could come and talk with us as we considered what we should do. I'm not sure if it was all too hard for him to deal with, and he just needed to be away for a while, or what, but he let us know his opinion over the phone, but said he would respect whatever was decided upon. He wasn't coming back for a while.
We decided to wait for the hospice worker (who was on her way), hear what she had to say after evaluating him, and then with all the information, make a decision as a family. I called my brother again to see if he wanted to be there when the hospice worker came so he could hear what she had to say. He said he didn't think his opinion would change, but that we should call him after she came and let him know what she said.
While we were waiting for her arrival, my brother showed up. He spent some good time in my dad's room talking with him. He is the only one who hadn't been able to spend time with him recently, as he had been gone for 5 months. When the hospice worker arrived, my mom went in the room with her as she started checking my dad's vitals, and explaining some things as she went along. My mom asked us (the grown up kids) to come in so we could all hear what she had to say.
She explained that his oxygen level was good, and she took him off his oxygen to see if his level would stay up or start dropping. It stayed pretty steady, and she started checking his skin tone, his pulse, etc. As she was talking, my dad paused in his breathing. She mentioned that he may be getting ready to leave. We had my kids join us, so they could be with him too, in case that was what was happening. He took one last breath, with us all surrounding him, Mom holding his hand, kids and grandkids hugging him, then the nurse checked his heart and found that it had stopped beating.
She left the room so we could all have some time with him. We shed many tears, and shared many embraces. Then we left Mom to have some last moments alone with him. It was such a bittersweet day for our family. It was so hard to let go, especially for my children. We knew he wasn't to be with us a great deal longer, but he also was doing really well and we expected more time before we had to say goodbye. We weren't ready. On the other hand, my mom, along with his children had watched him suffer so much pain for so many years, that we took great comfort in knowing that he was pain-free for the first time in decades. We were also so grateful that we were all able to be together as a family to say goodbye when it was time.
I'm not sure what made my brother change his mind that afternoon, and decide to come home and join us, but I truly believe my dad was waiting for us all to be there together before he left. I know we will see him again, and that we will be together as a family for eternity. I'm so grateful for the gospel truths that bring this comfort to me.
I think I am coping okay. I'm not one who likes to shed tears in front of others. I am pretty good most of the time. But I definitely have my moments, and on a pretty regular basis. When I'm driving in the car by myself, or am in the shower alone with my thoughts, or even in public and I overhear some old guy say something old fashioned or closed-minded that reminds me of something my dad would say, I get hit with unexpected emotion, and have to blink away the tears. Or sometimes I let it come and just have a good hard cry.
The hardest times are when one of my children comes to me. "I'm just thinking a lot about Grandpa today", they tell me. "I just miss him so much". And the tears come, and I just give them a hug and let them know that's okay. It's okay to miss him, and to cry. But we know we are crying for us, and that he is free from pain, and that is such a blessing.
He would have turned 64 in September. I miss him every day. I wish he could have stayed with us just a little bit longer. Long enough to hold his baby granddaughter in his arms. At least once. Long enough to have one more birthday here with us. Or one more Christmas. I trust my Heavenly Father's plan for us, and I know He knows more than me. But I still miss my dad, even if it was his time to say goodbye to this life.
I have more thoughts to share, but this may already be the longest post I have ever written. I'll just finish up with a few pictures I love. Most of my favorites are prints, and I don't have a digital copy - but I do have a few that were taken in the past few years that are saved on my computer.
At Cowgirl's baptism
Giving Monkey a ride at my brother's wedding
He loved being a grandpa
Watching hubby work on the car (in the gas station parking lot) that had issues the day my brother got married, in between the temple, and going to the wedding luncheon. It cracks me up because even though there was no way he could get on the ground like that and work on the car, he still had to watch, like he didn't trust that it could get done right without him there supervising.
My absolute most favorite. Cowgirl and Monkey walking alongside grandpa at the County Fair last year. It was a family tradition to go to the County Fair every year with Grandpa and Grandma.