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Update

First bronze star after D-Day invasion.
Dad had a stent placed in his abdominal aortic on Wednesday August 14. The surgery went well and he was sent back to the hospital room he'd been in before surgery. Later that night he began to need oxygen, by Friday he was on a CPAP at 100% oxygen through a face mask. Everyday he worked hard to eat, to regain strength, he wanted to go home. Everyday he would ask, "am I going to get to go home tomorrow." Of course the answer was no. Saturday dad had family come visit him, he told me later in the day, "it had been a much better day." He asked again if he would get to go home on Sunday. Sunday morning dad's physician called to share that dad's blood work revealed his oxygen in the blood was low. The only thing that could be done was to intubate dad and he did not want this. She thought he would not make it through the day. She expressed that dad was conscious and asked questions, his mind was sharp. Dad had 45 minutes to think and pray about his situation. At 8:45 A.M. dad took his mask off and handed it to his nurse telling her, "take this, I'm ready to go." In 3 minutes he expired. I'm told dad would have passed out and then his physical body died. All week dad had been mentally and spiritually comfortable, confident, and at peace, because he believed God was in charge. At no point was dad unable to think and talk. Dad was a prayer warrior, and during his last few days I'm sure he prayed fervently, and not just for himself, but for his family and friends and anyone else the Lord brought to his mind. My family and I had hoped he would regain strength and health and be able to come home (as he'd done so many times before after surgeries.) I'm confident that before dad made the decision to take off his mask, dad heard the Lord say "this is it, time to come home." I believe this, because daddy shared with me that in the past the Lord had told him, "not yet."
Daddy had made his home with us for over 11 years, I was his full-time caregiver with the assistance of my husband. I first began to help with dad's care in 1990. In the mid 90s both my parents needed help. Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1996. Dad and I cared for mom for several years at home, before placing her in a nursing home in 2002. Daddy went to visit mother while she was in a nursing home everyday. The only time he wasn't able was when he'd had surgery or was sick.
Life is very different for me, for the first time since 1983 I have no one to care for nor a schedule to keep. I'm not afraid, nor anxious, nor troubled by this life change. For dad his journey is complete on this earth, for me my journey in caring for children and parents is complete.
I miss my dad very much. We were great friends and companions, confidants, prayer partners, shared our feelings about books, discussed theology and politics, there were no topics off limit. Often dad read reviews I'd written or other writing projects. We encouraged one another. We were a source of strength in this life for each other. But, dad's knowledge and wisdom and strength came from the Lord, they were not created in his human mind.
Going through his personal items this past week has been both cathartic and sad, it has also been a reminder of what was most important to him in this life---Jesus Christ. I have a box and file cabinet full of his journals (dated from the early 1970s to present) and including Bible teaching material. My dad taught Sunday Bible study for 60 years. He retired in early 2009. He loved reading the Bible and read through it every year. He loved studying the Bible. He loved telling other people about Jesus and what Jesus had done in his life. I remember many years ago his happiness when he bought the book on Josephus by Kregel Publications. Daddy loved the commentaries by William Barclay. He read and re-read all of Charles Swindoll's books. The last Bible class he was teacher of he hated to retire from, but his health had declined. Daddy loved that class of men and they loved him. At dad's funeral last week each of the men remarked that daddy was the best teacher they'd ever heard. 
In the past I've written about leaving a legacy, primarily in reference to faithfulness. My dad was a man of faithfulness, and the heritage and legacy he left for me and the rest of my family cannot be measured. It should not be ignored either. One of the last things daddy asked me during the last week he was home, "Annette when are you going to write that book?" It's time, time for my next journey...I'll be writing that book now.
Dad and his bronze stars during World War II. 
Dad and I in Colorado, 1969.
At dad's 90th birthday party December 2012. I'm on the left, dad, my sister Frances.

Comments

Joyful Reader said…
This wonderful post brought me to tears! What a legacy! I have to tell you (just in case you don't realize it) how incredibly lucky you are. I do not have this with my father, or mother for that matter. I have my grandmother in my home and the Lord has truely blessed us with her. Words cannot express how my heart aches for you and your family. You are in my prayers.
Annette said…
I am blessed. Through these many years of caring for my parents I would sometimes feel like giving up, but I would hear a voice in my mind say, "Annette there is something you can't see, something greater at stake." This would give me the encouragement to persevere.
Thanks so much!