As I sit back enjoying a quiet evening after a hectic and long day, the memories flood back. This time last year with my father. The thing about memories is that they are often not chronological. They just come in sometimes random order, leaving you to figure out which ones came first and on what days.
I remember visiting my Dad every day while he was at the Hospice House. The rooms there were set up to look like real bedrooms in real homes. They even had a sliding glass door with a wonderful patio. I remember looking out and wishing that it was warm so Dad could enjoy the warmer temperatures. But this time last year, it was still freezing. Looking back it seems like last winter started in October and lasted until mid April. Dad was miserable when it was cold.
I would stay and talk with him until he was tired and wanted to go to sleep. Only then would I leave. And we laughed and just talked. I would tell him about my day, about work, about things in general. And sometimes we didn’t way anything, we were just silent. He was tired often, and talking, thinking and keeping up with the conversation would take all of his energy. I went to leave, and I hugged him and told him I loved him like I always did. And he looked at me and thanked me for everything that I had done for him…because I was the only child that would be there for him and do these things. It broke my heart. He was so sad when he said it.
I know he wanted so bad for my other sister to be there, but no one could fine her or get a hold of her. She had refused to help, then just disappeared, and no one knew why or how to reach her. So we just thought she changed her number, since all we got was a recording when we tried to call. I didn’t know what to tell Dad…what do you say when a number is disconnected and no one hears from that person? What do you say when emails, phone calls, text messages, get bounced back when they have said they have no time or interest in helping?
And I desperately wanted my sister too. I didn’t know what to do, or how. We had lost Mom so soon before, how could I handle loosing Dad? But we are often stronger than we realize. There was no way to even tell her that Dad was in Hospice, or that his treatments had stopped and we did not know how long he had left. And even if I did tell her, would she dismiss it like she had before and just told me that I was exaggerating, like she said about when I told her mom was sick?
The creepy ex had left, and I was devastated. Then trying to be there for Dad, talking to nurses, Hospice staff, making arrangements and getting all the legal things in order for the assisted living facility. And all the medical records and coordinations between the assisted living and Hospice. Trying to keep all the family – Dad’s siblings, cousins, my siblings and his childhood, high school, college and other friends updated. Oh, yes and still working a regular job,, though they were being incredibly understanding of my situation. I was crying all the time. I wasn’t eating or sleeping. I was exhausted and distraught. There was no one to help and I desperately needed help and advice, I needed a shoulder. My friends called and did what they could. But I was just lost. And I felt so very alone
And that had to be nothing compared to what Dad was feeling and going through. I can’t even imagine. He was a good and honorable man, he worked hard, he loved my mother and was a wonderful husband. He was my hero.
And so I loved sitting with him, talking with him, eating those boiled peanuts, fixing up his room. And when he got to the assisted living place, his room was lovely, with all of his favorite things. And I left a little not on his pillow, letting him know that I had to be at work, but that I would there later…and in the meantime, there were boiled peanuts and his favorite beer in the fridge.
And I made sure he was Ok there, and almost spent the night with him that first night. But I was exhausted, and needed to try to sleep. Plus, the staff was checking on him every hour at night. I kissed him goodnight and hugged him so tight that first night as assisted living. I was both relieved and scared. I prayed he would be OK, and not feel lonely.
The next day I was there and he was still very tired as the moved the day before had taken a lot out of him. But I went and talked to him and laughed and made sure he was OK. I talked with the staff and nurses, they were looking after him well. They we checking on him, making sure he ate, helping him shower and get around, as he was still unsteady. That was on Tuesday.
Wednesday the 22nd I went and we had dinner or lunch together (can’t remember which). But I remember wheeling him down to the dining area and we ate. The food was good, and we enjoyed the conversation. Afterward we listened as a few of the other members who stayed there played the piano. He loved it, and for the first time in a while, I saw him smile and his eyes dance.
It was a warmish day and so I took him outside for a little while. The grounds were lovely, and there was a little patio with chairs and a little garden at the end of the hall, which was one door down, from his apartment. We sat out there are talked a bit before I wheeled him around the grounds. Everyone was do friendly, and I think that maybe for a brief minute, he wanted to feel better so he could enjoy where he was living. There was a cool breeze that felt c=good to me, but gave him a chill. So we went back to his room and sat and talked for a bit. He was soon tired and ready for a nap. I hugged him tight and left for the evening. And as always, told him I loved him so very much before I left.
I still love you so much Dad. I know you wanted to be to home, but you were trying to enjoy where you were. They took such great care of you, better than I could have honestly. I am thankful for that day and that time together.