Ten Years Ago, Age 58 Part III

Me & My Dad

I can’t say enough good things about Hospice. Without them I don’t know if we would have been able to do what we did for my Father. Though Hospice helps a great deal it also takes a special type of family to do what we did too. I see that now. Both my parents were the cornerstone of that. They taught my brothers and I through their own actions over the years. My Father cared for his Mother, driving every weekend to take her shopping and run errands for her and my Aunt Franny with us in tow until my Grandmother passed. He then continued to do so for my Aunt until he moved to California. I’ve already spoken about my Mother’s amazing dedication to her family, both her Grandmother, her Father and today even with her own Mother. My Mom was there now to help care for my Father even with all their differences. I know this must seem very sad to a lot of people, but some of the best memories and strongest memories of my Father and family come from this time.

We bought baby-monitors and took nights listening for him, if he needed anything. We bought pre-paid cellphones so that Kevin and I could be reach anywhere if and when we did go out. We posted a dry erase board in his room with the day and date for him, so he wouldn’t lose track of time. Most of all we spent time with him. Kevin spent most of his days with him, while my Mom and I were at work. Sean who had moved out of the house with my Father’s return would make short visits. A lot of the time my Mom would sit up and talk with my Father when they both couldn’t sleep.

Sean, Dad, Me & Kevin

A few days after his return he went on his first and only trip out of the house since his return. He was scheduled to meet with his primary care doctor in Foxboro. This was the first day he seemed to be weakened since his arrival back home. Getting him to help with getting into the wheelchair that morning was very difficult, he didn’t want to get out of bed. I started to think, if it was this hard to get him in the chair how were we going to get him down the stairs. Five damn stairs and then two more outside. That day we had a little extra help. Art, a neighbor and my Father’s good friend came over to help get the wheelchair down the stairs. This was the first time Art had seen my Father since his return. You could see it was hard on him, he had always known him healthy and on the go, now he was confined to a wheelchair. Though my Father for the most part was always an average build, he was sickly by this point and had grown thin. Art miraculously picked the chair up with my Father in it and brought it down the stairs to the front walk. I think Kevin and I were so relieved we didn’t know what to say.

The Doctor appointment was rather quick and far more a formality. His Doctor was going to give us whatever support we needed for Hospice. There were concerns about my Dad’s recent anxieties and he was prescribed Ativan. It was then time to go home. Once home things become very different for all of us. The man that gotten off that plane on March 17th, was retreating. He became confined to his bed after that day.

We kept my Uncle Jerry updated regularly, and with one exception which my Father made no one was allowed to visit. Pleads from the Cape Cod, for visits or to place him in the hospital were met and denied by me. I became my Father’s keeper. He wouldn’t have wanted to see people, or for people to see him like this. We held strong and worked through it as a family.

My Father was the strongest of us all. The man never complained, even in all the pain he tried to keep it to himself. As children he never believed we were truly ill until we coughed up a lung. Two years early when I was struck with Mononucleosis and pneumonia my Father didn’t believe the severity of my illness until the doctor caught me falling off the exam table and placed me in a wheelchair. He was made of stronger stuff than we were. Maybe it was growing up on the streets of Mission Hill in Roxbury, maybe it was being the second youngest of seven children or maybe it was just the way he was. Another thing to know about my Father was he never swore. It just wasn’t in him. He would say stuff like Sugar, Honey, Ice, Tea. He would never use the F-word. I remember my Mother once saying it to him when they were fighting on the phone after he had moved to California, he was completely shocked by it. She then had to tell him she learned it from me (thanks Mom).

Dad, Sean, Mom & Kevin

It was on one of my nights with the baby monitor that I finally found out just how much pain he was in. I was laying in bed listening to him talk to himself. I think he was honestly trying to talk himself out of the pain. After mumbling for a few minutes, he in very harsh yet quiet voice “F***, F***, F***”. I jumped out of bed and threw on my robe to run upstairs. I walked into his room. He was in bed gripping the sheets and sweating a bit. You could see the pain in his face. He was trying to open a bottle of Morphine. “You didn’t say my name, but you called for help regardless.” I called the Hospice hotline. The nurse on duty told me to give him some oral morphine. The term CC was used. Do you know what what a CC is? This was at 4 in the morning and I was 26. I will admit I didn’t know. I medicated my Father and the pain seemed to subside. I sat down in the chair beside him and waited for the others to wake up. From that point forward his medication intake was monitored strictly by us, he was no longer allowed to medicate himself and he asked for me to give him his pain medicine. It would seem my definition of a CC was much better than the clinical definition. My dosages were also double checked by my little brother.

Because of the medication and his oncoming weakness, we found that he slept more. Falling asleep while watching television in his room would result in elaborate Michael Bay like action dreams, which he had to be calmed down from. I had to explain to him once that Sean was safe and there was no one shooting at us from across the street. At the recommendation of Hospice we removed the TV from his room and played him classical music. This of course was wonderful until one of us realized the classical cd selected had reached a long line of funeral marches. From that point on we played something a little more up lifting like John WilliamsJurassic Park.

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~ by Cute Fan Girl on April 1, 2011.

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