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.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

dad's decline

my dad has taken a turn for the worst. we knew it was coming but within the past two weeks (and especially this week), he's really declined.

there have been so many phone calls this week, updates and catching up with linda and mom. i just don't know where to begin. but here goes.

it started last week with us being told that getting together for christmas was a good idea. so we made tentative plans. then the following day it turned out that thanksgiving was better because hospice was unsure if he'd make it to christmas. so made finalized a plane ride to texas. and that was it. we'd spent our thanksgiving with my family and it would be the last time i'd see my dad.

well, this week things changed. sunday my mom told dawn that my dad misses me. that really hit me hard. thought i didn't tell anyone, i couldn't stop thinking about it. dawn pushed me to try to go earlier. after talking about it, the following day (tuesday), i talked to my boss and told him what was happening. he told me fine, to change plans. dawn found a great deal for tickets for the following weekend. so we were set.

after we did that, there was some sort of relief in me. for weeks i've had this dark cloud over me, a weight on my shoulders that's made life really hard to deal with as of late. but now i'm ok. the weight is off. i can breathe again.

well, wednesday i get a call from mom saying she had a hard night with dad tuesday night. he was confused and was talking about things that either happened a long time ago or never did happen. mostly ranch-related stuff. later, linda called me saying he was seeing little children and thathe was smiling. that made me feel sad but at least he was happy. i wonder who it was he was seeing?

later, still, linda called again. she was crying. apparently dad couldn't urinate much at all. the nurse thought it a bad sign. he's been prone to urinary tract infections over the past few months. she thought that could be it or, worse, that his kidneys were shutting down.

they were going to put a catheter in and help him urinate. if he did, then it was an infection. if he didn't, then it is kidney failure. he urinated alittle.

the catheter was removed. the nurse said if he doesn't urinate in 12-14 hours, then his kidneys are failing. she gave him 24 t0 48 hours to live after that.

words my sister told me rang hard tonight. she said, "you might not get to see your dad alive again." and that could very well be true.

the last time i saw my dad was in june while visiting the ranch. we had a good visit and he was ok. not great but ok. i remember saying in an earlier blog that i could feel his shoulder blades and that was disconcerting. the last time i saw him, though, he was standing on the porch as we pulled away. he cried when we left.

the last time i talked to my dad was oct. 14, a sunday afternoon. i called expecting mom to answer. it was about 4 p.m. edt. when the phone picked up, there was a pause. i knew it was dad because mom would have said hello much quicker. he sounded so weak, almost whispering. we talked fora little bit. i mentioned the weather, lack of cool temperatures and how we'd gotten rain and about the new windows we'd be getting. i mentioned that we'd gone to chicago the day before for laura's baby shower. he said that noel and el compadre were building/finishing up the ramp outside on the porch for a wheelchair. he was nearby watching. i asked for mom but she was at church and hadn't returned. he said he thought it was her who was calling, so he answered the phone. it was a short call, maybe less than 10 minutes. i didn't know what to say, and now i wish i'd said more. i didn't ask much about his condition, as i hate asking that. but he said he was having a not so good day compared to other days. i told him i loved him and we hung up. the previous time we talked, dad ended up crying before he hung up the phone. it makes my heart sink when i hear him cry.

and now it's a waiting game to see what happens with my gentle, patient dad. in some ways, if we don't get to see him before he dies, it's ok. i've accepted it. i don't want him lingering on and suffering any more than he has to. in a letter i sent to him, i told him it was ok if he had to go before we arrived in texas. everything would be fine.

and wherever my dad goes from here, it will be a place with no cancer, perhaps a place where he can meet up with his brothers, elias and zaragocha and his parents, a place where it's calm, where he can be a rancher again, where he will smile and all will be good just like him.


Blogger Brooke said...

Still thinking of you

4:20 PM

Blogger Jessica said...

Praying hard for peace.
Love you.
Feel for you.
Crying for you.

9:40 PM

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You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.


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