Saturday, October 22, 2011

What a Roller Coaster! Wheeeeee!

Yesterday, I had this gut wrenching experience with my father at death's door, (see previous post). Definitely a low point.

Then today, I go over to his house, walk into the front room, and he's sitting up, speaking with a very strong voice, and gesturing, while participating in an online study group. I look down and see that his feet and ankles, which have been elephant sized for the past couple of months, (a crippling side effect of the steroids they give him to keep the tumor in check), are now skinny!

He hasn't been able to wear shoes, or even walk for more than a numb shuffle about the house, for ages. But now, his shoes are actually loose on his feet! He felt so good, he came out to lunch with us, leaving his wheelchair and walker behind, using only a cane.

While we sat eating, he actually started talking about ideas and dreams that he and his wife had, before he got sick. I'm hesitant to get my hopes up too high, but there's no denying a marked and rapid improvement in his condition and demeanor.

What or Whom do we have to thank for this miracle? I'm going to play it safe, and thank God!

His sister, who just came into town, is an Episcopal chaplain, and carries holy oil. She had blessed him with it last night, and prayed for his healing.

He's also taking at least two supplements, that are supposed to be mighty good stuff for immune function. The doctors are tweaking his medications, lowering the steroid dose, adding lasix. And then there are the dreams. He dreamed he died and was saying goodbye to us all. Then he woke up, and wondered what it meant, if perhaps he was "done dying now".

I certainly hope so.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What If This Was Your Last Goodbye?

Seriously. What would you say to someone you love?

Well, that you love them, of course. But, sometimes there are other important things that need saying.

My father has a brain tumor. He's been in various stages of getting ill and getting better. But this week was really difficult. He became convinced that he'd be leaving us soon. So, he called his brothers and sisters, and me, (his only child), to try to "get complete".

I don't have to tell you what a hard phone call that was! And, of course, I went over there as fast as I could. Because, whether or not his hunch is accurate, he was experiencing this, as if it were true, and that's big stuff. We cried with each other, talked a while, and hugged. But I left there feeling incomplete.

We are a pretty expressive family. So, I don't think anyone ever, truly, walks around feeling unloved. But somehow, when faced with the possibility of not getting another chance, to say what needs said, I found myself in some serious turmoil about it. I lost lots of sleep over it.

Then today, it was planned, that my step mom and I, (who share October birthdays), had a joint birthday celebration at their house. We planned it to coincide with a visit from two of my Dad's sisters.

My Step-mom cooked lunch, and my Mom bought us both cakes (Yeah, we all get along great.), and I had done all the gift shopping. I know my Step-mom's tastes fairly well, and made choices I thought my Dad would have made for her. He seemed pleased with the choices yesterday, but today he seemed to have forgotten that he'd ever seen them before. He still liked them.

It was a great party. Dad held up great. He enjoyed it more than he thought he would, and said he could even taste the food. Yay!

When I was going to say goodbye, he got teary again, and told me that he couldn't have asked for a better daughter, and that he was proud of me, and what a great job I'd done of parenting my kids.

He tried to say it was all my Mom's credit, that I learned it all from her. But I told him, no, that I had learned a whole lot from him. Just being the kind of person that he is, was such an incredible example to follow, because he was so noble. His honesty, and integrity where always so evident, in all his interactions with others. Even when he made mistakes, it was so clear, that he was trying very hard to do the right thing.

I told him that his being that kind of person, made navigating my life a lot easier. Because, it made bad choices unthinkable, and made my mistakes easier to admit. My Dad was always a really good man.

Even now, as he faces the possibility of death, he does it so unselfishly. He's trying so hard to learn whatever lessons are to be learned from it, and to do whatever he can for all those around him.

It was a very good, and tearful conversation. He said he would sleep well tonight, because of what I had told him. (I was crying pretty hard at this point.) Then, there was the chaos of my kids, my Mom, my husband, my aunts, all hugging and gathering all our stuff, and putting it in the car to leave.

It was hard to say goodbye. But as I was leaving, I realized that I really did feel complete. I guess we figured it out, (at least for the two of us), what needed to be said.

I don't want that to be my last goodbye. But, if it is, it was a really good one.