The Life and Last Days of My Father
On November 2, 2021 a shift occurred in the alignment of my family. To some family members the shift that accompanied my father’s passing had the seismic impact of the Loma Prieta earthquake, or the eruption of Mt. Saint Helen. Other family members barely registered it on their day to day Richter scale. I’m not saying the latter didn’t care. Only that his aging process put him in a category where being ignored was more comfortable for them. They loved him alright. But they ceased to see the value of time with him when he couldn’t converse as they remembered him. They didn’t understand that inability to speak clearly, didn’t mean he was gone. They didn’t understand how to listen with your heart. They didn’t get to see the gratitude in his eyes when you helped him do things he used to be able to do unassisted. They didn’t get to benefit from his last years because they couldn’t see the value they held. For that my heart grieves for them, as it did for my largely abandoned father. The death certificate will say he died of a stroke, but I know better.
My father died of a broken heart.
Last year I was checking his cognition and asked him who the love of his life is. Normally, he’d say my mom without hesitation, but that time he said, “my family.” He was a proud family man. Every time he discovered my mom was with child he wept for joy openly. He was so sympathetic to her morning sickness he threw up alongside her. How did this family man come to receive so little respect from his children in his last days and years? It had nothing to do with how he had lived his life. By most every measure he had been both successful and honorable.
My father worked hard for the majority of his life, a trait rightly seen as integral to success. He began working at eight years old. He cried when he was turned down for his first job due to his age but he kept applying. He even went back to that person the very next day! He was born in 1936. At eight years old the Second World War was still raging. His world view was shaped by the aftermath of the Great Depression and WWII. My father wanted to be useful and to contribute.
Pop was a rock around the clock teenager with slicked back hair, leather jacket and rolled up jeans. He met my mom at a sock hop where they danced the night away to sounds of Chubby Checker while performing a mean jitterbug. But that’s skipping ahead. Pop graduated Garden Grove High school in 1955 and joined the U.S. Air Force post haste, exchanging 50s attire for a uniform. He wanted to serve his country and see the world. Along the way he hoped he’d find a beautiful wife and raise a family. He met mama while on special assignment in Boise, Idaho, and oh was she a looker! Three months later, Valentine’s Day, 1959, he married her. Children followed like stair steps. The eldest was born in Boise, then came a boy in Washington, a girl in Nevada, another girl in Nebraska and the youngest, our baby brother, born in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Air Force rewarded hard work with increased rank and pay grade. Pop attained the rank of MSgt within the first decade. He obtained top secret security clearances as a manager of logistics for the Office of Special Investigations. He assisted with U.S. actions in Vietnam while stationed in Bangkok, Thailand and even went there on assignment from 1971–1972. He retired out of McClellan AFB in Sacramento in 1975. That was his first career. His second career was as a city bus driver. When you consider the conditions and dangers of some of the areas of Sacramento it had to feel like being at war sometimes. He did this job twenty years. Both careers came with a decent wage and benefits, two things in short supply in today’s world. Pop wasn’t wealthy by most standards but he and mom were comfortable and that was enough.
Upon moving to Sacramento in 1972 my parents purchased our first permanent home on Coronado Way. It was here that an attachment to place accompanied our solidified bond as a family. Memories of graduations, marriages and the birth of grandchildren adhered to this home like double stick tape. The late 1970s and 1980s was a baby boom of grandkids for our family with the first grandson arriving in 1978, then 1982, 1984, two in 1986, 1988 and four more in the 1990s. Grandkids born in the late 90s were at a disadvantage when it came to family memories. When my parents moved in 1998 the feeling of family began to unravel. Though their new manufactured home in a retirement community saw a few gatherings in its time, it never measured up to the glorious days of Coronado. Why bring up this home in an essay about my father’s life?
Because that home, in that place, came to define him and all he held dear. It became the anchor that kept our family from drifting away.
Writing in her book The Power of Place, public historian Dolores Hayden stresses the importance of place to a person’s sense of well being. Having a sense of place, Hayden relates, is both a biological response, as well as, a cultural creation. Environmental psychologists have described an attachment to place as binding as the bond between parent and child. Hayden laments that place is a problematic topic for the researcher, stating:
“If place does provide an overload of possible meanings for the researcher, it is place’s same assault on all ways of knowing, (sight, sound, smell, touch and taste), that makes it powerful as a source of memory.”
Memories of Coronado are evoked by its Dark Green exterior color, Papa’s Mexican music blaring on a weekend morning, the smell of Pop’s fresh cut lawn, the feel of the bark of the Olive tree which was the backdrop of so many photos and the taste of Mom’s tacos.
At first glance our home on Coronado was a perfect home. I say this not out of bias. It was the most pristinely kept home on the block. When my daughter told her classmates it was her grandparents home they exclaimed, “You mean the perfect house?” My father went to great pains to manicure the lawn with precision. He fertilized and seeded so it looked like a golf course fairway. There were no weeds, no dandelions, no eye sores often seen in a typical lawn. The lawn edges were neatly shaven, bushes regularly trimmed and sidewalk cracks clean from any kind of growth. He performed these labors with a willing heart and his melodic whistle. Papa could whistle in every octave. We had a mockingbird in our back yard that he would sing to and the bird would sing back. It was beautiful. And so yard work became a source of pleasure. He kept our yard so neat people stopped to ask for his business card; they thought he was a professional! That perception was aided by the fact that he was Mexican-American. He preferred the term American-Mexican. He always said we were Americans first and foremost. His ancestors had lived on American soil since BEFORE it was even America. They didn’t cross the border, the border had crossed them.
My Mom’s ancestry was a combination of European blood. She even had an acronym for it; FIGS, (French, Irish, German and Swedish). But both her parents had Irish blood and Irish pride. My father was born on Saint Patrick’s Day. He always said he had been destined to marry an Irish woman. Mom dyed her hair red my entire childhood and it looked natural. People often commented they resembled Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez, and they did. My parents were movie star gorgeous, both of them. Us kids weren’t a bad looking group either. And in this perfect house, this picture perfect family would cultivate a feeling of home whose roots sank deep into land.
Growing up we had our traditions. My father was big on tradition. Likely a byproduct of his own childhood and his Catholic faith. Church for the entire family was a Sunday morning necessity. We said prayers before meals and bedtime. We had Turkey at Thanksgiving, presents at Christmas and fireworks on the Fourth of July. Sports in our home rotated with the seasons; football, basketball and baseball. No year would be complete without the Super bowl and World Series. Once my son was born a new tradition was established of cutting down our Christmas tree on his birthday, December 12th. Usually we’d make an outing of this with our family friends which included childhood buddies, as well as, the families of our spouses. We’d get together first thing in the morning and have hot cocoa and sweet rolls. We’d tailgate out to Sloughhouse to cut the tree and then eat pots of stew or chili when we were all done.
There were many days that were mandatory family days like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the Fourth of July. Any day my parents were hosting a back yard BBQ could become a mandatory day, unless of course work kept you from attending. Even then, you would be expected to put in an appearance either before or after work. Football season was typically reserved for family. Sunday’s became events where games and food went hand in hand.
St. Patty’s Day, was another mandatory family day. Mom would make a pot or two, or three, of corned beef and cabbage and Pop would drink green beer with anyone willing to join him for a birthday brew. My father was a very social person, especially after a few beers. In fact, it usually took a beer or two to relax him enough to breathe off the vestiges of a long day at work.
My parents made sure we had plenty of ways to entertain ourselves at home. We had a ping pong table and pool table. We had a dough boy pool that was partially sunk into the ground. We had horseshoe pits in the back yard and croquette sets for whenever the mood struck us. We played volleyball and badminton. We played board games and cards. Most events saw us congregating around the table. First we’d eat and then play games. As our family grew Grandkids would play and watch movies huddled up together on Gramma and Papa’s bed. Always at these events my father was in his glory, reveling in the sounds and sights of his beloved family all around him. Never was he happier than during these family gatherings.
Papa could be a stern man and a disciplinary father. We were expected to say “yes sir” and “no sir,” or “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” to our parents. We were taught to respect our elders and do as they told us. My parents always bragged they could take us anywhere and we’d never embarrass them.
Papa also had a playful side and had a dry sense of humor that still makes me smile at times. When we were young and would get the hiccups, Papa would tell us that was caused by our dirty bottom. He said when we went to the bathroom we hadn’t wiped our butt well enough. It was a mark of growing up when you noticed the twinkle in his eye when he said it, or observed him laughing hysterically when one of us would run to the bathroom during a bout of hiccups.
Papa loved to steal our French fries after a trip to McDonalds. He never ordered a meal for himself.
He had a habit of putting his mother’s name, Rose, as the middle name of anyone he liked or was being playful with. It was a mark of acceptance when he did this to one of our friends. My sister, and now my granddaughter, are the only ones who bear the middle name Rose legitimately.
Every teacher, according to Papa, became “Mrs. Lavock,” my brother’s kindergarten teacher, whom he had proclaimed as the expert on most subjects.
Pop would tell us girls that we were going to get “the call” to become a nun. He’d say one night the roof would open up to the sky and we’d hear a voice calling out our name, he’d call out our name in a haunting and ominous tone, stretching it out slowly for added affect.
Pop always wanted a kiss good morning and good night but he wouldn’t let you do it unless you brushed your teeth first. He was big on grooming, especially clean teeth. Then, once your mouth was clean he’d let you kiss his cheek. He’d say “ouch” when you kissed him, making us laugh.
Papa did all his own home repairs. If he didn’t know how to do something he’d learn it. Once he had a furnace repair man walk him through how he’d repair our furnace. Once the guy left my father did exactly as the repairman had instructed, and fixed it!
We had a basketball hoop in our driveway and Papa was a formidable foe in a game of one on one. Papa also loved ping pong. Great memories exist of doubles in the garage, drinking beer and wine with the sound of the ping pong blending with music and laughter.
Papa, and all he held dear, became a part of the house on Coronado and it became a part of him. The two were intertwined like lovers on a moonlit night. If he had his way he’d have lived there until he died. However, as the neighborhood declined, safety issues created a great deal of stress for my parents, especially my mom, who wanted to sell the house and move to a safer place. They debated this prospect some time and Mama won, she always did. Pop would do anything to make her happy.
My father retired in 1998. In that same year they sold our home on Coronado and moved to a senior retirement community. Pop’s plan on retirement had been to tour the country in his RV and golf in as many different golf courses as he could find along the way. But once his legs stopped flexing daily from the rhythm of bus driving, gas to the break, the neuropathy set in, along with serious vascular issues that went undiagnosed for decades. He lost the ability to golf. He lost the ability to maintain his own yard. He lost the ability to do his own home repairs. He could not drive. Walking became more and more difficult as the pain increased over time. His golden years were not relaxing, they became a torture. He became incapable of doing lots of the things that had once brought him joy. Compounding his own physical challenges our family was drifting apart. No longer anchored by the home on Coronado, each family member drifted in another direction and there was no longer a place with the power it possessed to draw us in for celebrations or tragedies.
There were other factors certainly. Changes in spouses influenced some of my siblings, where the family of the new spouse was openly favored during holidays over our family. The conversion from Catholicism to Protestantism of one of my siblings had a huge impact as well. When she moved from Sacramento she denounced the sinful city along with her sacrilegious family and their sinful ways. She had openly been Pop’s favorite and her leaving broke his heart. I refer to her now as my “Christian” sister. Careful to put the word in quotations because from my experience her behavior has not exemplified Christ’s teachings.
In spite of that hurtful division, I still think the loss of Coronado played the biggest part in the disintegration of our family unit. If we had that shared place to reignite our memories could we have regained that sense of family? We’ll never know. Etched on the wall paper of the laundry room of that home were the growth patterns of two generations. Names, dates and measurment lines that were likely eradicated within days of new ownership. By now we’d have added a third and fourth generation to that timeline.
How much happier might Papa have been if he had suffered all of the losses of his golden years in the home he so loved, surrounded by those memories. Would the walls have echoed with past laughter when his heart filled with despair?
The Dissolution of a Family
Our family grew further and further apart both spatially and emotionally through the years. For my part I tried to bring us together at the holidays by giving gifts to remind them of family. I made scrapbooks, both physical and digital. I made and gave handmade items, like quilts and homemade clothing. Last year, in spite of their neglect, I gave both brothers gift cards of $100 for their birthdays, $50 from me and $50 from my folks. For Christmas I gave them coffee mugs adorned with childhood pictures. I had childhood 8mm movies digitized and shared. But none of what I’ve tried to do through the years could bridge the divide between us. There were simply too many layers of division blocking the possibility of reconciliation. As we grew apart we ceased to know one another. It’s hard to know people you’ve hardly spoken with in decades.
As my parents aged it became clear that they would need live in help. Papa always said if I put him in a home he’d run away. I believed him. So, in 2015, we both sold our homes and moved into a larger one together. I write about that transition in another blog post.
After moving in together six and a half years ago I found myself mostly alone in caregiving and often overwhelmed. My son lived with us for a time. Having him around was a joy, especially for my parents. He holds a special place in their hearts as the eldest grandchild. But my son was busy working, (as do I as a college professor), and expectations of him, (by my folks), were trash and occasional yard work due to his gender. Additionally, his own health issues kept him holed up in his room playing video games 90% of the time. So the caregiving, cooking and housekeeping duties fell to me 90–95% of the time. Is my house perfect? No! Goodness knows I’m not perfect. I’ve taught hundreds of students while simultaneously caregiving and trying to keep house. It’s hard. But my parents needs are always met with a smile and with love.
My niece visits at least quarterly and at times would watch my parents while I went shopping. But days off were out of the question. At one point I asked my siblings to step up a couple of days every quarter so that I could get a couple days off per month. I was told by my eldest brother that, “our time off comes at a premium.” With the exception of cooking for a couple of holidays and help with the yard on two occasions, no help would be forthcoming from him. The irony is that he lives closest, only forty minutes away, the exact distance I was traveling daily prior to my parents and I moving in together.
By taking personal responsibility for the care of my parents I have rejected societal norms and the “For-Profit” elder care industry that enable self serving attitudes and lifestyles. Crafty social engineering facilitated the transfer of an entire generation to “Care homes” where, during Covid, they died in mass numbers cut off from all who loved them. This eldercide was committed across America and around the globe. Coincidentally, hospital administrators in every Western nation made the decision to put Covid patients in Care homes, even in Sweden where they had no lockdowns.
I have little doubt that both my parents would have died last year if they had not been living with me.
When my folks and I moved in together the partisan division between my siblings evolved into a non-partisan division between siblings who wanted my parents cared for by experts, and those who supported our living arrangement. Before my parents and I moved in together, my “Christian” Midwestern sister tried very hard to lobby us to move to her area, which my parents rejected due to distance from the majority of our family and cold weather. She never forgave us that slight and took it very personally, even when it wasn’t. On one visit four years ago, (only the second of two since we moved here), she guilted me into leaving my own home for the duration of her visit claiming if I were present my parents would depend on me, not her. While I was gone she tried to bring in “experts” to take over things that I was comfortable doing, like medications and things I love doing, like cooking. She even had hospice arranged for my Mom prematurely. When we rejected her suggested outside assistance she became angry and prideful. She left in an outrage and then wrote my parents a letter informing them they were going to Hell and that she wouldn’t be seeing them again in their lifetime. My fiance has educated me on the dangers of allowing in-home care because of the corruption that exists which has channelled elders, via “home care expert” testimony to care homes. It happened to him with his mother and others he knows in North Carolina who lost their elders in a similar way.
In another blog post I wrote earlier this year entitled, Family Values, Elder Care and Personal Responsibility, I lamented the blind spot of conservatives when it comes to elder care:
“The party of family values, the one quick to point out how abortion has been normalized in society, is apparently blind to the normalization of for-profit elder care. If their behavior is any indication it seems they see little to no value in my parent’s lives in their diminished capacities. That’s where they are dead wrong.”
The stress of conflict with family over my parents wishes for their final days has been very detrimental to my own health. On my fifty-fifth birthday I suffered two mild heart attacks only six days apart. Last year tests showed I suffer from either thyroid cancer or an auto immune disorder. I was unable to complete further testing to figure out which, since my health insurance premiums were increased by eleven times making continued coverage unaffordable. Who knows if stress and exhaustion caused these issues? I might be suffering ill health in spite of caregiving. However, I wouldn’t trade these last six and a half years for any money. As difficult as they have been at times, they have taught me patience, perseverance, tenacity and unconditional love.
I only wish my siblings could share in some of the lessons I have learned. In the aforementioned blog post I wrote:
“The aging process was meant to be shared in multigenerational households so that we can keep learning from our elders until they pass. This process improves our understanding of ourselves and provides us with the opportunity to grow. When we abdicate our responsibility to our elders, we fail in our obligation to become the best versions of ourselves that we can be.”
My eldest sister is in regular contact with my folks and visits as often as she is in this part of the country. Only seldom have three of my siblings been to see my parents. Over the past six years, whenever they have come I have welcomed them with open arms and food and no hostility, even offering them a place to stay overnight if they choose.
(Postscript: in the aftermath of my father’s death I was not willing to have my brothers or “Christian” sister stay overnight in our home. I wasn’t as welcoming as past practice the first few times I saw them after Papa passed. In fact, I avoided them. The trauma of what they put us through in my father’s last days was still too fresh).
My father’s last days were made more difficult by my two brothers and one of my sisters.
The beginning of the end
In September, two days before my birthday, social services and law enforcement arrived at our home for a visit due to an “anonymous complaint of neglect.” This complaint was worded in such a way as to have only one source; my siblings. This explained why my older brother couldn’t bring himself to look at me when he saw me at my great nephew’s birthday party the weekend before. At least he had the conscience to be ashamed for his part in such malicious and unfounded allegations. During their visit the social worker found nothing to incriminate me. The house was clean, my parents well fed and well groomed and neither of them said a bad word about their care.
Why would my siblings take it this far?
It is my belief that my brothers want a clear conscience for not making the time to help me. They have been neglecting our parents for many years. My younger brother has been too busy for my parents since he married his current wife in the mid 90s. When he was married to his first wife he was a totally different person. Her family frequently attended and planned joint functions with ours. Not so with his new wife’s family. Only rarely has he show up at holidays, even when my parents lived 20 minutes away from him. Even when he did make an appearance he never stayed more than an hour. His own daughter admits his neglect of his parents stating she hardly ever saw her grandparents because of him. In his defense he was always upset that my parents didn’t make a bigger effort to attend my nieces soccer and softball games. He never quite understood how their declining health affected their ability to do this. My father especially. When his health failed him it did so in a big way. Crossing a field holding a lawn chair, much less sitting in it for any length of time was not feasible.
My eldest brother, (and his wife) have drinking habits that make a 40 minute distance too far to go after beers. I tried to make sleeping spaces, when we moved in here but my eldest brother’s wife got “the creeps” from our house, a sentiment I found offensive. I had been hoping that this home would become more like Coronado. I thought if I put in a guest room and multiple hide a beds we could play games and have a few drinks without worrying about driving. I had overestimated their desire to be near us and a part of our lives. It broke my heart, and my parents hearts too.
It is my belief that, for my brothers, placing my parents in a home enables them to confidently say that the experts have taken over. Then they can live their lives free of guilt for their neglect. I’m all that is standing in the way of that.
They manufactured consent for their neglect by running me through the mud.
My conservative “Christian” sister has more complicated reasons to oppose our living arrangements. She is still upset that my parents didn’t move to the Dakotas in 2015. In her view, I’m “selfishly hoarding them.” She has taken no accountability for the fact that it was she who decided to move 1,500 miles from our family in the early 90s. Besides, I supported a move to the Dakotas if that had been their decision. It wasn’t.
My sister has developed a useful fiction about me to justify her behavior towards me. We are only fifteen months apart. I’m the younger. And with my birth came resentment for the attention it took from her, even though she’s always been openly favored by our father. That was never enough. She had to have the open favoritism of BOTH our parents, or she wasn’t happy. Also, she was extremely critical of me as a teenage mother.
I was very young and in spite of the many books I read on parenting I was not ready for the responsibilities of parenting. I made mistakes early on, as most parents do regardless of age. But I tried to be a loving mother. Additionally, there were adverse things done to me that made coping with the challenge harder. Decades of abuse at the hands of two ex-husbands made taking care of myself and my family difficult. But my kids were fed, and clothed and loved to the best of my ability. God knows I did the best I could under my circumstances. His judgement is the only one I’m worried about. All of this is an aside to explain motive and intent.
Once my parents and I moved in together my sister began extending her character assassinations to allegations that I’m neglecting my parents. In her vision, my parents were starving while living in filth. The exact opposite of the truth. My home is well kept, but not spotless, and my family well fed.
My sister and I shared a room our entire childhood. She was an angry person who was openly hostile towards me most of the time.
With the exception of a couple brief visits, we’ve hardly spoken in the course of many decades. She doesn’t know me at all and appears to have no desire to try and know me. She holds a very prominent place in my younger brother’s mind as the keeper of morality. I believe she is the wizard behind the curtain in many of his actions. She’s always been a master at manipulation and very passive aggressive. In the past she has instigated actions and then feigned innocence. She and my younger brother are the most likely reasons for that social worker visit. My eldest brother, a self proclaimed liberal, may have played a prominent role as well. At the very least he knew about it and said nothing. In his silence he was complicit.
No outside person has been in our home to even make those allegations, especially due to the current Covid crisis. And my “Christian” sister is the only person bitter enough to have motive. My brothers are the only people self serving enough to have motive.
The downhill decline
After the social worker visit Papa began a downhill decline. We just thought he was upset about having that type of visit, from a social worker and cop in our home. He went from being mobile to being bedridden. He lost interest in eating and drinking. From my perspective, he was broken hearted and preparing to die.
As my father’s ability to function began to diminish I called his primary care physician to try and get hospice care twice. No one called me back. I was later told there was a nursing shortage that might explain this. Meanwhile, Papa lost his appetite. He went from one Boost meal a day to two. The day before we called the ambulance he stopped eating and drinking entirely. He was ready to die.
The day he was transported to the hospital we couldn’t seem to get food and drink in him and his breathing became very labored. We thought death was near and became very scared. In the ER the doctor advised me Papa had suffered a stroke three weeks to a month earlier. That would’ve been right after that visit. She consoled me and advised that it is very hard to detect a stroke with a patient like Pop who is mostly non-verbal from prior strokes. That explained his decline a lot.
In the midst of all of this, my brothers behaved awfully. They threatened Pop’s nurses with legal action. My parents had removed them from getting medical information. They were upset that the doctors and nurses wouldn’t release Pop’s medical information. I told them they would have to contact us directly to find out how he’s doing and that our trust in them was gone. I asked myself, “What is their end goal? How is their behavior even warranted in their minds?” I have been doing my very best, even to the detriment of my own health!
My brothers also told the nurses that the only reason my father was there is due to my neglect. This was, of course, a lie. Someone falsely claimed my father had lost 15–30 pounds in three months. The dietician, Deborah, came to his room to see, “this man who was withering away”. She advised us that he weighed more now than he had three years ago when he was there to remove his gall bladder. I tried to have those false claims removed from his record and could not seem to get someone to help.
My Mom called my youngest brother, the one most susceptible to my “Christian” sister’s manipulations, and tried to get him to stop behaving badly and lying. He tried to deny he had done anything wrong but we told him the nurses had advised us of his allegations of neglect. Then my Mom asked him why he hadn’t called her to see how she is. His excuse was that my Mom and I are unstable. I was incredulous at this statement. How stable was she supposed to be with our father in the hospital fighting for his life? In his calm bureaucrat voice, reserved for the pious, he waved away any criticism of his behavior while doubling down on his character assassinations of both myself and my mother.
The day Pop was transported I asked my eldest brother, who lives only 40 minutes away, to come spend the night with my Mom since my fiancé had work scheduled with a new job and couldn’t call off, and I needed to be with Papa. My brother refused because he had been drinking. Apparently the four hour advance notice wasn’t enough to sober up. Either that or Uber and Lift don’t work from his cell phone.
Meanwhile at the hospital, Papa began to improve with IV hydration. He had a speech therapist attempting to help him relearn how to swallow. Unfortunately, Papa suffered another stroke while in the hospital. They advised his ability to swallow was gone. The choice before us was to force feed with a tube and put him in a home, or hospice care at our home. We chose hospice.
But the social worker at the hospital seemed resistant to our wishes and we began to suspect that my siblings were to blame.
I sent my “Christian” sister the following email:
God knows our hearts.
He knows all our intentions. He knows all our actions. None of us have any secrets from Him. You think I’m a horrible, neglectful person. You’re wrong and God knows this.
If Pop is not sent home with hospice but to a facility, he will live out his last days in fear. And he may not last a day. Is that your end goal? Or is it just proving I’m the horrible person you think I am?
Think about this. Pray on it. Stop making his final days so stressful. PLEASE!
The truth is known about what is being said about me. We know you have manipulated Mike. God knows it. You know it. STOP! Let us all pray for guidance and for Papa to spend his final moments in his own home, in his own bed.
Thank you for reading this.
It was probably just coincidence that shorty after sending the email to my sister hospice was approved and we prepared to take Papa home.
In preparation for my father’s last days I let my siblings know they should say their goodbyes. My eldest sister flew in from Massachusetts. Her son got leave from the Marine Corp. My brothers came and spent a half hour or so. I had to go to my room while they were here. I couldn’t look at them. I admit I had a meltdown after they left. The injustice of their neglect and recent allegations were devastating to Pop and our entire household. But my brothers were welcomed as if they were innocent of any wrong doing by all who were here, including my fiancé. I felt betrayed and very much alone. My sister, the Conservative “Christian”, advised she would not be coming while Papa was alive, only after he died.
When Pop first came home he would only drink a little and choked up every time he tried. The last few days of his life he stopped trying to drink and wouldn’t allow me to put anything in his mouth, including his medicine. Hospice took him off most medications and converted the couple he was on to liquid form. I finally got him to swallow some water the day before he passed and was so happy he did. The alternative was to have him in a care home being force fed with a tube and hooked up to IV. Would he live longer? Maybe. Would he have any quality of life? No. Plus, mom and I are sure being in a “care” home even one day would kill him, especially being force fed.
He would’ve pulled out the feeding tube. When he was in the hospital he pulled out the leads to his monitors constantly. He pulled out his IV repeatedly. He wouldn’t even tolerate wearing oxygen with a mask or a cannula. He was simply done being messed with.
He was ready to go. I told him it’s okay. I held his hand as I cared for him. I kissed his forehead and cheek as I bathed and cleaned and shaved him. I told him how much I love him and that he had lived a good life. When he was in the hospital I sang to him familiar hymns from when my kids and I used to sing in the church choir. He liked that. I could tell by his eyes.
In his last days my nieces and nephews made their visits. My sister’s first husband came by. My niece came with her spouse and Mom, my brother’s ex-wife. We had a lovely visit with them, including a brief church service in his room. When they said goodbye my father waved back. He was unable to speak but still conscious of what was happening. The day prior to his death our Catholic priest gave Papa his last rights.
The next day his breathing became very labored. He was given morphine for his discomfort and as he lay my mom lay by his side. Her chronic pain made a nap necessary. After awhile my timer went off to give him more meds. Entering his room I could not hear his labored breathing. For a second I was hopeful, then I realized his breathing had stopped. I checked and there was no pulse. I put the oxygen censor on his finger tip, “No finger” appeared on its display. My father had passed away. Papa died in his sleep, in his own home, in his own bed lying next to his wife of 62 years. I promised him I’d never put him in a home. I take comfort in having kept that promise.
I’ll never regret caring for him these many years. But the way he died, of heartbreak is something I will struggle with. Knowing my siblings, I will be forced to pretend they never did any harm, nor will I expect any apologies. I have to pray when the moment is right I will be open to reconciliation, without remorse. It’s a challenging prospect. His heartache and abandonment at their hands is so near to my memory.
They made every excuse they could to justify their neglect of my parents all these years, even to the point of dragging through the mud, the one daughter willing to care for them.
The added stress and acceleration of my father’s death from their latest manipulations is, at present, unforgivable. I need to pray for a heart of forgiveness because bitterness will only change me. There is always hope that my family might remember his love for us and put aside pride and resentfulness. I know he’s rooting for this from his new place among the angels.