I’ve been trying to think about what to say for the last month. I don’t really know that I need to say anything at all, part of me just feels like I should, like maybe I should get this off my chest.
I’ve had a whole year to think about this, & I do on a regular basis, it keeps me awake at night, & forces me to occupy myself with any little thing to keep from focusing on it during the day. Yes, after a year, this still happens.
I remember the events clearly, I can see them in my mind like watching a show on TV. I remember what meal he ate on Thanksgiving 2010 that made his sick. Ham steak, mac & cheese, & black eyed peas. A meal he had ate many times before, & always enjoyed. No one else got sick, but he did.
Sitting in his recliner groaning in pain, we both thought that he was just having a stomach ache. That he was just constipated. I wish that was all that it was.
I should have took him to the Doctor, but I was afraid, I guess I thought that if I thought it was one problem, it wouldn’t be another.
The days went by, I got up, washed him in bed, changed his underwear, put dry towels under him, & went to work, & would repeat the process at lunch time & after work.
Finally we had an ambulance come & take him on the 1st of December. He was put in intensive care right away, & after 24 or 48 hours, no improvement was made that I saw, but they needed the room, so they moved him to another.
Watching my Sister through these first few days at the hospital was like watching a small child at her sick parents bedside. She was still strong, she was in control, she knew what to do, but the look in her face, & in her eyes, there was nothing sure & adult about it. She was scared, more so than I’ve ever seen anyone, I could understand.
After he was moved to the other room, he woke up for a small time, Jeannie was even able to get him to eat one meal, we hoped the worst was behind, & that he was getting better, but it hadn’t even begun.
He had developed an infection in his gallbladder, the Doctors did not even know about it until they saw the large bulb on the side of his stomach when they moved him, I don’t know how they missed it before hand.
They immeadinatly inserted a device to drain the infection, & we waited.
For days we sat there, visited with family, watched roommates come & go, & spoke to him, even though he was unconscious the majority of the time.
The tube draining his gallbladder came out a few times, it even got blocked, & we had it reinserted each time, until the Doctors told us no.
He was not improving, & our family Doctor was advising us that it was time to let him go. He wouldn’t agree to put the tube back in, & the rest of the medical staff refused to try to remove the gallbladder.
We begged them to try, Jeannie pleaded with specialists & our family Doctor, hell, I even ambushed one outside in the hall, asking him every question I could think of, & begging him myself. I even asked the Doctor’s if money was why they would not try the surgery. That did not gain me much favor with them. I don’t care.
They thought he might die on the table. They were telling us to take him to a facility & let him die there, but they wouldn’t do surgery as it may kill him? They wouldn’t even try to help him? Just let him die? It made no damn sense. It still doesn’t.
The infection, best as they could figure out had gone septic, & spread to his brain. This was what they eventually told us, none of them seemed to know what caused it.
We moved him to a nursing home on the 16th of December. We were fortunate enough to get him into the best one in the area. There they changed him, talked to him, & even fed him.
The pain kept getting worse though, but we couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. The nurses had to use a mechanical lift to change him & his bead, & they would set him in a chair, but that chair hurt him even more. He only ever seemed comfortable when he was lying flat on his back. I remember how he would grab at the nurses, afraid he would fall from the lift, one time he did. I think this was just instinct though, he wasn’t awake when he did his.
He was semi-conscious for the majority of the time he was at the nursing home. But he wouldn’t open his eyes.
When Michelle, his daughter from Oklahoma came, he did respond more however, & showed that he knew who she was. He was even able to form a few sentences & talk to her & Jeannie. This was a good thing, it helped both Michelle & Jeannie a lot.
Even though he was responding some, & was eating, his mind wasn’t in the present, or all there unfortunately. For the majority of the time after he first got sick, I don’t think he even knew who I was.
After a few days however, the progress stopped & he got worse. He couldn’t stay awake, not even between bites of food, & he couldn’t communicate at all, except to groan in pain if we moved or touched him.
The only thing he was doing well was eating, & we decided to bring him home on January 19th 2011. We really had no choice financially though. We were able to get a hospital bed & set it up in the living room.
For a while, we were managing his care. Jeannie would feed him, we would both move him to wash him & change his bed sheets, & he seemed to be more comfortable at home.
However, this did not last.
On the 29th, he stopped eating. I was feeding him breakfast, or trying to, & he wouldn’t respond, he would spit the food out, & move his head away from the fork, he just would not eat for me. The previous night, he was eating fine. We had been doctoring a bed sore that over night went from the size of a pinhole to the size of a nickel, & had started bleeding. Maybe that sore had something to do with his refusal to eat, I don’t know.
We called the Doctors, who advised us to call Hospice.
On Monday morning, January 31st 2011, he passed away, quietly. The only quiet, peaceful moment of the whole ordeal for him it seems.
I was able to say goodbye to him the night before, as was Jeannie. I am thankful for that, I didn’t get to do that with my Mom, not the way I wanted to anyway.
After it happened, for some reason, that is where my memory stops. I don’t remember much after the coroner took his body. I guess shock blocked it all out.
Throughout this first year, it hasn’t been easy. It has been easier on me than on Jeannie. I’ve buried it, tried to not focus on it, but I still grieve, I do so late at night, & when I am alone. I spent a lot of time crying on my way to & from work while he was still alive. I still cry.
This has almost destroyed Jeannie though. For months she would cry herself to sleep & she would randomly break down throughout the day. I’ve tried to be there for her, tried to comfort her. I’ve told her to cry, that I don’t mind, I know that everyone grieves differently.
Her reaction to this is what is hardest on me, as I can’t seem to help her.
She did stop 3 months ago, but at times, I don’t think she’s even trying to move on.
It sounds harsh, but I was scared to death that she had given up. She said that he was her reason for getting up, & I’ve drove her mad making sure that she was still breathing when she slept in, afraid that she had taken her own life.
There are still days when I think she has given up.
There are still days when I know she doesn’t know what to do.
There are still days that I don’t think that she is even trying to move past this, like she is stuck.
I worry about even bringing Dad up in conversation, I don’t want to send her back into depression.
There are still days when I feel like I’m on eggshells around her.
I don’t know what else I can do to help her.
I have nightmares that she has killed herself.
I’m still scared.
I thought writing this all out might help me get through today, I think I’ve moved on to a point, but the truth is that I don’t know for certain.
I remember the good times with Daddy, I still see him sitting in his chair, typing at his type writer, I never feel like he isn’t here with me, he is too engrained in my surroundings.
I find myself mimicking his very movements, & mimicking how he talks at times. I catch Jeannie doing it as well sometimes, but I’m afraid to mention it to her, I don’t want her to stop, I don’t want to stop. It’s a little piece of him left in us.
But even with that, I’m angry.
I’m damn angry.
Angry that he was in so much pain.
Angry that the Doctor’s seemed to give up on him right away.
Angry that in the end he was just a shell of him self.
I’m angry at the unfairness of how he went. This man had buried two wives & a child, lost a house, a job, but still worked hard all his life, was honest, fair, & kind, he didn’t give up, but in the end he had his dignity stripped of him, I’m angry that he suffered so much.
I’m angry at how this has affected Jeannie. She is the strongest, most determined, hard headed person I have ever known, but this, as I said earlier, has just about broke her.
I’m angry that I haven’t been able to help her though this enough.
I’m angry at myself. I blame myself for a lot of this, for not taking him to the doctor sooner, for not doing a lot of things. For not being able to help him. For not being able to fix him.
Yes I’m angry at the whole damn situation.
And yes, I’m angry with God, whom I have been told that I shouldn’t be.
I’m told that his pain is over, that he is in a better place. But his passing hurt this family in so many ways, is still hurting this family a year later.
With all the power at his disposal, was it so much to ask that he not take my Daddy, that he make him healthy again? In the grand scheme of things I know that My Dad, that me, that none of us probably matter, so would it have been so bad if God had let Daddy stay longer? He still had a lot of good years left in him. He deserved to go out better, to go with dignity.
Maybe I shouldn’t question it, maybe I should say it’s all part of a plan.
To that I say Bull.
Yes, I’m angry with God.
I don’t know how not to be, not after how Mama passed, & not after how Daddy passed.
I’m scared Jeannie is starting to be angry with God as well. I don’t want to have rubbed my anger off on her, I want her to still think that maybe there is a plan, to give her peace.
I know none of what I have said is new, everyone has, or will, experience loss, & I know that a lot of this has sounded selfish, there has been a lot of “I” & “me” in this, but I am writing this based off of what I saw. I just wanted to get some of this off my chest.
I wrote the obituary for my Dad.
I guess that what I should say, after all of this is really simple.
I miss my Dad.
I want him back.
I love you Daddy.