Archive for November, 2010

Mom & Dad: March 2006

Yesterday marked one year since Dad died. Actually Saturday felt more like it, since he died on a Saturday. Even this year my stomach and body were tight all Saturday as though he were dying all over again, until just about the same time he died, around 6:30 p.m. Then somehow I became relaxed.

Last year, I had stayed up most of the night to be with Dad so he wouldn’t be alone were he to die during the night. So I was really tired on his last day, as I had sat up until about 4:30 a.m. when I finally caved in and leaned forward on his bed and did a face plant and slept for 1½ hours. He awoke at 6 a.m., and as soon as he did I gave him some pharmaceuticals to relax him since he seemed to be miserable. He was done talking at this point. The meds relaxed him. He stopped putting his hand to his head every couple of minutes, which he had been doing even as he slept.

Time does heal wounds. I recall dreading going to Mass the day after Dad died. In fact, my brother and I left early. We just couldn’t take it.

A year later, my family and I looked forward to attending Mass together, which was the feast of Christ the King, which goes along so nicely with how I feel about my Dad. I couldn’t have picked a nicer or more caring man to be my Dad and mentor.

There are still reminders around Mom’s home of Dad, aside from pictures. Mom now sleeps in his hospital bed, the bed he died in. She has physically declined so appreciates the help getting in and out of bed that a hospital bed affords. She also hangs out mostly on Dad’s chair, a glorified lazyboy.

I can still smell Dad in our towels as I dry off after a shower, even a year later. Just last week, Mom had most of his clothes taken away and spread hers around to fill up his closet. It was very emotional for her to give away his suits. I think she would have liked to know who was going to wear them.

I have been going through family pictures for the last couple of weeks and have pulled out my favorites to scan into my computer before the quality degrades further. I have so many memories of good times with my family and friends, so going through pictures is enjoyable!

Yesterday we got up at 6 a.m. for 7:30 a.m. Mass. This was particularly hard on Mom. She almost couldn’t keep her balance first thing this morning, and I wasn’t much better since I had insomnia so had slept very little. We made our way through Mass. There was no singing or exchange of peace so it was recitation of prayers throughout. Our priest is one of my favorites and remembered Dad with warmth as the Mass intention right at the start of Mass.

We were sorry our priest couldn’t join us for a very delicious breakfast at the Hay Adams. It was yummy and Dad would have enjoyed it, and breakfast was his favorite meal! The Hay is a happy place to eat as it’s airy, cheerful, with white walls and lots of windows and white orchids. The service is excellent, which makes you feel so welcome.

Well, we got through this year without Dad. I had hoped I would be done grieving. I still miss him. I think you will always miss a parent you love after they go.

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Today I have been in and out of the house several times. It’s been a sunny and windy day. There are miraculously some Aspen trees that still have their leaves by our mountain home. They make such a delicious, wavy noise as they rustle in the wind. These leaves are old, no longer Fall yellow and just about ready to tumble to the ground.

These old leaves bring back memories of an old friend, my Dad. Last weekend a year ago, my brother had the insight and will to declare it Duffy Christmas. Dad had lost his sense of time, and was happy to celebrate Christmas. We decorated the house a little for Christmas especially in the area where Dad would open his gifts. He enjoyed opening up each present so much that he only opened about half of them before he became too weary. Many of them were books, either cartoons or pictures since that’s what he enjoyed. But it was my oldest brother who gave him the gift that delighted him the most: a military soldier in fatigues that moved to the tune of Over Hill Over Dale. He listened to it repeatedly with delight and that broad smile we all remember him for.

It was the last time we were all together celebrating a happy although somewhat bittersweet occasion. It was happy since Dad was. It was bittersweet since we knew his end was close as both his body and mind had degenerated so much. He had difficulty walking, even with a walker and assistance. He used a wheelchair frequently. He was in a hospital bed at home, a real joy since that allowed him to live at home which was his strong desire. We had a wonderful lady who came in every day to care for Dad and get him cleaned and ready for the day. She is still a member of our family as she now helps Mom with chores around the house as Mom has trouble with cooking, shopping and driving too much. We had a lot of love around caring for our Dad.

Mom was Dad’s constant companion, doing what she could for him given her physical limitations and his mental limitations. One thing they could always do was pray together. They said the Rosary most days together and I joined them when I visited. Although Dad’s mind had weakened considerably, it amazed me that he could still pray and express love, and read stories aloud to Mom. I admired Mom since she realized he was still capable of reading, and it gave him such satisfaction to read aloud to her in his warm voice.

I don’t take anything for granted, especially the gift of life. At this time last year Dad was hospitalized with internal bleeding. I had just returned to my home from their home, and made arrangements return to their home on a one-way ticket.

Duffy Christmas was the last Saturday that Dad had a good time and was in any shape to enjoy sitting up and socializing so much. Somehow I had the presence of mind to take a family photo. The next 3 weekends Dad became progressively weaker until his death on Saturday, November 21, 2009. How did my brother know to schedule Duffy Christmas so perfectly?

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