Dad's Incredible Journey
Where do you start telling people about what was an incredible experience ending in a beautiful death? No one likes to speak about death but the reality is we must speak about it in order to resolve the losses in our lives.
My Dad died in May 2006 on Hospice surrounded by a hospice nurse, my sister in law and me. The night of his death was the end to a 2 week journey that found us laughing, crying and at times feeling as if this was a dream and we would wake up soon and this would be over. But it wasn't a dream...it was reality and the reality was that my Dad was dying and we were all there with him to experience the journey and to share in the stories of his life.
My Dad was 86 years old and had been doing quite well till the age of 85. At that time he started to lose his eyesight, had a number of falls, started to have some urinary incontinence and at that time the family decided he could no longer live alone. He moved in with my brother and his wife and as the year progressed his health declined.
In May 2006 he was able to go to Hawaii with my brother and his family and enjoyed the trip immensely but the highlight for him was going to Pearl Harbor. Dad was a WW2 veteran and this was a dream for him and we thank God everyday that he got to see it.
When he came home from Hawaii he became quite ill and was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer. The treatment was to transfuse him with 2 units of blood and then to send him home. On the day of discharge, the staff realized that he had not urinated for over 24 hours and decided not to discharge him and run some further tests. The tests revealed that he was in kidney failure...a probable reaction to the blood transfusions. The only treatment available was to start Dad on dialysis. My Dad was totally opposed to this and stated "I have been around this track one too many times, it is time for me to get off." The decision was made to take him home with Hospice and to allow him to be comfortable and surrounded by his family.
The family all gathered with fear and sadness. What they all found out was that there was nothing to fear and that there was some sadness...but there was such an amazing amount of joy!! The joy of Dad telling stories we had never heard, The joy of sitting at the dining room table helping Dad eat the little he could but watching him enjoy his whiskey and ice cream, the joy of hearing him talk with each grandchild and his relaying to them what he loved about them. It was an incredible time for our family. We laughed, we cried, but we knew that our Dad gave us an amazing gift by allowing us this time to say goodbye.
As he took his last breath I held his hand and cried tears of sadness and joy all mixed together. The look on his face as he left this earth was one I will never ever forget..It was a look of sheer ecstasy and within one minute his 86 year old face looked 60!!
Till this day my family and I remember Dad's last weeks as a gift to all of us. He died as he lived, a man of integrity, a man who loved unconditionally, a man who brought joy to all whom he touched and he allowed us to walk the final journey with him and to celebrate his life.
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