About three weeks ago a friend on facebook listed this as their status:
"can't believe I havent seen my father in 19 years."
I have been thinking about it ever since...As of today I have not seen my father in 2 years...I can't even imagine 19...
I have written so many blogs about today in my head over the last 24 hours. What should I say...Should I tell you about the day 2 years ago or should I tell you how incredible he was. Maybe I should tell what he means to me. Or maybe I should write an entire blog about how pissed off I still am (not at him but at the disease). I thought about how my family would feel, would they want me to write about such a private day?? So as of this minute I decided that Ill write a little about everything...
On my birthday of 2007, I got a phone call that would change everything. I was having a party at my apartment and my parents were supposed to stop by. My Dad was in treatment for prostate cancer and had been since about 1998, he had been in drug trials at MD Anderson for probably about 1 year. (on a side note they don't explain to you that most of the drug trials are meds that might extend your life by weeks, maybe months and come with awful side effects, they are not cures like one would hope for...) The phone call was simple "Amanda, Daddy is not feeling well, I am taking him to the ER...You don't need to come...today is not the day...we will call you if something changes." For the next 4 months it was more of the same...sick one day, better the next. Our family house changed too... there were walkers, shower seats, lots and lots of pill bottles, and even a checklist that I made up on the computer titled "How do we feel today?" I remember the day in particular that I finally accepted that things had changed. My dad was bad...and I wanted so badly to speed drive him to the hospital so that they could "fix" him. My mom knew... She somehow knew that the time had come to stop going to the hospital. I've never asked her how she knew... Did someone tell her? Anyways, after listening to me freak out about taking him I watched her pick up the phone and call his doctor, who was always a close friend, she simply said, "Gabriel, I'm with Amanda, Joe Bill is not doing well... She wants to take him to the ER... I thought maybe she should ask you some questions..." As I picked up the phone... Tears started rolling down my cheeks... Without asking any questions... He said in words I can't remember verbatim... "Amanda, I'm so sorry but we are running out of time, we can't fix him... We could make it a bit better but then in a couple of days, maybe hours you will have to bring him back...and the visits will get closer and closer together and it will be very painful for him. I think we should make him comfortable so that he can listen to his music and be with yall."
We signed up for hospice and he fired hospice (pretty sure he wasn't a fan of the nurse!) I do have to admit though this particular hospice sucked! Anyways he refused for any hospice to come back at that time.
Things continued to get worse and it was extremely difficult for us to completely care for him. On Christmas Eve day I walked into the room where he was sitting and said, "Ive researched some hospice companies I found one that sounds great, they will be here this afternoon. His response was a simple "Ok." On Christmas eve day!, the hospice nurse came out and visited with my dad and by 10pm they had delivered meds to keep him comfortable.
My dad had been walking with a cane or walker for a solid three weeks the cancer had long ago moved to his bones and the pain was intense but for whatever reason on Friday Jan. 4 he decided to go out to dinner for mexican food with my mom, my aunt and my uncle and he went without any kind of walking device. By Saturday he changed. He was sitting in his chair all day and acting a little strange. A hospice nurse came over and said he sounded great and that we still had time, probably weeks! I left to go to dinner with friends and got home at about 10 pm. I figured everything was fine and that they might be sleeping so I didn't call. I should have called my dad couldn't get up and even my brother couldn't help him up...the fire dept. had to come. He didn't get out of bed Sunday. Friends came and went all day. Tell stories, listening to his favorite music, looking at the pictures that still today envelope my parent's house. At this time we also had round the clock help just in case my dad needed anything.
I slept over at my mom's on Saturday night. I woke up for whatever reason at about 3 am and decided to go and check on him. He sounded terrible, we had heard about a condition called the "death rattle" it is just part of the process, but when I went to tell my mom what I thought was happening she reassured me that the nurse had said weeks...we were fine. So I went back in, made my dad sit up and take just one more sip of water from a straw and went back to bed.
I woke up to the sound of my brother screaming, "Wake up Daddy, get up Dad!!!" I ran back there and he was still there but in a coma. Of course, I was shocked but not really surprised, my father refused to be held back he had obviously made a choice. By 5pm with all of us there by his side and music playing in the background he took his last breath. It was peaceful, I don't even think I was angry at this point, the anger came later... I knew he was in pain and I knew the last thing he would want would be to be stuck in bed.
The most interesting thing about the journey was that days later as the news spread we got phone calls and visits from all of his friends from high school and life and everybody had one thing in common, my Dad had called them all within the last week of his life, coincidence, I think not!
My Dad lived his life his way to the very end. When I think about everything he has missed in the last two years I get very sad, weddings, funerals oddly enough, birthdays... I worry some days about how I'm going to explain him to my kids, how will I show them how his smile lit up a room and how it felt to hold his hands. Sometimes right before I walk into a room at my Mom's house I wish that when I open the door he is just sitting there....
I'm sorry this became all about the disease and the end, but i just wrote and it came out. For what ever reason this was the story I needed to tell today so thank you all for listening.
I miss you Daddy, I love you and I wish you were here!
xoxo chef a