Monday, November 3, 2008

For Me to Remember

This post is mostly for me. It's long. I've disabled the comments. You don't have to read it. It's just so I have something written down somewhere to help me remember. My memory is not that great. In fact it's pretty selective. A coping mechanism, I'm sure. This is something I want to remember. So I will put it here.

(I have used my kids' names which I may or may not continue to do. I'm not sure, but I didn't want to have to worry about editing myself.)

Tuesday October 21st was Jillian's field trip to a local cornfield. I was excited about going with her until we woke up that morning to some serious cold and wind. But we bundled up and headed on out. The wind was so blustery that I missed two phone calls on my cell phone. The numbers, I knew, were from the local medical center. But Ty was there at the time seeing a Dr. about his cold so I figured maybe it was just him trying to get a hold of me.

As we wrapped up the trip and I got off the bus I received a voicemail. It was from mom. Dad was in the hospital, he'd gotten sick while out deer hunting and had to come home early. I took Jillian to my friends house and headed over the hospital. I wasn't too concerned. Dad had been in and out of the hospital pretty much my entire life. That's partially how I know the numbers of the local medical center.

When I got over there mom was in a small waiting area outside of the patient rooms. She told me that dad had come home Monday not feeling well. He was very upset that he had ruined the hunting trip for my brother and his boys and cried about having to come home. Dad loved hunting. And when I say loved, I mean he LOVED hunting. He was so excited to be able to go this year that he couldn't sleep the night before the hunt. He was like a kid at Christmas. He sat out on the couch all night and sang songs. Not only was he able to go on the hunt but he was going to be able to drive himself. Something he hadn't been able to do for some years.

Mom actually thinks that he wasn't feeling well before the hunt but didn't want to say anything for fear that he wouldn't be able to go. He asked my brothers to come and give him a blessing, which he rarely asks for. They did and he was able to go. On Monday though he was just having too difficult of time and asked Roger to take him home. Part of the reason for him not feeling well is that dad had a bit of congestive heart failure and being at such a high altitude was difficult on his heart. The other reason was that he had developed pneumonia.

My brother brought him home on Monday. He already had an appointment scheduled for Tuesday with his doctor so he convinced mom to wait until then to go. When they got to the office on Tuesday and the Dr. saw the pneumonia he figured that he was also a little bit septic. Which was not good. This same thing happened two years ago and we almost lost him then, but he pulled through. So the Dr. sent him directly to the hospital.

When they got there it became apparent that dad was much sicker than any one had known. His blood pressure, which had been fine at the Dr's office, plummeted when they got him to the hospital. They had a difficult time getting an IV in him, which is pretty typical. When they finally got one in they took nine vials of blood for testing. Unfortunately for some reason those vials were contaminated so they needed more. They decided to put a pic line in. That is what the nurses were doing when I arrived at the hospital.

As I sat in that small waiting area talking with mom and finding out all of this information it came to me that this time around was going to be different. Mom spoke of how their doctor had told her about six months earlier that in reality dad only had a couple of really good years left. That he would be lucky to have them. She hadn't told any of us kids that because she was worried that would upset us. She also talked about how tired dad was. How he had gone through so much and his body was just so tired. She never has spoken like that before. There was a different feel to the whole situation. I think I knew then but didn't fully want to admit it to myself, that dad wasn't coming home from this trip to the hospital.

They had started dad out on the med surg wing of the hospital, not realizing how sick he was. Once they had the pic line in and he was stable enough they moved him to the ICU. I stayed with mom for a while longer and then went home for a while and came back around 7 p.m.

Wednesday is a blur. I remember talking to someone before I went over and having them tell me that mom had had to bring over dad's pap machine from home. This, I knew was not good. He had the pap machine for his sleep apnea but hated it. And that is what he started out on two years ago and then they moved him to the ventilator. I also had to run up to Salt Lake to pick up some doors for a backdrop to a boutique that I was involved with. Get that all taken care of and set up on Wednesday night so I wasn't at the hospital on Wednesday.

Early Thursday morning I received a call from mom. They needed her over at the hospital in a half an hour to make a decision about whether or not to put dad on the ventilator. I was scared. I knew that dad didn't want to be on the vent. Two years ago he had made my sister, Angie and I promise that we would never do that to him again. He had in his living will that there were to be no heroic measures taken to save his life.

At the hospital mom and I talked with the ICU doctor. He told us that without the ventilator dad had less than a 50% chance of pulling through this but that with the ventilator it was only about a 50% chance. I reminded mom of what dad had said two years ago. She had forgotten that dad had made us promise. But she helped me keep that promise and said no to the vent.

In the ICU room dad was furious. He wanted to go home. And he wanted to go home NOW! I was alone in the room with dad for a few minutes. I got down right by his side and looked him in the eye. This was the conversation that I had with him.

"Dad, you know if you go home you are most likely going die."
"Yes! I know that! I want to go HOME!"
"O.K. I just want to be certain that you understand that if you go home you are going to die."
Said with fire in his eyes. "I understand that better than you think I understand that. I'm ready to go."
"O.K. dad. If you are sure. I will do everything in my power to get you home. I can't promise you anything but I'll do my best."

I didn't know if I would get him home to his house but I would get him home. And to be honest I think that the home he was referring too wasn't the house where he and mom lived. I felt that the home that he was talking about was his Heavenly home.

My two oldest brothers Brad and Roger and my sister Angie were there later that morning. And we asked dad, with all of us and mom there if he wanted to be put on the ventilator. He said no. Three times we asked and three times he said no. That wasn't what he wanted. Later that day the Pulminologist came in and "threatened" him with the ventilator. When we told her there would be no vent I could tell she was shocked. All of dad's vitals looked good. He was just having problems with the pneumonia which had worsened over the two days. She didn't understand why we wouldn't use the ventilator. And some of our family members didn't understand either.

We had a family meeting that night in the ICU waiting room. All of the kids were there and were told of dad's decision not to be put on the ventilator. A couple were unhappy with that but since it was what dad wanted they kept quiet. We decided then that if we could get him home we would. We had a family prayer and mom was given a blessing. I stayed the night with dad. They wouldn't let me stay in the room with him but I went in and out checking on him.

Friday morning came. Mom and Angie came and I went home to take a shower. When I got back dad was refusing the pap machine. We asked the Dr. how long he would have without the pap machine and he said at most 6 hours. I asked if there was any way that we could get him home and he said that it was probably too risky that dad could die on the way there. He didn't want the pap machine so we decided then and there to call everyone and get them to the hospital. My oldest brother Brad was presiding at a funeral for one of my next door neighbors who had passed away unexpectedly on Monday. Ty was there with him. My kids were at school.

I called all of my brothers and my sister and told them that they needed to come now. I called my dad's brother and sister to let them know the situation. I was desperately trying to get a hold of my younger brother Ben who was in prison. I had talked to him earlier that morning on the cell phone and had asked him then if he wanted to talk to dad. He had declined saying that he would talk to him later. I needed to get the number for the direct line into dad's room to Ben so that he could talk to him. Finally the social workers called for me and got things moving. I had called Ben's mother-in-law and had told her to bring his kids over to see dad but I didn't know how fast he was going to go. So I called again to tell her to bring them as fast as she could. I sent a text to Ty to let he and Brad know that they needed to come NOW.

Dad was asking for the family. And the family came. Everyone came. They went in and out of his room saying their goodbyes. I was waiting for Ty to pick up the kids from school. I went in and out of the room a couple of times and then as we were in the waiting room there came the call. Come now. We all went in, Ty and my kids and my brother Brad still weren't there and one of my nieces still weren't there. Brad and my niece finally made it but I was scared that Ty wouldn't make it with the kids. Thankfully he did. And Ben was able to get through on the phone.

At first Dad was angry. He wanted to get up and go to the kitchen. He didn't realize where he was. We got him settled down and Jona, McKenna, George and Jillian gave him a kiss and said goodbye. Brad then asked me if I would say a prayer. I was honored. And I am so grateful for that opportunity. I don't remember much of what I said but as I prayed dad calmed down. After the prayer my kids left the room. They didn't want to be there, and that was o.k.

We stood around dad in that ICU room. There were at least thirty peoplel there. Tears were flowing and the second verse of the Primary Song "Love is Spoken Here" kept going through my head. I couldn't find the voice to sing it but I began to hum it. I hummed it through twice while stroking dad's head. Mom leaned over and whispered to dad and then laid her head on dad's chest. As I finished humming dad seemed to stop breathing and we thought that he was gone but his breathing started up again. Slow and steady. It was like he was sleeping. One by one each of the kids came up and said their final goodbyes, whispered in hushed tones next to dad head on the pillow. The phone was put up to dad's ear so Ben could have his final words. And then we waited.

After a few minutes my sister Pam asked me what the song was that I had been humming earlier. This time I was able to sing it. Here are the words.

Mine is a home.
Where every hour,
Is blessed by the strength,
of Priesthood Power.
With Father and Mother leading the way,
teaching me how to trust and obey.
And the things they teach are crystal clear,
For love is spoken here.

I can often feel the Savior near for love is spoken here

We sang that through and then sang "I am Child of God" including the newer fourth verse. Which goes like this.

I am a child of God
His promises are sure
Celestial Glory shall be mine
If I can but endure.
Lead me, Guide me
Walk beside me
Help me find the way
Teach me all that I must do
To live with Him some day.

As we ended that verse dad passed on to the next life. And Mom then sang a small bit of Happy Trails to you. Then as a family we all sang "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again" And "Abide With Me; 'Tis Eventide"

Brad said that dad had received a mission call. To serve on the other side. And although we were sad to see him go and there was much sadness, I cannot express to you the underlying feeling of joy that was there as well. It was something that I've never really experienced before.

I know that there was a joyous celebration there in that room one that we could feel but could not see. An exultant reuniting of dad and his parents and many, many others. Including and most importantly, his Savior. The thing is I'm sure that we were only able to feel a minute amount of that joy. I can't even begin to imagine how wonderful and glorious it was for dad.

Finally freed from the body that held his Spirit. Finally able to stand straight and tall and walk strong and sure. Finally able to feel his Savior's arms around him and know that he had endured to the end and endured well.

It is an experience that I will treasure and keep close to my heart always. One day, if I do what is right, I will have that joy. And I will feel my dad's arms around me once more and I will be able to kiss his cheek and tell him how grateful I am that he is my dad and that I love him.

Until then I have memories, hope, my faith and my family here on earth to keep me going. I also have dad's wonderful example to follow of enduring to the end. If he can do it, so can I.

Love you dad.