Mewsings from Lowecat (aka Indianacat)

My rants, ravings, and overall 'mewsings' on life, the universe, and everything.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

One Year Ago Today

My father died at 403 PM, 4 May, 2012, after battling prostate cancer for close to 30 years.  Ironically enough, it wasn't the cancer that took his life.  He had been ill with pnuemonia, and then developed an infection known as sepsis.  HIs immune system was quite compromised, so that even a simple cold could be problematic for him.  

When it was decided to move him from the hospital in Daviess County, IN to a speciality care hospital, I'd considered having him admitted to the one in Evansville, which was closer to his home, and where his oncologist and other doctors were.  It was suggested to me by my aunt that putting him in the Indianapolis hospital, though a longer trip for him, would be more beneficial to him morale wise.  The DH and I were right here, and could visit him frequently. 

I worried about the trip, over two hours by ambulance.  He was already very weak from being sick.  Yet, it made it successfully to the hospital, and that started six weeks of daily visits before work and on weekends by both of us, trying to cheer him up while taking care of his business matters - including making sure my step - mother's care was paid for.  

I don't regret a minute of those visits, except that there were times when he wasn't awake enough to talk to us.  I'd hold his hand, talk about the Cubbies, or about the neat restored cars on the auto auction being broadcast on tee vee.  I'd assure him that Mom (my step mom) was fine and everything was being taken care of.  I'd tell him stories about his great - niece Samantha, of the cats at home, of work and life in Indianapolis.  

He had a living will, and didn't want any 'heroic measures' such as breathing machines and the like.  We had him on a feeding tube so he could get nourishment, and saline to keep him from being dehydrated.  He was also on a bi pap machine to help him get better oxygen content.  I balked and refused to let the doctor put him on a full breathing machine, even though it lurked in the back of my mind that I was probably signing his death warrant.  There was no way that I wasn't going to abide by his wishes.  

In lookin' back over that last day of his life, he didn't open his eyes or say 'Hi' when I walked into his room.  He lay quietly on the bed, with the bi pap mask over his face.  His poor hands were very puffy and swollen from water retention.  They were also very hot.  I was afraid it would hurt him if I held his hand, but did so anyway.   I told him I loved him and would be back to see him tomorrow. 

At 335 pm, my cell phone rang and the caller ID showed it was the hospital nurses' desk on his floor calling.  I didn't think anything about it, as they often called me if they neede permission to give him blood.  This time, the nurse suggested that we get to the hospital ASAP, as Daddy was failin'. 

Robert was off, so I called him and told him to get to the hospital and why.  I was stuck at work and had to get permission to leave.  I called the team lead and our department manager, and had to leave messages.  The other team leads wouldn't give me permission to leave.   By 403 pm, he was gone. 

I finally got permission to leave, and was crying all the way to the hospital.  By the time I got there, the funeral home in Washington IN had been contacted and arrangements made for them to retrieve Daddy.  During that time that I was making calls and trying to get to the hospital, Robert was quietly packing Daddy's few possessions and waiting for me.  Daddy had been disconnected from the bi pap and the IV's.  They didn't cover his head.

When I walked into his room, he looked like he was asleep.  I thought to myself that they were wrong, he was just 'playin' possum'.  Then I laid my hand on his chest and felt no movement.  He was gone, and I didn't get to say goodbye.

In the year since, I've dealt with a lot of changes in my life.  There are times when I start to pick up the phone to call him, and then realize he's not there to talk to anymore.  I still follow the Cubbies, and carry his' Die Hard Cub Fan' card in my wallet, along with his picture ID card from the Methodist Conference.

My step - brother, Danny, had my father's car.  He bought it from me because I felt he'd driven the car so often for Daddy.  He'd also purchased Daddy's house a few years ago, Daddy lived there and paid the utilities and the property taxes.  Putting the property tax in Danny's name had been a hard duty, but I performed it. 

During basketball season, it was harder to follow IU basketball, as we'd often talk about what the team was doin' and their chances in the NCAA.  I'm sure he was proud that they went as far as they did this year.

The Indiana United Methodist Conference is having a service of remembrance for the ministers and spouses that passed from April 1, 2012 through 31 March of this year.  Robert and I will be there, as will my step mother's cousins.  Other members of the family have been invited, but if they can't come, they will be there in spirit.  We learned why the conference reached out to my older step - brother, John, regarding their needs for the service.  They misinterperted my letter that specifically informed them that John was the contact person pertainin' to Daddy's benefits and Rosemary's entitlements to them as he was THE contact person for everything.  Thank God that John's wife sent the contact letter to me so I could provide the picture and the write up for the conference journal - a task that Daddy had entrusted to me many years ago.

We also found out a few weeks ago why my birth mother never responded to the fact that the man she'd spent 26 years with and had a child (me!) with had passed away.  When she was hospitalized and in the ICU, she told Robert that she didn't figure it mattered.  Thanks, Mother.  A simple 'I'm sorry' would've been nice.  She's out of the hospital now, and we hope she's OK.  We don't know. 

Danny is now making changes to the house; which is only right and fair.  Robert and I went to the house this week in order to determine what items of Daddy's we wanted to bring home eventually.  Some items, like the IBM Selectric and the elements that go with it, some books, some of the puzzle art he made (he'd put puzzles together, then coat them with a permanent coating and put a backing on them), and a couple of suits that fit Robert went home with us.  The bigger items, like Daddy's metal desk and the metal storage unit, a few bookcases, the typing table, and Daddy's recliner, will come to Indianapolis later.  We've sent a letter to my birth mother, offering her the 25 inch color console television that we'd had as a family TV before they divorced.  If she wants it, we'll bring it to her.  If not, it goes to Goodwill. 

It was the first time I'd not felt Daddy's presence in the house.

We visited the gravesite.  There still isn't grass over his grave, I'm tempted to plant some catnip there so the cats can come visit.  He loved kitties, and would probably enjoy seeing them rolling in nip.  Daddy's friend, Gola McCord, goes out regularly to check on the flowers my Aunt Kay sent up for Spring, to make sure they haven't fallen out of the holders.  Robert allowed me all the time I wanted to sit by the grave and commune with Daddy.  I shared a lot with him, and could've sworn when I said 'goodbye' that I heard his voice in my head tell me to give the kitty cats a pat on the head so they'd know they're appreciated and for Robert and me to give each other a hug for him.

The pain of losing him is as fresh today as it was a year ago.  I miss him a lot, and all that he did for me, even when it was the tough love stuff.  It's not the first loss I've ever experienced.  I've had grandparents pass on, and have missed them, but after awhile, life goes on and the pain lessens until it's not there anymore.  I don't miss them any less, it just doesn't have that overwhelming ache.

This week has been hard, and today is not going to be any better.  I'm crying while writing this, because I miss my father so much.  It's my hope that we'll be real busy at work so that 403 pm will pass and I won't feel it.  But I probably will.