I know. I haven't been around in a while. Things have been ... hectic. And sad. And overwhelming.
When I last posted in March, I mentioned that dad had gone back into the hospital. He was there for just a couple of days, and then was released to come home -- but honestly, he still wasn't feeling well. Two days after he came home, he lost his balance and slipped in the bathroom. His caretaker caught him before he actually hit the floor, but as he was sliding down, he hit the exposed pipe under the sink in the small bathroom. He said that he sore, but that he was fine.
But we knew he wasn't fine. Shortly after mom passed away, dad rallied and was really doing well! It took him a while to gain some of the strength he'd lost, but he had gotten to the point where he was up and walking every day, getting in some exercise, and interested in going out and about to see what was going on in the world. He would beam when he told us each day how many 'laps' he'd done around the house. Eight today! Ten today! He was encouraged and was thinking of small projects he could do to keep himself occupied. But by the beginning of March, he began not feeling well and was losing a lot of his drive.
Besides the physical illness, he was overwhelmed with sadness. Between losing mom, his own declining health, closing his longtime, home-based business ... it was all just too much to handle at once and an ominous depression took hold of him. One night he was so sad and lonely he told me that he 'just wants to go be with mom'. My heart just broke. There is nothing quite like seeing your dad - once so strong, so full of energy and life - grow sad, ill and depressed. And worse still, knowing there isn't much you can do to help.
After his fall, he remained at home for a few more days until the following Sunday morning when he called and told me he thought he needed to go to the hospital. I readily agreed. Both Deb and I had been trying to talk him into going to the hospital for several days, but he'd refused. Once in the emergency room, the battery of tests began. Pneumonia: check. Atrial fibrillation: double check. Fractured rib: ahhh, check. We weren't back where we started from exactly; we'd moved, in fact, a few giant leaps backwards. They were going to take dad to have an ultrasound done, so Kevin and I left the room for a bit. When we returned, they told us we had to leave. They were having a very difficult time regulating dad's heart rate and blood pressure. His heart was racing while his blood pressure remained dangerously low. By the time they allowed me back into the room, nearly an hour had passed, but at least dad was stable.
He was admitted to the hospital on March 25th. As luck would have it, his doctors were the same kind, gentle, caring doctors who had taken care of mom. We got lucky twice! Over the next couple of weeks, dad would have a good day or two, then a bad day or two. We see-sawed back and forth for two weeks. During that time it became clear to us that, though we didn't know when it would happen, dad wouldn't be with us much longer.
Sunday, April 8th. Easter morning. We got up early and began preparing to have everyone over to our house for the day. The plan was for all of us to go over to the hospital and visit dad. We were going to bring the boys' birthday gifts so that he could watch them open them. I'd been trying to call him all morning and he didn't answer his phone. About the fourth time I tried - around 9:30, his nurse was in the room and answered the phone. She said that he was sleeping, but his vital signs were stable. Around 10:00 a.m., the phone rang. Before I even picked it up I had a feeling what was about to happen. I answered the phone and on the other end was Dr. Arenas. She whispered in a small, sad voice that dad had passed away. I already knew it. I'd woken up really early that morning with a sense that dad would pass that day. The week before he passed away, I was on spring break. I had the honor of being at the hospital every day to visit him - which was a blessing, but also a curse. I am so thankful that we had that time together, but it was hard for me too because each day I could see him getting worse, and hear his voice fading away.
We all met at the hospital to say our final goodbyes. Dad looked peaceful - at last. No more pain, no more struggling to breathe or eat. No more missing mom. Their 53rd wedding anniversary would have been that upcoming Thursday and we all agreed - dad just didn't want to have an anniversary without mom, so he decided to join her so that the could celebrate together.
I will always love you, dad, and keep you in my heart. I'm so lucky to have had you and mom as my parents. One day we'll all be together again. Until then, you and mom keep each other company and keep a watchful eye on us. I promise we'll make you both proud.