22. The Time Was So Brief


During his first night in the nursing home, Daddy fell out of bed! I couldn’t believe it. He was fine, but the next night the nursing home aides were sure to put up the rails so that it didn’t happen again.

That second day was busy. I spent time with Mother and Daddy finalizing his funeral plans. We talked about songs, scriptures, and pall bearers. I finished purchasing their burial plots, and Darla met me at the funeral home to continue making plans with the funeral directors. We all felt the pressure of time. Even Daddy felt it.

It was on this day that Daddy began to complain about his right hand hurting. He wanted to back to the hospital and talk to his physical therapist about it. At the time I didn’t realize just how much pain he was in. I told him that we would talk to the Hospice nurse about it the next time she came.

Except for his radiation treatment that morning, Daddy and Mother had the entire day (Tuesday) together. One day. I don’t think I stayed late that day. I was just tired, emotionally and physically. I told them that I would be there the next morning.

When I arrived at the nursing home around 11:00 a.m., Daddy was on the van. He had been taken to the hospital for his radiation treatment and had returned back. When he saw me, he began to earnestly motion for me to get on the van. When I climbed in, I could see that he was in considerable distress. He said that he needed to go to the bathroom and want me to take him now. Working as quickly as I could, I got him off the van. I don’t remember exactly how I accomplished it. What I do remember is rolling him to the room and helping him get to the toilet. He couldn’t stand alone so I helped him get out of the wheelchair, and then helped his get his clothes down and diaper off. All the while he seemed to be having some kind of fit, or more likely, stroke. It is hard for me to describe. His hands seemed to be moving uncontrollably, and his eyes began to focus differently.

I got him back into the wheelchair and then transferred him to his bed. He sat on the side of the bed and stared straight ahead. He could not look at me when I talked to him, though I think he understood what I was saying. About that time the Hospice nurse arrived. She and I discussed what was happening with Daddy. I wanted so badly to take him out of Hospice, and have him returned to the hospital for treatment. If we had done that, Daddy might have recovered from this stroke, but then he would still have to face the advancing cancer.

I had to understand that what had happened to him that day was part of the dying process. Oh, so hard. Mother did not witness the actual stroke, but came into the room just afterward. In order to reassure her and keep her from becoming too upset, I told her that we had seen this happen before and that Daddy recovered from it in a few days. I wasn’t lying. This was very similar to what had happened to Daddy after his second chemo treatment.

We didn’t put Daddy in bed immediately. It seems that he had a guest, a nurse from the hospital. We rolled Daddy down to the lobby so that they could visit. His blank stare continued, but he did respond verbally to direct questions from his guest.

Shortly after that we put him to bed. This was the beginning of the end of Mother and Daddy’s brief time together.

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