This past week brought my brothers, sisters and every niece and nephew to my parents' home to say goodbye to my father.
This, I thought, was my dad's last wish.
Although at times if was difficult... for the most part this gathering was a joyful celebration of my father's life. Stories were told and re-told and more importantly, my family provided me with a few ridiculous moments for FGF.
Story 1: My brother came in from Washington and my sister came in from Texas. They have been staying with my parents and have been providing nursing services to my dad. The other night, my sister, who fancies herself as Florence Nightingale, gave him his medication, tucked him away in his bed, and hooked him up to his oxygen.
In the middle of the night, my dad woke up and questioned whether his oxygen was working. My brother assured him that it was because the machine was on and was making all the right noises. Still, my brother decided to confirm his suspicions and put the hose up to his face. Sure enough, it was not working. He then decided to trace the hose back to the machine, and it turned out that my sister hooked dad up to the one line that was not connected to anything.
Lovingly, I have told her she is more like Dr. Kevorkian than Florence Nightingale, and have told Cheryl that she is to keep my sister as far away from me as possible, if I ever take ill.
Story 2: As many of you who read Funny Guy Friday know, Cheryl is weak minded and catches whatever illness somebody else may have (see Honey I think I'm Coming Down with Something). The other day, a nurse asked my dad to take a deep breath. I was sitting there and I noticed that every time Dad took a deep breath, so, too, did Cheryl.
It turns out that she is a sympathetic breather. I told her to knock it off because her heartbeat was drowning out Dad's. Fortunately, the doctors have advised Cheryl that her kidneys are functioning well, and she is going to survive Dad's illness.
Story 3: Yesterday, I got a call on my way to Court and was advised by another brother that Dad had a terrible night, and that I might consider going to the house right away. I was able to rearrange everything, and found him in a chair appearing almost comatose. I thought to myself that this is was the end.
The hospice nursing assistant came, got him into his bed, and told us that this looked more like exhaustion than a coma. Please lady, I have been exhausted and I never looked like that. I did not think he was in a coma, but based on my medical degree, it seemed pretty close. He was barely responsive, and could hold his eyes open for only a second at at time. He was out.
I had to run to court and was not sure what I would find when I returned after lunch. What I found when I got back was not much different than when I had left.
Later that afternoon, after almost twelve hours in this condition, the hospice nurse arrived and tried to stir him. She started to question him, and at first, got little or no response from him.
On a side note, my sister, nurse Kevorkian, was on top of her game, and she was able to provide answers to all of the nurse's questions for my father. Again, everyone should rest easy and know that my sister's kidneys are also working just fine, thank you. Of course, we all would have appreciated it if she would have let Dad respond, because we were all pretty sure it was part of the nurse's exam. How she knew that Dad wasn't hungry is beyond me.
Anyway, after several minutes, the nurse was able to get him to sit up. She was able to get him to respond to her questions. She was able to get him to eat. She was able to get him in his wheelchair, and get him out to the kitchen table. Hell, she was able to get Lazarus healthy enough to whip up on two of his grand kids in cards. This woman was a miracle worker.
Well, it turns out, er uh, well, it turns out, he was just exhausted. Just like I thought the whole time.
Finally, Story 4---my favorite story of the week: My dad was getting out of his bed and into his wheelchair. Getting comfortable has not been easy during these changes, so he raised himself up in his chair to adjust himself. My mom rushed over to see what was the matter. Dad, still not wanting to be babied, told her in a not so gentle tone to relax. She gave a frustrated sigh, and he shot back, "I wish you had testicles."
After sixty one years of marriage, I suppose he wanted her to enjoy a similar discomfort.
This, of course, struck me as very funny because, up until now, his last wish was the very noble wish that he could see all of his kids and all of his grand kids one more time. This was a request that the entire family was able to rally around... and everyone came back to Maryland to see him. It was truly beautiful.
Unfortunately, no matter how much we want to make his last days as good as they can be, we cannot accommodate this most recent "last wish." Unless, of course, the miracle-working hospice nurse has some ideas. After all, she was able to bring Dad back from the brink... perhaps she could do a couple of miracles for Mom.
FYI----My dad is still hanging in there. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.
Funny Guy Friday is a slice-of-life post, written each Friday, by my husband... a funny guy.