November 2011. Well, this was a month that changed our lives. Well, it started off with a snow storm and a week long visit from Haley and Emily and ended with Dad's funeral. Let me try to describe the month that was filled with impossible, wretched, demanding, despairing, astonishing, implausible, uncertain, and ultimately the most loving and caring of moments and experiences I have ever known in my entire life.
I spent 21 out of the 30 days of November in Monson with my family. During the beginning of the month, the uncertainty of what lay ahead of us loomed large in my mind and heart as well as I know in Lindsey and my Mom's. Dad did not speak to me too much of what lay ahead and I felt a slight distancing from him. The transitions we saw and experienced daily were all part of the journey that Dad was taking.....leaving this world as we know it and moving on to the next part of his journey......(this part I do grapple with as I have many ideas and suppostions but no concrete belief about where Dad "went" when he passed....this grappling continues now, in March of 2012 and I wonder if I will in fact figure this out).
It felt good to be at my Mom and Dad's house, helping out, just being there. I felt it was the place I needed to be. Katie and Will and Joanne and Marc did a great job helping Luke out with the kids at home so that I could be with Dad on his last leg of the journey.
I remember much of the month in slow motion while in reality everything happened so fast. Dad was golfing and working outside laying sidewalks at the beginning of the month. He was weaker and more tired, but still very active as much as was possible for him. On Sunday, November 13, we had an early Thanksgiving celebrating at Tom and Esther's house with Ba and Bumpy, Paula, Lisa, Brian, and Ben and Linds, Chris, Haley and Emily, Luke, Kyle, Eric, Aiden, myself and Mom and Dad. We had a nice meal and it was a warm day and ALL of the men played a game of wiffle ball afterwards with Dad as the designated pitcher. :)
Dad was not feeling well but still so functional. The week ahead proved to be one of big changes. From that day on I stayed at Mom and Dad's until the night of Dad's funeral on Nov. 29.
We met with hospice that week and they seemed impressed with Dad's fortidude and his attitude. This was on Tuesday the 15th......by Saturday the 19th, when Linds had also come to spend the weekend, Dad had weakened, become jaundiced and was in a completely different place than he had been the fews days before even. Hospice quickly agreed that the disease was progressing rapidly and there would not be much time left. On Sunday the 20th, Kyle, Eric, and Aiden and Haley and Emily all came to say goodbe to Pa/Papas. This evoked a gut-wrenching saddness in all of us that I still cannot think about without nearly suffocating in tears. But we were lucky to have that time and so astonished by Dad's capability to withdraw from his pain and sickness for those brief moments to hug each of the kids and speak special and unique words of love to each of them.
Once the boys left on that warm Sunday afternoon, the true meaning of hospice set in as Dad was placed in a hospital bed in the front living room and 24 hr care began by Mom, Linds, myself, Aunt Nancy (our angel who never left us- she knew we needed her there) and by other various friends and family who were always closeby and there with Dad. To me, the last four days of dad's life were heartbreaking yet a testament to my Dad's greatness as a person. It was obvious that he meant so much to so many people and that he truly knew the wonderful gifts of authentic and unconditional love and friendship. Dad was a figther and we loved and cared for him until his very last breath at 2:48 am on Thanksgiving morning, November 24, 2011.
The following days all blur in my mind and mostly I felt numb. I watched my sister and my mother accomplish what seemed to me to be amazing tasks as they ran on adrenaline that I felt I had none of.....the services were hard but not as hard as I imagined. What was the most difficult thing for me was leaving my Mom and driving back home that night after Dad's funeral. I sat in the driver's seat of my van and waved good bye to mom and thought of all the times before that I had left that driveway and waved goodbye to mom and dad standing side by side watching us drive out. I had always peeked in the rearview mirror and once we were leaving the driveway, Mom and Dad would say something to each other and go back to their "chores" or whatever they were up to....and now I peeked back through tears to see Mom watching us all leave, standing there by herself. Hurt is not the right word to describe how my heart felt.....there are no words. I felt lost....suddenly without a father and one of my biggest fans. Life was changed forever in November 2011.....