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Last Moments with My Dad

Sorry this post has taken a long time for me to write. It’s precious to me and I wanted to make sure I was able to get everything down.

If you keep up with my blog or follow me on Twitter, you know that my dad passed away..

Saturday July 7th I got out of the pool to see several texts and missed calls from my sister. My cousin called her saying that my dad was in bad shape and if she wanted to see him that she needed to get there soon. With that, I left the pool, showered and packed like a maniac.

It’s a 3 hour drive to my hometown from Atlanta and I actually got pulled over and was given a ticket. Exact reason I don’t like cops – he asked why I was speeding and I told him my dad was dying. He asked a few more details and I was given a ticket. As if I wasn’t already hyperventilating, when I got back on the road I had the ugly cry.

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Sunset driving home

Luckily I made it to my dads in enough time to spend a full week with him. This was him the night we arrived. He would fall asleep in the middle of a conversation.

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One conversation that absolutely cracked me up was one that he had with one of his sisters with my cousin {her daughter} and myself in the room. My aunt told my dad that she was going home since he had two helpers. I guess he got offended by this because he said, “Why?” My aunt told him that John {her husband} was home. He responded with, “So?!” She reassured him that she was going to come tomorrow to see him. He told her, “If you’re not going to come until 5PM, don’t bother!” hahahaha! I get my non filtered mouth from him.

That was a rough week! Luckily we were able to get away at times. Dealing with your dad close to death and your crazy family is a lot to take in.

We had a neighbor bring us figs! Too bad I didn’t get any.

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One day we had to leave the house because our family was driving us crazy. We wanted to go have some wine but the main restaurant in town was closed. So we opted for the gas station. We drank in the car at a park which happened to be right outside the sheriff’s office. Ha!

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Another day we had to go into town and stopped by a local farmers market for some boiled peanuts. Mmhmm!

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During the week we spent as much time with him as we could. It was hard to get alone time with him though.

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Me holding his hand

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Nic holding his hand

The one time we were left alone to take care of him we had a bit of an accident. He was being stubborn per usual and wanted to turn over. He kind of laid in the bed funny. Nic and I just laughed to ourselves. Typical that he was being stubborn and we didn’t quite know how to help him get to the position he wanted.

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One of my favorite moments was when we laid beside him in his bed.

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We had a lot to take care of during that week. We found out that he had signed his house over to us in February, we changed the car title over, picked out his coffin, picked out flowers for his blanket, decided on music to play with a slide show of pictures for the viewing, and found poems and songs to be played at the funeral. Some of this was done after he passed. We were just going through the motions.

You could see a noticeable difference in him daily. One morning my sister and I woke up hearing him in pain. He hated staying in his bed so he liked to walk around even though it took about an hour for him to get to one end of the house to the other.

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When we felt overwhelmed we would walk around in his yard. He had a beautiful yard.

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Two days before he passed I was sitting beside his hospital bed in the house talking to him. During those two days he was not talking and would only make noises when he was in pain or say water. I was holding both of his hands and told him that all I had ever wanted was for him to walk me down the isle. At that moment he squeezed both of my hands and I bawled.

One day {I keep getting my days confused} a Hospice nurse came by and gave him a bath that morning. He pitched two fits to take a shower that day. He told my sister and I that his mind was going because he kept getting confused. That broke our hearts.

I remember us sitting on the edge of the bed with him as he shouted he was angry and punching the bed with his fist. It’s so hard to see someone you love feel so helpless and miserable.

After that we went outside to sit on the front porch. While we were outside it dawned on me that he would be passing on the 13th. He had mostly been in his hospital bed {minus the fit he threw to shower}. He was too weak to walk around and move a lot. By that point we were praying for him to go because it was obvious that he was in agony.

When the Hospice nurse came on Friday I asked her how long she thought he had. She told us she thought it would be within 24 hours. I stayed by his side all day after that, talking to him and holding his hands. While my sister was the more emotional of the two of us, I had many moments where I broke down and leaned on her.

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Last time I saw my dad

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He was so thin and frail. The red coloring on his legs was from the foam under the sheets.

Late in the afternoon my sister knew I needed a break. She took Bentley outside for me while I used the bathroom and fixed a glass of sweet tea. As I walked by my dads bed to go outside I noticed he looked at me and followed me with his eyes. I said to myself, “Did he just follow me?” I thought that was odd because he had been asleep most of the day. I joined my sister on the swing. She asked me at one point, “Why is it so pretty out here and so ugly in there?”. Not even 5 minutes later my cousin motioned for us to come inside. He was gone.

One memory I’ll never forget was when we made everyone leave the house so we could have alone time with him after he passed. We held his hands and talked to him. All I wanted to do was lay my head on his shoulder. {Which was how I felt all week but he was so frail}. That week and day I replay in my head every day.

For him to have passed on Friday the 13th was typical of him – he loved messing with people and joking around.

My sister and I were not close with my dad. As I’ve said before we always wanted the doting father but because he didn’t have one growing up, {we assumed} he didn’t know how to be one to us.

In the week we were at his house, we spent a lot of time with him. We were able to have conversations that we had never had with him. I think we both realized a lot of things ourselves in that week.

We had several family, coworkers, and friends tell us that not a day went by that he didn’t talk about us, and how much he loved us. That blew our mind.

One day while we were walking in his yard we thought we would cut 3 flowers from his yard to cheer him up. Two of them started dying. The last one was still in one piece the day he passed. After he passed I noticed the bottom petal had fallen off. Very symbolic.

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This is the sun from the front of the house the day he passed.

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The sun was very bright and hot the day of his funeral.

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Sun setting the day of his funeral

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My Dad’s casket was very pretty. It was pecan wood and it had a little drawer for family to put notes or pictures. My sister and I both wrote him a note. His flowers were gorgeous. We had 5 roses cascading down the front to symbolize Nic, me, and her 3 daughters.

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While the funeral home did a great job of filling my dad out, he didn’t look like himself to me. He looked like some man I’d never met.

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On the day of his funeral we had two poems read and two songs played inbetween speakers.

My poem:

My Dad, My Angel

© Jamie Cirello
Your battle is now over, no more tears flowing down your cheek,
no more pain, no more suffering, now you are no longer weak.
I still do not understand why this had to happen to you,
but I am proud to say you are my dad.
Although you will not be here to walk me down the aisle,
when that day comes I know you will be by my side with a smile.
You were always there for me and never once made me cry,
until the day you closed your eyes and had to say goodbye.
Now you are my Angel, so spread your wings out wide,
please wrap them around me whenever you see me cry.
Our time together was memorable and God took you way too fast,
but the most precious thing to me was you being there for my first breath,
and me being there for your last.

Song: Carrie Underwood – See You Again

Nic’s poem:

I Love You Dad

© Diana Doyle
I love you Dad with all my heart
And hate that we should be apart
Our love is a bond that can’t be broken
You may be gone, but never forgotten

I remember the day you went away
The pain in my heart is every beat
But I know that eventually, one day
We will, once again meet

The loss is something I can’t describe
I’m really going to miss you
One day I’ll be back by your side
So I can hug and kiss you

There are no words to tell you,
Just what I’m feeling inside
The shock, the hurt, the anger
One day, will gradually subside

Things will never again be the same
And though I’m hurting quite bad
I will smile whenever I hear your name
And be so proud to remember my Dad

Sleep well darling Dad, forever in my heart and my thoughts.

Song: Steven Curtis Chapman – Remembering You

A few weeks later I returned to his house. I was driving in and out of heavy rain – the kind that you drive 30MPH in. Once I got out of it I noticed that the sky was SO blue. You can’t tell much from the picture but there was a light blue line behind all the blackness.

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A month later, the sunset from his yard.

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Family pic of us

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Pic from Christmas 2011

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Thank you to everyone who has sent my sister and I kind words and prayers. It has meant a lot!

3 Responses to Last Moments with My Dad

  1. This made me nearly bawl especially with my step dad sick, thinking of you, . You should come stay with me one wknd. Love you

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Glad you posted this. With hard times come pain but also memories you become fond of, such as the conversations you had and hearing that he spoke of you and your sister daily. Love you!

  3. I know that was difficult for you to write, but I am so glad that you did. It was beautiful…. I have learned a lot, actually, from your experience with your Dad during his last week…

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