Saturday, February 13, 2010

My last day with dad

It has been 4 weeks since dad died.

I am the campaign manager for a US Congressional candidate (Bill Randall). Great man. Navy veteran - just like my brother who died in a car wreck.

Dad's ashes are in a beautiful urn. For the last couple of day some people from the political campaign (on my team) have been kind of mean to me - insulting me and criticizing my integrity and character. Today was a very bad day in that regard. I actually put my head on dad's urn and cried. Dad knows I am a good person. I took care of him for years. How could a bad person do that?

I love to sit on the couch that dad spent the last 3 years struggling/suffering on. I never thought I would ever sit on the couch again. I thought it would have horrible memories. But I oddly get strength from the couch.

My knee is still blown from the last hug from dad. Long story.

My last day with dad (01-15-10):

Dad asked me the last morning (I did not actually know it was the last morning) whether I would know where to find him.

Dad told me that he had to leave. I assured dad he was okay and would not have to leave or go anywhere. Dad pointed to his head and said "my brain is okay - I am not crazy." Then he very carefully wrote his signature in his beautiful penmanship. He said "show them this name and then you will be able to find me." I nodded and took the paper.

I had a planned meeting for lunch with a guy who wanted to work on the congressional campaign. So I could not spend the entire last day with him. But mom was there.

I made sure that dad was comfortable in his bed (that's when I got the best hug in the world but felt a pop in my knee). I laid down next to dad. Dad pulled my arm around him and held his hand on shoulder. I put my cheek next to dad's cheek.

Up to this point, dad had many NDE (near death experiences) - usually in hospital rooms at Duke University Hospital - and whenever it would happen, I would tell dad to come back. At these moments, dad always mentioned water and a boat. He would reach out his arm and say "I can fit, let me in. Let me come with you." I would say "No daddy, stay with me, don't go yet."

Dad would turn his head and look at me very calmly and say, "Cheryl, they say I can't go yet." I would lean over into dad's hospital bed as best I could and lay my head next to dad's head. I would tell dad that he had to stay and be with me.

But January 15, 2010 was different. As I laid next to my dad, I kissed his cheek. I told dad that if he needed to go Home, it was okay. He turned his head and said, is it okay with your mother? I assured dad that we would be okay and I told him we would find him later. I held my dad close to me and whispered to him "daddy, I know where to find you, I promise."

Dad pulled his knees to his chest and asked me to help him hold his knees up so that he could fit in the boat this time. I did.

I told dad that I had a meeting but I would be back. I asked dad if he would wait for me to return. Dad smiled and said "of course."

I went to meet with the campaign worker.

When I returned home, I was relieved that dad was still alive. I took his blood pressure and it was very normal. His breathing was relaxed. He was resting comfortably.

I had contemplated taking dad to the doctor that dad. I even had an appointment scheduled. But it just did not seem necessary.

As dad was resting, I made telephone calls to US Congressman from NC and asked them whether they were going to change their no vote on the ObamaCare plan. I had heard that there was back room dealing to make them change their vote. (The mistreatment of my dad at DUH and the obvious rationing of care and use of "hospitalists" to save money at the expense of patient care has made me an advocate for responsible health reform - such as that described by the US Chamber of Commerce.)

In fact, I was on the phone with North Carolina blue dog democrat Health Schuler's office. They asked me where I would hear such a rumor. In the middle of the conversation, my mom appeared in the hallway and whispered "he's dead." I told the worker in Schuler's office that I had to go and I slowly pushed the "end call" button on my mobile phone.

Without even checking on dad, I called 911.

The 911 operator talked mom through CPR and I waited for the firemen, EMS, police to arrive. Mom said dad's eyes were open the entire time and she just kept looking into his beautiful blue eyes. She was able to say good bye to him before the EMS took over.

They tried so hard to save my dad. But DUH had worn my dad out. Period. Dad was just plain tired.

The Cary EMS put dad's body back in bed and arranged the sheets and blanket on him. It was so respectful.

I never thought I would want to see a dead body. But this was my daddy and I had to see him again. Dad had not looked so peaceful in years. I knelt at dad's bed. I told dad that I knew he wasn't in the body anymore but I hoped he could hear me. "I love you daddy. You will always be my hero." And I kissed his forehead.

Every night before dad went to bed I would say "I love you dad. Who is my hero?" Dad would respond "You are my hero." And I would say "No. Who is my hero?" Dad could always muster out a smile and say "Me." Same exchange every night. I would giggle and say "Good night daddy, we have a big tomorrow. I need you and so get a good night sleep."

Good night daddy. I really do still need you. Please watch after me whenever you get a chance.

I miss my daddy.

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