The Day Dad Died (orginally posted June 20, 2012)
I keep not meaning to post, but here I am. Yesterday, this became my most successful month for views. Today, the blog passed the 12,000 view mark for the month. I want to mark this moment in an unusual and sober way. I have had other websites before. I ran betterfiction.com for about a decade. My first actual “blog”, though, I started in 2012, following my daughter’s lead. She started her first blog after reading Do Hard Things. Now at the age of 15, she’s been on the church worship team for three years, she teaches piano, and hosts two blogs. The one I most frequently refer to here is theteentheme.wordpress.com. I am a very proud papa, but when she looks at the traffic here, it may be easy for her to forget that with my first blog, I looked enviously at her traffic. Any view, any read, any comment was cause for excitement. That first blog only lasted a few months, however, as a life event came along that drained away any desire to pursue it. My father died. Today, I want to rerun the post I wrote the day after his death. It is a reminder that these numbers are not what’s important. I am still happy for any view, any read, and any comment. That is especially true this last week as I’ve tried to pull away to take a little time away from the prayer events, devotionals, and blog posts. Thank you for your encouragement and support.
Dad Died Yesterday (originally posted June 20, 2012)
A deep breath. Fingers on the keyboard. What exactly do I intend to say? Maybe it would be best just to say that dad died, yesterday, at 3:23 PM. He was in Oschner’s Hospital hoping for a heart transplant or a pump that would extend his life a few years.
I might also take a moment to talk to people who work with heart patients. Physical therapists, especially. Not all heart patients are the same. With many heart conditions, the goal, your job, is to get them up and walking. Not so with congestive heart failure. Please remember this. That effort can cause further build up of liquid and ruin any chances of getting better…any chances of survival.
But often, those chances are ruined so many times over.
Dad was getting various opinions about whether he needed a valve replacement surgery. He trusted the doctor who told him it was needed. He scheduled the surgery for the day after the Alabama championship victory. An alumni and fan, he wanted to see that.
After spending the rest of the year struggling to breathe and repeated trips to the emergency room, he went to Oschner’s in May. Really, probably, it was too late. He should have been there in January, instead of getting the valve repair (which they ended up doing instead of the replacement).
On one of those trips to the emergency room, he was filling up with more liquid than his lungs and and heart could handle. The doctors told him he was fine and sent him home. Two days later, my mother’s instincts and another rush to the hospital saved his life from the doctor’s bungling. Yesterday, she wondered aloud if that was the right thing to have done. He could have been spared so much suffering. But, she said, you don’t make those kinds of decisions.
I drove to New Orleans and back on Monday, when it looked like that would be the day. My family came with me. Dad was talkative, if a bit delirious. The last thing he said to us was that he smelled smoke and we needed to tell whoever it was that this was a non-smoking building.
Yesterday, I drove out on my own. I wasn’t even able to notify my wife I had gone until I was already off the Interstate in New Orleans. At the end, my mother, my sister, and I were there. My mother had her life-long best friend with her, as well. She had driven eight hours to be with her.
Dad opened his eyes and looked from face-to-face, frightened, but then he settled down and died peacefully, the morphine saving him from the sensation of suffocating.
As he was dying, and for the first time in weeks, the monitors that tracked his vital signs were shut down. Thankfully so. His breathing had become so shallow and infrequent that my eyes had kept going back to the monitors as my only real assurance he was still alive. With them shut off, I could focus on him, on my dad’s face and not a machine.
His last night was a very difficult one. At one point, he started talking to my mother, but she couldn’t understand what he was saying. He tried again, simply saying, “I’m trying to tell you I’m sorry.”
Hands off the computer, staring off into space, trying to decide if that’s all I want to say…
Credit Image: Sunlight Through Trees