Living the Lasts

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Living the Lasts

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My heart is overwhelmed with sadness as I watch my Dad decline day by day. It is a series of lasts. I think of the last time dad was able to walk with his walker down the hall from his in-law apartment to our dinner table. Then I wheeled him down that same hall in a wheelchair, all the while knowing that the time was coming near when we wouldn't have dinner as a family at the dinner table, holding hands to say grace and enjoying each other's company, even if the conversation was more between my husband and myself as Dad got quieter and quieter. Now dinners are in his living room, him in his power recliner and my husband on my great grandfather's easy chair, and I on the sofa. At least we are together.

There is no more helping him get up out of his chair, using a walker to pivot into the wheelchair. Now we use a Serra lift to get him up. His strength is waning and now I am looking at the last of the days he is able to sit in his "comfy chair", aka power recliner, soon it will just be his hospital bed. I cry when I think of him the way he is most of the time now, half asleep, unable to answer me at times, and when he does speak it's only one to three words... more than that takes too much energy. I grasp at the hours when he is more alert and has life in his eyes.

It hits me when I walk into his bedroom and his grandparents bed is shoved into the corner to make room for the extra long hospital bed. I think of the last time our dog was up on Dad's old bed; it was a nightly ritual after getting Dad ready for bed, RJ would patiently wait while I put lotion on Dad's legs and feet, I covered him up with the comforter, then he knew it was ok to jump up and snuggle with Dad while he watched TV for an hour or so. The hospital bed is just too narrow for the two of them, but that doesn't stop RJ from nudging Dad's hand to pet him.

Today the physical therapist and I helped Dad stand up with the walker. It was a brief and fleeting moment so I took the opportunity to give him a hug. A far cry from the hugs where he used to squeezed me so tight they took my breath away, but I was grateful nonetheless. He told me he squeezed me so tight because he wanted me to know how much he loved me. It made me start to cry. I held his hand and we squeezed tight to let each other know we still do.

I'm really not trying to be gloomy, it's just all too obvious that the days are drawing to a close. His hospice nurse pulled me aside a couple of days ago and confirmed what I have been thinking. She handed me a booklet that explains the process of dying. I really tried to read through that booklet, but I got so choked up I had to stop. I wanted to yell -- NOOOOOOOO!! Time, please stand still!! Please don't take my Dad away from me! It felt like my heart was breaking in two. I tried not to cry in front of Dad, but it was impossible. I told him how much I'm going to miss him when it's time for him to go. I told him how much I love him. He let me know how much he appreciates all I do for him and that he loves me more. He told me he was at peace. I'm glad to hear that, I just wish I was too!

Even though I find I childishly think that he will defy all odds and never die, one day it will be the final last. I know I will be forever grateful for all these months of caring for Dad 24/7. I will not have one regret, only that he is not with me any longer. So for now I cherish each day that's left, knowing that soon it will be the beginning of firsts without him. I thank God for Dad, for the good and the bad times, for the lessons I've learned about living and dying, for his legacy of faith and faithfulness. I can only hope and pray that I will impact someone's life the way he has impacted mine. I am blessed beyond measure!

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LauraCT

Hi Barb! Fortunately my Dad has not passed yet and I am able to enjoy some more time with him. It's hard to see him declining, but I'm thankful for what we have.\r\n\r\nIt sounds like you really have your hands full with your Mom. I had to take over my Dad's meds and get firm with him not getting up without assistance after his stroke. He too didn't feel in his mind that he needed the extra help. I ended up getting a seat alarm that I used in his chair and bed so that I would be alerted if he tried to get up. It was very helpful. Now he is too weak to get up, so I don't bother with it anymore.\r\n\r\nI know that there are many frustrations involved with caregiving for a parent. I keep reminding myself that this is not forever and that I won't regret doing it after he's gone, because I did for him exactly how I would want done for me.\r\n\r\nGod bless!

jan

Thank you for sharing so many of your private thoughts and feelings with us. We are the stronger and braver for it. Holding you up in support today.

Denise

Thank you so much for this post, Laura. You write of the courage we find within to stay present during a time that feels too much for us. You stay present in love for your dad, in your goal to provide the best care possible. I hope your ability to be so present does bring you peace. \r\n\r\nKeep us posted as you can.

LauraCT

Thank you, Chevelle, and thanks for the scriptures. I know only God is getting me through this. I'll pray for you and your situation, it's not easy, but it's a blessing to be there for them.

cowislandmom

Laura, it sounds like you and I are in similar places right now - I've been thinking a lot about \"lasts\" with my mom. You expressed it very eloquently - do cherish the days you have left, and then the memories.

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