The dining room was set up with a hospital bed, oxygen generator and suctioning equipment. The sheets, pads, towels and gloves were on the side table. His favorite music was loaded into the ipod. In the last month of his life, my father said two coherent sentences. He told my sister “Let me go.” He said to me “Bring me home.” So I did. He had been in assisted living exactly four years and on April 15, 2008 he came home to die. In those last ten days I took care of the man who had fathered me, loved me, encouraged me, argued with me and cherished me for 57 years. I did things for him that a daughter does not normally do for a father…..I bathed him, changed him, turned and positioned him, keeping him comfortable in those last days. I told him that I loved him, that he was a wonderful father and that it was ok to go. I promised him that I would take care of my sister and mother for him and that the family would be fine. On Friday, April 25th the room was thick with the energy of those who had loved my father and had passed on. We could feel and sense their presence as they waited to greet him with open arms. As this gentle man struggled to take his last breaths, the nurse in me listened with the stethoscope as his heart stopped beating. At 2:20 in the afternoon my father passed as my sister cried “don’t go” and I whispered “it’s ok. Go with the angels….go to the light”.
On July 18th, as her great granddaughter was being born, she fell or perhaps passed out and hit her head. That head injury precipitated a series of events in a downward spiral that would last until November. She left the hospital in early August and went into a nursing facility for rehab. The fall had taken its toll on her and she could no longer walk due to her fear of falling again. On August 16th I took her in a wheelchair to see her granddaughter get married but we had to leave the church because she started to have seizures, a result of head trauma. That summer she decided that she did not want to live with her body failing. With a sound mind, she stopped eating. I watched helplessly as she gradually went down to 70lbs. She missed him and after being together for 70 years, she wanted to be with him again. In the evening on November 19th, my sister and I visited my mother for the last time. She was seeing angels and we said to her “go with them”. She replied “No, I am waiting for your father to come get me”. We left that evening because she did not want us to stay. As we were leaving she said “goodbye girls” and I knew my mother would be gone by morning. She passed at 5am on November 20th and I have to believe that my father came for her.
There is no greater bond than that between parent and child even when that child is 59 years old. I miss them terribly and even though I can feel them around me and hear their voices in my head, it is still not the same as having them here in physical form. My grief is no different from other children who have lost their parents. I do know, with every fiber of my being, that when it is my time to go, they will be waiting for me with open arms.
Excerpt from the upcoming book “Dance of the Healer” by Linda West
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