Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Old People Are a Treasure From the Past

    I have been avoiding coming back here.

   The biggest problem I face is that I am at a loss for words. I can't seem to come up with the right ones to describe how I feel. Does it make sense that I feel like my emotions are frozen?

   I miss my Dad, most of the time. But sometimes life becomes so normal that I almost forget that he is gone. Until I go to his house. Then it hits me full in the face. The house is empty. There's stuff there. His cane, His papers, his phone, his van is in the driveway with the air slowly leaking out of the back tire. His flowers are still blooming. Like they haven't been told that there is no one there to bloom for.

  I want to go back soon and face up to myself. To clean the house again till it looks as close to normal as it can, because I know most of it has to go. I want to spend a day there by myself and be sad. To say a real goodbye and not be hurried by the details of life like I have been since the day he died.

 Going back to the nursing home to visit mom without him the first time was hard, really hard. I could still envision the back of his head while I pushed him in the wheelchair. I could replay our conversations in my mind as we went. I could still hear his agonized cry when we left again, telling me how hard it was on him to see mom that way, and to recognize that she almost never knew him anymore.

  I think that was when he gave up on living. He knew that she really didn't know. He knew that we would keep going and keep caring after he was gone, and so he was ready. This world was too much for him. He was tired and wanted to be done here.

  I overheard him one day telling Angie that he loves his children but there is no love that is quite as strong as the love of a companion. He was missing mom's affection. It is no longer there. She cannot give it, because her brain doesn't remember.

  Old people have become a treasure to me. I love to see the white hair, the crinkles in the faces, the hands with brown spots on them that still show remnants of strength.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

More on Dad...

It has been too long since I posted. Much of our focus has been on caring for Pop, since Mom's needs are being met at the nursing home.

  I will try to get you all up to date.

  After one week at my house and two at Darwin's we decided to give it a shot to let Dad go back home so that he could sleep in his own bed. He seems to be doing fine with that. I felt like he never totally relaxed at my house so when he went back home I think we were both relieved.

  So now Angie and I take 3 days of the week and split them up to be responsible to take him in to see mom and then make sure he gets supper. Darwin's take three days as well. He eats lunch at Darwin's most every day and then on Sunday we take turns again.

  His biggest health issue right now is shortness of breath and his ankles and feet swell up very bad. He gained 14lb in fluid weight since he left the hospital. So the DR. put him on a fluid pill and when I took him back to the DR a week later he had lost 4 lb of fluid. They did a blood test and found that he is very anemic, so then on Wed I took him to the hospital where they admitted him as an outpatient and gave him 2 units of blood.

  I didn't check in with him today but he was more alert and talkative on the way home when I picked him up after his transfusion, so I am thinking he may have more energy for awhile.

   Life at it's best is unpredictable........

  As I was typing these words my phone rang. It was my dad's phone number on my caller ID, but when I picked up it wasn't his voice I heard but Ellamae's saying Grandpa was in intence pain and they had called the ambulance.

  I got there on the heels of the ambulance, she was right, he was in extreme pain. At the ER they gave him 12ml of Morphine before it let up but then it was still almost more than he could take.

  They did an xray and found he had a perferated bowel that the DR said would take emergency surgery to correct. He wanted to transfer him by medflight but the weather was so bad that they had to use ground ambulance.

   We ran home to change and get more clothes because I anticipated a long hospital stay. Darwin's opted to stay home because they have so much going with the Haiti Benefit Auction coming up this weekend.

By the time we reached the hospital at LaCrosse Pop was unconscious and barely breathing. It was hard to believe when they told us it would be only minutes until he was gone. We stood there beside his bed Steve and I and held his hand. His breathing slowed way down and his heart rate was dropping. Steve prayed a short simple prayer asking God to take him into glory and then he was gone.

  It's all so fresh right now as I write. I know there will be many sweet memories and tears, but for now, I'm just so glad I could be there as he left this old world behind. Just as he was longing to do and begging God to take him home in these last few weeks.

  Till we meet again Pop.......I look forward to seeing you on the far side of Jordan. I love you. You finished well. Rest in peace.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Update On My Dad

    Last Tuesday I brought Pop home to our house to stay for a week. He can do a lot for himself. But he still needs someone to make sure he eats right and takes his meds, and he needs to be reminded to keep his feet up. He still has a lot of swelling in his feet.

    On Wed. I took him to see the DR. He seemed to think Pop is doing ok. He does have Pulmonary Hypertension. The Doc said this means he has high blood pressure in his lungs, even though his blood pressure otherwise is ok. They have him on an expensive blood thinner because he has the potential of developing blood clots in his lungs.

    For an old man who just got over a pretty bad illness we did an awful lot of running around this past week. The same day I took him to the Dr. we also stopped at Wal Mart. He wanted to go in and ride one of the electronic carts. I'm going to be very careful not to repeat that scenario anytime soon. He totally freaked me out with all his close calls of plowing over other shoppers and crashing into displays. Oh, my! I was caught between bursting with concealed laughter to having a heart attack.

   I took him to visit Mom three times during his time at my house. It was heartbreaking everytime. He tries so very hard to connect with her and get her to acknowledge him, and then when we leave it is so hard for him to go and leave her behind.

   He is spending this week at Darwin's house.

   I have been feeling an awful lot like Solomon when he wrote Ecclesiasties. Watching my parents age and realizing that we are only 30-35 years behind them. To be honest it depresses me. I echo Solomon's sentiments. Depending on which translation you read...King James says All is vanity and vexation of spirit. New Living Translation says, Life is meaningless.  But then I also believe his end conclusion, Fear God and keep his commandments, this is the whole duty of man. And since I have been very confused in years gone by about being obedient to all God's commandments because people often add a lot of rules I thought I would clear things up with God's final say.

  Romans 13:10, Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God's law.

    Just when I start getting depressed about the cycle of life then I get blessed by having my grandchildren show up at our door over the weekend and then this week from Tues until Friday.

  Their fresh, sweet, young faces give me courage to believe and keep on going. They amuse me  with their funny little ways and make me laugh. 

My newest delight with this little one is that she sings with me....it is absolutely heart warming.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Warrior Rises Again

   The last few days Pop has showed a lot of improvement. He has been through a lot in the past 20 years. Each time he has a crisis we wonder....is this the end of his journey, but each time he has rallied again to continue on. Each time he loses some ground but he has a determination that always has gotten him back on his feet thus far.

   I personally thought forsure he couldn't weather this one out. Monday was his worst day. Roger's and Maynard's came that night. The next morning Clifford's showed up as well. We all spent the day there together. He was pretty confused and didn't talk unless spoken to. I kept giving him water because I thought there was no reason he should have to be dehydrated on top of everything else. Darwin took care of his personal needs and Ella Mae kept her eye on him.She makes an excellent nurse. I get a huge kick out of hearing her boss him around, now that he is getting better.

  The first two nights were really rough for Darwin and Eunice. The second night he kept trying to get out of his recliner but he didn't hardly have the strength to stand. So they asked Steve and I to come stay with him on Wed night. Before we went over I told Steve now he will talk to you if you talk to him, but he won't initiate conversation. Boy was I wrong. He had improved enough that he was talking and telling stories by then.

   We slept on the couches with one eye open to keep tabs on him, but other than getting him drinks and calming him when he dreamed he fell in a bulk tank full of milk, he really was no trouble at all.

   I went back yesterday afternoon and he wanted me to write a tribute for his friend Marvin Hosteler who had just passed away. He had written most of it already but it was mostly unreadable. So I helped him with that.

  On Thursday evening, Darwin and Eunice took him in to the nursing home to see mom. It was very hard on him that mom didn't seem to know him.

                                                            Arriving In Mom's Room

She Doesn't Seem to Remember

Back at Darwin's that same evening Luc and Anna stopped in to see him, Here he is talking to Raelynn, his great-grandchild

 Last evening he told Darwin that he would be able to take care of himself during the night. Darwin should just go to bed. So Darwin took a trusty baby monitor and headed off to bed. Pop was true to his word and did fine. In the morning he took several walks from his chair around the island in the kitchen and back and gave Ella Mae orders for breakfast which she made and promptly ordered him to eat at the table, which he did.

  Interestingly, he has no memory of Roger's and Clifford's being there to see him on Monday and Tuesday. I really think he rallied because of all the TLC he got at Darwin's house and the interaction with the family.

I took Merry in with me to see mom on Friday morning. She rewarded us with big smiles for Merry.

The plan for my dad right now is that Darwin's and us will take turns by the week to keep him at our houses. We all agree that he is not able to stay at his place by himself anymore.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Last Mile of the Way

  My Dad was released from the hospital on Saturday. He was taken to see mom on his way home. I had gone in to see him at the hospital on Friday and he wasn't looking good at all. I didn't expect him to be sent home anytime soon. He was having a really bad day and told Darwin his day was bad because he couldn't go see mom.

  On Sunday someone went and got him just for fellowship meal. Steve and I ate with him there and then Galen and Donna took him to the nursing home to see mom.

  Dad's way of caring for mom is bringing her a drink whenever he comes in, which is everyday unless he's tied up to an IV. Come what may...he's there. He has made his faithful slow trek through flood waters and ice roads and snowstorms. You can count on it. He will be there.
   Even when I call him and say, "Dad you know the roads could be bad today. You may want to wait to go see mom."
     His typical response was always, "Oh, I think I can make it." And thus far he always has.

  My introduction to a faithful committed marriage started at home, as long as I can remember there was my Dad and my Mom in love with each other. Through good times and bad, they stuck together. My Dad never put a ring on mom's finger because of his view on jewelry but they have a band of love encircling their heart that has influenced my life and I stand in awe of it.


  Yesterday after lunch I ran to his house to check in on him. He was disoriented and weak. whenever he tried to get up and walk he got dizzy. So Darwin's decided it would be easier to care for him at their house. I went home then with the intention of going to see Mom, but I never got there because Eunice called to say that he was failing and I should come back. When I got there and knelt beside him he was pouring his heart out to God asking for grace on himself, his kids and his grandkids.

 So I leave you today not sure what this day will bring. I'm going in to see mom and then back to dad to spend the day with him as he walks his last mile. I love the man who is my Dad, No he wasn't perfect, just pretty close.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Pop is in the Hospital

At the Hospital this morning

   On Sunday morning Pop came into church late. He came shuffling in looking very tired and slow.

  I kept watching him because he seemed so very tired. He sat there in church with his head hanging. I wasn't even sure if he was hearing a thing that went on.

  He has been very tired since the trip to AR. He sleeps a lot and wakes up confused about what day it is. Last Monday evening, this was the day we came back from AR at 4:30am. He had gone in to see mom around lunch then took a nap after he got home again.

  He was awakened slightly confused around 7 pm by the ringing of the phone. Darwin was calling to invite him to a fireside supper. At first he thought it was Tuesday morning. He drove up the hill to meet Darwin's at the fire, narrowly missing two tree stumps and then drove right over the fire. Thankfully they didn't have the Hamburgers on yet.

  So on Sunday he was still very tired. After church he went to eat lunch with a church family and while he was there he started chilling and breathing very hard. They called Darwin to come get him and then Darwin's took him in to the ER.

   Steve and I were in there this morning when the DR. came in. He was surprised to see Pop sitting up and talking with us. He told Pop, "You are a very sick man"

   He went on to say that Pop has bacteria from his Pneumonia that leaked into his blood. They started him on antibiotics through his IV, and will get him on an oral antibiotic before they send him home

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A Morning Visit With Mom

Mom when I was talking with her
Mom's room
An old relic wheelchair
The entrance to the nursing home

    I missed my visit with mom last week because I was watching some of my grand kiddos, and then later in the week I made that unforeseen visit to Uncle Sam's funeral in AR.

    Then I had a very busy schedule this week so I opted to go see mom in the morning rather than the afternoon, because as the days wear on "stuff" seems to crowd out my intentions.

   So I went early taking Isaiah with me. Mom was in bed when we got there. It seemed unusual to me, I question if that's a good idea. I don't want her to be bedfast before her time. While she's still capable of sitting. At the same time I don't want to deny her a nap if she needs one. So I will need to discuss that with them.

  She woke up almost right away and I sat beside her bed and told her all about my trip to AR and about who I saw there and everything I could think of that I thought she would want to know.

   Most of the time she just looked at me with her blue eyes. I have heard that eyes never get old and I think that is correct.

   It occurred to me that she might like something to watch and so I pulled up some YouTube videos from Tebo.

   I first showed her the one where Tebo and Sheila gift wrapped Uncle Earl and Aunt Donna's house. Then I let her see some of Tebo's music videos. She was very fascinated.

  Just before I left I asked her if she would hold my hand. It took awhile, but she slowly pulled her hand out from behind her neck and took my hand. I was overcome with emotion and the tears came. I put my head down because sometimes tears bother her. So there I was with my eyes squeezed shut, I felt her hand patting mine and squeezing it and patting it again. I felt so mothered. It was a precious moment. I peeked at her and once more saw those blue eyes looking full in my face.

   I was so glad I went that morning.

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