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).
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.