It was a year ago today, May 8, 2016, that my dad passed away.
Eleven years before that he had been diagnosed with COPD and emphazemia and had been being treated for both ever since. While in the hospital, five days before passing away, we discovered that he had been misdiagnosed. He actually had a lung disease called silicosis...a condition that is caused by inhaling too much silica over a long period of time.
My dad had worked at the Independence Stove Foundry in Independence Missouri for 23 years. They made cast iron products that were cast in silica sand. The lung doctor explained that, once silica sand gets into the lungs, it never goes away. Like tiny blades that cut with every breath, the sand continue to cut into the lung tissue, eating away at it little by little, all the while creating and, eventually, filling the lungs with masses of scar tissue. The doctor said that my dad had no healthy lung tissue left and that there wasn't anything that could be done for him. My dad was 49 years out from his last day of work at the Independence Stove Foundry.
After a 10-day hospital stay my Dad was brought home on hospice; in less than 24 hours he was gone.
On the afternoon that my dad passed away, I posted the following update on Facebook:
"Dad's first night home started off not too bad. When he first got there he was communicative and interested in things...namely water, coffee, chicken noodle soup, and an Ensure shake. These were spaced out throughout the late afternoon and early evening hours.
About 4:00 in the morning Dad started having some difficulties. His breathing became erratic and funky. He came home with a pain patch and an anti-anxiety patch from the hospital. We started the oral counterparts at 4:30 this morning. By 6:15 his breathing was still erratic and he asked for more meds. I called the nurse because the instructions said once every four hours, but the nurse said to go ahead and give them to him. The doctor has since said that he can the meds every hour if need be.
Dad was still somewhat uncomfortable when Amber arrived around 7:30 or 8:00. At that point he asked her to play some of their songs. She played several songs on the keyboard for him, then he asked that she play some of their CDs. Once the music started, Dad settled down, his breathing became less erratic, and he has slept most of the day. He's had lots of company coming and going and he's acknowledged pretty much everyone by opening his eyes, but, basically, he's just sleeping. Nothing seems to bother him (people coming and going, the great-grands laughing, playing, crying, the phone ringing...NOTHING) and he seems very comfortable.
The hospice nurse was there a short time ago and she said to keep the music playing round the clock because it seems to have such a calming effect on him. She also said that, based on his numbers, she is giving him maybe two more days, but that that could change very quickly. For now, there's still time. If anyone wants to come by and visit with him while they can feel free to do it. Just come on over...anytime...day or night.
I want to take a minute, too, to thank all those that have been thinking of my dad and praying over him. Thanks, too, to the many friends and family members who have called and/or come by. It means more to me than any of you will ever know.
And, keep in mind, while this may be a sad time for those of us who will be left behind, this is also a time of great joy. My dad accepted Christ and has been a faithful servant of the Lord for many, many years. There is no doubt where my dad will spend eternity. In fact, at 6:00 this morning, I heard him whispering over and over "Oh, God! In the name of Jesus!" He was calling on the Lord to deliver him from this earthly vessel. And, soon, the Lord will answer that prayer and the angels will rejoice as one more saint makes their journey home to meet Jesus face to face. And oh! What a day of great rejoicing that that is going to be!!!..."
As soon as I finished the update, I ran by Casey's to grab a drink and returned to Dad's. Within minutes Dad was gone. Here is the update that I shared that night...
"Well, I'm finally home from Dad's. I'm sure many of you have already heard that shortly after I posted my latest update, my dad went home to be with the Lord. Dad went so peacefully and I'm so thankful to have had so many friends and family members there today.
While Dad was still with us various friends and family members came and went; after Dad left, the whole clan converged. We had to wait a while before the hospice nurse could get there, then an addition hour or more for the funeral home people to arrive. Friends and family members continued to call and/or come by, the children played in the yard, the adults visited and shared old stories and memories. I am thankful for the family and friends that I have. I love each and every one of them so much. I do have a lot of calls and messages to return...and I will...in time.
Please know that your thoughts and prayers at this time mean the world to me, but, know too, that I am not sad. The past 11 years have been miserable for my dad...the past two have been really bad...especially these past four months. My dad is no longer laboring to breathe. He's not stuck in a box...imprisoned within the four walls of his own home with the exception of keeping a doctor appointment or going to the hospital. This has been a long, ongoing ordeal for him and I am so thankful that he is no longer suffering.
He was so peaceful this afternoon...sleeping...his grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and good friends gathered round him...his great-grandchildren laughing and playing at his bedside. I'm going to miss him...yes...but, ohmygoodness! I'm so thankful! So privileged to have had the pleasure of being his daughter...to know that he lives on within me and my children and my grandchildren..."
It's hard to believe that it's been a year now, but what a joy it is to know that Dad has been free of this earthly vessel and in the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, catching up with loved ones who have gone before, and partaking of just those first, few, early days of all eternity that stretches beyond. What a joyous and wonderful time he must be having!
God bless you, Dad, and thank you! I love you and I miss you and I look forward to the day when the whole clan is gathered on the other side, there to rejoice in the Lord's presence forever and ever! Amen!
Until next time...