I’ve wanted to write about the experience, but each time I sit with my red leather journal or at the computer, words fail. Yet …. I need to write about it. Perhaps someday it will come out. I had written a little bit about my father’s battle with Alzheimer’s previously (Hope).

Daddy’s Hands in Prayer: He truly possessed the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Last week was intense. Daddy went into the hospital Tuesday night and was released Wednesday night to go home to die, at his request. My mother, all of my brothers and sisters (I am the oldest of 10), and most of his 21 grandchildren were with him in his last days. We kept vigil, sometimes praying, sometimes telling stories, sometimes laughing, sometimes sleeping, from Wednesday evening until Friday morning.

We were all standing around his bedside as he took his last breath on Friday morning, June 8. His death was dignified and peaceful. Although we are enormously sad, we are thankful that his struggles and pain are over and that he and my family, especially my mother, are spared further ravages of that horrid disease Alzheimer’s.

I am blessed that I was able to be with him. Had this happened just two weeks later, I would have been on the other side of the world.

I am blessed that I had the opportunity to stand by his head, with my older son beside me, during his last moments.

I am blessed that he was where he wanted to be, at home. There were no tubes, lights, monitors, machines, strange sounds and scents … only the peaceful sounds of prayer and soft tears.

I am blessed to have spent five days with my large family; by Monday, both of my sons were with me. Because we are spread across the country, it is rare that all of us are in one place at the same time. Our father brought us together in a very special reunion.

One of Daddy’s favorite Bible verses is from 2 Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day —and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Tim 4:7-8 NIV)

He has finished his race, he has kept the faith, and he now has his crown of righteousness.

Alzheimer’s had stolen bits and pieces of my father over the last several years so that he was only a shell of the great man he once was. He suffered with breathing problems and heart problems, and throughout his life he lived in constant pain in his feet and his back.

He had only an 8th grade education, but he was as intelligent as people with triple the amount of education. His mind was sharp and clear; he could calculate any problem, design (and build) a kitchen or a house. I rarely saw him just sit and rest; he was always working on something, whether hoeing in the garden or building a piece of furniture (after putting in 8 – 10 hours in the factory).

I am blessed to be his daughter, and I am doubly blessed to be able to spend his last hours on this earth with him.

I don’t have a picture to share; I took some, but they are private. However, as I left the church after the reception, I glimpsed a bee hard at work. Because my father worked so very hard all of his life, I thought it appropriate that this bee would be there for me.

taken with Canon G12

The Blessings of Good-bye

24 thoughts on “The Blessings of Good-bye

  1. So sorry for your loss Mona. You were indeed blessed that you were able to stay close to your dad during his final moments. He will live on in your memories.

  2. I’m sorry for your loss. I know that as you sift through the memories of your shared lives, and the memories of those last few days together, that you will find a smile here, or a glance there, and those little bits will be enough to help you through these next months and years. Hold tight to all the good bits, and let go of the rest.

    My mother suffered through the cruel disease of Alzheimer’s, and during those last six years of her life, despite all the ways the disease changed her, there were still some precious moments where the essence of her spirit survived and found the light of day. Those are the moments I hold on to now. Her gentle smile. The peace in her heart. The way she embraced her beliefs.

    I am glad that life was kind enough to allow you to be with your father when he passed. Those very precious and private moments will stay in your heart for a very long time. Mine carry me through some of the roughest of days. May yours do the same.

  3. Oh how great the verse “Death where is thy sting” in light of your beautiful testimony. Your dad left a wonderful legacy of faith for your family and I hope it gives you joy, peace and comfort in the coming days. We all live for the promise of God who tells us “He will wipe out every tear from our eyes and death will be no more, neither pain or sorrow, the former things have passed away.”

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

  4. Thank you for sharing. It is hard to see a parent pass away , it is also a blessing when it happens in peace. You are in my prayers and God bless you and your family who stay behind.

    • Thank you Kavi. My family and I have truly been comforted through the prayers of many, and in the knowledge that he is finally loosed from the bondage of pain.

  5. Mona, my deepest condolences. Thank-you for sharing personal moments of your father’s last days with us. May you and your family find comfort with one another and with friends. God bless.

    • Thank you, Cathy. You know, his death was so dignified and peaceful, and he’d been in pain for so long, that this is truly a blessing. I get a tear now and then, and I am enormously sad that I will never see him again (at least in this life), but I am happy for him (and for my mother who was exhausted caring for him as the Alzheimer’s took greater control of him).

      • I appreciate your comment Mona. I’ve also watched loved ones with lingering illnesses. It’s never easy to see a loved one go. I hope your mother will be able to take some time for herself after all the care she gave to him. Bless you.

  6. So so sorry Mona. The passing of a generation is never easy and the sadness of it will always be there but the pain will go further to the horizon as time goes by… I know. God bless.

    • Thank you. Although it was a blessing, I am deeply sad that I will never see him again…. as you probably know. Thank you for your comment. God bless you.

  7. I’m glad that you recognized all those many blessings–the remembrance of those will give you peace. Whenever I hear a whip-o-will, I think of my dearly departed Nana (we used to listen together to the call of those birds in the evening). Perhaps, the sight of bees buzzing around flowers will give you fond memories of your father.
    Go bless you, Mona!

    • You are right about the peace. As soon as I start for feel sad, I do remember the blessings. Bees around flowers? Yes. And so many other sights and sounds. That’s a lovely image of your Nana and the whip-o-will’s beautiful song.

    • Thank you. Sometimes I see or hear something and get just a bit of a tear … sadness that I’ll never see him again, but relief that thanksgiving that he no longer suffering. It was a dignified and peaceful death. A blessing for all of us.

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