What I Found Out

The hospice report arrives three months after the funeral, Fed-Exed to my house. My sister warned that it’d make me cry, so I take a beer and lock myself in the bathroom, not wanting any witness to my pain. The aides who’d brought my father home had wheeled him into his house on a Friday afternoon, and by Sunday evening, he’d let go his last short breath. My two sisters and I hadn’t been with him that weekend because his wife wouldn’t allow it; she threatened to call the cops if we tried to come. My father had spent many happy years in his beloved country home with its back porch and wide open land, where he and I’d watch birds fly in the Texas sky, where we’d talk till late hours on cool fall nights. It’d been a lovely fall, too, but on that Halloween it’d rained, so before the trick-or-treaters came, he went outside to wipe up mud from along the walk. He’d made it nearly to the end of the path when he slipped forward, face-down, snapping his neck against the concrete edge of the front stoop, torquing the spinal cord and leaving him, from that point forward, a quadriplegic. After six weeks in the hospital, wavering between small hopes and hard defeats, the doctors finally released him to hospice care. And so it is that I sit here now, reading the report:  as soon as the aides had wheeled my father into his home, be began screaming frantically and crying. My father –at 84, a strong man, my life’s hero, a man I loved more than any other–my father had reentered his house, no doubt aware of the significance of that homecoming, and he was afraid. The nurse’s report indicated they quickly dosed him up with morphine, and he calmed down and slept peacefully from then on, until Sunday at 7:30 p.m., when he took three distinct breaths and then not another.

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15 responses to “What I Found Out

  1. Wow Cindy, that is indeed heart wrenching. It is such a strage time that parting with loved ones brings, so many emotions all pushing to get to the front of the line. I am lucky that I still have three parents still living, although one has in a sense gone with Alzhiemers already, but I know those days will come.

    Never really know what to say in these types of situations, but I know I have to say something. For me I loved the way you described your fathers enjoyment of his porch, and I saw him in my minds eye rocking as he watched those birds fly bye in the stillness of a summers evening. In body we go, but I think in spirit we are with those that love us forever.

  2. Simon, you’re sweet to leave such a beautiful reply. You are indeed fortunate to have three parents still living! Seems we all live so far from our families anymore, and the older we get, the more we need to cherish the times together. Thank you for reading!

  3. Every time your pain returns, read this sentence that you wrote:

    “My father had spent many happy years in his beloved country home with its back porch and wide open land, where he and I’d watch birds fly in the Texas sky, where we’d talk till late hours on cool fall nights.”

    Make that your enduring memory. Singe it into your consciousness. The happiness and joy that you felt ~ make that your next blog post. Find your voice. Again.

    Be well.

    Kumud

    • Hi Kumud! I’m just learning that I need to approve these posts! I’ll get my act together soon. So kind, your comments. Thank you for the prompt to go deeper with the memory in the piece. I will try that. Thank you for your support!

  4. Word with tears about a man who is loved. What can one say to someone who has lost- phyically- a parent. He will remain in you for your life.

    One of the things I took from this is he had 84 good years and didn’t have to suffer years completely dependent on others. I hope that doesn’t sound wrong. As I age I think about how I want to leave. Your dad was lucky to have so much love around him and it sounds like he knew it.

    Beautiful post.

  5. I’ve always found it bizarre how vividly moments such as this resonate with us. Maybe that is silly because it would seem only natural that such a tragic moment would be remembered with complete detail. I just know I can still remember the stale hospital smell from all the times my brother has been in ICU. I would rather forget. This was beautifully written, and I agree with Simon, I can really feel the scene on the porch in my mind. Keep writing!

  6. Cindy Jane your words re.your father touched me deeply, I embrace your brave heart and simply want to share what nourishes me re. both my parents death when I think about them. (absorb what is useful) Borrowed from Stevie Wonder ” I miss you because I cannot touch you, yet you are touching me, because pure love lives forever. ox

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