Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Rest of October

Dear Blog and Blog Readers,

I am sorry that I neglected you during the month of October.   October became a whirlwind month of travels both literally and on the emotional roller coaster of life.  Now that the month is over, I can look back and see that in the difficult days, there were also many blessings.  In this single post, I am including most of the photos from October and the story of my last month.  As you will see, some days the photos just didn't happen.  Though I will "make them up" so that my Photo A Day from 2014 is complete, leaving the holes as I post today is also indicative of the way my month went.

Thank you all for your patience and support.

With gratitude,

283/365-2 Off-Prompt

On Friday October 10th, Weber and I left early in the morning for Delaware to go visit my dad.  Though our trip had been previously planned, it turned out to be a good time to visit because he was in the hospital.  When we arrived, Dad looked much weaker and more frail than he had six weeks earlier.  He was running a fever and the doctors suspected that he had a touch of pneumonia.  They pumped him up on antibiotics with the hope that that would keep the pneumonia from progressing and generally help him to feel better.  He had very little energy so long visits were not the best thing for him.

Hospital visiting hours ended at 8pm.  Weber and I went back to the house to settle in and find something to eat.  On the table was a book,  A History of the United States.  That doesn't seem like such a big deal; there are lots of history books in the world.  This one, however, had a copyright date of 1876.  It was written for the United States centennial and it ended with the Grant administration.  Needless to say, the history buff to whom I am married disappeared into these pages for awhile that night.  Dad gave us the book to bring home.

284/365-2 Vibrant

When we arrived at the hospital Saturday morning, things were not looking any better.  In fact, they were really not good.  It had been determined that dad had received all of the possible treatment for his cancer.  There was nothing more that could be done.  Though he said that he wanted to go to a care facility, I was fairly sure that that was not what he really wanted.  He was just saying that to make things easier on me.  By the middle of the day, I finally got him to admit that he wanted go home.  That set into motion all the things that needed to be done to arrange for hospice care as well as around the clock care once we came home.

Originally we were supposed to stay in Lewes only through Monday of the following week.  It became clear on that Saturday that we needed to stay longer, how much longer we weren't sure at that point.  Both Weber and I sent emails saying that we would not be back at school on Tuesday as we had planned.  We are both blessed to work for understanding people who told us to take as much time as we needed.  That made all that we were dealing with a little more manageable.

285/365-2 Leaves

On Sunday we continued making arrangements and readying the house to bring dad home.  We needed to have a hospital bed delivered because he could no longer walk up the stairs to his own bed. Though he was not eating much, we went to the grocery store and stocked up on things that he liked and might eat.  About 3pm, the medical equipment people brought everything we needed and about 4 a good friend arrived home with dad.  We wheeled him in (he trusted me to maneuver the wheel chair) and got him settled in his recliner.

Dad's mind was one hundred percent functional, but his body was failing quickly.  He needed help with anything that required physical exertion.  I am grateful to have had the honor to help him during this time.

286/365-2 Frolic

There wasn't much frolicking going on in our world; we were all moving slowly but by some miracle efficiently.  We had time to sit and talk and enjoy one another.  And to watch this chubby robin frolic in the bird bath.

We began to establish a daily routine.  I learned the way that dad was comfortable having things done for him and he learned to be patient with me as I did my best to keep him safe and comfortable.

287/365-2 A Warning

After two nights of me sleeping downstairs on the couch and Weber sleeping in the recliner, I needed a few minutes to get out and walk and stretch and get a little fresh air.  I walked the block up to downtown in the small town of Lewes.  Lewes is a beach resort town.  It is overrun by tourists during the summer months.  The town makes quite a bit of revenue from these meters thanks to the tourists.  It just so happened that this day was the last day that the meters were in effect for this season.

288/365-2 Pumpkin Time

Though many of the shops were decked out in fall decorations, the weather was still fairly warm and the trees had not yet started to change much.  I did enjoy an afternoon walk looking at all of the fall colors in the shops and in private yards.

Dad's friends came by the house non-stop.  That was good for us in that it gave us break, time to step back and make sure that we were doing what we needed to do both for us and for dad.  It was also good for dad to see how many people care about him, but it also made him very tired.  When someone would call and ask if it was OK to come by, I was always torn between not wanting to turn them away and not wanting to tire dad.  In the end, I think I told anyone who wanted to come to come on; he might be asleep, but he might not.

289/365-2 Yellow

This was taken in dad's garden.  The red flower definitely pops, but there is yellow booked so I decided that was good enough for the day's prompt.

290/365-2 In the Front

After arranging 24/7 care at home for dad, Weber and I decided to head home on Friday morning, October 17th.  We already had tickets to be back the following weekend.  Leaving Friday would give us the weekend to catch up and prepare for school.  Since we had not intended to be gone for the entire week, our lesson plans were a little scattered.  I gave dad a hug and told him that I loved him.  We left Lewes about 9:30 in the morning.  We made our way to Salisbury for the first leg of our flight, which took us to Philadelphia.  After a layover, we landed back in Dallas about 8pm.

I called to see how things were.  The caregiver said that she had called the hospice nurse because dad had taken a serious turn for the worse.  He had asked to get back in bed about 11am and had not been up, or even really awake, since then.  His breathing was slowing.  By 9pm, he had passed away.

We made flight arrangements for Saturday morning, again sent emails saying that we would not be at school on Monday, and dumped the dirty clothes out of our suitcase and repacked.  By 8am the next morning we were back on a plane headed back to Delaware.  At that point I had no clue what was even in the suitcase.  The previous twelve hours were a great big blur.

291/365-2 Lingering

I'm not sure why we felt such an urgency to get back to Lewes.  There wasn't a whole lot that we could do over the weekend.  We got back and walked into the house.  It was exactly the same as when we had left the day before except that dad wasn't there.  I wondered how it would feel when we got there.  There was a strange sense of peace.  Perhaps I felt this because I know that Dad left this world peacefully and in no pain.

We wandered down to the garden and noticed a few red peppers lingering.

The whole day felt a little surreal.

292/365-2 Return

This was our view many days during the month of October.

293/365-2 At the Market

294/365-2 Bats

295/365-2 #20

296/365-2 Where I Stand

The funeral home with whom we worked in Lewes were absolutely amazing.  They were kind, compassionate and so helpful.  I decided that we would do the burial on October 24th and have a memorial service the following week, November 1st.  This would give people who had to travel long distances and opportunity to make it to the memorial service.  

The burial service was short but beautiful and meaningful.  Dad was buried with full military honors. I wasn't sure whether it was acceptable to take photos so I asked the funeral director and he said that it was perfectly alright.  I am glad that I have this photo.

297/365-2 Sweets

We spent the following weekend in Philadelphia because I had a NOAH board meeting.  It was nice to have something else to think about for a couple of days.  And I consoled myself with peanut M&Ms when things got tough.

298/365-2 Costumed

299/365-2 Drive By

300/365-2 My Week

After being away two weeks,  we finally went back to school on October 27th.  Though we both had a great deal of catching up to do, I would not have changed anything.  I am grateful that I was able to care for my dad during his last week on this earth.

301/365-2 Gray

I laughed when I saw the daily prompt of "gray."  It would be so easy to wallow in the gray dismal-ness of all that had been and was going on, but I knew I couldn't do that nor did I really want to.  On this day I received these flowers from a friend.  I love the vibrant colors.  To place them against the gray of the sidewalk was all the power that I was willing to give to the color gray.

302/365-2 Spooky

303/365-2 Raven

304/365-2 The Loot

 On Halloween we headed back to Delaware for the memorial service.  The girls joined us for the weekend.  The service was beautiful but not all in Lewes is pretty right now.

As Weber so aptly says, where there is a will, there is a relative.  There are few people that couldn't wait to start telling me all of the things that they want from the house.  Needless to say, I was appalled by this behavior on many levels.  Yes, there are some things I want; the most immediate was dad's Navy sweatshirt.  And Erin, the Texas Ranger fan, wanted her granddad's Phillies hat. They were supposed to attend together the 2014 season opener between the Rangers and the Phillies here in Texas, but his cancer diagnosis kept that from happening.