Friday, November 09, 2007

153 the saddest thing & cat for a dad

As I was lying awake the other night, unable to sleep because of all things I had to do churning in my head (yet not awake enough to get out of bed and do any of them) I realized that we can't cremate my father in his hospital bed gown. It just wouldn't be right. I know that's totally illogical. I have a bag of clothes (that the nursing home rejected as being too difficult to put on him) that I haven't been able to bring to Goodwill due to lack of time. So yesterday at lunch I sat in my car and went through the whole bag, looking for something comfortable. Something you'd want to spend eternity in. And it had to be green, of course, my dad's favorite color.
And this stupid little task affected me so much. I was sitting in the car just sobbing. I picked out a nice soft green button-down shirt, and a pair of dark grey pants, also very soft. I think my mom threw away his old Red Sox hat and I honestly don't want to spend $20 on a hat just to burn it, but if I can find such a hat, I'll add that to the bag also. His favorite sneakers with the green laces I bought him are still at the nursing home, but I'll add those too. Socks and underwear, I guess, although do the funeral directors really use them? I can't see my dad going commando-style.
And then I went up to see him after work, dreading what I would find. A corpse? Something a half step above? Burning with fever, moaning with pain.
What I found was a thin man who looks older than his age, curled in bed, watching Oprah. Not that he has any comprehensive of Oprah, or cares about how women in their 30's should dress as opposed to women in their 40's, 50's and 60's. Not that he ever looked at me or acknowledged my presence. (Except when I sat on his foot by accident--then he made a fuss, moaning and throwing his head around.)
They have him on oxygen--not a mask, those prong things. Which we didn't authorize, but they considered it a "comfort and care measure". His fever is down to 99. They took him off the morphine. He looked about 150x better than he did the day before.
Now I don't know what to think. I stayed with him about an hour. He never looked at me even when I spoke to him. He had a few coughing fits that made me uneasy and that also dislodged his breathing tube.
So I had dinner and went home. I told my husband about it and he got angry (not at me) saying that he keeps telling people that his father-in-law is dying and has a few days left to live and then he doesn't die and he looks like a fool. He demanded to know if my father's parents were actually cats. (Could be--I've never seen a picture of my father's father, and I don't even know his name.) How many lives does this guy have? And why is he fighting so hard to live?


Mauigirl said...

Bert, I was reading the older posts first and when I came to the one before this one I was thinking "this must be it" and then was surprised to find out your dad has continued to rally. The idea of him being a cat with 9 lives is ironic - I said exactly the same about my father, even before the Alzheimer's. He had a myriad of things in his old age:

-Blood clots from the carotid arteries, had to have them cleared out;
-Prostate surgery
-Major heart surgery at age 86 (double valve replacement and double bypass)
-Insertion of pacemaker
-Hospital-related Pneumonia
-Broken leg

In addition, several hospitalizations for depression, tried to commit suicide twice, had several intestinal bleeds/anemia episodes due to Coumadin.

The man never died no matter what happened to him. He lived to be 92 despite all this. Looking back on his last year after the broken leg when his dementia got so bad, it made me wonder whether he would have been better off dying at 86 during the heart operation. But it is what it is.

I feel so bad for all you are going through. As someone else said, only do the things you have to do and let everything else go. You don't have to be a good "wifey-poo." Don't cook - try to get take-out. Sometimes there are pretty inexpensive choices at grocery stores - those pre-made chickens are cheap and can go for two meals. Let the house be a mess. Other things are more important now. Don't feel guilty taking time for yourself. You need it.

Anonymous said...

A half-cat dad? Why not? That would make you part cat, too, of course. Celebrate your cat heritage. Curl up and take a nap and have a little catnip.
Tell your DH dying isn't like they show it on TV. People don't usually clutch their chests and keel over all nice and tidy. It can be messy and it sometimes takes a long time, like birth.
It's nice you picked out comfortable clothes that he'll like. I sent my dad off to the afterlife dressed for a business meeting. Sweats and jeans would have been much better.

-Jill H.

Anonymous said...

The things is your dad is still dying! when my grandfather got ill in late june. my family called to tell me this was it. game over. (he died from a herniated intestine) so I told everyone about it. two days latter I get the call saying he was on the rebound. so I called around again. a week latter when my grandmother finally brow beat the doctors into letting him die. I called around for the third time and you know what? no one thought I was foolish. He was dying from the get go the only queastion was when were the doctors going to let him finish. Maybe that is what needs to be explained. your father is dying but the doctors just wont let him finish!

Maggie said...

Hello there, I came over from The Tangled Neuron, and only thought it polite to tell you why I am working my way through your archive (although I like folks to read my blog, I did find it a tiny bit creepy when someone read huge chunks of it and made never a comment!).

I lost both my parents to dementia this year. Dad had vascular dementia, and we think probably Mum did as well, though we never were given a definitive diagnosis. So my journey has been a little different to yours, but it seems to me that there is a lot in common too.

By the time Dad died, Mum was in a Nursing Home herself, we asked her about funeral arrangements, but she just said "I don't want to talk about That". So I did what seemed best to me. We had the service in what was their local parish Church (they were in differant parish when in the Nursing Home). The Rector was incredibly kind, and left most of the Tribute to me and our elder Daughter.

I was touched by your Tribute to your Dad. It gave a sense of him as a man that I hope I managed to give in my Tribute to my Dad.

But why am I putting this on this particular entry? You writing about choosing clothes to be cremated in.

When the time came, we didn't know what to take either. In the end I took underwear, and I also put a clean hanky in his suit pocket (Dad always thought it important to be dressed-up for special occasions, so we took his best suit) and chose socks and shirt to match and a good pair of leather shoes that my husband cleaned so they shone. He looked very peaceful when we went to see him at the Funeral Home. "Dapper" was the word our very kind lady Funeral Director used - "Your Dad looks very dapper." And I know that Dad would have liked that.

I'm sorry, here I am wittering on about allsorts!

Thank you for documenting your feelings at events. I have found it comforting reading on several blogs how people have got through these things.

Best wishes from Liverpool