Monday, December 22, 2008

show & tell

*sigh* This weekend was just what I needed. After the burden-feeling left when my dad was no longer fighting an illness, I was left with that loss feeling I talked about. I had so much grief and crying in front of my computer or to my family was necessary but I felt so lost.

After the services, I felt "more right with the world". Those necessary hours of visitation were exhausting, but it was so touching to see a line of people coming towards the casket to hug my mother and us (as we took turns standing by her).

Saturday was more dramatic for me. At the visitation, I could be support, but at the funeral, I needed it and so did all of us. I've always felt for those people in the front row, unable to imagine the pain. But as we all held hands and listened to songs he loved so much, people he loved so much and heard our sobs, I think I felt satisfied.

I know my dad is in heaven and we don't need to do things for his approval as we did when he was here, but I couldn't help but think that we did him proud (not that I did anything). I knew he would have been so touched by it and that was enough for me.

I feel there are a million things I want to ask him (did you see that video of the hoppers dad? for example), but there isn't one thing I still need to tell him. I told him. More than anything, I showed him. here is the video of hardware store I made.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The last 24 hours have made quite an impact. My father is at peace now. He died tuesday at 10:38pm. He was 68 years old. My mom and I were with him and it was sad and surprising, touching and awful.

he was in a coma when I arrived yesterday I think (he didn't move, didn't open his eyes(they were just half open as he slept), didn't respond to talking or touching). But still he was breathing, with some difficulty.

I said goodnight to him, kissing him on the forehead. my mom went to give him his medicine and she looked at his nailbeds again (they were a bit blue before) and she called me over because they were worse. We sat near him and I held his arm, leaning my head on his shoulder, saying something every so often in case he heard me.

Then my mom starting talking to him louder and with greater urgency "It's okay joe. We're here. You can go" and I looked up. His eyes were fully open, and he looked at us with intensity - no fear, no question, just looking - and his color was quite different and something in me knew he was leaving us, so I told him I loved him, told him goodbye, told him we'd be okay, he could go, etc. All the while (all 30? seconds) stroking his arm and kissing his forehead. He took two more breaths about 10 seconds apart, and then he stopped. I didn't know if he was gone or not, my mom put her head to his chest and listened.. his heart was still going. We said a few more words and then he took a small breath and then slowly closed his eyes. I told my mom and she listened again. Then she got her stethoscope (she is a nurse)and listened. He was gone. We said a prayer, thanking Jesus for taking him and that it was over.

Since it was bad weather, it took a long time for the nurse to come, then a long time for the funeral home to come and I spent much of that time hugging my mom, or lingering near my dad's body. I knew he wasn't there, but I didn't want to leave it. So so so strange.

I know we all know this day will come for those we love and there is no way to prepare for it, but there is no way to explain it either. I feel relief (and thankfully no guilt for feeling that), frustration and despair (because I have so many things I forgot to ask him.. how to use this, how did he feel about that, I can't tell him this or that anymore), loss - my dad is gone - I can't hug him, hold him, tell him i love him, try to win his approval anymore, work to give him that special christmas gift that will touch him so much he will cry and gush at how much he loves it. loss..
It feels like he left a hole, but really, that is impossible. He left me with knowledge, talents he passed to me, memories, and love. His opinion of me greatly affected me. His faith in me helped me to try new things. His life taught me some about how to live and as we live, we teach those around us. He was a wonderful teacher and I'll miss learning from him.
Goodbye, Dad.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Things are about the same with my dad. Small things keep getting worse and worse, but that doesn't make it worse for me, even though I know it isn't as bad as it is going to be. ...Maybe it is time for a new topic.
My daughter is home from college. After reading my brothers "good news - bad news" christmas letter, I want to frame it that way.
Good news - I missed her more than I knew. We get to see each other and talk and she understands me.

Bad news - we see each other more, so we talk more, so we yell more.

Andrew learned how to make 3D paper snowflakes and how to cut really cool ones on a website he found:
We finally got our tree up, found most of our ornaments and are attempting to get them all up.

I am busily preparing for my sisters wedding. (dec 27th) I've completed most of my jobs to my satisfaction (that takes kinda long). I did the place cards and because of a few errors, I am one short. ONE!! I think instead of buying a pack of them, I'm going to find the white-out. Karen, if you read this, I hope this is okay :)

I'm making headway on the grading. This is a very familiar hurdle I leap every year before christmas. *sigh*

I am grateful that my husband takes care of me. Most recently by putting a heater in my car (with extension cord) so that we could try to melt the ice yesterday. He scraped it with me too :) sweetie.

there.. that was better. Maybe today will be a better day than yesterday.

Monday, December 08, 2008

in like 800 years...

I had a hard evening with my dad. He is mostly confused and i can't understand what he is saying usually. I try to guess and answer, or comfort him. He often seems to look right through me.

Many of us have told him that he can go. I hadn't yet and so my mom told me to tell him he could let go. I tried several times but couldn't. then later, he wanted to get out of the bed. he insisted. My mom told him he couldn't, he was too weak. He said "why???" (over and over) and my mom finally said "you're dying, joe" and my dad looked right at her, shocked... then started crying. She hugged him and either he put his arms around her or she did. Then she waved me over and we both hugged him. then she said "Cassie needs a hug" so I hugged him and told him that we would be okay. That we will take care of mom, that we know he loves us and we all love him. Jesus is waiting for him. He can let go. he can go. he started talking to me in very loving soothing tones, but I couldn't understand any of it. Then, I looked up at him after a minute and he said "It'll be okay". I said "I know it will". He put his lips together and waited for a kiss, I kissed him & then hugged him again & kissed his cheek and told him "It's okay." Well, at least it WILL be.. someday. if you know me, you know my next line probably wants to be "yeah.. in like 800 years!" and it feel like that long til I'll be okay.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


yeah.. I pretty much go to my parents house to be with my mom now. I know my dad knows me when I come in, but he barely wakes up or smiles. When people from hospice come in, he perks up more (the "stranger" factor that is just his personality). it is hard to see but it reminds me of my dad. The man in the bed really doesn't otherwise. If he gets angry, it reminds me of him. If I just look at him, I feel like i have fast-forwarded 10 or 20 years and I see my dad at that age. With so little fat on him, his face is so skinny and old looking. When he talks, I can't make sense of the words it and it is not very clear sounding anyway. Sometimes he knows and gets frustrated when I don't understand, but many times I just try to answer what he thinks I'm saying and he doesn't react. I'm thankful he is still in no pain (except some muscle pain which the pain med takes care of) and he doesn't seem sad or mad or anything. He is just going through the motions in a way.
For my mom's sake and his, I pray he goes soon. I know if he were aware he would say "How can we move this along!???" He would be impatient with this. Luckily, he is so tired and so confused that he doesn't know what mom is going through and how it is hard on us. He was afraid of how it would be for us. I just want him to be whole and be able to watch the wedding from heaven and be at Peace. soon. soon. soon??

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I've discovered it is amazing what people will adjust to. The pain feels less. I am guessing we have gotten "used to" seeing him confused, weak and quiet and it is less traumatic for me to see him like this. The hospice nurse says he is very strong. We knew that.

He was directing us in some tags on friday night and it was quite different than how he sang with us in the past. Since he can't sing now (he can't take a big breath), he was merciless in his demands for how to sing the tags. He stopped us because we were too fast, too loud, etc. He directed us while laying in bed and when he got too demanding, Mike said "Want some water dad?". Mom and the rest of us ask him that all day long and he often doesn't want it. I think I might have relayed his answer to me once was "Are you trying to drown me?" The completely lucid moments seem farther apart, but the toxins do that. It is hard to see, but he does make us laugh anyway. when we dressed him friday morning, he wanted to see the dress shirt we were putting on him (for giving Karen away officially to Mark with a Pastor). Mom and I showed him and he wanted to see the logo. We told him there wasn't a logo and told him what brand the shirt was. He sighed and said "that's not my shirt" and he didn't want to wear it. We insisted it was his shirt and that we just got it from the closet. He insisted that it didn't matter where we got it, it wasn't his. After putting it on, I said to him, "Dad, I think you've just forgotten it" and he looked right at me indignantly and said "I think you're confused!". Either way, he looked so handsome. He does not seem like my dad anymore really, but when I look at him, I can still see him. I can still imagine him opening his mouth and speaking with strength and command.
I feel like this surreal process is kind of letting us down easy. We haven't fallen off the cliff of grief, but I feel we have taken a few flights down and are resting on a landing. No idea what will come next, but I'm happy for the breather, however short.
I'd love thoughts or prayers for my mom - for her peace and for my dad - for comfort.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

goofy guy...

Last night Mike and I gave my dad a massage. We took a couple picture and the first picture with Mike, Dad had a weird smile and I said "Dad, smile regular" and he did. Then I had MIke take a picture with me and I said something similar like "Don't smile goofy" and so then he proceeded to REALLy smile some goofy smiles and we got some good shots.

Today, he can't really complete his sentences because his mouth won't work for him and he is sometimes confused. It is hard to see. But with day after day of "I love you"s and "good nights", I'm okay with a time where he just thinks it and can't really say it.
Afterall, it's the thought that counts.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

yep. lucky.

IN PARIS With Ben & Marilyn [click to enlarge]

I haven't written much recently because I feel like I'm in a fog. work, my parent's house, grieving, working, crying, eating, working. one big long blur.
If it wasn't for work I might not know what day it was.
Things are going ok.. as far as losing a parent goes I think. All my siblings are here most of the time so we support each other.
I started feeding my father a few days ago (no idea what day that was). Today when I was feeding him I commented on the crappy weather. He started to say something twice, but then didn't and he sighed. I said "was it about the weather?" and he said "I know exactly what I want to say, I just can't get it out". Then he said "I hate these kind of days". I told him I knew that (there is no sun out today and he loves the sun). Then he said "Are there golfcourse.." "Are there any golf course..." and he stopped, frustrated. His eyes welled up as did mine. I said "It's okay." and I hugged his cheek and cried with him. I said " I know its frustrating". When we were done I said "No, there aren't any golfers out today. They's be crazy it is like 35 out".
This is so different than 5 days ago when he seemed so detached and emotionless. I told my sister I dont know which is worse. But it is still a priviledge to serve him, to be here for lucid moments and to hug him, feed him, watch him.
I do realize how lucky I am to be able to have these days to see him and remember him and say goodbye.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What is a long goodbye?

My parents house has changed. there is a quiet warmth I feel there. We all wonder what will happen, but we aren't worried. We all try not to cry, but we easily do. I enjoy doing anything for him, yet feel relief when I leave the room so I can let it out. I feel blessed to be able to wash his face but the role-reversal is almost too much. He is so different - his appearance, his manner or speaking, relating, - it is all so gentle. But he is also the same - he doesn't have much strength and so he uses it to say something humorous most of the time. When his mouth doesn't work well for him, he often continues talking(intentionally) in absolute gibberish to get us to say 'What??'. He loves that one. My parents had a joke about this. I can't remember the line. Siblings.. what was it??? they said it to each other whenever they misheard each other.
This definitely takes the cake for the ODDEST time in my life. Kirk's parents wrote a wonderful email to me about what a blessing our family is and what a necessary time this is. They said saying goodbye is exactly the right thing because it means "God be with you". I know where my dad is going. They were so right. It was a great email.
I just can't decide what God wants, what my dad wants or even what we want.. a long goodbye or a shorter one?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

lonely boards

Yesterday and today were a flurry of visitors, memories, tears and hugs. Many many family and friends came to the house to see my dad, cry with us, bring us food and share memories. We looked at pictures, told stories and even sang. We talked of Karen's wedding, christmas' past, and how much life my dad is and how his presence fills a room.

my hardest moment was yesterday when we set up the christmas village. my dad loves christmas and so we set up the tree and village early for him to see and also since we had help. We needed to know where the board that went on the sofa table was so we could do the village. He told us (and I thought, what are the million things that we don't know where they are, how they work or what they are for????). I went down in the basement to look for it. I knew it was on his workshop side.. a deafeningly silent side of the basement now. A sad sad room that lost its life about 6 weeks ago after my dad made the valences. I walked through it and looked at 10 or 20 boards resting against walls, against ceiling joists and against the back of the stairs. None were as my dad described, but were also a testament to the many projects he had planned in the future, had done for others in the past and all the things that would never be touched by him again. I stared at it all and just broke down. my mom came to find me and comforted me. I tried to explain my sorrow and she said "I know".
We gave up and had to choose another board which my uncle Rick cut to length. It almost hurt me that we not only didn't find THE board which most certainly was here but was lost among the other boards, but also that someone ELSE was using my dad's saw. it just felt wrong.
Then today, I fed him his dinner. He preferred me to feed him than to take the strength to feed himself. what a priveledge to do that for him,to help him, yet it was heartbreaking. He never complained.
On a happier note, we easily lean on each other and feel completely safe in that place. We are so lucky to have each other.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

a 1000 words

Click on picture to see it larger.
From the left, going around my dad is Mike, Mary Anne (mom), Karen, Kevin, Cassie.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Nothing like major loss to get one writing on a blog. My dad is still with us, but I fear it wont' be long. I'm not a nurse like my mom, but he changes every time I see him. He's getting jaundiced. The hospital bed arrived. People are coming to the house to.. well.. say goodbye.. be supportive.. bring a dish. It is all going by in a blur for me. My poor family. they don't know what to say to me. I try to tell them it is okay and to just be normal.

Today, all my siblings and my mom sat in the room with him. Karen had flown in, Mike had driven 7 hours and we surrounded my dad for a picture (we all looked pretty crappy I think) and then sat there. After a few moments we were still all composed and my dad said "It's like my memorial service while I'm still here". We talked a short time, then prayed for a long time, all of us crying. At the end, my brother put a kleenex to my nose. "here" he said. It was moving and heartbreaking and surreal.

My dad is even more not my dad. He doesn't talk like him. His speech is slow and dry and sometimes slurred. It seems like there is nothing behind his eyes. My mom asked him what he was thinking.. then added "anything other than, i'm tired?" and my dad said "nope". If you know him, you know that's not just unusual, that's not him.

My mother is ever-present. ever-strong. but she is feeling it all too.
Today I took a long time looking through albums to find more picture of him for the posters. Initially it was hard (though I've been gathering on & off for a year now), but it was interesting too. I barely noticed that my dad got older. I still saw the 35 year old when I looked at him I think.
I'm so thankful for my family and all the time we have had together. When I prayed today I thanked God for the many more months we were able to have than we expected to have (except when I said it it did make sense.)
and I am. I'm very grateful. I'll leave it at that for now.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I told my mom that I wanted something from my dad.. something he picked. She asked him and he can't think of anything. He said he has all boy stuff. My mom overheard him asking the massage therapist. I will probably just ask for something myself. I did tell her I wanted something of his that he wore... so it smells like him. I'm big on smells. They trigger memory for me more than anything else. When I sat next to him I tried to memorize the smell too. Now I will have it forever. No need to memorize.

He's getting worse. He fell twice since I saw him 3 days ago. Someone needs to be with him all the time now. ow. ow ow ow.. It just doesn't fit. My strong dad who took care of me.. needs taking care of. How can this be? It feels wrong. It feels like this should be years.. no DECADES away. I know this happens. I know this is what everyone sees happen to their parents. Maybe I'm lucky. At least I saw them grow to this age. I had years of memories of two parents, together in a loving relationship. That is pretty rare I suppose.

I hope I am okay with God's timing. It will be okay. It will.
I need my dad to tell me that.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

a great man

My parents are home from Bonaire now after a 2 week visit to say goodbye. My dad is dying now. I dont know how fast but I know he won't make it back to Bonaire and it was a sad time for them.

As I've come to this realization, I struggled with what to say to him and if I had things I needed to tell him. I knew I didn't need to hear anything from him as he is always very verbal with his feelings. About a year ago he talked with me about what he thought of me as a wife, mother, daughter and person. He was very expressive and complimentary, affirming every area of my life.

I decided to write him a letter, as I knew I could never speak any of the things I needed to make sure he knew. when I talk about my dad, it is the hardest. We are very much alike and I've always felt connected to him. So I wrote a letter about 8 days ago and yesterday, I gave it to him. I even got to give him a 2 line intro without breaking down. Then I handed it to him and sat near him with my head on his shoulder and cried as he read it. He hugged me and thanked me. I sat there memorizing the moment - trying to burn it into my brain for all time so i would not forget it. After I wrote the letter, I had imagined giving it to him, sitting there cuddled up to him and I cried every time I thought of it. Even now I do. I am okay. I'm sure he didn't need to hear any of the things I said, but I needed to tell him and it was good for me. We brought all the kids over today (marianne came home from college for the day) and i told them that I didn't know when the last time would be, but that it was good to treat every time like the last time.

He seemed perkier today. He stayed awake longer and laughed with more vigor. It is tough because I see him slipping.. becoming less my dad and more this quiet man who isn't recognizable really. He is so thin, so frail, so lacking in energy and life. If you knew my dad, you know that is one thing he is full of life.. the good, the bad.. all of it. he is jam-packed with it. He is a great man. that is all for now.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

lightning & great america

After feeding him droppers of water for over an hour on tuesday night, the cat has bounced back finally and even went outside today. The TEENY TINY printing on the antibiotic said "refridgeration required" and our 40+ eyes couldn't see it and then noticed it on friday. We got a replacement and he likes it NO better.

Yesterday I went and interpreted at "Deaf day" at Great america! It was really great. I got to meet many interpreters I never met before and work with several of them. It was very fun and great to see everyone working together! I just love this profession!
having a relaxin sunday..

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

poor kitty

my favorite cat, lightning, got hurt friday and wouldn't use his front right paw. He hopped around and I thought it was the little cut he had. Then on sunday, it became VERY swollen so I took him in yesterday and he had an infection, fever and an abcess around the pads. We got him back today (349 dollars later, thank you very much) and he looks even worse.. he is groggy and his paw is a MESS!!! It is gross and it smells (I think it is just blood, but YEESH!!!)
poor guy is sleeping under the piano all day. I blotted it with a moist rag as instructed and he protested for a few seconds and then just FELL ASLEEP while protesting. too funny.
Beyond that, I'm getting pretty good at monkey ball with my son Matthew on the Wii. It is great fun. I'm not much good at anything else.
Just so you know.. black cherries are starting to get nice and sweet now. yum.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Love the harmony

I could listen to this 20 times in a row (ask my sister, I used to do that.. it drove her NUTS)
For those who love barbershop, you'll love this one. For those who don't, don't bother, there is no video.. just singing. A guy and his voice multi-tracked 50 times over. my first embed. Hope it works.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Signing on youtube

I'm now interpreting on youtube!! if you search remember bethlehem and cassie, you'll find it. I couldn't figure out how to embed :) silly me.

This is at the church (in Somonauk) a week before Christmas.
I just love this song and it is forever encapsulated with memories of my dad pointing out when Mary looks at the baby and probably cries. My dad is so into songs.. either the words or the music. I have subjected my children to the same torture of listening to a song. Heaven forbid they talk over the part I wanted them to hear, I start the song over again. Poor things.
ah.. gotta love heredity.