The Crossroads

I just lost my dad.  One minute, he was talking, walking, and shopping with me; the next day he was someone I didn’t know.  Overnight, his dementia had taken hold and he was lost to us.  I’ll never know if it was a new prescription that pushed him over the edge, or someone stealing his wallet at his assisted living center (which held his lucky $20 bill from his Navy days in the 1950s).  I’ll never know the answer and I’ll never gather enough facts to know.  This doesn’t exactly bring me peace.

Was it part of God’s plan to take this wonderful, kind man that everyone loved so quickly?  Had God heard my prayers for mercy as I saw him headed down the slippery slope of decline?  For days in the hospital, I sat talking to dad.  Even though he was unresponsive and incapable of our usual communication, I could see that parts of “dad” were still there.  The doctors were not forthcoming with information and it was a constant struggle to get the facts and the truth — two things my tenacity was going to attain.  I watched for days as the prognosis grew worse, until finally I lifted a prayer begging for answers … any kind of answers.

The neurologist came into dad’s room and he was, quite literally, heaven-sent.  He answered all of my questions to the best of his ability.  He told me dad was not coming back and I needed to make a decision as dad’s healthcare power of attorney.  An infection had started to brew and they wanted to know if we should treat it or not.  Fortunately, one of the greatest blessings in all of this is that mom and dad left detailed living wills/advanced directives, spelling out what they wanted and what they didn’t.

There was no way dad wanted to live like this, and his living will guided us to the final decision that allowed him to die a natural death as he requested.  As my sibling said, “It was the hardest, easiest decision to make, because dad had told us what he wanted.”  We honored his wishes, as hard as it was.  Imagine the level of guilt we would have to bear the remainder of our lives, had dad not gone to the trouble to have this for us, guiding us through a very dark and sorrowful time.

Moving him to Hospice House was the best decision.  Dad was so peaceful there.  I am convinced the nurses and CNAs had angel’s wings under their scrubs; yet another blessing during this time of crisis.  I stayed with dad in hospice for two days.  I talked non-stop (aided greatly by the constant flow of caffeine), I sang to him “Amazing Grace” and other songs he loved.  I asked for forgiveness for the times I wasn’t the best kid or short on patience, and I reminded him of all the great family memories.  I thanked him for instilling in us kids the morals and values that have carried us so far.  I asked him to watch over my family, give mom a big hug, and touch the stars for me.  It is hard to carry on a solo conversation.

A couple of hours before he passed, he gave me a great gift.  He opened his eyes and locked onto mine.  He hadn’t done that in a week.  Giving dad the biggest smile that I could through the tears, I told him that I was right there with him and that I was okay (he always worried about me).  I was sad but okay and was going to be okay.  I told him “I love you” as I had at least 100 times that day.  For a man whose brain could no longer function and who lost his powers of speech, what he did next was a very special gift.  Eyes locked on mine, his lips mouthed the words, “I love you” right back.  In human terms, that was impossible, but not to me.  That was a parting miracle and one I will never forget.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.  It is a sorrowful time for me and my family, but dad always said, “Life is for the living,” and mom always said, “This too shall pass.”  I think they were both right, as always.

© 2012 Julie Hall

27 thoughts on “The Crossroads

  1. Dear Julie,
    You have my deepest condolences. This has been a week of loss, deep, tragic and profoundly personal, and yours is especially acute right now. I have lost both my parents and those last hours or moments with them are miraculous gifts.
    Bless you and your family…and yes, this too shall pass….but give it time. Give yourself time, to grieve, to process and to heal.

  2. Julie, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time of loss. I’m blessed that both of my parents are alive but we are separated by 1200 miles. Thank you for sharing this post as it touched my heart this morning and reminded me how precious the time is with those that we love.

  3. Julie, Your words helped me greatly after my mother passed last year. I had lost my parents and brother over the course of 8 years. Know you have touched many and I send you prayers and hugs during this difficult time.

  4. Dear Julie, My deepest sympathy to you. My Mom left for heaven in July (how I discovered your blog) under similar circumstances. May you always have the comfort and peace of knowing you were a wonderful daughter to your father when it really mattered. God’s love to you.

  5. Dearest Julie, What a bittersweet story of how your Dad peacefully passed, cared so much about you and needed to know that you were going to be okay. I believe your Mom was holding his hand to guide him on his way while hugging you tightly. Their shining stars will be with you wherever your journeys take you. I know this because I feel my Dad’s presence all of the time and can look up at the stars and smile knowing that we are all okay. I will be thinking of you and your family during the holidays and hope that the beautiful memories of your past become a huge part of your presence. My deepest condolences, Teresa Joyce…. a loyal follower of your caring and wise words

  6. Dear Julie, Our deepest sympathy to you. Our parents of 89 years were never apart, always together. Dad died in August of 2011 and Mom followed him in December of 2011. Our Preacher told us about a book called “Heaven Is for Real”, A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back. If you have not read it, you must. It is not a big book and once you start to read it you will not stop until you are done. It gave us so much peace and reassurance about everything. God watches over you and loves you.

    Warren & Jan Lee
    La Paz, BCS Mexico

  7. I am sorry for your loss and my thoughts are with you. Your blog has been a blessing, you have so beautifully described the journey I completed with my Dad last December. May you find peace and rest.

  8. Thank you for sharing such a heartrending experience with your father during his final days and hours. What a blessing for you to have such wonderful parental role models. Yes, hospice is a wonderful gift. The caretakers are angels. They not only care for the patient but also for the family members. Again, thanks for sharing!

  9. Julie – I am so sorry for your loss, I know how hard this has been for you and I do understand. I was there with both my parents in their final moments and lost three siblings along with both parents in a short few years. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us and take care. Your Dad is now with your Mom and at peace.

  10. Julie, I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for posting the story of your Dad’s passing. I know that your sharing it will spur others to be sure to have a living will with health care directives. LIke you said, it was the easiest hardest decision to make, knowing what your Dad wanted. I am happy for you that you Dad “surfaced” before he passed to tell you he loved you. What a miracle that was. God bless you and your family.

  11. Julie,

    Your posts have always been about the true importance and connection to what is really important in our lives. My heart ached so much for you and your family as I read that your beloved father had passed away. Please know that I send you all my deepest and most loving condolences.

    I look forward to reading your posts in the future as you continue to move forward and bring with you all that your father’s love is to you and continues to shine through you.

    You are a beautiful person Julie! I hold you in my heart during this trying time. Blessings to you and your entire family.


  12. Julie,

    Condolences to you & your family. It’s not easy doing what you had to do, but it is necessary. We just went through it last year with our father who had Alzheimer’s. When the dust settles, you will be thankful for things happening quickly.
    I’m happy that you had those precious moments that he was lucid & said ‘I Love You’.

    Love & Light!

  13. Julie,
    Sending you a heartfelt hug, sometimes words just don’t work. Hoping each new day brings you a measure of peace, and solace in happy memories of both your dad and your mom.

  14. Dear Julie, our favorite estate lady! Big hugs to you. My mother passed early in life, a young 67yrs old from lung cancer. I spent many a day and night taking care of her. She passed knowing that we would be ok and this was a great relief for her, I believe. I bet your father felt the same way when he mouthed those precious words to you. Its so important to be respectful or our parents/relatives with what they want when health decisions arise. Take care, cherish the moments you had with him, make your own awesome memories for your own family to remember of you. AB

  15. Dear Julie,
    Thank you for sharing through this unbelievable difficult time. You are a wonderful daughter. Your Mom and Dad are proud of you and you are a model to those watching and reading you.
    I am a relatively recent follower of the Estate Lady but have quoted and shared your posts many times.
    My heart goes out to you, my prayers go up for you, Julie. May you feel God’s loving, supportive arms around you as you lean on Him.

    Weeping may endure for the night(s) but joy comes in the morning.

    Jan R.

  16. Julie,
    The parting miracle you experienced with your dad is a gift that will live with you forever – never to be dusted, broken, sold, donated or thrown away! The beauty of the love you shared with your dad, and the gift you received in the end, has now been “re-gifted” to those of us with whom you’ve shared your story. Thank you for the beautiful gift of your story!

  17. I hope it is a small comfort to know that strangers care about your loss. You are blessed to have done the best you could and can go now to encourage others to do the same.

  18. Hi Julie – I am very sorry to learn of the death of your father. Grief is the price we pay for love, unfortunately. However, your parents were right – life is indeed for the living, and this, too, shall pass. Anyway, they live on in you always. Wishing you a peaceful holiday. Lisa Havens

    Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 07:12:41 +0000 To:

  19. Julie, I am so very sorry to hear this. Losing a loved one is so very hard – so very hard! My condolences to you during this difficult time.

  20. Julie: My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. I too went through hospice with my Dad and I also believe they are God’s angels. As difficult as the experience is, I think you will know you were blessed to go through this with him. I will keep you in my prayers and hope the loving thoughts and prayers of your friends and loved ones provide needed comfort. Hugs, Kathy Checke

  21. What a touching story. I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for your posts. I lost my Mum a few weeks ago, and it’s a comfort to come here.

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