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 08, 2007

death of my father

my dad died yesterday, nov. 7. he was pronounced dead at 9:35 p.m. he died in his bedroom on a hospital bed. we were all there.

it's been hard to accept taht i will never touch him again or talk to him again, hug him or kiss him. never say, "hey pop" or "hey old man," when i begin a conversation with him. no more talk of the ranch and what's going on with teh cows or a new calf or the windmill not working or something like how much he got for selling a cow or calves at the auction. or him telling me he loves me or asking how things are going with me and dawn.

the past few days have been tough, emotionally draining and mentally tiring. hours seem like days and though we've been here in south texas for six days, it seems like weeks.

dad lasted longer than anyone thought. the hospice folks thought he wouldn't make it beyond sunday night or monday. but he did. he kept declining daily but his heart hept on pumping. at one point while i felt his pulse,it was four or five steady beats and then nothing. then it'd start up again. it was disconcerting to feel that. we're so used to pulses being steady, not stopping like his did.

we thought that that tuesday night was the night. we were prepared. arnold, noel and i stayed up. although i fell asleeep first. we stayed up because we thought he might die and because there would be no nurse. one did arrive, though. and my dad lived on another day. and that night, for a few hours, chaplain don french came over. he was a godsend. he played with teh kids and then went to see my dad. we prayed over the body. french was the one who read the letter i wrote to my dad. no one else could read it. my mom read it to herself and cried. the hospice nurse, libby, read it adn she teared up. she couldnt' read it. so it was don french wo did it. he wants a copyof it to use as examples. he said it was aletter of life and not of death. i will post it later next week.

and so we helped out during the last days. we worked withlibby, the nurse, to move my dad up on the bed or turn him while she bathed him. my brother, noel, administered some drops or helped suction out phelgm when he coughed and it got too bad for him and it looked like he was choking. we helped with ice packs. we prayed, kissed him and held his hand. we told him it was ok. we reassured him everything was going to be fine. and yet he kept on.

then last night libby decided to stay a few extra hours while a cna came to stay with us overnight. we'd have to adminster meds and make him confortable. but it was like she knew.

his heart rate raced. it was up to 154 beats per minute. his respiration was between 32 and34 breaths per minute. we were afraid he'd have a massive heart attack. libby preferred his heart rate go down until it beat no more. then it did drop. it dropped to 150.

he was mottling. no pulse was recorded on his writs. or it was very little. it was irregular. but his heart still punded.

we watched the final part of "criminal minds" (i didn't know my parents liked the show. i commented on how cool it was. linda and i went over to the bed where libby was working on my dad's vitals. libby's phone rang andit was roland, the nurse who stayed overnight for three nights and he and my mom got along. she started talking to him. then the phone rang again and linda commented taht mom's answering libby's phone. mom left the room, going down the hall.

dad's heart beat was down to 140. his blood pressure was 64/48.

linda stepped out of the room and followed mom. i followed her. i walked to the bedroom's entrance and put my fingers over the top of the door's trim and stretched. i went down the hall.

we were sitting on the couch for a minute or so when libby came down the hall quickly and went tomom, who was in a corner of the kitchen near teh stove. she had a look on her face that scared linda.

"what's wrong?" i asked linda.
"I don't know," she said, looking at libby.
"what's wrong libby?" i said.
"I think he's gone," she said to us and my mom.

we went down the hall, libby telling us to get our family there. i ran up to get dawn. noel was outside. we went to the beside. then called maricella, but no answer.

at 9:05 my dad's heartbeat went from 140 to nothing. it just stopped. he took two breaths.

when we were around him at 9:10 there was no heartbet or breaths anymore.

my brother went next door and brought his kids. maricella came over soon after. she'd been in teh shower. linda went to get my aunt minerva.

we were all there as he lay in repose. it was unreal. there was my dad. but he was dead.

the phone calls began and so did tears. i remember calling my aunt gloria first and just unable to get words out. it got a litle easier as i made more calls, but depending on who i called, i did cry.

we went back in again after calls were made. i held his hand. it was so soft, despite years of working outside and callouses. they felt so good in my hands. i rang my fingers over his his and squeezed his hands. they were lined and darkened by years of work, but they were so soft.

my aunt gloria and uncle frank arrived along with their son-in-law luciano. chaplain don french also came. he was good to come on such short notice.

by 11 p.m. the funeral home personnel came and took the body. my mom, sister, arnold and the kids and dawn were in the old tv room. they brought in the stretcher adn took it into my parents' room. they came back down, my dad's body covered in a maroon blanket. it was such a small shape under the blanket that it looked as no one was underneath.

a day later, arrangements made, it's still hard. but it's getting better. i'm torn between having my father gone and him still alive and suffering. he was gone for days, at least in my eyes and mind. but his heart was still beating and there was something of him there. after 9:10 last night, there was nothing.

the balance is shifting, though. i think he's in a better place now. he's not laying in a bed dying, suffering and withering away to nothing. i smile now because he's safe now. he's not in the throngs of that wretched disease. my pops is ok now.

goodbye popsy (i know it's weird to call him that, but i like it). you were a good man and the best dad i could have ever had. love you.


Blogger erin said...

I am so sorry to hear about your father. And so glad you were able to be with him these past few days. My thoughts are with you and your family.

9:26 AM

Blogger Brooke said...

I am so sorry... I continue to pray for you and your family.

9:16 PM

Blogger Abby said...

i'm sending you and dawn and linda some love from San Marcos. Looking forward to when you post the letter.

10:12 PM

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