June 14, 2012

2 Years and It Is Not Any Easier...

On this day, two years ago at 12:30pm, I watched as my Dad took his last breath and his heart beat its last beat.  I would not take anything for the priviledge of being there, but oh how that moment plays in my head time and time again.  Cancer took my Dad's life.  I truly believe that every single person has been or knows someone that has been affected by cancer.  Cancer is a monster that usually wins.  If not at first, in the end. 

My Dad was the strongest person I ever knew.  He knew how to do anything and everything.  His hands were so big and strong.  He was rough around the edges but oh how big his heart was!  He was a truck driver for over 30 years, but was able to enjoy retirement for over 7.  He had over 3 million safety miles.  That means that he drove over 3 million miles without having an accident.  That is huge!  He hated driving that big ole truck, but he did it for his family.

He was a cowboy through and through!  He.loved.horses.  He loved them since he was a little boy.  I used to say that I bet he had a butt of leather from riding horses so much.  One time, one of his horses had a baby and she wouldn't let the baby nurse.  My Dad was in that barn every two hours for days feeding that baby horse with a bottle.  Because of what my Dad did, that foal bonded with him and she loved my Dad so much.  When he would come around she would walk up to him and put her head and neck around him as if to hug him.  She is the sweetest horse (and the biggest!!) I have ever seen!!  When I was younger, he built a big barn behind our house for his horses.  He would "shoe" his own horses.  I bet he rode a million miles on his horses.  =)

Later in life he fell in love with motorcycles, so he bought one.  He crossed this country multiple times on that bike.  He rode with two of his good buddies.  They would be gone for two or three weeks at a time.  They would say that whenever Dad's motorcycle started heading back east (to come home), it was "hammer down all the way buddy."  He loved home.

My Dad saw many things in his life and lived his life to the fullest and that I am so happy about. 

He died at the age of 68, which I feel is a young age.  Especially when he kept himself in good shape.  My Dad first found out he had cancer in 2002 when he when to urinate and it was pure blood.  The testing showed he had Stage IV bladder cancer.  But what is amazing is the fact that the doctors were able to remove his bladder and create a new one with part of his colon.  The "new" bladder learned to work just like it was supposed to.  My Dad didn't have to go through chemotherapy nor radiation.  What a blessing!

Then on September 11, 2009, I was at my best friends house that is in Ohio (I live in Tennessee).  My mom calls me and says, "Happy Birthday.  We got the results back about your Dad.  It's cancer.  It is behind his stomach this time.  They are going to start chemotherapy in a few weeks....blah, blah, blah." At that point, I really didn't hear anything else she said because for one I didn't even know he was sick again.  Two, I couldn't believe she just said, "Happy Birthday" to me because obviously how could it be a happy birthday when the next words out of her mouth were, "it's cancer." Three, I was almost 400 miles away and I wanted to be holding my Dad right then.  The diagnosis was not going to change in the next little bit, couldn't she have waited until I got home? 

God works in mysterious ways.  I was working at a dentist's office at the time and within a couple of weeks of finding out about my Dad's cancer, I was let go from my job.  I was upset because Jad and I definitely needed the income.  However, me losing my job was such blessing because when my Dad had his chemo treatments, I was there sitting next to him.  He had to have a procedure a couple of times and I was able to take him.

This is when it really got hard because I watched as my Dad got weaker because of the chemo.  Oh my goodness!!!  How sad it is to watch what chemo does to someone.  I wish so much that scientists could come up with a chemo that would just attack abnormal cells, not the good ones.  The red mustache I had always known my dad to have was gone.  He was already bald and what little hair he had on his head he shaved. =)  So, that was not a big deal.  But, seeing him without that mustache was sad.       

His cancer went into remission in April of 2010.

May.2010.  I don't know what happened, but that cancer came back and it came back with a vengeance.  It had metastasized to his lungs and liver and other places I probably don't know about.  He had to walk with a cane and he had to lie down a lot.

His family reunion has always been the first weekend in June.  That year his brothers and sisters had moved it to the second weekend.  My Dad wanted to go just like every year before and he did.  He was only able to stay for about an hour and most of that was lying down on my aunt's bed.  I remember lying down next to him on that bed that day.  That day was Saturday, June 12th.

June 14th, Monday morning came and I was at work (I had started my new job on May 3, 2010).  My brother-in-law called me at 9:30am and he said, "You know I told you that I would always shoot it to you straight, right?" I told him yes.  Then he said, "You need to come on down here.  Your Dad is not doing well." I knew my Dad wasn't doing well, but I didn't know it was that bad.  So, I left work and drove so fast to my mom and Dad's house praying the whole way to God that he wouldn't take my Daddy.  When I got there, he was lying back in his recliner and my oldest sister was sitting in a chair next to him.  By the way, she and my brother-in-law had moved to Washington, D.C. a month prior to this and by the grace of God they had come down to visit and go to the family reunion.  When I walked in, she told Dad I was there.  He looked up at me with those big ole blue eyes.  But he couldn't talk.  He.was.very.sick.  He was just lying there with his head turned to one side and then he would turn it to the other side.  A little bit later, my middle sister got there.  A very good friend of my Dad's that my he had met years ago because her horses needed shelther in a snow storm came with her daughter, Courtney, that is a nurse and is a friend of my Dad's as well.

When my Dad woke up that morning, he vomited up black stuff (probably dried blood) and he told my mom it was time.  It was time to call Hospice.

My poor sweet dad in the past was very resistant to pain.  He had even broken a finger before and just let it heal on it's own.  Of course, he never could bend it all the way after that.  Well, when he could muffle up enough energy to talk, he would tell Courtney he needed morphine.  When I think about this it saddens me because he must have been in so much pain.

Courtney talked to the Hospice representative and asked her to call in medication and oxygen for my Dad, as well as a hospital bed.

They were in route.

My Dad and his sister Ruby are very close.  She had just been there that weekend for the reunion.  She had left the night before to go back home to Texas.  My mom called her to let her know that she needed to head back.  She wanted to talk to my Dad.  My mom held the phone up to his ear.  Aunt Ruby was telling him to hold on because she was on her way.  He said, "You better hurry."

A little bit after that, my mom, my two sisters and I were sitting around my Dad right next to him.  We were touching him and talking to him.  He wasn't talking.  Then, my mom whispered in his ear, "If you need to go you go, we will be alright."  I thought I was going to lose it right there.  I silently sobbed because I knew the inevitable was coming.  Within a few minutes, my Dad's eyes shot open and he started breathing real hard and loud like he was fighting for those last breaths.  We hollered for Courtney to come.  She came running and put the stethoscope on him.  My reflex was to tell him to keep breathing, so I was crying, "Keep breathing Daddy! Keep breathing!"  Then I soon realized that was not going to happen.  I looked over at my sister and said, "Is this it!?"  I wanted my Dad to know I loved him, so I made sure I told him.  He layed his head back and that.was.it.  I looked over at Courtney and she shook her head no to tell me there was no heartbeat.  All I could say was, "Oh Daddy. Oh Daddy." 

The phone calls started.
Hospice was told to turn back.  We did not need to see them show up.  They were too late.
My mom called my Aunt Ruby.  She was devastated that she didn't get there in time.  But she was still on her way.
My mom called the rest of my Dad's brothers and sisters.
I called my husband that was on his way with Tanman. 
Z was in the next room, but I did not want him to watch his Papa die. 
My mom went in the room where he and my sister's boys were and told them.

This was something that I am not sure what to make of.  Z had been outside when Dad's heart stopped.  Z came in the house and when the door closes, it kind of slams.  When Z came in and closed the door, my Dad's heart started back up.  Courtney still had her stethoscope on him.  His heart beat a few more beats and then stopped again.  It was like he thought Hospice was there because he had been asking if they were there yet or if they were close.   

My Dad had told my Mom a couple of weeks before that this was like a freight train.  He couldn't stop it.  He just hated that he wouldn't be able to be here to protect her anymore and that he wouldn't be here to watch his grandsons grow up to be men. 

Time.stood.still.  The first grandson had passed away at the age of seven in 1996.  My Dad was with him now.  The other four grandsons that he would not get to watch grow up to be men were 13, 9, 8, and 2.

When I had got there that morning, he said he was burning up, but on the outside he was really cold.  So, when he passed we didn't have to feel his body go cold.  I touched his hands and face as much as I could and I kissed the top of his head as much as I could because I knew the funeral directors would be there to take him away sooner or later.

I would never get to talk to my Dad again.  Never. Ever. 

My Dad had always told me, "I'm gonna live forever."  He didn't realize that it would only be in our hearts.



Post a Comment

I love comments!! Thank You!!