Thursday, September 16, 2010

He fought the good fight

Sunday afternoon, my dad lost a 6 1/2 year battle with cancer. He passed away surrounded by 11 of his 12 living children. That day will forever change my life. He was absolutely the most amazing man that I have ever known. His devotion to his family and the church could never be matched. I have learned so many things from him, just from his example.

The Thursday before he passed away, he wanted to get his home teaching done, but was too sick to get off the couch. He called the lady that he teaches and asked her if she would possibly come to his house. She came, and he taught her the home teaching lesson while lying flat on the couch. We told him that we should have taken a picture of him while home teaching. We thought that it would make a good picture for people to check out at the church library, or be in the gospel art kit. The picture would have to explain that the home teacher was the one on the couch and not the other way around. He thought that was pretty funny. His devotion to the church and his callings was amazing. It was his hobby and love.

My dad had been in and out of the hospital 5 different times in the past couple of months. Recently he was in the hospital for 9 days, was out for 2 days, and then returned to the hospital for his final time on the earth. When he went into the hospital the last time, the doctor told him that his white blood cell count was at zero and there was nothing left that could be done. At that point they called it "comfort care". They just planned on keeping him free from pain as best as they could. The doctor told my mom that he would probably only live another 12 hours. We were devastated to know that our time with him was over.

We spent the next few days by his side every waking moment. I told him, completely teasing, that when he got to heaven I wanted him to find my brother Brian and just punch him in the arm once for me. Brian was my older brother that passed away at age 12, I being 11. As you can imagine, he did a fair amount of teasing. I love and miss my brother. That made my dad smile.

The first day in the hospital, he was able to visit with all of his kids and grand kids, but was very tired. He could rarely finish a thought before falling to sleep. We spent quality time with him, telling him how much we loved him. We sang songs to him. Every time we would finish a song, he would tell us how beautiful it was. At one point my sister said, "Dad, we love you" and he replied, "I hope you know..." and he didn't have the strength to finish the thought. But, we knew--and we cried.

On Saturday night after having been there for 11 hours, I went home tired and numb. I had only been asleep for 1 hour when my sister called and told me to hurry up to the hospital. I ran all the way down the halls to get to his room. He was in bad shape that night, and it was extremely hard to watch. We could only make out a few words that night, "I hurt". They gave him stronger medicine to get him through the night. At 3:00 a.m. he slept and never woke up again.

We spent Sunday afternoon, listening to Music and the Spoken Word. It was amazing how well his stats were during the program. Early afternoon we noticed that his breathing was slowing down. When we realized that things were looking bad, we called my sister Lori and she rushed up. We kept telling my dad that Lori was on her way. We were watching the monitors in a panic hoping that Lori would make it in time. Finally we shouted, "Dad she's here" and as she rounded the corner, he took his last breath and was gone. It was as if you could see his spirit leaving his body. I have the hugest hole in my heart, and I know that it will take a long time to heal.

II Timothy 2:6-8

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.


Jill said...

Thank you for sharing such a sacred experience. Your dad, and whole family, is such an inspiration to all. It was such a beautiful service. I am blessed to know your family.

Hang in there. I can't imagine what you're going through-but I do know it will get easier.

We love ya.

lindygirl said...

I am so glad that you were able to spend the last hours with him and your siblings. What great support.
Thanks for sharing, I am sure it was hard to write but you will be glad you did.
Your Dad raised a bunch of amazing kids. He is a great example to me, even though I never met him.

J and J said...

I really appreciated this post! What an example of a wonderful man with a wonderful family! May God fill you during this empty time!

djtandrus said...

Heidi Thank you Thank you! I so appreciated your sharing this most precious and private moments with all of us. I have so much love for your parents and family. May you always be watched over and blessed, you too are a shining example.

Peterson Pack of Wild Dogs said...

What a sweet message you bring under the stress and loss you have suffered. We wish you and your family the peace you rightfully deserve.

The Sampietro's said...

What a wonderful post. Im so sorry about your dad. It's so hard...but, time is an amazing healer. Love you girl...we will keep you and your family in our prayers.