Up until the last few days of my dad's illness my mom, my two sisters and I were able to take care of him ourselves. But when the last few days proved overwhelming both physically and mentally we brought in hospice to help us thru the process of losing dad. Our experience with hospice was very good and truthfully I don't know how we would have made it thru those last few days without them. However there was one incident that hurt me so badly that God had to go to extraordinary measures to heal my broken heart.
The day before dad passed away he was no longer able to communicate and only occasionally opened his eyes. For lack of a better word he appeared to be sleeping. The hospice nurse had arrived to check in on dad and give him his afternoon medication. As soon as she began dad became extremely agitated and restless. The nurse told us that in order to give him the medicine one of us needed to hold him down and keep him from thrashing around. As you can imagine none of us volunteered and I being the oldest was elected. The nurse sensed my reluctance and assured me it was in his best interest.
Mom was in the room and I looked at her and she nodded at me and I did as the nurse instructed. Dad began to fight back immediately and as soon as he did he opened his eyes and as long as I live I will never forget how he looked at me. It was if he couldn't believe that I would let anyone hurt him like that and I knew he would never forgive me. Mom told the nurse to stop and as soon as she did, dad's body relaxed and he once again was peaceful. That was the last time my dad looked at me and I would have to live with that look for the rest of my life. Or so I thought.
Fast forward several months. It was a beautiful, sunny June day and I was mowing the yard of the little house where I lived. My mare had delivered a beautiful colt the night my night my dad passed away and as I mowed I was deep in thought as to where I would put him when it was time to wean him from his mother. I had gotten to the end of a row and started yet another heading towards the gravel driveway where my little truck was parked. Still deep in thought, I looked up from my work at standing up against my truck I saw my dad. My dad loved very hot weather and he was dressed in his favorite work shorts, no shirt and tennis shoes. He was tan and he had good weight on his previously emaciated body. He was no longer sick, but as I remembered him when he was healthy. In his hand he was holding his Big Al mug which was filled with a lime Mr. Misty, his favorite summer time beverage.
I remember thinking, hey there's dad! He smiled at me, waved and then he was gone and I saw him no more. And while it had not yet dawned on me why I couldn't have possibly seen my dad, I remember being sad and disappointed that he left. I stopped the mower and went and set down on the steps leading to the porch. I needed a few minutes to think about what just happened. And then it hit me; very rarely did you ever see my dad without a cigarette and yet when I saw him he didn't have one. That's when I realized God wanted to ease the guilt I felt in my heart for holding down my dad that day. He didn't want me to carry that burden the rest of my life. I believe with every fiber of my being that God sent dad to me that day to let me know he loved me still and to release me from the guilt I carried with me. No one will ever convince me otherwise.
I allowed a bit of time to pass before I told mom what had happened. The first thing she asked me was if I was scared. I told her I wasn't and honestly it never occurred to me to be afraid, even after I had time to think more about it. God gives each of us, His children, what we need when we need it. I count that last visit and wave from my dad as one of the greatest gifts God has every given to me and that day I felt a huge weight lifted from my soul.
Until we meet here again, I pray God bless you and keep your loved ones safe.