Let's begin with Monday evening 11th of 2012. I worked a full 8 hour day, and headed to Cabell Huntington Hospital. They were getting ready to transfer my dad to Community Hospice House. Within a few hours, my mom, my brother, my sister and I were headed in separate cars leaving the hospital for the last time and arrive at the Hospice House to spend the last days of my dad's life.
I remember as my mom, sister and I got there, we all were very sad, because we knew this would be the last few days of his life, but we were thankful for all the help he had been given up to that point. I remember doing something very stupid to try to make my sister laugh as we walked into the building awaiting my dad to get there by ambulance. Mom had paperwork to complete and we finally got to go in to see him in his new room. Mom was able to stay with him in the evenings and I went home to get ready for work the next day.
Tuesday, I worked another 8 hour day, my sister was there with my mom. Family was beginning to come in and be with daddy for his last moments. It was a very nice atmosphere. The Hospice House staff were great to daddy and my mom.
Wednesday, I went to work, but after a few hours, decided to leave, because I just wanted to be with daddy instead of at work. This was one of his best days. He was very talkative, had visitors, and was able to visit with them. It was a really good day. That night, I had forgotten my phone charger in the room, and when I got home, I called mom to make sure it was there. Told her I would come by the next morning before work to get it.
I arrived on Thursday, and went in to see daddy. He has asked for coffee that morning, but I couldn't understand him. I spoke with momma in the restroom about how he sounded and asked her if I would take the day off or not. She said to ask the nursing staff. I went out and spoke to them. I remember Tim's answer - "I can't tell you he's going to go today, but it's close." The other nurse said, "If you want to be here, then you should be here." I immediately called my boss, and asked her for the rest of the week off. I thought it was going to be close. She said, "no problem."
The family still came in that evening we all sat around enjoying the company and daddy loved it when the family was together. We had everyone there but my brother David. He was on his way on Saturday.
Thursday night, I headed home, thankful not to have to work the following day. The Today Show had their concert series going on and Justin Bieber was to perform. Daddy would usually watch The Biebs on tv when I couldn't, because he knew Madison and I really liked him. He would watch other people too... The Jonas Brothers, New Kids, etc. It was neat to have him tell me about what they talked about and sang about while on the show he had watched. That Friday morning, I got ready and was going to watch Justin Bieber with him, but he was asleep a lot of the day. He was tired.
As the day went on, the nurse came in and saw more signs that the time was coming to an end. Mom was out to dinner with my sister Leah and her family and when they got back, we began gathering by his bedside and singing, quoting Scripture, comforting each other with the words my daddy lived by. Remembering moments with him...serious and funny. He was a VERY special man to each of us.
In those last moments, I remember us watching each breath he would take...wondering if he was with Jesus or not. Finally, we knew...Tim came to check on him and confirmed. We left while they prepared the body. We came back and sang one more time and went home.
A year later...mom, my sister Becky and I go to the grave. We think about how fast this year has gone, and wonder how long it does seem. We know He's HOME with Jesus and are looking forward to joining him soon.
Today I knew would be hard. I wanted to be with my mom so bad, but also knew I needed to get away too. I made plans with a very good friend of mine. God has allowed our friendship to grow regardless of this loss. Today I was able to slip away from realty...sorta like I did while watching Justin Bieber last year.
Tomorrow is Father's Day. Last year, it didn't seem as hard for me, because he had just been gone for a little over a day, but this year, it's been a little harder for me. Walking in the card store and seeing the Father's Day cards displayed in a prominent place and reaching for one, only to realize I don't need on this year. I could get bitter about this, but I'm not going to. My daddy wouldn't like that for me...he definitely didn't teach me to respond to life with bitterness, so how am I going to spend my Father's Day????
I'm going to do as my dad would want me to if he were here with me. Serving Jesus. Teaching my Sunday school kids about Jesus and his love for them. Showing them that Jesus loves them by loving them too. Being in my pew listening to my pastor speak from the Word. Taking my mom out to dinner as we do each week. Enjoying an afternoon nap (hopefully), and then going back for evening service to hear more from God's word. My dad lived a life full of service. He is the one who taught me how to serve. He led by example. He lived his life as a picture of Jesus. He wasn't perfect, but his goal was to be Christlike...and I believe he achieved his goal.
I don't remember the times that I didn't get along with my dad, I remember those times that he was patient with me. Those times where he would joke with me about my "zumba" money. I think the best way you can keep memories alive is to talk about them.
This past week, I had to do something for my mom that daddy would have done if he were here and healthy enough to do...clean the gutters out. My mom handed me the broom and I said "Thank you, honey" in the same way that daddy would say it. It's remembering my dad in those moments that make me able to continue to live my life. To keep going each day. Is it hard? Oh yeah, it is! But thankfully I have a heritage that strives on life being hard...and knowing that God is good!