Two weeks ago today I was blissfully savoring the last precious hours of our family beach vacation. My dad had finally been stable for several weeks, eating well (all puree, but still) and taking in adequate fluids.
Then, the next day, we got a nervous call from Jimmy, and then the Hospice nurse, who told us that she felt my dad was "transitioning."
We came home, and he was gone within two days.
I'm thankful to Hospice, who ensured his passing was peaceful, and of course to Jimmy and Jonas, who ensured his last months were lived with dignity.
We headed home to Beaufort County and a lovely service performed by my cousin. I got to meet so many of Daddy's high school classmates, co-workers and friends who came to pay their respects. The kids held up pretty well, but breaking the news to them that first morning was beyond difficult.
Silly me, I thought we had somewhat prepared them, considering how sick Dad was, but kids don't really know to brace themselves for something like this. So they sobbed, and we held them and told them how much he loved them, and that now he could be with Granny and not be sick anymore.
That night when they were saying their prayers, Nate said he hoped Grandpa could find a friend in Heaven who would show him around, since he was new there. Olivia said, "Grandpa, I hope you and Granny can continue your romance in Heaven."
I couldn't help myself.
"Uh, romance?" I asked her. "What made you say that, Honey?"
"Well, they're MARRIED, Mama!" she said.
I didn't tell her how funny that was, because to most people the word "romance" is not what they think of when they think of my sometimes-stern, dry-witted Dad.
I returned to work last Tuesday but the past several days have still felt kind of surreal. Our neighbors and friends have been so good to us, bringing dinners and other treats. My sainted mother-in-law not only drove to Beaufort County with us but she and Beth pitched in Friday and took the kids off our hands--Nate and Ethan with Grandma and Olivia at Emma's. Mark and I seized the opportunity to go catch a movie (Winter's Bone) and have a cocktail or two.
Meanwhile, I've also been hopelessly indulging the kids, along with everyone else. I guess I'm just so glad they're here.
Anyway, they were along for the ride this morning when I dropped some things of Dad's at Goodwill, and they begged to go inside the store. Usually I say no, but that word seems to be escaping me these days so in we went. Fifteen minutes later we were the proud owners of a $1.00 plastic animal hospital toy, which they scurried upstairs to play with as soon as we got home.
I checked with Jimmy a moment ago to see how he was doing; he said he was OK, helping his aunt fix some things around the house today. It feels weird not to text him umpteen times a day to check my dad's status. At least we know he's agreed to be part of our lives, whether he likes it or not. :)
Tomorrow's Monday. Sigh. Baby steps.