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.