End Game: The Fast and the Slow

“He is near the end.”

That’s the expression I’ve used frequently this weekend in answer to inquires of how Dad is doing. I don’t like saying it but it’s true.

The pace of nearly everything seems to be speeding up. I find myself racing around getting chores done, racing back and forth between the hospital, home, stores, banks, post office and other venues. I always ask myself, Is this something “I” have to do? Much of the stuff that I don’t have to do has already been punted. What’s left is mostly the daily financial stuff that comes from running two households (mine & my parents). A couple times a day I come in and throw kibble on the table for the dog and burgers on the floor for the kids.

The pace quickens further. After consulting with the doctor, the plan as of Friday was for Dad to remain in the hospital through the weekend and be released on Monday to the nursing home and hospice. Saturday morning, the doctor reassessed and gave orders for Dad to be release that afternoon. I walked into the hospital after my son’s soccer game to learn this was unfolding even faster than I imagined and I increased the pace of my own preparations.

The pace slows. I’m making the effort to have concentrated time with my kids. Time not focused on Dad or the rest but entirely on them and “us”. Friday night we went to a movie. Saturday morning I went to my son’s soccer game. I had Sunday Lunch with the kids today. For these few brief hours I am theirs undivided and they are mine.

The pace stops. When I sit with Dad, turn on the music, read scripture and pray over him or just take a deep breath… inevitably I fall asleep. Of course I don’t realize I’m asleep until a nurse comes into the room or I startle myself awake.

I have a lot more sympathy for the disciples who fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane. They are often portrayed as lazy or insensitive but Luke writes of them in his Gospel that they were “exhausted from sorrow.”  (Luke 22:45)

Dad is back in the nursing home. All indicators point to a time frame of only days at most. He is resting comfortably…

I’m trying to stay awake.


Mom continues to take all of this well. Upon Dad’s return to the nursing home last night we asked Mom did she know who Dad was? She did. (Yeah!)

Did she miss him while we was gone?  She answer, “Why? He’s been here the whole time!”


Mom was in the room as the hospice rep and I went over expectations and duties. At one point Mom interrupted us:

Mom:  “I’m in the room.”

Me:  “Yes, you are. Is there anything we are overlooking that you want to add?”

Mom:  “I’m a mother. Mothers can do things no one else can so if you need any help just ask…”

Me (smiling):  “Very, true…”

Mom:  “…I can spank both of you!”

Me: “…not what I had in mind.”


As we cleared out last night I watched Mom arrange the covers over her husband, making sure he was tucked in and comfortable.

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4 Comments on "End Game: The Fast and the Slow"

Profile photo of Denise
Sep 16, 2012

I’m always so amazed at your ability to keep pace with the pace and to focus on your true priorities. I have learned and continue to learn so much from you.

I’m grateful you keep us posted.

When you sleep, know the angels take watch for you.

Profile photo of ejourneys
Sep 16, 2012

Jo, I am consistently amazed at how you are able to find a balance when so much seems unbalanced. As with Denise, you teach me, too.

Your interactions and your parents’ interactions touch my heart. You show that in the midst of exhaustion from sorrow, it is still possible to crack a gentle smile. Thank you for that.

Sleep is a blessing and a healer. I wish you much comfort.

Sep 17, 2012

I second Denise and ejourney’s comments.

Saying prayers for you and your family.

Sep 17, 2012

Jo, Your posts always touch my heart. You are a remarkable person and I am grateful to know you through this site. The actions of your mom tucking in the covers for your dad were beautiful. You deserve rest and I hope you get it soon.