My hands on his warm forehead stroking his hair, rubbing his shoulder feeling his heart beat in a fitful way, all the while listening to his ragged rattling breath. It’s 9:30 on the last night of my Father’s life.
It’s strange to be here. So surreal, I want him to know. We’re here (my wife and kids with their loves) surrounding him in his room at his personal care home, in the memory care unit. I never saw it happening like this, but then again I never envisioned this at all, not really.
Does he know how loved he is, Especially in this moment. Is he scared? Am I comforting him at all? Should I go get mom and bring her for these last moments? Mom’s just upstairs, but she’s probably asleep, having prayed with and said goodbye to Dad earlier this evening.
As I continue to caress Dad’s shoulders and every now and then tell him I love him, I look around at my family. I’m blessed to have them with me. I know they are there for me, just as much as for my Dad, so neither one of us are alone in this moment. My daughter all of a sudden notices a change in Dad’s breathing, it’s getting shallower and she knows what that means. She’s been through this just 4 months earlier when her grandmother, my mother-in-law died. It’s a signal the end is close.
A few more moments pass and the door opens and in comes my mom being pushed in her wheel chair by a nurse from her floor. Before we see her we are greeted with her familiar, “Yoo-hoo!” She comes over to Dad where I’m sitting, I’m relieved to see her, but also surprised, and at the same time I notice Dad’s skin has grown colder, and he’s barely breathing. I note that it’s 10:50PM.
Mom wants to get in bed with Dad but that’s a difficult proposition considering her condition, but I get her as close to Dad as possible. I reach under Dad’s covers and get his hand then place it in Mom’s as she’s reaching for it unable to see it. Mom takes grasp of Dad’s hand and says,
And with that. Dad takes, what seems to me a be a big breath, lets it out and ceases to exist here with us. It’s 10:51 PM and my Dad is no longer here.
It’s so surreal. Wasn’t I just a little boy sled riding with my Dad? Didn’t he, as a first base umpire, just call me out at first base in t-ball. It feels like yesterday Tom Seaver and the Mets were playing the Pirates as we strode together to Three Rivers Stadium. I feel he and mom just took me out to Hoss’s Steak House at IUP on a visit. It wasn’t that long ago that we went to Praise Keepers in Washington DC with my brother and brother-in-law, was it? Weren’t we just having a political argument in Myrtle Beach. Didn’t he just come to my wedding. I swear it was just yesterday that we were doing a jig saw puzzle after we moved him and mom into our house to take care of them?
But he was 91 and I’m 57 and it’s all a bit confusing. Where did the time go? And why does it all seem so close?
We get mom, after a bit of just spending time loving on each other, back upstairs and in bed. Then we all head home. When I lay down to sleep my head very heavy sinks into the pillow and sleep surprisingly comes easy and deep.
That was the night my Dad ceased to exist here with us. Then yesterday the first day after Dad’s departure I began feeling all the feels again and by night time I found myself unable to sleep.
I knew my Dad to be a man who served his whole life in church. He loved singing in the choir, that’s where he met my Mom, he never stopped singing in church until Alzheimer’s took that away, like so many other things, from him. Yet he was of a generation that held their faith very close and privately. Still I couldn’t deny that his faith provided a foundation for my faith. But the enemy likes to attack us in our weakest moments and when you lose your Dad I think that counts as a weak moment, certainly emotionally. Sort of, “kick ‘em while they’re down”. the enemy does his best to spread doubt.
I found myself needing God’s reassurance that Dad is ok. So, I prayed God would give me a sign. then settled into an unsettled night of unrest.
This morning I woke up to my son waking my wife and saying she needed to get up. You see, my daughter-in-law was to have a baby daughter in about a week. Well, her water broke and that baby is on its way!
I’m taking it, that’s God’s sign! Because you see new life is exactly what my Dad is experiencing in Heaven and that’s exactly what’s coming this very day for our family!
My wife posted on Facebook the night my Dad passed that:
“David’s dad, Art, passed away a little bit ago. We were all able to be here with him, play old hymns, and reminisce. This has been a season of sadness for our family these last few months but we hold fast to the truth that, ”Weeping may last for the night but joy comes in the morning” Psalm 30:5 💜
Well hello God! Joy comes in the Morning or should I say Mourning.
It’s things such as this that prove my God to me. There are more times than I can recount where God has just floored me and those I love.
The truth is
”Weeping may last for the night but joy comes in the morning” Psalm 30:5