The hospice nurse came in early the next morning to examine Dad. He held his stethoscope to Dad’s abdomen and listened. I held my breath and asked if he heard anything. he said No. I quietly said I know what that means. The nurse, Terry, seemed relieved that I knew, because he did not want to tell me. The other nurse came in too. After they both talked and reviewed everything they told me what I already knew, that Dad had maybe 24 hours left.When there are no more sounds in the abdomen, the body is shutting down. The kidneys, liver and intestines are shutting down.
I called everyone to let them know . Then I tried to get in touch with my closets sister. I sent test messages, emails, emails to he sons and husband…but heard nothing back. I had no idea if she got the messages, if she believed me, if she was going to be there or skip out like she did with mom. I was terrified that I would have to go through Dad’s death alone. One of my best friends told me that no matter what, if my sister didn’t come, she would be there. I would not have to go through this alone. She would hold my hand as I held Dad’s.
I told my ex that he needed to get there if he wanted to see Dad and say goodbye. And he also tried to get a hold of my sister for me as well, calling her and her sons, and emailing as well. I can’t say many good things about the ex, but I was frantic trying to find my sister to let her know. And I appreciated his help. I didn’t know if she would show up, but if she didn’t, I had to know that I did everything to let her know. No matter what, I would have a clear conscience.
She did get one of the messages and said she was coming and bringing her family to say goodbye. I knew Dad would be happy. Even when a patient is not conscience, they can hear, they know who is around them and what is going on. Dad would know he was surrounded by those he loved most – his children and grandchildren.
The staff and I met everyone before they went in and explained Dad’s condition. None of them had ever seen anyone like that, and I knew how terrible it would be. But even when someone warns you, you are still never prepared. They were so upset, and were crying even before they went on to see him. It broke my heart to see them like that.
We went in and the next few hours was spent crying, praying taking, laughing, saying goodbye. One of my best friends had come to say goodbye and make sure that I was OK. My ex had come to say goodbye, but left to go meet a prostitute names Pearl Prime after he got an email from her. A man from Hospice came for music therapy. O never knew how comforting it would be, until this kind man sat quietly and played his guitar softly for us. His compassion was tangible and he played beautifully.
A priest came to give Dad Last Rites, and the man from Hospice played Ava Maria, which was Dad’s favorite. It was beautiful and I cried. My best friend and my nephews left after that. To my surprise my sister stayed and stated she was not leaving. I was beyond thankful. I wasn’t sure if I could do it alone. I thanks God for answering my prayer that she would be there.
And so they left and it was just the four of us – Me, my sister, Dad and the continuous care nurse. She had been there since early that morning. A continuous care nurse is a beautiful service Hospice provides. It is a nurse whose entire purpose s only to take care of the patient, no matter who else is in the room. They stay with the patient 24/7, until they pass. They make sure they are comfortable, and have everything that they need. But it is more than that. This nurse was there only to tend to Dad. She made sure he was more than comfortable, she made sure he was peaceful. The staff at the assisted living facility were amazing. They checked in on Dad and also us, making sure we had everything we needed – Did we need food? Or anything to rink? Would we like some hot tea or coffee?
And so it was, My sister and I stayed with Dad, held his hand, told our favorite stories, I sung to Dad, and told him I loved him. And his breathing slowly became less and less…until…it was his last at 2:55am.
It was beautiful and he was peaceful. He actually had an almost smile on his face. He was surrounded by love. And Mom took him across, I am sure of it. He passed away on Ash Wednesday, his favorite day of the religious year.
I love you Dad. And I will miss you always.