My Dad died Sunday night.
He had taken a turn for the worse over the past couple of days. He was having trouble swallowing and his naps were getting longer and deeper.
He had been under hospice care for the past 22 months. They came to visit him in his assisted living apartment regularly, supervising medications and making sure he was comfortable.
But even though hospice had informed us that his condition was terminal, his last couple of years were so leisurely spent that his death was actually a bit of a shock.
I guess I thought he could go on forever, not having a miraculous turn-around, but not getting any worse, either.
And even though he had diabetes and COPD, and had pretty much lost his mobility, he was always calm, cheerful and optimistic. He enjoyed connection with the staff at the assisted living facility, and he was deeply appreciative of frequent visits from my sister and my younger brother, who live nearby.
No matter how much we observed his gradual physical and mental deterioration, he was always effusive in expressing his gratitude for the wonderful health he enjoyed.
Missing My Mom
The biggest challenge for my Dad was getting used to the fact that my Mom had died six months earlier.
They had spent a lifetime together, until she passed away in January. Next month they would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
When I visited with him about a month ago, we had a great conversation. But in the midst of it he suddenly looked confused. He looked at me earnestly.
“Have you seen your mother?” he asked. “I haven’t seen her here today.”
With the onset of dementia, it was too easy for my Dad to forget that she was gone. So he had the opportunity to miss her repeatedly, and to recognize the loss again and again in fresh moments of grieving and distress.
That may have contributed to his decision to let go himself, just a few weeks shy of his 92nd birthday.
I’m already missing him terribly….