23. The End Is Near

 

After Daddy’s apparent stroke he had very few moments of awareness and no moments of alertness. He would sometimes wake up enough to eat a little bit, and he would open his eyes and perhaps smile if someone came to see him. Otherwise he just slept.

I mentioned in an earlier post that he had complained about his hand hurting him. The Hospice nurse thought at the time that perhaps the cancer had spread to his hand. I had never heard of something like that, but it was obvious that something was very wrong with his hand. The pain continued to increase.

I remember standing by his bed watching him sleep. In his sleep he moved his hand and tapped the side of the bed. I nearly cried when I saw how much that hurt him. He was receiving pain medication, but oh, my, you wouldn’t know it by the pain he was enduring in his hand.

My husband and I went to Dallas for about 3 days. I had an appointment with a doctor there who specialized in breast cancer. That is another story for another day. Our daughter and son-in-law live there and we decided to stay an extra day or two to visit with them.

While we were in Dallas, Darla had a very special visit with Daddy. Two days before his death, she felt the need to spend some extra time with him. It had been 2 or 3 days since he has shown any awareness of any kind. He was just sleeping. Darla’s twin girls were four years old and still very much needed her at bedtime. She put them to bed that evening, and then went to the nursing home. She began to talk to Daddy. She told him how much she loved him and what a good daddy he was. She told him that she would try to raise her girls with the same priorities and values he had instilled in us. Then she began to sing to him. Darla has always sung beautifully, and she can sing in difficult moments. I don’t think I could have done this without crying. She sang for a long time. She said to me, “Debbie, he absolutely responded to my singing.” It was a God Wink moment.

Also during our Dallas visit, we received a phone call telling us that my husband’s mother, who lives in Lubbock, had had an accident. She backed her car out of her garage and then got out of it to do something. Not turning off the car and failing to shift it into Park, the car began to roll as she opened the door and got out. She hung on to the car door and it dragged her into the street and into her neighbor’s yard. Fortunately she was not run over by the car and had no broken bones. She was however, very bruised and battered.

Because of her accident, we decided to cut our visit with our kids a day short and go to Lubbock to be with her. As we drove through Abilene I felt the need to stop by the nursing home to check on Daddy. Our plans were to just stay a little while, and then continue on to Lubbock.

When we entered Daddy’s room, I immediately noticed a difference in the way he looked and the way he was breathing. He looked paler and his breathing was more shallow. His legs were continually moving, and he showed absolutely no recognition when I talked to him.

The Hospice nurse was there, making phone calls. She told me that it was time to move Daddy back to the hospital, this time placing him in the Hospice unit. She had been trying to get him in for several days, but there had been no openings. I asked her how much time she thought we had left, days or weeks. She said, “Hours.”

Oh. I was so glad we stopped. The end was near.

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