Tag Archives: Death

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The Aftermath

Dad’s Death: The Aftermath (Part 5)

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My Dad died on January 28th, 2017 due to complications after a fall. He would have been 85 years old this year. He and my Mom would have also celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. This is the fifth in a series of articles written about his final weeks.

Article 6, Dad’s Death – 10 Life Lessons: https://goo.gl/SXh5NX
Article 5, Dad’s Death – The Aftermath: https://goo.gl/6YILxK
Article 4, Dad’s Final Days: https://goo.gl/k4PH63
Article 3, Dad’s End of Life Dreams and Visions: https://goo.gl/x2zvqA
Article 2, Dad’s Recovery: https://goo.gl/80ZBAc
Article 1, Dad’s Fall and Surgery: https://goo.gl/M7Xm65

LEAVING THE HOSPITAL FOR THE LAST TIME

We left the Hospital for the last time in a daze. Going there had become a part of our life for almost a month. Especially mine. I think there were only a few days where I didn’t go. It had become my routine. Although I felt relieved to not be going back again, it was also a reminder that my Dad was not coming home with us. The numbness began to set in. We all felt like zombies. Everything seemed so unreal.  The energy at my Mom’s house was one filled with extreme sadness. You could just feel it when you walked in. I was so thankful my children were home and we were altogether. This brought so much comfort to both my Mom and I. I wondered how would we get through this?

BABY STEPS

The first call I made was to the mortuary. We needed to make an appointment to set up Dad’s arrangements. What questions we were supposed to ask? What answers did we need to have? Dad and Mom had already paid for some of the mortuary services but what was left to do?  My Mom, sister, brother-in-law and I were went together.  This made getting through the meeting so much easier. Our arrangement director was calm, loving and understanding. We had choices to make but thankfully we all seemed to be on the same page. We let Mom take the lead and answered when she couldn’t. We learned about ordering prayer cards and death certificates. I took notes so we wouldn’t forget what we had to do. We needed to chose photos.  Make a music CD. Create the Memorial Tree. Ultimately, we arranged for Dad’s service and picked those items we felt he would want. It was all about him and we wanted it to be special in every way.

DAD’S MEMORIAL

We held Dad’s memorial on Friday February 3rd.  Even though Dad had not been cremated yet, we wanted to have it while my children were still in town. We had it at the Mortuary not at a Church. Because were are Catholic, some people thought that was weird. Shouldn’t it be at a Church? No, My Dad wanted it at the Mortuary. No judging allowed. Not today. It was exactly what Dad would have wanted. Simple yet heartfelt.

I gave the Eulogy on behalf of the family.

I finished up his eulogy by asking everyone to raise their make-believe glasses in a toast to Dad:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His Hands.

This was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do but I know Dad was with us in spirit that day.

We even were able to get the U.S. Navy to come in and be a part of the service. It was so beautiful to watch how they folded and unfolded the flag then gave it to my Mom.  If you haven’t seen the Naval Funeral Flag Presentation Ceremony before here is a video (from another service not my Dad’s):

The reception was right after the service in another room. The food was simple yet amazing.  We walked around thanking everyone for being there.  Mom held up okay but you could tell she was emotionally and physically drained.  It was a lot to deal with after almost 65 years of marriage.

After the reception was over, family and friends ended up at my sister’s house.  It was so comforting to be together.  It was the first time we had been in my sister’s house without my Dad.  It all seemed like a dream.

BACK TO REALITY

Once the memorial came and went, reality hit. Everyone else went back to their lives; we seemed to be stuck in an alternate one. We walked around in daze. After living with my parents for the last few years, I was used to Dad being around. Like all the time. Like every single day. Now he was gone but reminders of him were everywhere. His shoes by the back door. His sweater draped over a dining room chair. His Lactaid milk and other favorite foods still in the refrigerator. Mail coming in with his name. Callers asking for him on the phone. Emails for him about new books from Amazon Kindle. Reminders were EVERYWHERE.

A large portrait of Dad from the memorial service and his urn (which he will share with my Mom) became a predominant fixture in the dining room. Lighted candles formed a semi-circle around both. It’s like he was still with us but in a different way. We talked to his picture. We played the music from his memorial service. We knew he was around because of all the signs and messages we were receiving. This helped but we still felt lost.

A MOUNTAIN OF PAPERWORK

Unfortunately, there was still much to do in regards to legalities. I didn’t want my Mom to have to go through any of this alone so I tried to help as best I could. We made appointments to see the family lawyer. We stopped at the various banks to close accounts. We stood in line at the Social Security Administration. We sent off inquiries to insurance companies and benefit providers. We reached out to the family accountant.

What this left us with was more paperwork than we ever imagined.  Our “grief brains” could barely remember what to do even after we had taken copious notes.  At one point my Mom wrote a check to pay a bill from an account we had just closed.  I even took the check to the bank and deposited it for her into another account. I somehow missed the fact (even though I had been there) that the account had been closed entirely. I guess I really had no brain cells left. When the check ultimately bounced my Mom and I realized we had no idea what we were doing. It was all an out-of-body experience.  We must be living in a parallel universe.  Going through the motions but having no real idea of what was happening.  I reminded her all this was completely normal. I felt horrible I hadn’t caught it. After all I should be more aware as “grief specialist”. My Mom was depending on me. But this reminded me that no-one, not even a  “grief specialist”, is immune from the side-effects of loss.  I just had to learn to take my own advice and approach things one moment at a time.

So Mom and I started checking and double checking paperwork before sending it out.  Often it was still sent back because we had both missed something. It became more than frustrating. In those cases where we didn’t miss anything, we would receive yet more forms needing yet more information.  Everything seemed to come in waves.  It was frustrating as all heck. The only organization that was surprisingly easy to deal with was the Veteran’s Administration. Yes a bureaucratic government organization was actually the most kind and efficient. My Mom made the call, filled out the paperwork once and received the check within a few weeks.  So far, the VA has been the only organization where things went off without any issues.  We are so thankful for their competency and expediency.

I now try to get to the mail first so my Mom doesn’t see it.  That only works sometimes. When she does get to it first I can see her hold back the tears as she unleashes yet another set of forms from the envelope. When will this end?

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!


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Dad's Death

Dad’s Final Days (Part 4)

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My Dad died on January 28th, 2017 due to complications after a fall. He would have been 85 years old this year. He and my Mom would have also celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. This is the fourth in a series of articles written about his final weeks.

Article 6, Dad’s Death – 10 Life Lessons: https://goo.gl/SXh5NX
Article 5, Dad’s Death – The Aftermath: https://goo.gl/6YILxK
Article 4, Dad’s Final Days: https://goo.gl/k4PH63
Article 3, Dad’s End of Life Dreams and Visions: https://goo.gl/x2zvqA
Article 2, Dad’s Recovery: https://goo.gl/80ZBAc
Article 1, Dad’s Fall and Surgery: https://goo.gl/M7Xm65

SENSE OF DREAD

I woke up on Tuesday January 24th with a sense of dread. I couldn’t stop crying. I had no idea why. The day before may have been a positive turning point for my Dad, so why was I feeling this way? I left for the Hospital and cried the whole way there. I couldn’t figure out why. When I arrived Dad was fighting sleep again.  Eventually he was able to close his eyes and rest. When he woke up, he was much calmer and wanted to watch a movie.

The pulmonologist came in around lunchtime and said Dad’s lungs were the same.  Although they had improved significantly the day before, they we now going in the opposite direction again. He admitted no one really knew what was going on with Dad’s lungs. The fluid had subsided and he had no infection. The Dr. said he thought it might be Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPD). IPD is a disease in which tissue deep in the lungs becomes thick and stiff, or scarred, over time. The formation of scar tissue is called fibrosis. As the lung tissue thickens, the lungs can’t properly move oxygen into the bloodstream. As a result, the brain and other organs don’t get the oxygen they need. There was no cure. The Dr. spoke again about the only option left being to intubate and put Dad on a ventilator. He wanted to make sure the Hospital formally had the “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) on file. It sounded like there wasn’t much time. They just didn’t know. Anther day came and went.

GRANDAUGHTER’S ARRIVAL

My sister arrived the morning of Wednesday January 25th and said my Dad was calm. He ate and seemed lucid. I was planning to visit later in the afternoon because my youngest daughter was flying home. We decided together it was important for her to be with everyone. She wanted to help. We needed the help. If not physically then emotionally. Her Dad would pick her up at the airport and bring her straight to the Hospital. We told Dad that my youngest daughter was flying in to see him.  He kept saying he didn’t believe it. When she walked into his Hospital room later that day, he recognized her right away and reached out for her. He began to cry and so did everyone in the room. He was so happy she was there.

My sister and I took the opportunity to get something to eat and catch up on what the doctors were saying (or not saying). When we got back to the room my daughter told us that my Dad had asked her to get him out of the hospital.  He had also asked for a beer.  Then his agitation kicked into full gear. My daughter got to see it first hand. Because Dad’s safety was an issue, the Hospital kindly provide him with a fulltime overnight nurse to stay with him. My daughter and I stayed until the night nurse arrived. Her name was Pauline. She was wonderfully loving and caring.  I felt better knowing Dad would not be “alone.” My youngest daughter and I headed home. On the way home we called my son and suggested he also fly home. I didn’t want him to miss the opportunity of seeing his Papa before something happened.

On Thursday January 26th, my daughter and I were back at the Hospital before the morning shift arrived. That meant we got to see Pauline before she left. I asked her how Dad did. Pauline she said not good. He was combative, angry and tried to hit her twice. When I asked my Dad how he did, he said hadn’t been very nice to Pauline and apologized to her. It was all so sad. It just felt like we were going in circles with Dad’s physical and emotional health. No one had answers. How could the Drs. not know? I walked down to the charge nurse and said I wanted to speak with a social worker. I thought someone else could review my Dad’s case and offer their opinion. The charge nurse told me I would hear back in the next day or so. I wondered if Dad had that much time left. Once again we stayed until the night nurse arrived.  Luckily it was Pauline again. Dad knew her and she knew him. I could only pray it meant he would have a better night.

LAST GOODBYES

It was now Friday January 27th. I really hadn’t slept much the night before. Dad had been in the Hospital over 3 weeks. It just didn’t seem like things were going in the right direction. As my youngest daughter and I were getting ready to head to the Hospital, the social worker called. She said it was our right to ask for options. She was working on getting us some answers. She said the Drs. were about to make “rounds” and Dad’s case was being discussed.  She would follow up with us after the discussions were over.

Friday was a day that is hard to explain. Dad seemed to be in and out of lucidity. He really wasn’t eating. The Drs. thought it would be a “good idea” to give him a feeding tube. The nurses tried to put it in but it didn’t work and they had to pull it back out. That really upset him (and for good reason). Dad said, “Are you trying to kill me?” It really upset us too. It meant if he couldn’t eat he wasn’t going to live much longer. The mood was somber.

The social worker informed me that a Palliative Care team would be visiting Dad. They would talk to us about options. This was the first time I felt like someone was giving it to us straight. We were told he probably was going to die and we had the option of moving him home. We agreed the move itself may kill Dad so we opted to keep him in the Hospital. The Palliative Care team said they would meet with us again in the morning but it wasn’t looking good.

Later that day, my Dad’s personal physician and his wife called and asked if they could stop by to visit. I told them yes. It was the right thing to do because they had spent so many years caring for my Dad. Their visit really appeared to turn things around him. He was so thankful to see them. He got perkier and more lucid. They doted him. They rubbed his feet. Dad’s spirits were raised significantly. He stayed upbeat for quite a while. Their visit certainly had an impact on him. Our family will be forever grateful for their kind and loving ways.

By the end of the day, the Hospital decided that Dad needed another night nurse. Again it was Pauline. When she walked in at the start of her shift, Dad apologized to her for not being “nice” to her the night before. You could tell he knew what had happened. Pauline told me she did  not take it personally because she knew Dad was not himself. I was grateful to her for understanding.

My son arrived about midnight. Dad knew right away who he was when he walked in. They embraced each other in a huge hug. Everyone cried including the nurses.  My son stayed with Dad in what was to be his final night here on earth. My youngest daughter and I headed home not knowing how our world was going to change.

DAD’S FINAL DAY

On Saturday January 28th, my son texted me very early to say Dad had not had a good night. The medical staff didn’t think Dad was doing well at all. My youngest daughter and I got ready and drove to the Hospital. When we walked in to his room Dad said, “I am going to die.” I had no idea what to say back to him so I said, “Okay.” Then in true Dad form he said to me “What do you mean okay?” I said I meant it more like a question because I didn’t know what to say in response.  That seemed to appease him. After all, how are you supposed to respond to a question like that?

Once I assessed the situation I started making phone calls to my Mom, my oldest daughter, my sister and brother-in-law. I told them to get to the Hospital ASAP. The Drs. felt it was “time” and they wanted to begin administering morphine to help Dad with his transition. It felt so unreal. Like a parallel universe. In the meantime, nurses filed in and out of the room.

At one point while my son, youngest daughter, a day nurse and myself were standing around my Dad’s bed, out-of-nowhere Dad started signing “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Not knowing what to do I started singing with him. Then everyone started signing. My daughter used her phone to play the song while we all sang. After repeating it for a few minutes, my Dad raised it hand to signal he had heard enough. We just all looked at each other. We will never understand why he picked that song to sing on his last day. It wasn’t something from his generation. It wasn’t even something he sang to my sister or I when we were little. I guess we won’t know why he chose it until we see him again in Heaven.

Nurses continued to run in and out. The palliative care Dr. came by and told us to let him know when we were “ready.”  How is a family ever “ready” for something like this? My sister and her husband arrived. My Mom and oldest daughter walked into Dad’s room already crying. Dad knew were all there. He said “I love you.” We all had a moment to tell him how we felt. My Mom asked me to give the okay. We were “ready.” The nurses came in and started administering the morphine mixture.  They told us we could decide when to take off Dad’s oxygen masks (yes he had more than one).

Someone suggested we play some music. My Mom said “My Way” by Frank Sinatra. My daughter brought it up on her phone. “And now the end is near and so I face the final curtain.” Geez. You couldn’t get any more appropriate. The entire room started to cry.  The song played a few times. My Mom told my Dad it was okay to go. We all got to say our goodbyes. The nurses suggested we remove the oxygen mask. I took it off Dad’s face. My son tuned off the oxygen supply. The Dr. came in and suggested to me we increase Dad’s morphine so the family wouldn’t see him gasping for air in his final moments. He said it could be pretty horrific and not a memory any of us would want. I agreed and the nurses increased the dosage. Within 10 minutes we watched my Dad take his last breath. We watched his chest rise and fall for the last time. We heard the air go in one more time but never come out. It was peaceful. They annotated his death at about 1:37 pm. Everyone cried.  Then cried some more. We are still crying.

LAST GOODBYE

Eventually there wasn’t much more anyone could do. I asked my youngest daughter to drive my Mom back to the house. My son and oldest daughter drove back together.  The last thing my Mom needed was to be around while they got my Dad ready for the morgue. In addition, my son had been up for over 24 hours and needed to rest. My sister, brother-in-law and I decided to stay. We started to pack up Dad’s belonging. Many items we threw away. We really didn’t want some of these reminders coming home. Each of us sat with him and talked to him. I removed that stupid oxygen monitor from his finger. The one he had hated so much.  I threw it across the room. He wouldn’t be needing that thing anymore.

The nurses came back in and asked if we were planning to leave. I told them that we wanted to stay until the Hospital mortuary picked up Dad. They said that was unusual but they respected our wishes. I wondered why that was unusual. Wouldn’t everyone want to know their loved one was safely taken away? Wouldn’t everyone want as many minutes as they could before they never saw their loved one again? I was proud we chose to stay.

After a short period of time, two nurses came into Dad’s room. They respectfully laid my Dad flat in his Hospital bed and said, “We are going to listen to your heart one more time.” I almost sobbed out loud. Then they told my Dad they were going to take out his IVs. I bet Dad was doing cartwheels in Heaven when he heard that!  Everything was removed from my Dad’s body with such gentleness and love. It was beautiful to see. They placed Dad’s body in a white body bag and zipped it shut. The Mortuary representative arrived and together with the nurses, they place my Dad on a wheeled stainless steel cart that had a black tent cover over it. They laid the bag on the cart and covered it with a black tent cover. We walked with it in procession until the mortuary guy said we couldn’t go any further. We said our final goodbyes and walked to the elevator.

I often wonder how the patients in the rooms around my Dad’s that day felt seeing all the commotion. Especially when the black tented cart wheeled by with the three of us crying behind it. I guess that is how life is. Sometimes you make it and sometimes you don’t.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!


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Dad's NDE

Dad’s End-Of-Life Dreams & Visions (Part 3)

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My Dad died on January 28th, 2017 due to complications after a fall. He would have been 85 years old this year. He and my Mom would have also celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. This is the third in a series of articles written about his final weeks.

Article 6, Dad’s Death – 10 Life Lessons: https://goo.gl/SXh5NX
Article 5, Dad’s Death – The Aftermath: https://goo.gl/6YILxK
Article 4, Dad’s Final Days: https://goo.gl/k4PH63
Article 3, Dad’s End of Life Dreams and Visions: https://goo.gl/x2zvqA
Article 2, Dad’s Recovery: https://goo.gl/80ZBAc
Article 1, Dad’s Fall and Surgery: https://goo.gl/M7Xm65

THREE WEEKS AND COUNTING

By Saturday January 21st, it was obvious Dad was exhausted from the lack of sleep. He was also beginning to lose his appetite. He had no energy and therefore wasn’t able to do his physical therapy. He slept on and off during the day then was up all night. After my Mom and Sister left the hospital that day, I decided to stay with Dad until I knew he was “settled.” I figured I would spend the night in the hospital if I had to. As the evening went on it was obvious Dad wasn’t doing well. Someone, maybe one of his nurses, had requested a “Rapid Response” nurse from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) stop by. When she arrived, she hooked Dad up to an EKG. She listened to his heart and lungs. His heart rate was rapid but normal. His oxygen levels were very concerning. She said he thought something might happen if we didn’t move Dad back to the CCU ASAP. She jumped into action. I believe she saved his life that night.

Before I knew it Dad was being wheeled back down to the CCU. The Rapid Response nurse felt Dad needed to be on a machine called a Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPap). This machine would force air into his lungs. The mask fit over Dad’s head like a baseball catcher’s mask. Although not considered invasive, the pressure seal created by the mask could literally break his nose and facial bones. At that point I realized there was no choice. His blood wasn’t holding onto enough oxygen and as a result he was being fed oxygen by two masks at almost 100% each. This meant he could barely breathe on his own. This was my cue to spend the night in his room. I figured Dad would eventually settle down, fall asleep and then I could leave.  What I didn’t know was it was going be a night I would remember forever.

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER

Once Dad was hooked up to the BiPap and done with all the other testing, I figured he would drift off to sleep. Unfortunately this never happened. He became more and more agitated as the night progressed. He tried to talk to me and the nurses, but the BiPap mask made it difficult for us to understand him. It was like he was talking through a giant voice scrambler. The more we didn’t understand him the more agitated and frustrated he became. At one point he started trying to pull off the mask. Although understood why he would do this, we had to ask him to stop. He wouldn’t listen anyone. After being told not to grab at the mask, he shifted to grabbing at his IVs. For my Dad’s safety, the nurses decided (with my concurrence) to place a pair of soft mitts on his hands so he wouldn’t be able to pull at the mask or his IVs. They actually looked like a baseball catcher’s mitt but they were soft. They (understandably) just made him more angry and agitated.

I started out by asking him nicely to listen to the nurses. It didn’t work. He thrashed and pulled at the mitts with more determination (I really didn’t blame him). I finally got to the point where screamed at him. It didn’t work either. I even broke down crying and begged him to stop fighting. I walked out of the room and prayed to God and the Angels to help him. When I walked back in he was still fighting. Nothing was working. I felt so inept at helping him. The nurses had other patients and could not stand over him all night. He wasn’t listening to any of us anyway. I was at a loss and began to sob uncontrollably.

By now it was after midnight. At this rate sleep was not coming any time soon. I sat down next to him. Once I did, he started talking to me. He said “Get me a beer”. I said, “Dad I wish I could but you can’t have beer in the Hospital.” He said “Get me a beer” and then began cursing at me. I thought who is this man? It wasn’t the Dad I knew and loved. He screamed at me (through that horrible BiPap mask) over and over to get him a beer. I felt like we were in a horror movie. All the tears I had been holding back for weeks rushed to the surface. What is happening? Was it the medication they had given to him? Was it the “hospital delusions” I had read about? Did it mean that Dad was in the last moments of his life? I hated to see him going through this. I prayed as hard as I could to God and the Angels to “take” him if it was his time. I even told my Dad (through my tears) it as okay for him to “let go” if he needed to. I couldn’t imagine what he was experiencing was normal; I knew he had to be dying. On and off throughout the night he would go from being delusional to being completely lucid. In those moments of lucidity, he knew his name, he knew where he was and he knew what was going on. Seconds later he would be screaming and thrashing.

TURN FOR THE WORSE

Sometime in the very wee hours of the morning Dad reached out to me. He put his hands on either side of my face and said “It’s so beautiful here.” He was calm and peaceful.  He smiled and his face seemed full of wonder. He couldn’t mean the hospital room. I figured he must be hallucinating. It was all too much to handle.

Finally by about 5:15 am on Sunday January 22nd, Dad started to fall asleep. I waited until about 6:30 am to make sure he was going to stay asleep then called my sister. As soon as she answered the phone, I started crying. I asked her to come down to the hospital. Something was really, really wrong. At around 7:00 am the day shift nurses started appearing. The Rapid Response nurse from the night before walked in to see how Dad was doing and I burst into tears. I told her “I think my Dad is dying.” I explained what had happened throughout night. She jumped into action again. She wanted to evaluate the blood tests and chest X-ray that had been taken hours earlier.

As she walked out, my sister walked in. I explained what had been happening. Dad’s blood test results and chest x-ray were not good. His lungs were almost completely cloudy. That meant he was getting worse not better. We were worried and scared. The pulmonologist came in and told us that it didn’t look good. The next step for my Dad’s care would be intubation and a ventilator. This would happen in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Even if they did these procedures, there was no guarantee Dad would get better. His quality of life would be forever changed. We would need to have a “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) on file if we chose not to pursue these next steps. The pulmonologist asked if we discussed the options or the DNR with my Dad. How about my Mom? To be honest, we really had never discussed it as a family. Fortunately my sister and I were on the same page but it wasn’t our decision. I had to talk to my Mom. Not wanting to have this conversation with her over the phone I decided to drive home. Despite my exhaustion and the torrential CA rain, speaking with Mom in person made the most sense.

I left the Hospital and prayed the whole way home. My sister stayed with my Dad. I called my ex-husband and told him it didn’t look good. I suggested he might want to stop by the hospital. I called my oldest daughter and asked her to meet me at her Grandmother’s house. I figured my daughter would be a calming presence for my Mom. Once I got home I told my Mom we needed to talk. I told her that Dad was not doing well and we had to make some decisions. She listened and agreed that intubation and ventilation was not the approach my Dad would want us to take. We held each other and cried. I called my sister and let her know. Then I tried to take a short nap before heading back to the Hospital.  I tossed and turned but got a couple hours rest – enough to help me feel confident that I could safely drive back to the hospital. The rain poured like the sky had opened up. When we got to the Hospital my Dad was sitting up watching football with my sister, brother-in-law and ex-husband. He seemed much better. He was still asking for a beer but had added pizza to his request. We were all in shock. We spoke with the nurses and decided not to stay with Dad at the Hospital that night. I worried that my presence on Saturday night had contributed to my Dad’s agitation (I found out this is how he got every night so it had nothing to do with me). The nurses assured us they would call us if something happened. I told them I would be back early the next morning.

MIRACULOUS RECOVERY

When I arrived very early Monday January 23rd, Dad was sitting up in bed. The nurse said his chest x-ray was improved and so they were probably going to remove the BiPap machine. This meant he would go back on a regular oxygen mask. I was beyond relieved. My Dad was ecstatic. He even asked me to take a picture of him with the BiPap mask on since he was sure he would never have to wear it again.  If only that had been true. They removed the BiPap and put the “regular” oxygen mask over my Dad’s face. He was much alert, cognizant and most importantly, peaceful.

The cardiologist arrived for her rounds and asked Dad how he was doing. He said he was stressed. This was completely understandable after everything he had gone through since returning to the CCU. When Dad processed to describe why he was stressed, he said he had been in four different countries over the last few days.  He had been to Mexico, rode on train and was arrested. He said had been to Florida as well. The cardiologist looked at me and I looked at her. We had no idea what was going on. My Dad continued to discuss his travels and how he was feeling very anxious after such a trip. The cardiologist politely replied by saying it was no wonder Dad was so stressed after such an experience. I really admired the way she handled her response to Dad.

END-OF-LIFE DREAMS & VISIONS

After the cardiologist left his room, I had an opportunity to ask my Dad if he remembered what had happened Saturday night. Since it had been somewhat “strange” I was curious how much he remembered. Given his most recent “travels”, I had no idea what to expect.  What he told me left me speechless.

Dad said he had been at a wedding reception that night. Not just any wedding reception but an Italian one. Dad’s father was Italian so this made sense. He said we were all there. My Mom, sister, brother-in-law, children, even the nurses, etc. Everyone was wearing white. He said we were there because family was so important. He said family meant everything. I agreed. He said he kept asking me to get him a beer because we were at this wedding reception. He said he was growing frustrated with me because I kept saying no. (Note: Remember I thought we were in a hospital room Saturday night not at a wedding reception.)  His frustration led him to calling me a few names and actually striking out at me. He said “they” told him he had not treated me like he should have. He said he was sorry. He started to cry.

While this wedding reception was happening, Dad also knew the nurses and respiratory therapists were coming and going in and out of his hospital room. When they would come in, Dad would stop being agitated and become very calm. He would speak to them coherently and answer their questions. Once they would leave, he would go back to being angry and combative. From what he was now explaining to me, it’s like he was in the hospital room and at the wedding reception at the same time. It was so hard to fathom.

Dad said after the wedding reception was over, he and I ended up in a very large church. In the church were people from all over the world and of every ethnic background. They were all dressed white. He sat in one of the pews and listened to the singing. He said they were in different languages but he understood what they were saying. He said the music was so beautiful. He said they performed for quite awhile. During the performance Dad looked over and I was sitting across the church aisle in another pew. He said I was crying and begging him to listen to the nurses about not pulling at his mask and IV. I told him this is what had actually happened in his hospital room. Once again it seemed like the events of Saturday night were happening in parallel.

Back at the church, the singing was over and then a large group of children gave a wonderful “production.” He said everyone clapped and cheered. Dad was then led to a room where a man was making a beautiful white gown. This gown was being made for him out of sparkling light. He said it was like diamonds. Dad said he watched the man make this garment for quite awhile. He said it was never finished or given him to wear. He said he would tell me more about it later, but unfortunately that never happened.

The next thing Dad said he remembered was he was taken with other people to a white room where they were “looked over” by doctors and nurses. Every person had a turn. When it was his turn, the nurse had him lay on a table in the middle of the room. The doctors and nurses looked over his body and checked his wounds to make sure they were healing after his hip surgery. Dad said when they got to the largest wound, they somehow were able to unzip it. He said when they did small gold nuggets came pouring out of it. He said the nurses caught the nuggets and then placed them in a pouch. Then they took this pouch and weighed it on a scale. They said the wight of the pouch showed Dad had done many good deeds in his life. He said he was told to do more good deeds so that when he came back (the next time), he would have more gold (good deeds) to be weighed.

At that point I basically sat there with my mouth wide open. I didn’t know how to react. Dad told his story like it had really happened. He also knew what had been happening in the hospital room Saturday night. It was like he was in two places at the same time. Through all of it, I was there with him, in both places.  Wow. All I know is that I had been praying like heck through the events of Saturday night.

Because Dad had been talking non-stop, which wasn’t good for his lungs, I suggested he rest. At that point he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep. Once he fell asleep, I was still in total disbelief. Being a spiritual person, I could only surmise Dad had some sort of End-of-Life Dreams and Visions or ELDVs. It was overwhelming. I felt so blessed I had been there to hear my Dad tell this amazing story.

RELIEF SETS IN

Around lunchtime, the pulmonologist came in and said that Dad’s lungs had significantly improved since the previous day. He said Dad was moving in the right direction but it was still day-for-day. For the first time in awhile, Dad was beginning to seem more like himself. It felt like Dad may finally be getting better.  Everyone in the family thought Monday was a huge turning point.

Deep in my gut, I just didn’t feel it quite yet.

*********************************************

Sending you love, comfort and peace!


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