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Waving 'Good-bye'...

My Dad passed away last week.  

I took off work the week before he passed, and then took the week after, as well.   

I will miss him.His laughter (he laughed like Popeye), and his abundant kindness.

He loved me. 

I'm glad I was there for him.  And I have no regrets.

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I might post something later in the week.  Until then, here is a re-post, to tide you over. 

Waving 'Hello', Waving 'Good-bye'...

My dad is back in hospice.

This will be the third time.

His Alzheimer’s has progressed to the point where his brain has stopped sending signals to various parts of his body.  He now spends entire days in a kind of infant-like sleep where we are barely able to keep him awake long enough to eat a little something.

My mom has been his primary care-giver for the past five years, with a lot of help from me and my ex.  In the past year, she finally agreed to contract people to come in and bathe him.  And a year ago, a hospital bed was purchased and placed in the living room.  This bed, his wheelchair, and his assisted lift chair are where he spends the bulk of his current existence.

The nurse in charge has made it clear to my mom that there will soon come a day when my dad will be confined to his bed and eating will no longer be a priority.  The hospice staff is there to make sure he is comfortable and pain-free.

I visit once a day and stay for at least an hour and a half.  Typically, when I arrive and give him a hug, my dad will wake long enough to stare at me blankly before drifting off once more.  Then I make myself a cup of coffee and visit with my mom, checking to see if she needs anything.  I check the house to make sure things are being maintained.  I mow the lawn.  But the purpose of my visits is primarily to break up the monotony of my mom’s day. 

Caregiving is difficult.  In this case, it is relentless and it is exhausting. 

Sometimes, my ex will visit at the same time.  He’s a talker, so he keeps my mom thoroughly entertained.   Frequently, the animated conversations will jar my dad awake.  I’m always on the lookout for these moments.

I will wave and talk to him, doing my best to elicit a smile or some kind of reaction.

Yesterday, during such a moment, it occurred to me that these days…

…I don’t know if I’m waving ‘hello’, or waving ‘good-bye’.

I want him to know I’m there.

Even though it’s hard for me.  Even though it’s emotionally exhausting.  Even though it pains me to see him fade away.

I want to be there.  And I know I need to be there…

…waving ‘hello’…

…and waving ‘good-bye’.


mistress maddie said...

My sincere condolences to you Upton. I have only loss one parent,and even though my father isn't around anymore I found peace when he passed, for I knew he wasn't suffering anymore. You will be in my thoughts. XOXO

anne marie in philly said...

my condolences, dear. how is your mom doing under the circumstances?

my MIL passed in hospice last thursday; pneumonia and a host of other aliments took her.

HH said...

You have my condolences and deepest sympathies on the passing of your father.

whkattk said...

Oh, Upton...I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you and my thoughts are with you.

Mark Greene said...

I wish you and your family the best. It is a very special thing to have a person touch you in such a way that is not even describable in words. I believe God puts people in each others lives for that very reason.
BTW : I love the song by Odetta Phoebe Snow and Janis Ian. Its good to know that others know about Odetta. She was an amazing folk singer. Thanks for sharing.
Thinking of you and your family.


a{GAY}tekeeper{iam} said...

my condolences

Anonymous said...

Please accept my sincere condolences for your loss.

BlkJack said...

I, too, am sorry for your loss.