It’s Sunday evening and probably the first time I’ve had opportunity to try to put some thoughts to screen here. Dad’s gone, Friday morning he slipped away so quietly and peacefully it seemed as though he had drifted into restful sleep.
Thursday morning, Jane and I went up to dad’s. He was so weak and in so much pain, his breathing so laboured — it was even a surprise for me at the changes which had taken place since just the day before. While the three of us were in the room with dad, Jane suggested the reading of a psalm. As she read we watched as dad calmed and a look of peace came over him, the look and calm remained as we joined hands and Jane led a prayer. When she finished we heard dad clearly say “amen”.
Jane spent some time in with dad while Lynn and I talked in the living room. She joined us there and we sat and talked some more while the VON arrived and went in to see dad. Tracy (the VON) joined us in the living room and walked us through the procedure if dad died over the weekend.
It was becoming very clear that his journey was coming very close to ending. She had called the doctor and was waiting for an order to get a morphine pump in as the pills he’d prescribed the day before were not enough.
After bringing Jane home and sharing a lunch with her, I came home and started on some laundry. While getting this done and dealing with calls back and forth as we continued to work on getting needed supports in to place like a hospital bed it occurred to me to call Lynn and ask if she wanted some company. She said she’d not turn it down and I told her I’d finish getting laundry done and be right up.
I arrived just as Tracy was returning with the pump to get dad started on. He was in incredible pain when I walked in to see him. Lynn was at his side, holding him and trying to comfort him. Occasionally he would pull at the oxygen line and Lynn would stand over him putting it back on and firmly telling him how he needed it. When he pulled it off again, she would tell hiim that he raised her and she was just as stubborn as him, he would reply “ok hon” and then accept it. I had to smile inspite of the ache I was feeling as I watched.
After Tracy showed us how to use the pump and had left we settled in for the night. The two of us took turns sitting right beside the bed all night. We found that as long as there was some physical contact with him he seemed calmer. We’d periodically tell him we were there and that we weren’t going anywhere and neither was he. Well that wasn’t entirely true, but dad wasn’t going anywhere in this world.
Around 2am the pump started having some effect and he started to get some relief from the pain. His breathing remained laboured despite the oxygen line on him. Picking up from the response we’d seen earlier that day with Jane, both Lynn and I were reading bible passages to dad as we sat with him. It wasn’t something that we discussed, we just did it and later learned what the other was doing. It seemed to help, dad was a man of deep abiding faith and he was on the journey that all Christians are promised ends in the Father’s house and for dad, to be reunited with our mother.
Around 7am our brother Norman arrived followed by Steve around 9am. While we weren’t directly saying so I think the thought was on all our minds of just how short this process appeared to becoming. Dad was exhausted, he’d fought hard against the pain and deserved rest. That rest and relief wasn’t going to come in this world. My sister Wendy meanwhile was at the other end of the country preparing to leave to fly home. If she made it before dad went was up in the air.
It wasn’t long after Steve left to get some errands done and then head to Toronto to pick Wendy up that the VON came in. Norm left shortly after to get some mouth swabs to use to moisten dad’s mouth and make him more comfortable. It didn’t seem long after the VON had left that Lynn called me, the breathing apnea had started.
We watched as his breathing slowed and started and then slowed more and more until we couldn’t see any sign of it. Even though I knew that this was dad’s wish, I have to admit to an urge to have picked up the phone to call for help. I stilled the thought, this wasn’t about me, this was about dad and dad’s wishes. Instead I picked up the phone and called the VON to let her know what was happening. I also left a message on Steve’s cell.
We’re not really sure when dad actually died. We know it was somewhere between 11:15 and 11:30 on Friday July 28th. We couldn’t have asked to have witnessed a more peaceful passing. Dad’s struggle was over and he was on his way to the great reunion.
His brother unfortunately arrived about 90 minutes later and I had the job of meeting him at the door with the news. Understandably, it rocked him. He’s now the last of that generation of the May family. With dad being the youngest in his family, he had expected dad to have been the last to go.
We met with Jane this afternoon to discuss the service which will be tomorrow. Hymns and readings were selected. It was agreed that our Uncle Ken would be asked to speak briefly about dad, especially the years before the parents were married. The siblings agreed that we’d collaborate on an eulogy and Norm (who wasn’t present at the time) would be asked to deliver it with Wendy agreeing to do so if Norm didn’t feel able to.
I was travelling with Jane and would be taking her home, I said that anything I was going to contribute would be emailed up to be included. I wasn’t particularly bothered not being part of the group work, I was ready for some chill time in preparation for the service tomorrow. I also wasn’t sure I had anything I particularly felt moved to share. Jane talked to me about that on the way home and I eventually decided that I’d focus in on dad’s military service and legion service as that was where he and I most connected.
I also had a service bulletin to develop and print. Which I’d better get at.