These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

back home with dad

we arrived friday and it was good we did. it's the last time dad's been really lucid.

we got in around 7:30 p.m. and he was sitting in a chair in his room, tv on. we went back there and recognized us. i held his hand and tried to comfort him. i spent of three hours or so with him, holding his hand, talking to him, telling him i loved him. he patted my knee with his right hand. dawn told him that we were glad to behome wit him. he got her hand and kissed it.

i chatted wtih him abut many things, especially the ranch. i reminded him of many fences we build and windmills we fixed. i looked at his ahnds and felt them with my own. i said they were rough hands. i asked for "los guantes" (the gloves) to put on them. i said we didn't have them now. then he grasped my leg andhe kept picking at it, picking at my jeans. i didn't know what he was doing.

i was during this time alone that i finally cried. a few times in the interim with the cancer i got close but didn't really. this time, it just came out. it was rough seeing my dad like that, thin, fragile, unknowing, a blank expression on his face. he wanted to sit up, thenlean back. finally at some time past 10, we helped him to the bed and laid him down for the night.

adn that was really the last time, we talked andhe knew of me.

yesterday and today have been no better. he's been bedridden since he was put in bed friday night. i helped him up to urinate a little bit sturday morning, but that was just to get up from the bed and then back down. that was it.

he's opened is eyes here and there, but the hospice nurses say he can't really see, only shadows. but he can hear. and perhaps taht's one of the saddest things because he knows people ar there to see him and why they're there.

all of us have told him our goodbyes and that we love him and it's ok to go. we've whispered it many times to him as we caress his forehead. he mumbles a few things and that's it.

people have streamed in all day yesterday and today. uncle rene has been here since saturday morning and slept at the ranch for the first time in years. then his sisters, friends, in-laws cousins have dropped in. what a testiment to my father. to me that's a sign that people like him and respect him. it's been rough to see some of them go in and see my dad. many simply broke down when they saw him, even though they've seen him recently. it's very hard to see him lying in bed, eyes closed, breathing through his mouth to get oxygen into his lungs.

he's on oxygen, a tube runing into his nose, but it's not enough. his breathing has become shallow and acccessory muscles that would help him breathe to get oxygen into the lungs are tiring out. once they go, then the only oxygen he's getting is from the tube. but that won't be enough. the brain is struggling to get more oxygen and will selfishly take it from other organs for itself. the extremities will lose circulation and eventually blood flow will cease to his legs and arms. his kidneys could go when they cease to function after teh brain takes oxygen from then. the heart is bumping too fast to get more blood out, but the heart rate is that of someone doing a light jog and he's too weat for that, so he could get heart failure. we don't know. he can't swallow, either, so he's been given tiny slivers of ice or a wet swab to moisture. no more food or water.

it is very painful to see him like that. , you have no idea how painful it is. my dad is gone. that poor man that's in the bed isn't him. and yet it is. the eyes are still him and is perhaps the most heartbreaking for me. in those eyes is still my dad. i long for some recognition. but it's gone. i mourn.

and so the trip that turned from one of a last visit has turned into a trip that will include his furneral, it seems. he's declined to much so soon. it's frightening.

yesterday at 6 p.m. father benito for last rites. we gathered around the bed and prayed, doing an our father and hail mary. since he can hear, i wonder what goes through hs mind? it felt good andyet sad. that an end there. and there's no going back.

this afternoon, though, was probably the saddest and i wasn't even there. a rosary was prayed by family members. i was busy making phone calls to people who are pallbearers and letting others know his status. later i found out that during the praying, he very clearly said "i love you." that tugged at my heart like you wouldn't believe. everyone heard him. my mom gave him a kiss. during the praying of the rosary, he was trying to also pray, mouthing some hail marys.

now it's a waiting game to see when he dies. he's been deemed eminent by hospice and he hasn't reached that point where death is an hour way -- though he can reach it quickly.

libby, alma and roland? what can i say. they've been great. they're the hospice folks. libby, especially, has been wonderful. very caring, informative and just there,watching, helping. what a great organization.

last night my mom and i were in the room that leads to the upstairs. she saw the cds my dad bought durng this past year. she started going through them. i asked if i could have some of them. she said i could have them all. they were bands like los tigres del norte, carlos y jose, los cadetest de linares, los relampagos del norte, los reileros and los alegres de teran. dad got me intrested in that music and i was happy to have them. i will treasure them. today mom gave me an old knife that belonged to dad.it was in a sheaf. that knife is old. i remember it from when i was young. i love keepsakes from my dad.

i will finish with this tonight. friday night we got one last picture with my dad sitting up in the chair. i'm glad for tht. we were all in it. i will like to have that enlarged and framed.

i love you, pops. i don't want you to suffer any more.

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Roel,

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