A Walk with Dad: The Conversation

The next day was the the news that what dad was going through was 90% the dying process.  They said that miracles do happen, but it did not look good.  I didn’t know what to do.  I paced around a lot. That was the the 27th, Monday.  I called my cousins and aunts to let them know.  I called my friends, and i called the three siblings to let them know, find out of they wanted to fly in to say goodbye. They did not, just to keep them updated and let them know when he passed.  I still could not get hold of  my closest sister and wasn’t sure if she wold believe me if I told her anyway. Then I called the ex and asked him to see me after work because it was an emergency and I needed and face to face conversation.  To my surprise, he agreed to come.

That day was spent talking with nurses and staff, making plans, telling family and friends. Praying, a lot of praying. And crying.  Dad was not getting better. He was getting worse it seemed.  He was not really talking much, and terminal restlessness has started. That is when the patient gets restless, cannot get comfortable, picks at the covers or tubes, tries to get up, sit up, lay down, etc.  It is incredibly distressing, even when you know what it is, which is a natural part of the dying process.  I recognized it it from when Mom was dying. Even then, it was hard.  I recognized other things as well.  But Dad was comfortable and well taken care of.  He was at peace with dying, he had said it before.

When the ex arrived, I pulled him aside and explained to him that Dad was dying, that he was not very responsive, that he had terminal restlessness.  That it would be very stressful to see, but that dad was actually not in any way suffering and was natural part of the process.  Even then, the ex had never seen anyone dying and it was very distressing to him.  I asked the ex to be in the room with me when I told Dad that it was OK to let go and be with Mom.  You have to tell those who are dying that it is OK, you have to break your own heart and tell them to let go.

And so I did.  I held Dad’s hand and told him that I loved him more than words could say, but that I knew he was tired.  I knew that he missed Mom, the love of his life, and that he wanted to be with her.  I told him that I would be OK, that all of his children and grandchildren would be OK, and that if he wanted to let go, to be with Mom, it was OK.  I understood, and that he could let go. It was the second hardest conversation I have ever had to have in mu life.  The first was the same conversation I had with Mom.  Dad was not responsive with words, but he held my hand and squeezed it. I knew he hard and understood.  That was the conversation.

After that the ex went and got cognac and beer for Dad.  I had been giving Dad water  on little spurge to keep his mouth dry.  Dad could no longer swallow so he could not drink any liquids or take his medicine.  So I would take the sponge and squeeze it as drop went into his mouth.  When the ex came back. I put some cognac on the sponge and asked if he wanted some.  He parted his lips and grunted enthusiastically. I put some on his lips and in his mouth.  It must have hurt his lips (they were cracked) and then out water on them  We sat with Dad for a while longer, talking to him, making sure he was OK.  He was restless and kept trying to get out of the bed or sit up.  That was terminal restlessness.  The Hospice nurse gave him something to help calm him and he was OK.  The ex however, was visible shaken, so I told him I would take him for a beer. We went to a terrible restaurant were we both had a beer and two double shots.

I stayed with Dad that night.  I sang to him, and talked to him about my favorite times we spent together.  I wanted to make sure that he knew he wasn’t alone.