Hello Grief

March 7, 2022

 I've put it off long enough and took a minor blog break over the past two weeks. 

After 8 years of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck that quickly metastasized to his lungs, and bone cancer that was diagnosed in summer of 2021 after months of pain... Dad passed away. 

It does a number on your body having treatments every three weeks for 8 years, sometimes more frequently when radiation was added on. Plus the COPD. The last several months were not his friend, all the man wanted in life was to be piddling around outside and this winter he really lost the ability to get around easily. 

Then in January he was hospitalized with Covid and Pneumonia. Somehow he made it through (you can attribute that to the two vaccines and booster). 

It's strange to get to this point. 

For many years I've called Mom to see how Dad was doing and feeling, asked for treatment updates, and occasionally asked Dad how he felt. 

He wasn't one to always be honest about the cancer. Once he didn't tell anyone for a month that he tumors in his lungs has grown and moved around yet again. 

The last two month's I had to cease asking him how he was doing all together, I'd get some grumbly answer about how he was only able to watch TV since he couldn't get outside. So then I'd tell him stories about whatever Elliot was doing to make him laugh and we wouldn't address how awful he felt. 

If you've ever questioned human will to live, Dad is a good example of willing himself to stay alive. 

Several years ago he wanted to quit treatment but we talked him into continuing. But when treatment finally stopped in December, he didn't deteriorate as quickly as I anticipated. I mean seriously, hospice had been suggested and treatment had been stopped...and he came back home from the hospital after Covid. I feel like he went back and forth about what he wanted, and while he would threaten to stop treatment, he didn't really mean it at the time. He was just frustrated. 

I went to visit him the weekend of February 11th. (was summoned to visit is probably a better way to describe it) We had an actual discussion about how he had wanted to stay alive until the Super Bowl (he loves football). Since he had made it, I made sure he could access the game and Mom got him the snacks he wanted. I was given an earful about this and that and then I headed back home. Then the man who had barely been eating anything rallied to eat a bit of chips and dip. 

In the week that followed he continued to have these COPD induced breathing episodes where Mom and the hospice nurse would have to fuss around with his medicine to get him breathing comfortably again. It carried on here and there until the 20th when he told Mom he was tired of feeling that way. Either Wednesday or Thursday (I can't remember now, which is why I'm typing this out - so I can read it when I forget later) the worship pastor from my mother's church came by to visit. They had a long talk and Dad accepted Christ as his Savior. (I might write more about this later) 

I woke up early in the morning of the 21st (3:33am) with unexplained anxiety (turns out around 3 is when he started having trouble) and never could fall back asleep. At 5:30 Laura called Jeremy's phone and said we needed to get up there, the hospice nurse said he was going to pass very soon. Before we could get our bags packed another call came in, Dad has passed away at 6:06am. 

That was like him though, he didn't want the three of us (Jeremy, Laura, and I) hoovering over him. He wanted it to just be him and Mom, and that is what he had. A very peaceful death with Mom holding his hand. 

I'm not happy and even that okay with the idea of not having him around any more. His humorous presence and knowledge about gardening and raising birds will be missed. Dad was always very easy going. He enjoyed being with his family and doing things outdoors the most. 

However,  I will fault him for ruining the wild cockapoo Dill. He was left with Mom & Dad for two weeks in the fall he didn't know how to jump and stayed in his little puppy pen, no problem. Dad, the dog lover, taught that nut to jump on the bed to cuddle with him and his rotten dachshund Rudy. It doesn't take Dill long to learn, so he came home escaping the pen and having to be told to stay off the bed and couch... he still constantly tries to do it. Doesn't help that Dill acts helpless at their house and refuses to go outside without assistance because he's afraid of squirrels and the neighbor's dog.