Snippets of my father’s last days spin through my mind like home movies, treasured for the gems they contain. I share four of them with you now...
Movie #1: A nurse is changing the bandages that wrap my father’s swollen legs and absorb the bloody secretions that ooze from his skin. Though her task would undoubtedly be easier with Dad in a different position, she kneels on the cold hard floor before this aged and ailing man, humility, kindness and love radiating from her in all directions.
Movie #2: We wheel my father onto the patio, and the sudden change is disorienting. Though he was lucid five minutes earlier, all is strange to him now. He doesn’t know where he is or why, and reminders and reassurances do nothing to soothe him. I go in search of a familiar face. I find her, ask this young aide to add to her many other duties by coming outside, hoping her presence will do what ours cannot. Five minutes later, she joins us, smiles, speaks my father’s name. He looks up, and clouds part in the muddled sky of his brain and the sun blazes again. “I remember you!” he says and begins struggling against the layers of blankets we’ve wrapped him in against the chill of the spring day. We help free his arms. “I’ve gotta give you a hug,” he says, reaching out. We don’t know it then, but this is the last hug he will initiate in this world, this man who has become easier with affection late in life.
Movie #3: I sit beside Dad’s bed. He mostly sleeps now, and words are rare. Suddenly his eyes open and he looks directly into mine. He holds my gaze as he never could before. Through those eyes, now the palest of blue, his heart speaks without words and of a love so pure I am forever changed.
Movie #4: Dad has breathed his last. An expansive, enlivening energy still infuses the room, though my father’s body lies inert in death. The funeral home arrives, fills their large bag with this body that has done what it was asked to do, carrying this soul through 94 years. Slowly, we follow the gurney down the long hallway, lined now with loving staff and elderly veterans, all come at this late hour to witness a final walk. Some are in wheelchairs, others stand upright or lean on walkers or canes. Hand over heart or raised in silent salute, all honor this man, his family and, no doubt, others who’ve left this world long before. As in the Book of Mormon, they “mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”
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Today is Father’s Day, and mine has been 46 days dead. I don't know what the day holds for me, but as I post this, I relish these lessons~~
Kneel easily, with kindness and humility...
Remind one other of who we truly are, especially when vision is clouded...
Love with wide~open eyes and flowing hearts...
And honor one another as we pass by.
Blessings to you all~~and to you, too, Dad wherever you may be.
For those who missed my last post on the experience of Dad's death, you can find it by clicking here.