Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shades of gray

I found the peanut butter in fridge this morning. My brain escapes me at times and I shuffle about on auto pilot. I read to Colton for his homework. I check it off the list. I make small talk with the neighbors about how late the sweet corn is this year. But I am tripped up when they mention dinner. I search my brain... did I? Did I remember to make dinner? Colton says no, Grandma made eggs for him. A check mark for dinner.

We brought my father home from the hospital the other night. I want to breathe a sigh of relief. His spirits are good. He makes jokes with the nurse. His oxygen drops low when he moves about the room, getting prepared to leave. We make him sit and take deep breathes to stop the alarm on the monitor. The levels slowly rise, as the nurse encourages "thats right, just keep breathing." And Dad says "Believe me, I plan to!" We all crack up.

Mom and I pack up his gear. His new c-pap machine is giving us fits. We can't seem to get it disconnected from the table its resting on. My dad cranes his neck to examine what we are not seeing. "Well," he says, " just unplug the power supply, and you won't have to take the whole thing apart." He accomplishes in seconds, what we struggle with for what seems like hours.

The motions we go through are the same. Mom and I could pack up the "hospital accoutrement" in our sleep, having grown accustomed to the routine of admission and discharge over the last 3 years. But the language has changed this time. There is a perceptible shift in whats not being done, whats not being ordered, whats not being said.

I am sitting in Dad's room when the doctors arrive. They begin discussing his case in the hallway outside of his room. Fragments of sentences work their way into the room in the space surrounding the chair I am sitting on. "Does he know?" A male voices asks. "I think he does." Says, another male voice. The air grows heavier with these bits of words that don't belong in a conversation about my dad. I hear "contact hospice," and "heart failure." As the room begins to close in on me, the nurse comes back in to help dad get dressed. I use this reason to escape the confines of the suddenly stifling room.

I sit in the family room, a battle waging between the denial in my brain, and the betrayal of my body now shaking. We knew this was coming some day. Congestive Heart failure eventually wins. And oh how we have battled.

With the time for the school bus to come home looming in front of me, I go to quickly say goodbye. I'm composed for the moment. My Dad acknowledges that a hospice worker is coming to see him tomorrow, but he firmly states, "I am feeling good." "I look good don't I?" He is scanning my face for confirmation. I am relieved I can honestly answer "you look good, dad, you look good." And that is all that is said.

I find out later that evening that there was confusion about dad's discharge papers and my mom left without them. The lady from hospice came to meet with dad yesterday at home but said she won't know how to proceed until the paperwork comes in the mail. So while I attended a meeting at school, the kids played at Grandpa's house. He insisted they come. How can I say no?

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Even though in the meantime the peanut butter is in the fridge and the kids may or may not have eaten. The sky is still blue and the sun is shining. My dad is doing well at home. His spirits are good. Mom is taking him to deliver some more invites to his party. We're doing okay.

And I am praying... for a lot of things right now. Mostly, I am hoping for courage to find me somewhere in the night.


  1. Hang in there Vicky. We are praying for all of your family, especially your Dad. We love you.

  2. I understand being scatter brained and that is even when there isn't fear taking over my mind. Courage comes from going through the motions while handling it all. Ok, I don't know what I just said but do you kind of get me?? =) Prayer is a powerful thing.

  3. I found your blog from Liss over at A Memory Forever. I loved reading the poignant story of your Father, his party and the current tribulations. You are so right..the more things change the more they stay the same. A prayer to you & yours to find the guiding light in the night ;)

  4. Vicky I can only imagine the fear, shock, anger, realization of what is happening, and abundant sadness that you are feeling. I am thinking of you, and hoping that whatever happens, you feel strength and courage from your family, friends, and God.

  5. Gosh Vicky-my heart is breaking for you right now. I absolutely can not imagine what you are going through. Please know that you are in my prayers and I think of you often. Hugs my dear friend!

  6. Vic - I am always there for you -- please know that. Feel free to call anytime - sometimes there are no words to say - I have had to make a few of those calls to you also...I actually had checked your blog this morning - then got your email -- I immediately tried to call since I couldn't log on and see. I am so sorry to hear about the news -- it rings so close to home with last summer for me -- only this is your dad. Right now time is a gift you have been given - trust me - make the most of it and well there will someday be sadness there will not be regret. Just "be" with your dad -- make the time -- even if it means telling my sister you need a day here or there -- she has backup (mom). My aunt Joyce is battling congestive heart failure right now also - it is miserable stuff - to experience and watch. Focus on the party - your dad is obviously excited about that -- make it wonderful memories of him and for you...Let me know if I can do anything, or just listen, or just be your best friend -- I am always there. Kristi

  7. I'm so sorry. So very, very sorry.
    We all know that the time will come. We just want to put it off as long as we can. Love every minute that you have with your dad. Pray diligently. Know that people care. And order take out now and then.

  8. Oh Vicky, I feel for you at this tough time, you have a lot on your mind so I would worry about the kids missing a cooked dinner. I am sure a peanut butter sandwich wont hurt them.

    Make the most of the time you have with your dad and just take it one step at a time, try not to worry about what could happen in the future. Enjoy each day as it comes.

    Have that party and make it the best party ever as there will come at time when things will never be the same again and that hurts for awhile especially when you are daddy's girl.

    My thoughts are with you and your family.

  9. Hi Vicky

    my thoughts are with you at this time.

    My Dad in NZ has been put into care after a minor strong left him a bit addled and weak.. He is fading rather quickly and it is hard to reconcile this frail, weak and befuddled old man with the vibrant energetic and strong dad I have always had...

    What is wrong with peanut butter in the fridge?

    Happy days

  10. Julie, thank you for thinking of us and especially dad :)

    Heather, yes, I know you share in this newly uncertain future we have with our dads, thanks for the comforting words :) Praying for your dad as well.

    Missy, thank you :)

    Hi Alicia, welcome :) Its a bit melancholy around here right now, but so nice to see a new face. Thank you for your kind words and I will come visit you soon. So glad to have you here :)

    Bonnie, I am sure your own feelings of grief are still fresh. Thank you for your comforting words, I think you are so right... family, friends and God are what see you through.

    Stephanie, thank you, I appreciate your support and prayers :)

    Kristi, sorry I missed your call. I absolutely knew I could call you and I am sure at times I will. I will talk to Debbi soon and thank goodness your mom is near and willing to take the girls occasionally. I think Debbi and dad share their birthdays... the 19th? We'll talk soon :)

    Libby, you're always know what to say that is guaranteed to bring a laugh :) Thank you for your wise advice.

    Liss, thank you for your wise words as well. I appreciate your support and am listening to you :) Thank you :)

    Delwyn, I am certainly not alone in going through this. Prayers for your dad as well and thanks for your support... the peanut butter remains in the fridge :)

  11. Oh my heart aches Vicky. I'm holding you here in the ache, and praying for you constantly. Hugs, love, prayers ~
    And sending you courage if that's possible ...

  12. Robin, thank you sweet friend :)

  13. I didn't know what "contact hospice" meant, until now. I read about it, and I am SO sorry, you and your family have to go through this. I wish him the best of health in the days to come with the least possible discomfort or pain. It's laudable how his spirits haven't sagged and he continues being strong and lively. Hats off to him, I include you and your family in my prayers. Wish you lots of strength and love :)

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  15. Vicky I am SO sorry to be late reading this and finding out about this news concerning your precious, beloved father. What an overwhelming task it must feel like to even begin to wrap your mind around life without him. But I will be praying mightily that a man like him, with a heart like he has for those he loves, will defy the odds and surprise everyone. He has so much yet to give and I pray he is allowed the time it takes him to see it through.

    I put up a quick post this week (in the middle of this flu when I wasn't sitting here too long) and your was one of the dear dads I thought of as I posted it and watched Dick Hoyt minister to his son. Please tell him how much it means to me, and many others I'm sure, to know men like him have blessed so many lives and continue to do so.

    Hugs, love, and prayers for you, dear Vicky.

  16. Tranquility, thank you for your heartfelt words. I appreciate your concern and compassion. All of your support and encouragement are appreciated.

    Robynn, I will happily share your sentiments with my dad, he will be touched by that :) It makes me treasure him all the more to realize there are others like yourself that didn't have an "honorable" father. I did see your video the other day and it brought me to tears instantly as I have read the story before... simply amazing :) Thank you sweet friend.

  17. Oh, sweet friend. I wish I had great words for you, but you have already taken care of that department in the ways you have spoken about your dad.

    Anticipation is hard, but I know you won't let it stop you from enjoying the now with your dad. God knows what's happening today, and what will happen tomorrow. No matter what happens, God will take care of it and all will be well.

    Love to you...

  18. Sara, I can't tell you what joy and comfort it brings me to see that sweet smiling pup show up in my comments!! Just know... it does.


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