Sunday, December 2, 2007


Dad called last week and asked if there was a time that all of my siblings could get together with him to talk. We scheduled that time for this morning. A couple of days ago Mom called and informed me that Dad was really hoping for some specific doughnuts that he’s only been able to find here in Joliet. This morning, I picked them up to take along for our time together. Mom had put a turkey in the oven at Dad’s previous request as he never was able to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner.

Dad has been having a difficult time catching his breath lately. He also has been having some issues with his stomach and/or intestines, which has been creating some problems. Despite all of this, he was still wanting his family to come over today for some conversation.

I walked in the door with Nikelle. (Jaycie needed to spend the day at Rod’s parents because she came down with a bad cough and I didn’t want to risk exposing Dad to those germs. Rod received a call from work as we were walking out of our door this morning and had to take care of some technical problems before he could join us.) Dad was sitting on the couch trying to catch his breath from walking up a flight of stairs. My brother, sister-in-law and nephew were upstairs already. Shortly after I pulled in the driveway, my other brother, my sister and their families arrived as well.

Dad decided to challenge himself to conquer another flight of stairs to sit in the dining room rather than remain in the family room. He did it but could not catch his breath after that point. He informed us that he could hear what we were saying although he wasn’t able to respond much. We did have a little bit of conversation where he could answer me here and there. He also managed to eat a doughnut or two before the commotion began.

Knowing he needed to use the bathroom before the home nurse arrived, he was accompanied by my mom and oldest brother down the stairs. When he reached the bathroom (after two flights of stairs), he practically passed out. This is where he succumbed to the fact that he couldn’t get himself feeling better today. My brothers brought down a dining room chair so they could carry him back up to the sofa.

Dad was cold and clammy. He was sweating profusely and was really looking like a cancer patient at that moment. The sight of my Dad wrapped up in blankets on the sofa; skinny and frail was not an easy picture to accept. My sister-in-law, Fiona, took his pulse. It was strong. Mom took his temperature, which was quite a bit below normal. After a telephone conversation with the home nurse, mom prepared the suitcase for the hospital.

The nurse walked in and immediately called the doctor. They recommended calling 911 and getting Dad to the nearest emergency room. There was so much frenzy as we tried to convince the nurse that Dad needed to go to Loyola and we would drive him. We all did what we thought needed to be done in order to help. Dad just couldn’t do it. We conceded and the ambulance was on its way.

Dad kept saying over and over again, “I’m going to die.” We all surrounded him and assured him we loved him. He told us, “You need to let me go.” We assured him that he was free to go if that was what God allowed. Dad could not calm himself down. He just kept crying and saying, “I’m sorry.” Mom looked at us and said, “And can it be.” My sister and I joined her in singing the old hymn. At the chorus, the paramedics came in.

I recognized one of the paramedics as the husband of Nikelle’s Cubbies leader from AWANA last year. I went outside to talk to him and informed him of the comfort I found in seeing him there.

The younger kids all went into Grams and Papa’s room to watch the ambulance through the window. I went upstairs to hug my older nieces as my heart broke to see them watching this. The paramedics placed Dad on the stretcher, gave him some oxygen and began transporting him to the nearest hospital. My brother, Will, followed in his vehicle as mom rode along with Dad. The rest of us felt the need to continue on with the day and take care of things we thought needed to be done.

A few hours later, Rod and I went to pick up Jaycie from his parents’ house. Thankfully, my mother-in-law offered to keep the girls overnight. I accepted the offer with relief.

Rod and I stopped at Silver Cross Hospital to visit Dad in the emergency room on our way home. He looks like a cancer patient. I believe we still face what we’ve faced these past 9+ months. We’re back to one of the more difficult moments on this roller coaster ride.

He’s being transported to Loyola now. That brings comfort because they know him there and they are experts in treating cancer. Hopefully, they will be able to give him something to make him comfortable and find out what is causing all these problems. He was going to have to visit as an outpatient tomorrow anyway. My prayer is that God will allow him to go home again soon.

Dad told me at the hospital that he just wants to live or die. He hates this in between junk. I think it’s the fighting that’s so difficult. Whether it’s through living or dying, I know God is our source of peace and rest. It’s in moments like these that we have to remember that.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.” – Psalm 62:5

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