Thank you all for your kind comments on my last blog post about my Dad. I can’t believe I am back in here with a final goodbye to him. What I want most for you all to get out of this is that choosing love and reconciliation are so healing for all parties involved. You won’t regret it.
My Dad passed away peacefully on Sunday night, April 29, 2018. My sister, Angie, his wife Gail and I were all holding his hand. David and Michael were also in the room. He was at Alive Hospice in Murfreesboro. He took a piece of each of us with him.
It happened so much faster than the doctors anticipated – not even two weeks from the final time we met with them. I am saying this out loud again…CANCER SUCKS!
The two weeks proceeding his death are a blur. A couple of things that happened during that time stick out it my mind. I talked with my sister immediately after the doctor’s appointment to let her know he had approximately two months. She started planning a trip for the middle of May.
David and I went to visit my Dad and Gail that following week. It was clear that things were going down hill rapidly. I talked with my sister and she told me they were coming on May 11th. I remember saying, “Angie, I don’t think you should wait that long”. She arrived at our Dad’s on Friday, April 27th.
David, Michael and I drove to Smithville to see all of them on Saturday. Shaun met us there. Dad was far worse. He was having trouble getting his words out and it was obvious that he wanted to tell me, Angie and Gail something. He actually walked (with a wheelchair) to their bedroom, sat on the bed and tried his damnedest to talk to us. We understood what he was trying to tell us; it was time and now I feel like he was telling us he wanted to go to the hospital. At one point, he looked right at me and said “you’re the nice one” and kissed me on the cheek. That was so hard but I now know he was saying goodbye.
One of the proudest moments for me was when my oldest son, Michael said goodbye to him on that Saturday. I know all you moms will appreciate this. He sat down in the chair facing my Dad. Took his hands and said “thank you for everything”. I don’t know what else was said, I had to leave the room. That was more than my heart could take. David said that Michael hugged my Dad and he hugged Michael back.
Dad went to hospice the next day. They were supposed to be straightening out his meds and he was only going to be there for five days. God had a different plan. At about 7:45 PM, my phone rang. It was hospice. They said we needed to come – Dad was having some really harsh seizures. When we arrived, his hospice nurse, Chris, wanted us to know that Dad was in the state he was in because he put him there. I can’t remember the name of the drug they gave him but Dad never regained consciousness. He just faded away.
Alive Hospice – I can’t say enough good things about these Angels who walk among us. They were totally amazing, supportive, gave us space when we needed it. Chris even got teary eyed when he was checking my Dad for vitals after he passed. How do they do this? They will always have a very special place in my heart and I know heaven will greet them with open arms.
Fast forward to the funeral – May 4th. It was a nice service in a small church in Smithville. My Dad was cremated. Angie and I had written this beautiful eulogy for our Dad. Most of the people in the church did not know us. I wanted them to understand that Dad had his regrets and so did we but in the end love prevailed and we were given back some of the time we lost.
Dad’s ashes were spread out on his farm. Each of us tossing a small amount of him back to the land he loved so much. There was a Military flag ceremony and 21-gun salute (pictured are two of the casings and flowers from the service). I was doing pretty good until a very young Marine started to play Taps. I have heard it played many times in my life; this time it had a truly final meaning for me.
Twice now we have lost our Dad under circumstances beyond anyone’s control. What we will remember most is the fact that forgiveness and love won in the end. The past six years have been filled with laughter, our Dad’s crazy humor, wonderful conversations and most of all love. My Dad was a good man. He had his demons and faults. He was a Marine through and through. In the end, none of that mattered to me or to Angie. He is our Dad, we love him and we will miss him.
Rest In Peace – Peter Heelam
Thank you friends,
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