My father passed away around 2:30am yesterday. In the end it was a blessing.
Dad had been doing about the same for a couple weeks– weak but still getting around a little. Sleeping a lot. Not eating. But pretty coherent overall (with bouts of confusion). So I went back home for a couple days to check in at work, check my car, etc.
When I got back to his place last Saturday, he went sharply downhill. I truly believe he was just waiting for me to return before letting go. All day Saturday he grew more and more confused. His speech was garbled and nonsensical. He couldn’t stand up without assistance.
Luckily I got him to bed. This was the only time when I was thankful he had a catheter and colostomy. Everything was being collected appropriately and Since his output was negligible, I didn’t have to worry about those functions.
I called Hospice on Sunday and they said it sounded like he was transitioning now. They told me to up his meds and to keep him comfortable.
So Sunday was him in bed all day, vacillating between sleep and babbling. I sat with him all day and we watched the tv he liked. Thst night I prayed he would go peacefully.
Monday he was still hanging on and it was more of the same, only more sleep and almost no consciousness. Labored breathing. The hospice nurse visited and confirmed everything. I played his “Summertime” playlist. It was his favorite song, and he has like 40 versions of it by different artists.
Tuesday was hard. Very labored, very rattly breathing and no conscious behavior. Nurse came by and we tried to position him better but he was filling with fluid and not able to clear it.
Tuesday night I checked on him frequently. I kept a tv in in his room, just for some noise and distraction. I really couldn’t stand to hear his breathing. Each inhale just cut right into me because there was nothing I could do but wait.
I dozed fitfully off and on between check ins and droppered liquid medicine into his mouth. I did try to speak softly to him. I told him it was ok. I was here. And that he was loved. I don’t know if he heard.
At 2:30 I started awake from where I was on the couch. All I heard was the soft tv in his bedroom. No agonizing breathing. So I held my breath and kept listening. I listened for maybe 30 minutes, and I knew it was over.
It was in the wee hours of the morning and I didn’t want to be disruptive, so I turned off his tv and lay back down on the couch. My mind whirled until about 6:15 am when I decided that it was time to inform hospice of his passing.
I made coffee and got the paper (much as I had been doing every day) and waited for hospice to arrive.
I will say, my dad was a planner and hospice knew how to handle things expeditiously. The mortuary services were already paid for and all that went smoothly, too. By 9 am they were gone and I was alone in the house.
I spent the day cleaning. I got rid of all the evidence that he had ever been sick. His colostomy supplies. His catheters. His medicines and creams and prescriptions. His sick clothes. His bed pillow. The remaining bedding I washed, so his bed would be fresh.
Today it feels like he’s been gone a month– and also only a minute.
My dad was not a religious person, so there will be no formal ceremony. No viewing or visitation. No “funeral” per se. He’s being cremated and later we’ll have a “celebration of life” for friends and family at his house.
I will say this, though. While he wasn’t religious, he was spiritual. He used music for that. One of his favorite “worship” things was to listen to Jesus Christ Superstar around Easter. (He really was kind of a hippie). Listening to that musical with him as a kid, I learned more about the story of Jesus than I ever learned in church. Which is how I know about the seven last words of Jesus.
Which is where I got the title of this post.
It seemed fitting.