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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Just when you think it's time to say goodbye...

Three times today my cell phone vibrated in my pocket (which is its new home) with a summons to Dad's death bed. The first while listening to a great sermon about strength through adversity. I walked out the door to answer it and the caregiver said she'd been with Dad all night and his breathing had changed drastically. So, I stuck my head back into the sanctuary and gave my sister the wave the come on, it was time. We rushed over to The Lantern and waited. Dad's BP was around 99/64 and his breathing sounded labored. His respirations were higher than normal. An hour later we were still waiting. My other sister, who has to come from Ga, arrived, her son with her. He came over to Dad's bedside and gave a very touching good-bye to his grandpa. I was very proud to be his aunt and I know Dad would have been honored to hear him. Or maybe he did hear him. We just don't know.Then as quickly as it started, his breathing evened out, his blood pressure rose and he evened out.

My sisters and I still needed to work on cleaning out Mom's apartment so Sharon went that way while Cindy and I went to our homes to change into work clothes from our church clothes. Then I got another call. He had developed apnea which is usually a sign of impending death. I rushed back over. Dad's breathing was sporadic. He would breath for about 30 sec and then not breath at all for 15 sec. Then the not-breathing spans would last longer. I prayed for my sisters to be able to get there in time. They arrived and for the next couple of hours, we sat counting the seconds each time he stopped breathing, wondering if that time was the time he wouldn't take the next shuddery breath but it always came. Finally, around six, his breathing evened out again. His blood pressure was completely normal at 122 over another normal number. This was not to be it. All day long sitting, crying, and he is still breathing. It is a weird scenario because it isn't that I want my Dad to die but I know he isn't going to come back from this one. So I know I am going to have to grieve the big one and am now just waiting for the actual death so I can begin to do so. His body is so strong and that will to live seems to be outrunning even his own mind.

When I got home around ten tonight, my daughter had been unable to sleep because she had been crying. She said she wanted to see her Grandpa because she was afraid he was going to die while she was a school like her Nana did. So, she and I headed back to the Lantern and she got to see him for maybe the last time. Then again, as I told her, he may be around in two weeks. As my aunt said, my Dad pushed his body in Ranger school and taught it many years ago to push on through adversity and that finely tuned machine has decided it is not going to let him down. I am getting ready to go to bed but don't know when my phone is going to ring. When it does, I'll throw on some clothes and head that way for the vigil again. I'm feeling a little bit like the townspeople in "The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Only this boy is my dad and the false alarms aren't on purpose. At least, I don't think so, Dad always was a bit of a trickster. My aunt suggested today that perhaps Dad's spirit had already moved on and it was only his body left. If so, he's probably having a big 'ole time up there in the heavens saying, "Gotcha again." One of these times is going to be the last time. The way things are going, he probably will give us no notice and we will be looking away and then realize suddenly his perfect peace has arrived. No matter how many times they call, I will go as fast as possible because that is what you do when the man who taught you honesty, perseverance, how to ride a bike, and how to trust in God finally says good-bye.  

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