My Dad’s passing…

It’s been 18 days today since Dad took his last breath and departed from his physical life on this planet. On the early morning of July 14th, 2017, the man who I knew as Dad left this world peacefully.

I don’t believe that there’s anything that can really prepare us when there’s the loss of a close loved one that takes place, such as a father in my case.

I remember not many years ago thinking this guy is going to live to maybe even be 100 years old one day. Dad had good health all of his life. He took good care of himself. I never expected to see Dad go first, or the way he did. But who am I to know the answer to God’s plan for us, for how long we live or when we die. I never could have guessed when he would be called to leave.

I would like to think that I saw his death coming. He had been ill for the last 8 months. As the months advanced, so did his level of pain and suffering and he began to grow weaker and weaker. It was dreadful to see him suffering so much. I remember wishing that I somehow could take away his pain, but I couldn’t. All I could do was to pray and ask God to support him on his journey. Dad had very few answers about what was going on until closer to the end which was not much more than a month before his passing. A week before he died we found out the extent of what was really going on. Dad knew way before any of us knew that he was dying. Dad and us his family knew he was dying before the hospital doctors even saw it.

Barely anyone other than his own family knew what he was going through. He was a very private person. He wasn’t one to go and sing anything from any rooftop for anyone to hear about his life or health. He had always been like that, so he wasn’t about to change for anyone. If you knew my Dad and you are in shock like many have expressed to us these last few weeks about not knowing that he was even ill, let alone that he had passed away, this is why. It wasn’t to be any other way than the way he wanted it to be, and we respected his wish.

Dad accepted that he was dying, and he navigated it all with incredible grace and peace. He comforted us on many of those days, and shared his words of wisdom about it with us. What an incredible gift he gave each of us with what he taught us during those last weeks and days.

On June 23rd, Dad had gone to the hospital with my sister to get something checked out that the doctor had recommended he do. On the way back home, he was singing along to a song on the radio, I wanna go home, I wanna go home, oh how I wanna go home!! When my sister shared about his singing to this song, I cried. I knew that it was happening. It wasn’t just a simple few words that he was singing along to with the radio. He wanted to go back home. He was ready to be at peace and free of suffering.

Most of us were beginning to see that the end was coming for him. He was leaving us subtle cues that week that he was tired and couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t blame him. He had reached his limit.

That evening, I came back home from grocery shopping. I had bought all the food to prepare for a big birthday party we had planned for our daughter that was to happen a few days later. We had worked for weeks at preparing everything, and there was only the food preparation left to do. My husband, myself and my sister put in so many hours and days at making sure that our daughter would have the best birthday ever. Her 29th birthday had been on May 29th, and she had asked us for a party to help her celebrate this once in a lifetime milestone, 29 years old on the 29th. Some call it a golden birthday, or a special birthday. We had planned to have her party several weeks after her birthday. That timing was better for all of us. But I had suspicions about Dad’s health, and whether or not this party might even take place. Something was telling me to  be prepared to make changes. I had even asked the person baking and decorating the cake, to make sure what her deadline was in case we needed to cancel. But we went ahead just the same with the preparations anyway knowing that Dad wasn’t well. We didn’t know how long he still had or how things would unfold, so we proceeded with the party plans.

When I arrived home that evening from grocery shopping, I quickly unpacked everything and told my husband I’m going over to see how Mom and Dad are doing. I knew Dad had gone to the hospital that day to get things checked out and I was concerned for him. When I arrived at their home I knew that the ambulance had to be called. 

Dad spent 3 weeks in the hospital, with the last 2.5 days at the hospice. He asked for Mom and us his 4 children to be by his side. He wanted us with him.

Taken 10 years ago, at Mom and Dad’s 50th Wedding Anniversary.

50 years ago!!

We took turns being with him 24/7 during those weeks, never leaving him alone. Often we were all there at the same time, and our spouses, many grandkids and even great-grandchildren came in to see him often during that time. His daughter-in-law was there with us most of that time, helping to take care for Dad also. Those weeks were filled with so much love, support for Dad, for Mom and for one another. Many tears were shed, and beautiful words were expressed. It truly was a heart-opening experience. As much as I found this to be a difficult time, it was very much a time of so much love and beauty.

During those weeks I cried, sometimes from sheer exhaustion, but mostly because I knew what was coming. I just didn’t want to see it or believe how Dad would not be a part of my life one day soon. But I also felt guilty because I had my Dad around for over 59 years of my life. So many people have lost their dad’s when they are so much younger than I am. I had a hard time giving myself permission to cry and to grieve and to experience it all. I would often express when I was crying that I felt like a 5-year-old little girl who was about to lose her daddy. My daughter reminded me several times that it was ok to feel this way, because I was losing my daddy and that it’s normal and ok to cry. So I practiced giving myself permission to cry and to feel the loss before it even happened.

One day I walked in his hospital room, we his family had been called in. My siblings that were there with him that day saw that he was getting ready to leave. He saw me crying when I came in, and said to me: you’re a good girl!! That didn’t help me to stop crying, but I knew what he meant.

I was still holding on to him being here with us, but I was beginning to see that I had to let him go. I didn’t want to him keep suffering and staying because I was unable to let him go. We all were struggling in each our own unique ways and were trying to find our way through.

In those days and weeks, Dad showed us how to let go. We saw him going through the process of letting go of everything as he knew it in his life, and letting go of us his family. After all he wasn’t taking us with him on this new journey, so he had to go through that process of letting go so he could move on. It was heart-breaking, yet it was so incredibly fascinating and beautiful and powerful to have been given this blessed time with him. Eventually I was more able to witness and hold sacred space for him, so he could let go and move on. Dad taught me so much in those moments.

The evening before Dad passed away, my siblings and Mom were all there with him as well as a few of our spouses and some of the grand-children. We had a delicious homemade meal together in Dad’s room at the hospice. My siblings are all incredibly good cooks, and with a BBQ and just a few tools, and healthy food, a delicious meal was made. We had all grown so tired of eating fast food and hospital food those last few weeks. We needed something that felt nourishing. We didn’t know that this would be our last meal with Dad in our presence. I’m sure Dad approved of us doing this with him, even though he wasn’t conscious and was no longer able to communicate with us by that time.

That night I decided that I wanted to stay the night at the hospice. I knew it wouldn’t be too many more hours or days before Dad’s departure. I stayed in his room with him until about 2:30 am, then decided to give space to my brother and his wife to be by Dad’s side. I went to sleep for a few hours in the Quiet Room down the hall. My brother sat with Dad, holding his hands and talking to him.

I woke up to light footsteps coming down the hall, it was Donald. As he entered the room where I was, he said to me, Dad’s gone!!

I love that my brother was the one with Dad as he took his last breath. I sensed a strong and special bond between those two. So how beautiful and perfect that he was there with Dad at that precious time. 

He may be gone from our sight, but I believe that he’ll never be far away.

Missing this special man in my life. 

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Comments

  1. June Marcano says:

    Thank you, Suzanne for sharing such a precious time for you and your family. Sending you Strength, Love and Blessings.

  2. Suzanne, thank you for sharing such precious insights into this delicate stage of life. Beautifullly written with such tender prose. In the missing you will discover your love for him even more. 💛 Suzi

    • Suzi, I really appreciate your message and insights into the loss I have just experienced with Dad. Writing about it is helping me so much already. Thank you!! <3

  3. Mary Dowdy says:

    My dear and beautiful cousin Suzanne,
    You brought me to tears for my dear cousin Archie, his wife Diane and all of his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.
    Your words and your blog are so beautiful and so well written.
    How wonderful for all of his family to be there for him during his last months, weeks and days.
    May God be with you all. I love you all so much. I wished that I could have been there.

    • Thank you Mary. I was thinking about you just the other day, and thinking it would have been so nice if you lived closer. I know you would have been here at Dad’s wake and funeral. <3

  4. JanetSabourin says:

    You expressed everything so beautifully, and honest, heartwarming . Such a talented writer. Thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you Janet. <3 You played such a huge part those last weeks with Dad. I appreciate so much all that you and Donald did for Dad, Mom and for all of us. We are very blessed to have you be a part of our family. Dad was incredibly grateful for your support and help during those last weeks. There was a tremendous amount of compassion from both of you. It could be felt a long ways away. <3

  5. Suzanne, This was such a beautiful tribute to your Dad.
    I love that you all are that “last supper” together and you were there until the end. I know that probably brings you comfort. Sending love, peace and light.
    Kathy

    • That last supper and being together did indeed help us all so much in many ways. I am finding a lot of comfort from those last weeks that Dad had with us. Thank you for your kind words. <3

  6. Such a loving tribute – brought tears to my eyes.
    I could feel his love for his people and also his yearning as he sang, “I wanna go home.”
    Oh what a beautiful heart. Home indeed. He is safe and whole.
    Sending love into your ache and the spaces left behind. Grieve well, friend, as I know
    you will. Peace to you along the way, and grace and comfort. Big xoxoxoxoxoxo
    -Jennifer

    • Jennifer, thank you for your loving and kind message. Family was really important to Dad. He was so proud of all of us. I do believe that he is now Home, safe and whole, and free. Thank you for sending such beautiful wishes. <3

  7. It was such a beautiful priviledge to pray for you and your family through your dad’s process of dying, Suzanne. What a lovely tribute to your dear dad <3 He gave you many gifts all through your life with him, and even gave you gifts in his dying. So much love to you <3

    • You are so right Jean, Dad did give us so many gifts throughout his life to us, and also in his dying. There’s no way we can see all of this until we go through experiences in life. Thank you, it’s been extremely appreciated all the prayers that were sent to me and my family during this time. <3

  8. Wow, Suzanne! What a warm and sensitive tribute to your Dad! It was quite difficult not to get teary eyed as your wonderful gift for writing brought him to life for those who did not know him. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing experience! xoxo

  9. Germaine Jean-Louis says:

    How special, wow, I am so happy for you and your brothers and sister to have experience his time of need together. Your writing kept me on the edge of seat. Very well written. Doing all this sharing with others really helps your healing. Thanks for sharing a painful experience but a beautiful experience you can keep in your heart safe.

    Merci

    • Germaine, thank you so much!! <3 You are right, I'm finding it to be so healing already and I have only written one blog post about it so far. It was a painful, yet beautiful experience his passing, and a blessing also. xo

  10. So much love. We should all be lucky enough to leave this world surrounded by such love. Thank you for sharing, Suzanne.

    • Thank you Maryse. I appreciate you sharing what you saw in what I have shared in my blog post. I know what you mean. I thought the same thing when Dad was dying in his last week(s) and days. I would think about myself one day, would I be so lucky as he had been and be surrounded by as much love and support as he received. xoxo

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