My father passed away Thursday just a little after noon. He’d been in and out of emergency rooms for a couple weeks trying to figure out various complaints to no result until the last, which was the second ER trip after visits to the urgent care clinic our docs operate.
The last admission led to a diagnosis of lung cancer, which had spread to the brain. The doctor last Saturday let me look over his shoulder at the CT scans that’d led to his diagnosis. A bright nova the size of a racquetball in the scan was the major indicator, an alpha dog amidst the pack.
How I paid for all my college gave me more than I needed to know with the scans. I’d already surmised the same from the blood work I’d had access to.
After the doc told him, he was so calm, finally having an answer to the last several months of concerns. Knowledge, while a burden, can also be a bringer of peace.
For the first two days after the reveal, he was on target, brain dumping to me everything he felt I needed that I knew or didn’t know. His first concern was to make sure his wife of fifty one years was taken care of. Everything else was in the rumble seat.
Mom has been in rehab since last November. Her MS stole her legs and dropped her on her poreiotic spine. The damage was outlandish, requiring hardware, and multiple visits to Aurora, not an easy trip from the Fort. Her back finally closed from the surgery a few days ago, but we’ll not go into the angst in that one for now.
Short story longer, since November last, mom’s been home a month, dad has been “baching” it at home the rest of the time. Every day, he’d make the drive to see her at rehab here in the Fort, grab her laundry and set with her a bit. Before this last, he’d not been over to visit as much, and his guilt was overwhelming. Two folk from a generation of “don’t worry about it.”
The hardest was the fifty first anniversary, this last eighth of August. Dad didn’t trust his legs, refused to “bother” me and their anniversary was phoned in. I didn’t know as I was told they got together from both. Bad son.
Dad went into Hospice, I visited as often as I could, yet he slid down the pale slope so quickly I worried he wouldn’t know we were there as he drifted with the tide of his cancer. The facility mom was being cared for in ensured transport so we were both there, wheels in line to keep him company.
Thursday, I left work early to try (again) to get my wheelchair frame replaced, the fourth attempt now. I was planning to get the chair done, then spend the afternoon again with dad, the wheelchair techs costing me too much time as it was. Got a call at the scheduled time to say it’d be another hour and a half. I hung up and got the call from Hospice. My amazing wife backed me up: I picked her and the dogs up and rushed over. Mom was there, but we’d both missed his departure by some minutes.
I’ve paid my way through college with being there for too many deaths. I’m worried I’ve become cold, callous, due to my exposure. It’s harder when it’s family though. At least I was able to bring some comfort to mom. At least I hope I did. We sat and chatted, holding hands for a few hours watching over my father’s emaciated body (as with all deaths, he’d chosen to refuse food the last several days).
Now I’m working through the funereal duties of the son, I love them both too much not to. Some semblance of calm in the silence.
Signatures and arrangements, set to my parents final wishes. Paperwork is the bane of life, and it seems even death can’t free you from it, it’s just someone else has to sign. At the end, all you’re left with is ink and, if you’re lucky, memories and some photos Better than photos and some memories. Cherish the time you have with your loved ones, make memories, live while you are.