Friday, May 18, 2012

May 8, 2012

Last night my father In law died. He slipped in to an uneasy and fretful sleep, his body only doing what it had done for 87 years, breathing. His breaths were hard and labored...he seemed to be sleeping; I think he was waiting... I brought dinner, potato soup, it is mom's favorite. Kathy, Kent, mom and myself sat down to a simpe meal...we talked and we even laughed. I realized that I could not hear dad breathing...had he slipped away while we were laughing? Do I say something or let everyone finish? I said nothing and as we cleared the table I went in to the bedroom, he was breathing but it was very shallow. I talked to him, said "I love you", and we were here, he was not alone. Kent came in and I told him, " Stay with him don't leave. Kent had tears streaming down his face as he sat with his dad and told him things; things that we struggle to say face to face when everything is right with the world. Statements like,  "Dad I love you, you were the best dad ever; Dad, you were my hero; I could not have had a better father". Kent prayed, he prayed that God would take him home and end this horrid suffering. All of a sudden dad raised his hand toward heaven, took a deep beath, let it out, took a shallow breath and let it out and did not breath again. By this time Krnt has called for us, we got mom in there as that last breathed escaped into eternity and took dad to Jesus's feet. Mom started to quietly weep as she watched her husband of 66 years walk into Heaven.  I sat next to her with my arms gently wrapped around her as she shook with soft sobs.  I cried as I watched people around me that I love dearly start a grieving process that always takes us by surprise.  We talked....we even laughed as we expressed what Dad would do first in Heaven.  For forty five minutes we sat with him and wished him a great home coming.

Then the actions of saying good bye started, calling sisters who were not there but on their way that Dad was gone form this world.  Pastor came over, more family.  When the Hospice Nurse arrived we moved out to the living room and got on with the business of dealing with the process of burying someone we loved.  It was hard, but it was also done with a sense of relief.  It was over, the waiting, the watching, the wondering of why.  Dad was in Heaven and we were left behind to wait out this life.  Sad but joyous all at the same time.  Also the realization of never hearing him laugh, argue with the TV about a news story that upset him, telling us stories of his younger years....all of that gone.  Now it would be our turn to tell those stories and keep the memory of who Dad was alive for a younger generation.  Good Bye Dad you are so loved.

May 14, 2012

Yesterday we buried dad....back to the business of burying someone we loved and saying final good byes.  It was hard, yet their was an element of joy.  Looking on his wasted body knowing that he was back to full form and strength...knowing that he could now climb any mountain, he was being sought after by those family members who went before him....he could see his dear mother again.  All of this was going through my mind as we walked through the entire funeral process.

We did the reading of the cards, then there was a family viewing for any who wanted to, I did not.  But when I got back to the reception hall where lunch was going to be served I lost it.  I saw my grown children walk in the door and that was it.  Each one held me as I cried.  I just wanted my children with me during this.

Then the Patriot Guard showed up.  Two of the hardest things for me, Veterans with flags saying good by to another Veteran.  We shook hands with each one and thanked them.  It was momentous, and dad would have liked it.

Then we ate and waited and waited....there was a lot of family and I do mean a lot, we filled the small church surprising the funeral director on our numbers.  Dad was the true patriarch of the family and everyone  came to say good-bye.  So we had to wait for about an hour, everyone visited and I sat with mom.  Ethan had to go back to her house and find her a sweater, she was freezing.  She called Ethan her hero of the day, because he found her a heavy pink sweater that worked out great.  She wore it the rest of the day.

The funeral began and we all filed in, Kent was next to mom with the wheel chair  and then me....Kent was going to to speak and I was so nervous about him being able to get through it.  First his niece by marriage got up and sang Amazing Grace, no music, with the most perfect voice I have ever hear.  Then the pastor then Kent.  I was praying, hard that God would give him the strength and peace to get through, and he did.  It was perfect and managed to speak out loud what we were all thinking.  Dad was a Patriot, He was a Passionate Outdoors man, and he was a Family Patriarch, and yes my hubby had to have alliteration!

When they took out dads coffin that is when I lost it again, it was so final.  Ethan was a pall bearer and I was very proud of him.  Clare was right behind me when we exited and she was crying, we just held each other and sobbed.  Emily came up and put her arms around the both of us.  It is a true joy when we can grieve together and not feel overly self conscious.

The grave site service was short and elegant.  Taps were played and the flag folded by the Marine Honor Guard.  They gave mom the flag and she will keep it with her.  It was hot out and mom was really getting tired.  So back to the house we went.  Along with all the family...about 50 or so.

We fed everyone and I soon fell asleep in a chair in Dad's man cave.  It was quiet and cooler in there and I was so tired.  We stayed until after 8 and finally heading home.  Note to self, take the next day off as well.  Both Kent and I were a mess.  Tired and emotional empty.  But life does go on, regardless of what we are feeling or needing.  The grieving has just started for all of us and we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  And remember for God's Born Again Children death is but a shadow that Jesus destroyed for all of us who choose His Gift.

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