I've put off writing about my dad's death because I had a really hard time of it that first week. But now I feel better about it. I miss him a lot but I know he's so much happier in the spirit world. But here's what happened...
Sunday, January 25, 2015 about 4 AM
In the week that I had off up to this point I hadn't had a good nights sleep at all. In fact I was always falling asleep about 4 AM. Well, this night (Saturday into Sunday) I fell asleep after I got home about 11:30 PM and I was sleeping quite well when my phone rang. It was a little after 4 AM. She told my father had passed. I was so groggy it didn't really hit me and I tried waking Paul up and when I told him, he responded, "Are you serious?" And I said, "Yes." I then headed out to Mom's. When I got there a hospice nurse was there. Dad was in his bedroom in the hospital bed. He looked like he was napping, which made it seeing him dead not as shocking as I thought it would be as all my life he's mainly spent his time not at work napping. He looked much more peaceful than when I had left. I was so glad our last words were that we loved each other. Mom said she hadn't been able to sleep and got out of bed around 3:30 to give him a drink as he was restless but he couldn't even sip. Then she decided to give him some morphine as he was uncomfortable and she said he took a few breaths, and then a big deep one, his tongue rolled out, and he was gone.
Soon, Heather and Tyler and Pibby and Jenny showed up. Paul showed up as well. I didn't think any of them were going to come for some reason. About an hour after I got there the Valley View Funeral Home people showed up and took his body away. That's when I started getting teary-eyed as it was hard seeing them zip up the body bag and knowing that he wouldn't return. Bishop Barney came over for a moment and Mr. Ballard of the funeral home said that mom would need to come over to the funeral home at 10 AM to set up arrangements for the viewing and funeral. Bishop Barney asked to come with us.
The morning was very beautiful and clear but for a cloud over the eastern mountains that looked very shiny. Pibby said that's probably where dad was. All of us went to Village Inn for breakfast. It was very strange not having dad there, even more so not having to worry about getting home to him or helping him in and out of the car.
After breakfast everyone went home except me. I accompanied Mom to the funeral home with Bishop Barney. We set the funeral for Friday, January 30th at Mom's church with a viewing the previous night at the funeral home.
All day people came to visit, particularly Mom's sisters.
I wasn't sad all day...I suppose it was from shock and maybe from sheer relief.
I'll write more about that week later, I just wanted to write about what happened when he died.
I stayed over at my parents' house this whole week rather than go to work and I'm SO glad I did. Thankfully my job is a "grown-up" job where they realize that we're humans first, workers second. My boss Anna is the best! Anyway, Dad's health has rapidly deteriorated since I last wrote. He always has two eggs and raisin toast with peanut butter for breakfast, which he's been having this whole week. But other than that he hasn't eaten much. This morning however, he only ate a little of the breakfast and nothing else.
On Wednesday, his sister Shelley came over to visit. She had brought him KFC for lunch but of course, he couldn't eat it. I asked Shelley if she was OK now, since she had been so upset and she responded, "No." A little bit later I said, "I really think you should talk to the hospice nurse..." She cut me off, "David, I have my own beliefs about this and I'm not going to talk to her!" Me: "She'll help you feel better." Shelley: "We're not talking about it anymore!" And then, in true Pierce fashion, we acted as though nothing had happened even though I wanted to invite her to leave.
Shelley's daughter Holly and her family came over as well and all stayed most of the afternoon. We had chicken nuggets and tater tots for lunch. I went with Holly's husband Marshall to the store. He said that the night before Shelley had asked him what he thought of this situation with Dad and he said that he felt that she and her sisters were not treating my mom right by being mad at her, and that he wouldn't want Holly to keep him around if he were in the same situation. She wasn't too impressed by that. Since my last entry I've had time to think about why Dad's sisters think the way they do and the only thing I can come up with is that all they ever do is sit around, drink Pepsi, and do nothing. So the fact that Dad has just been sitting around doing nothing is no big deal to them. Of course, they all have no idea of his real health issues as they are never around (though Louise does call every day and I hate to group her with her sisters as she seems to be the only sane one...and yet she's one that's the most mad). Anyway, while they were here the Fittons dropped by. John and Susan Fitton used to live down the street from my parents and their daughter Jessica was my best friend growing up. We always used to visit with them so it was nice to see them but there were just too many people around so they said they would come later, which they did today (Saturday). A little after everyone had left my best friend Gina Falcone showed up with these beautiful bright flowers and some sweet rolls. She stayed for awhile just talking to my mom and dad and me. She's such a great lady! So caring and awesome! She was the best part of the day as everyone else being there kind of irritated me (not really Holly's family but just the fact that there were a ton of people).
Thursday, Dad couldn't really walk anymore and in fact he started to fall to the floor when Mom was taking him to the bathroom. She was able to grab and set him down gently and she had to call me and ask if me and Paul could come help her (this was in the morning). Since then he's just been in the wheelchair.
Friday, January 23, was their 39th wedding anniversary. Us kids had decided, with Dad's approval, that we would have a crab feast since he loves crab and hadn't had it in awhile. However, Paul decided to just buy a shrimp platter at Costco and he bought croissants. I bought turkey and swiss cheese and pickles and got to their house around 2. Around the same time Jayce Hymas showed up. He also used to live down the street. As a matter of fact, he lived right next to the Fittons. He was the Bishop in the Ward (that's what the church congregation is called in the Mormon church). He visited for awhile and it was nice. We bagged the idea of the crab feast and just had sandwiches and everyone else ate the shrimp for late lunch. Dad even had five or six. My friend Jessica Austin at work celebrated her birthday yesterday but was having a birthday dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen at the Fashion Place Mall. She had invited me earlier in the day but I declined. However, all my brothers and sister left Dad's house in the evening and I decided I really needed to get out. I was so glad I did. Gina was there along with Crystal Perea and Bernadette Gonzales. We four sat a table. At another table was more people we worked with including this beautiful girl Amy, Nicole Huish (that is my friend Mackenzie's cousin), another girl that I wasn't sure of her name and her cute daughter and Jessica. While waiting to be seated Amy told me that her mother died in surgery last February and so she knew what I was going through. She said it will be rough and it doesn't hurt any less, but you learn to live with it. We all had fun at dinner.
Apparently while Mom was getting Dad ready for bed he slipped out of his wheelchair onto the floor and so she called next door neighbor Brian Buckner to come help her lift him....as you can see, this whole situation is very sad.
Today, Saturday, when I got to Mom's, Dad was sitting on the couch falling in and out of sleep. He also said he was miserable. He clarified that he wasn't in pain, just miserable and uncomfortable. Mom has been giving him things like Loritab and other stuff that hospice suggested. The Fittons came over and visited for about an hour and a half. While they were there Mackenzie called me. Her father passed away about three years ago. Poor Mack has a cold and her voice was barely there but she wanted to make sure I was OK and offer any help she could.
It's weird being in a situation like this because the normal human response when someone is in distress is to ask how you can help. But when you're the one that needs the help, it's weird: I honestly don't know how anyone can help me except to listen to me. And I don't like to share my sad feelings with everyone because everyone needs to be happy not to mention they've already got stuff to deal with. However, I do like that my friends have been so good to me in listening and offering to help. Some time this week Michelle called too. Anyway, during the Fittons visit Dad was barely there falling in and out of sleep. After they left we took him into the bedroom so Mom could finish giving him a bath. He remained in the bedroom the rest of the evening, just very worn out and tired. His sister Louise called to talk to him but he could barely talk. I told her that he wasn't doing well at all and she said she knew that and she would be home from Colorado on Tuesday and would come to see him. I don't think he's going to make it Tuesday but I didn't want to tell her that because she's already upset and mad.
My mom's youngest sister Carol came over bringing home made chili and rolls. Her daughter Whitney and Whitney's girlfriend Mickelle came too. Heather and Tyler were over as well as Pibby and Jenny showed up. Paul is very depressed about this whole situation and deals with it by drinking so he was not there. After dinner they all left. Sandy Draper came in to say "hi" to Dad.
He was feeling rather restless and seemed labored in his breathing. Mom called the hospice and this beautiful nurse came over and suggested we give him .25 mg of morphine. She also said that it would only be a matter of days until he passes. While the nurse was visiting with Mom I sat by Dad's bed and told him I was sorry he was going through all this. He just rasped out, "Ok." Mom went to the store and I finished reading Glimpse Beyond Death's Door by Brent and Wendy Top. It was such a good comforting book. They related people's near-death-experiences. What all of them came back with is that God loves us more than we comprehend and we are to love everyone and learn as much as we can while we are here on Earth. And all of them said death was not scary in the least and that they looked forward to when they finally would die. Dad is very scared of dying simply because he doesn't know what's on the other side, even though he's been very religious his whole life. He also had told us last week that he's part of our family and wants to stay with us. I told him he'd always be part of the family but that because his body is so ravaged with illness he can't stay. We also told him we'd always be thinking about him.
Before I left Mom's I went in and told him I was leaving. I held his hand (which is something I never do because he's not very touchy-feely) and told him I loved him (also something I never do because he always responds, "Oh, OK.") However, tonight he rasped out as best he could, "I love you too."
If he does pass tonight I will always be grateful that those were our last words to each other. I really do love him so much! He's been so good to us and cared about us so much. It's really hard to watch him go through this. REALLY HARD. But I know his life in the afterworld is going to be so great! He'll be with his parents, his grandparents, and many others that he's always wanted to talk to.
So now I'm going to try to sleep, even though I've not been able to the past couple nights for fear the phone would ring.
My cousin Holly texted me at work on Friday and said she had something to tell me that she didn't want to say through text. I thought, "Oh great! Here we go with some more stupid Pierce drama." So after lunch with my brother Paul and his friend Brandon (where Brandon told us to take advantage of any time we have left as Brandon's dad died of cancer), I called Holly. She said, "You won't believe what happened this morning..." She proceeded to tell me that her mother called and told her that she had decided that she didn't want to make my dad's last days stressful for him or my family, and that even if she disagrees with this decision, she needs to be with him and talk with him and that she hoped my mom would allow her over. Both Holly and I were shocked beyond belief! Shelley never admits when she is wrong. She also said that Leatrice felt the same but that they hadn't spoke to Louise about it yet. This all made me feel much better.
That night I went to see American Sniper starring Bradley Cooper with my friends. I didn't realize it was based on a true story...and a sad true story at that. While watching it there were a ton of helicopters and I started getting way sad because my dad loves helicopters and war movies. I can't believe we're to this point.
Saturday my family and I decided that Dad needed to go visit his childhood best friend Paul Draper who lives in Wellington, where my dad is from. We were also going to visit Leatrice and her family. I was wary of visiting Leatrice because of what had gone on this week. I didn't want it to be awkward. Paul actually drove and Mayson, Mom, Dad, and I all went down. The day was absolutely beautiful. We decided to go to Leatrice's first.
It was a struggle to get Dad up the steps in her garage. Ray was there and shortly after we arrived Natalie and her oldest child Kam came over. We had a good time visiting and I didn't feel like it was awkward. I did notice at one point in the conversation that I wasn't a part of that Leatrice shared her concerns but Paul and Mom reiterated just how sick Dad is. It didn't help matters that Dad said, "I wish I felt sick because I don't." Natalie and I looked through old pictures and found a lot that I had never seen before of my dad. After about three hours we left and went to Paul Draper's.
Now I have never known where Paul Draper lived. I've only met him twice I believe but never really spoke to him. Dad used to go visit him a lot when I was younger when we'd come to visit Grandma. But recently he would always pass on visiting him. I thought maybe Paul Draper lived far out of town. Turns out he lives two blocks away from where Grandma lived. His truck wasn't by his house and I went up to the door and knocked. There was no answer. I knocked again and still nothing. Suddenly the old guy from next door in a trailer yells at me, while holding a handi-cam, "Smile! You're on camera and I'm sending it to the police!" I responded, "I'm looking for Paul Draper!" Just then a skinny old guy came around the corner from Paul's house. I said, "Paul, my dad Wade is looking for you." Paul brightened up and came to the car. He was so GLAD to see Dad. He kept repeating that. Mom told Paul that Dad was on hospice and he seemed to think that made sense. Paul Draper hasn't had a phone for fifteen years but said anytime his kids come to visit he would call Dad.
I was so glad that Dad was able to see Paul. And then we left for home.
After I actually went to the Cottonwood 11th ward at the request of the sister missionaries, I called Mom at about 11. Dad was still asleep! And she said he looked puffy this morning. This means his kidneys really aren't working and he's going downhill quick. So I went out there and we've just been visiting. I decided after awhile that I probably should stay home tomorrow in case he slips away. It's so strange to know he won't be here soon.