Christmas 2010 – Our last family photo with dad

Christmas 2010

Originally uploaded by Q_uilted T_hrifted

“My best friend called Christmas morning to wish me a Merry Christmas and I just started crying when I told her about these pictures. This may be our last family photo. I am so grateful we were able to come together as a family even if just for a few hours.
I have to believe Kevin is standing just behind my mom with his hands on her shoulders you just don’t see him in this photo. He died 26 years ago in a motorcycle accident.”

The above was written during the holiday. My dad died this week and my brothers and sisters and I are planning his funeral. It is so hard. I just read my post from Thanksgiving and I am amazed by how much of the feelings and emotions I was experiencing on a certain day are tucked away in the memory and fade even from two months ago.. I guess it is why people journal.

Dad went to a nursing home for 21 days after being in the hospital. Two weeks before Christmas we took him out of the nursing home and I drove him to my sisters. He was there 3 days and then ended up in another hospital closer to my family over the Christmas week. Thankfully we were able to bring him home on Christmas eve for a few hours and took our last family photos. On January 7th we brought my dad back to my sister’s house were he was taken care of by my sister during the week and myself on weekends.

My sister is amazing. She works in a residential home for handicapped and does she ever know what she is doing. I have learned so much for her this past month. I know I will never reach her skill level. Her husband has been by her side every step of the way. My older brother became power of attorney and is having so much responsibility it is overwhelming at times for him and for us. My younger brother was only 4 when my parents divorced. We were sitting here last night all having a drink, looking at photo, and talking. My sister said than the youngest spent the least amount of time with dad in the past 45 years and is the most like him. It’s true.

We have all come to the conclusion that we will NOT leave funeral arrangements for our children to have to decide on. My older has already made an appointment with the funeral director for a month from now to plan his funeral. He said there is no way he would leave all these decisions for his two daughters to deal with.

I have gone through my dad’s house twice and I can’t even find the suit he wore to my nieces wedding.  Many of the things we thought might be a tad bit easier to deal with have become difficult.

My dad had 3 really bad days where he would  not get out of bed and my older brother decided to call our half sister in Chicago to come. She is pregnant and due on Feb 12. She got clearance from her doctor to fly and was here the next day. My dad did a complete turn around with the help of a second pain patch and with her here he suddenly was eating, talking, sitting out in the lounge chair again with us. Their goodbye was heartbreaking because we still didn’t want to accept it and were unwilling to give up on the hope of him getting better……..we have wanted him better and able to go back to his own home. We brought him to my sister’s in hopes of saving the home so he could go back. A few days after she left he started slipping away from us again. About 3 days from his death we lost contact with him responding to us. Hospice helped us through this time in many ways but my sister still took contol and did everything. She administered medications, she bathed him, she changed his bedding, she stroked his skin after giving him medication for agitation until he calmed, she was firm with him when he resisted. We only had to hold him down once when he wanted to pull his catheter out. She again stepped in talked my brother in law and I through assisting her with getting him calmed down. I don’t think I could have done it. I only hope the company she works for realized the diamond they have working for them. She shines when things are their worst.

We all gather here at her house. I didn’t want her alone when dad died. It turns out the 4 of us children were at the funeral home for the 3rd time finalizing things and we got the call to get back to the house that dad was leaving. We jumped in 3 different cars 16 minutes away. My mom walked into the house to check on things not knowing we had been called back and took dad’s hand and held it. He took two more breaths and was gone. We walked in 5 minutes later.


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