Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I will never ask for an extra 15 minutes again

My poor bloggy blog seems to be suffering. I have so many things/ pictures to post about and have been delayed on having the time to do it. So, I will try to make a more conscious effort to keep this updated. I don't know who reads it regularly (hi mom and sister) but I need to keep it going for my own records to look back on. So...without further ado, I want to have one last post for Sean's dad.

As I have referenced before, he has been suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia. My mother in law was very insistent of taking care of him on her own, she did not want to put him in a nursing home, or was holding out until she actually needed to do it. When my brother in law and his family moved in over the spring while their home was being built, they were able to see first hand how his health was deteriorating. They were able to get the ball rolling in regards to home health care, just to give my MIL some extra help.

On Monday, September 10th, my MIL decided to put him in respite care for the week. She had gotten to the point where she just needed a break. The timing was good as it was my SIL's birthday that week and my MIL had some fun things planned that she hadn't been able to do while caring for my FIL. The day before he was scheduled to go for the week, he was showing some medical issues- possible stroke, possible Parkinson's, not exactly sure. His arms and legs were extremely stiff, not able to bend. So, when she brought him to the VA Hospital, they started to do all sorts of tests on him, and he was showing that his brain was shrinking again and had fluid, and that he had a lot of fluid in his lungs. They basically told her that his body was starting to shut down.He was to the point where he no longer spoke (I cant remember the last time he said anything to me or the kids), he needed to be fed, all his food was being pureed, his beverages were thickened, he had a hospital bed to sleep in, he needed diapers... his quality of life was so horribly sad.

Respite was supposed to last one week,  but the VA wanted him there about a month so they could work on changing his medication, etc. They were fantastic with him. They showed him great care, moved his room closest to the nursing station, provided him everything he needed. We were all very happy for the care he was receiving. On Thursday, September 20th, they had my MIL come in for an update meeting on next steps. My BIL conferenced in by phone. They told my MIL that they thought the next step would be hospice care. All we wanted was for him to be comfortable. I don't think I fully grasped how near the end he was. I even asked Sean, what happens if he's still there past 6 months? will they still keep him? And, he's healthy as a horse, his mind just isn't there anymore.

Good think I am not a doctor, because I was obviously wrong on all accounts. On the afternoon of September 20th, my MIL found a nice VA run hospice close to her home. The VA suggested he move the end of the following week and had scheduled the move the the 28th. My BIL and SIL went to visit him on the night of the 21st (fed him ice cream which he loved) and Sean and his mom were going to go the next day.

She came to my house at 8:30am on the 22nd and played with the kids until she and Sean were ready to go. Before they left, I asked if I could have 15 minutes to blow dry my hair. Of course I could. So, they played a little longer. As soon as I was done, they were on their way. Sean had a sick feeling in his stomach that morning as he drove down that that would be the last time he would see his dad.

I got the phone call at 9:38am from Sean. He was gone. I couldn't believe it. He told me they missed him by 15 minutes. He rushed off the phone and I was left with horrible guilt. Guilt that he couldn't say goodbye, guilt that my MIL was over and ready and she couldn't say goodbye, guilt that he was gone and I didn't have a chance to go visit, guilt that I never believed it was really the end.

I would later find out that he was in a hospital gown, his body was cold, etc. He had to have been gone a little longer, but the call came in to Sean and my MIL as they were walking in the building at 9:15. So, I know it really could have been longer.  But, I will never ask for someone to give me "just a few minutes". If someone needs to be somewhere, I will be ready.

The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind. Sean and his mom went to his brothers, and then were off to the funeral home making arrangements. I went over to my BIL's that afternoon with the kids and we spent the next few days with the entire family.

His funeral mass was on Tuesday, the 25th. It was a very nice service and about 150 people attended (we guessed only 75 or so would be there). It was just how he would have wanted it. In fact, he would have loved it.

And we loved him. The kids talk about Grandpa daily. And blow kisses to the sky in heaven. They know he is their with his dog, Bridget, and the kids love knowing they are playing and having a good time. Quinlin says "Hi Grandpa, we love you. Give Grandpa the ball, Bridget".

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