Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Goodbye, Dad

Yesterday was Mardi Gras. Hundreds of thousands of people from New Orleans to Biloxi to Mobile celebrated Fat Tuesday by watching parades and catching throws.

Yesterday was also the day that my mother and I buried my father.

Saturday was a cold, miserable rainy day in south Alabama. I worked overtime that morning and after I got off work my wife and I braved some of the worse weather we have seen in sometime to get to my parents house. When we arrived, we found a houseful of relatives. My mother was in good spirits but she was very tired. The hospice nurse was there with my Dad. He was breathing very hard and unresponsive. His last good day was the day before where he was able to greet people and converse with them. My mother in law had visited and he took great joy in seeing her because he asked about her often. However, Saturday he took a major turn for the worse. The hospice nurse was there and said that although his heartbeat was strong, his blood pressure was very low and his extremities were getting cold. His brain was apparently swelling and the end was near. She said that she would guess he would pass between 1 and 3am. The rest of the day consisted of family and friends coming by and spending time with us. My wife decided that she would go home around 4pm. I wanted her to go because of the second round of showers that were moving in and also I knew that she did not want to see what was coming up. After she left, it seemed that Dad began his struggle. From 430pm onward, Dad fought a courageous struggle to stay alive. I believe in my heart that he could hear everybody there. I sat by the bed and watched his every move. About 530pm, the decision was made to call the nurse. I told my Mom that it wasn't anything she could do for him but the point was made by my Aunt that she really needed to come. I realized then what she meant. The nurse arrived around 6pm. She looked at my Dad and told us that he didnt have very long. He was so tired and he was fighting a magnificent battle to stay alive. The nurse gave my Dad some medicine about 615pm to help him breathe better and to relax him. I know these times because it seemed that I looked at the clock every time something happened. At about 620pm, an amazing thing happened. My Dad began to breathe normally and then....he opened his eyes. The nurse stood up and told us that he could hear us now. If we wanted to say goodbye now was the time. My Mom and I embraced him and told him to go to sleep that everything and everybody would be ok. My family did the same thing. One tear came from my Dad's right eye. He then slowly closed them. His breathing began to get more slower. He then took one last long breath and then.....he was gone. It was 625pm. I called my Mom over and we all surrounded him and said a short prayer. My Mom took his passing very well. Although she was crying, she pretty much kept her composure. My Aunt, who has helped us throughout this whole ordeal, broke down and wept very hard. The nurse waited for about 10 minutes over him and again checked his vitals, declared he was gone. It was 635pm.

Monday was a sunny, breezy and a cool day. I love this type of weather. The day consisted in visiting with family members and preparing for that night. My wife and I met my mother in a local shopping center so she could look at buying a nice outfit for the burial. We sat down and had lunch together and we spoke of Dad and what was to come. My mother has been so strong throughout all of this. As much as I wish the my Dad was still here, I am glad for my mother that the burden of his illness is now gone. She was there with him the whole time. At 520pm, we made it to the funeral home for the wake. I had waited for this moment with dread. We entered the parlor to view Dad. He looked so peaceful. I had put a Alabama ball cap in the coffin with him. My Dad never went anywhere without his ballcap and this would be no exception. It rested on his waist. My Dad always loved to wear blue button up shirts and thats what he had on. Mom thought about putting a tie on him but we decided that Dad would have not wanted that. An American flag was folded neatly on the coffin in respect for the time Dad served in the Army Corp of Engineers in the late 1940's. Throughout the night, family and friends came by. My friends from work made the trip over and I cannot put a price on what that meant to me. My wife remarked that if it wasn't for them, she doesn't think she would have made it through the night. Three former high school friends also came by and I cannot think of words to describe how much it meant for me to see them. I wished I could have spent more time with all of them. Dad had a great turn out for his wake and I know its something he would have been very proud of.

Yesterday was the same kind of day as Monday. Maybe a little warmer. My cousin from North Carolina came in and surprised my Mother by being there. Once again, my family assembled for the funeral. My Dad always told me not to make a big fuss over his funeral and I tried to respect that. We had a small graveside service. My Mom and I picked his plot out at the very back of the graveyard near the treeline. It was a quiet spot and yet very easy to get to. During the service, the bumblebees decided to visit us and caused some of the family to find a better place other than near the trees. LOL. Luckily, no one got stung. I think it was the bees wanting a good look at the flowers. Then as fast as it all began, it was over. We departed the gravesite and all had a very nice lunch. My wife and I picked up my Dad's flowers at the funeral home and brought them to my mother. We then left for home. Before leaving town, we visited the gravesite again. It was very quiet. The gentle breeze pushed through the trees. I think my Dad would have liked where he was put to rest at.

My wife and I would like to take this time to thank everyone who has written, called and came by offering their support. I want to thank everyone at work who has been there for us. Words cannot describe how much your friendship means to my wife and I. I am grateful beyond words. A huge thanks to my high school friends, Martin and Peggy for being there for us the whole time. Most of all, thank you to my Aunt and Uncle, Alice and Richard. You have been there for my parents since the beginning of all of this and despite the loss of my Uncle's mother and my Aunt's good friend during this week, you both were still here for my mother and I. We will never forget that.

Goodbye, Dad. Tell everyone hi for us. We will see you soon.
Blogger Anduin said...

Your dad was surrounded by the people he knew and loved. What better way to leave the world than that? It's how I would want to go too. Praise God for all that came out to pay their respect and support you and your family. You are very blessed.

12:14 AM  

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