Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm back home

My Dad has been ill for years now.  He's had various medical conditions.  Without going into too much detail, let me just say never smoke.  Emphysema and COPD are not fun.  He was in ICU last week when Dr. B wanted to speak with us.  He felt it was time to go to hospice or end of life care.  Mom and I decided to move him from ICU to the 3rd floor of the hospital.  They had stayed there most of their times in the hospital.  That night many of the nurses came in to see my parents, cry with Mom, and to thank her for bringing him back down to them.  A couple of nurses even came in on their off time.

Friday morning it turned worse.  We decided that with everything else going on, we would make Dad a DNR.  When Dr. B was talking to us, and crying with us, he told us his last memories of his Mom was on a ventilator, waiting for his brother to get there to say goodbye.  He asked us to think about that and decide what we wanted that last image to be.  We wanted something peaceful, like Paw Paw had.  Friday morning, with my Mom's hand on his heart, he passed away.  We knew it was coming, but that doesn't make it any better.  There were a few family members there with us at the time as well.

We checked the weather forecast to decide what day to hold the funeral.  We were in the 20's and 30's, so a high of 54 sounded great, with no rain making it even better.  The ceremony was simple.  My Uncle Little Erie (oldest of the boys) performed the service.  You see, years ago, all Uncle Little Erie wanted was to finish his coffee.  My parents were going over what my Dad thought he wanted, to be cremated, and what Mom was never going to let happen.  He agreed, only if Uncle Little Erie would perform the service.  In order to finish the coffee while it was still hot, he agreed.  He said he thought he would duck out on it, but the older he gets the more he realizes a last wish should always be honored.  After the service 10 pallbearers carried him from the church to the family cemetery, about 50 yards away.  Graveside was an almost full military service.  We had the folding of the flag, a 21 gun salute, but no Taps.

The family cemetery is located next to all of our family property.  We walked over to my Aunt Glennis' house for something to eat.  The Navy sailors from the honor guard came with us.  They don't usually get invited to something like this, and more often than not, they can't stay if they do.  This time it just worked out.  They sat down with us to eat and have a beer.  One of them even ate crawfish for the first time and loved the crawfish bisque so much he got the recipe before they left!

Everything was very simple and nice.  It was exactly what he would have wanted.  As for the beer, no we don't usually end things this way.  It was a request given to Ronnie months ago.  And one that he honored.

And to clear up a few things:  Granny has informed me that she was not 21 in that picture, she was 17.  And Paw Paw was not in a Caddy, he was in a Ford. He was too young and broke to have a Ford when that picture was taken.


Amy said...

Angie, what a wonderful thing that y'all were able to honor your father's wishes in such a fine way! There is no right or wrong way to deal with loss. Every family (and even individuals in the same family) deals with a loss in their own way. Thank you for sharing a little with us about the special ways you honored your father.

Love & prayers,

C. Beth said...

It sounds like the service and meal afterward really "fit." I'm so sorry for what you're going through and I hope the happy memories outnumber the tears soon.

stacief said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Angie. I am glad that you got to say good bye in a fitting manner! Tho it is never easy to say good bye...

Steph said...

I'm so sorry for your loss Angie. My father-in-law died more than 10 years ago now. We still miss him but it's not painful anymore. Our oldest son was only 3 months old at at the time and we've made sure to tell all four boys lots of "Grandpa Fred" stories over the years so they get to know about their grandfather.
Keep all your happy memories close to your heart! Sounds like a perfect service for you dad.