Wednesday, March 28, 2007

She still baffles the medical profession

Granny is still with us.
Well, she is with us in body mainly. she suffered a second stroke after the big one that put her in the hospital. The Dr's say she has no recognition. She does, however, like to be the center of attention, as she always has. If you are not talking to her, even in her state, she fusses by slapping her hand on the bed, or banging her thumb into your hand if you are holding hers.

She has been over three weeks with no food or water. she cannot swallow. Her veins collapse if an IV is attempted. Three days ago, her kidneys stopped functioning. Death usually occurs within 24 hours of renal failure. BUT, there she is, still hanging on.
Every day, the Hospice people come by and say it will be her last. Every day they leave scratching their heads. She isn't going until it is time. Apparently, it isn't her time.
She is one tough old lady.

She is 92 and has lived a life full of adventure and love. She has buried three husbands. she has been married 6 times. Her first husband, my grandfather, was a moonshiner. There are so many stories of her. At 72, she told the grandkids that she HAD to get married. When we asked her why, she replied, "I'm horny!"

Such is her life. I will rehearse her stories and tell them to my grandchildren. She will never be gone as long as someone tells her stories. I will keep her immortal. Even now, at 92, confined to her bed at home, she defies science, and writes more stories.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Nutshell

Let me tell you a little of what has been going on in my life ...

At 13, I repented and was baptized. At 17, I was filled with His Spirit and felt His calling in my life. I ran from that for a while, but eventually accepted His will and a call into the ministry. At 19, I was three things that I said I would never be ... married, an electrician, and a preacher.

At 39, most of that came crashing down. I was still an electrician, but my marriage had crumbled due to mistakes on the part of myself and my wife. I left the ministry and the church. That was 10 years ago. Between then and now, health issues forced me to give up working as an electrician. I am now a teacher at a state technology school, teaching electricity to high school students.
Five years ago, I met and fell in love with Tammy. Three years ago in October 03, we were married.
So, here I was, teaching, married, but still estranged from God and his Church.
About 5 weeks ago, my father had surgery for a cancerous growth on his kidney. The kidney was removed. While recovering from the surgery, he developed a problem with fluid and breathing. He went downstairs for a test and while there, he suffered a respiratory arrest. He stopped breathing. His heart stopped for 8 minutes. The hospital resuscitated him. He was on a ventilator.
Over the next two weeks his condition improved and worsened. The Dr's said he might have mild to moderate brain damage. However, two weeks later, the Dr's painted a much more dismal grim picture. They now said that it was a major brain injury. There was no foreseeable time when he might be able to be off the ventilator. We were faced with grave decisions. Mom, and the six children discussed this and decided as a whole to remove the ventilator and issue a DRN order. That was Wednesday, March 7th, at 11:30 am.

On Thursday, March 8th at 11:15 am, Dad went home to be with God. All six children were in the room. Four of the spouses were there. Mom was there. Several of the grandchildren were there as well. We were singing, "Come home, come home, ye who are weary, come home.."
Such was the life of this man that over 1000 were at the visitation on Friday. 110 flower arrangements were sent. Over 400 were at the funeral. There was one very special guest there. God came. His Spirit moved across the service. There was singing and shouting. There was worship. Dad pastored a church for 39 years and was very active in ministering in churches around the state until the dad he went into the hospital for surgery.
Right now, his mother (92) lingers at the point of death. She had a stroke while Dad was in the hospital and doesn't know he is gone.

Out of this sorrow filled time, the sun refuses to stop shining. Between the Funeral on Saturday, and the committal service on Monday, God worked mighty works. I am back home in the church. His Spirit washed over my soul and He opened His arms to welcome me home. Tammy was filled with His Spirit on that Sunday and was baptized on the following Tuesday.
In one week, everything important changed. Out of soil I thought was barren, a new flower grows. My grief has been borne by the wonderful Spirit of God. On Wednesday, the world seemed so dark. On Thursday, it got darker still. On Sunday, however, the Son/sun arose.
In the Bible, David had a son that was dying. David sat in sackcloth and ashes and fasted for the life of his son. For seven days, he fasted. His son died. The servant was afraid to tell David, but did. When David heard the news, he got up, washed, anointed himself, and worshipped. He went home and prepared a meal and ate. His servants were perplexed. They asked. While the child was alive you wept and fasted, but now that the child is dead, you worship and eat. David replied, "Now he is dead, wherefore should I fast. Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."

I cannot bring my Dad back to me, but I can go to where he has gone.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

still here

We are still here. There have been changes in our lives, which will update when there is more time.

We are almost two weeks past Dad's passing. It is still somewhat surreal. My head knows that he is not going to answer his phone. My heart still yearns to hear his voice.
There is a sweet abiding presense of God that makes it bearable.
More to come ...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

And so it goes ...

Life slowly goes on. I can't say that it is returning to normal, because it is now and forever different. Everyday, I realise more and more, just how much Dad meant to me. My life is surrounded by many common friends within the church community. They try to tipptoe around talking about Dad as a way to ease my pain. I want them to know that talking about him is fine. The tears you see are a mixture of the sorrow and the love I have in my heart. I realise that he is with me forever. He taught me how to live and showed how to die with grace and dignity. God honored him in his death as he honored God in his life. I am thankful for that.

I created a place for others to leave comments about his effect on their lives. It is slowly filling with comments. It is a great source of comfort to see his works are still alive.

Granny, his mother, is dying. Her veins are collapsing and they cannot medicate or feed her. She is 92. My heart is full. So many memories of her fill my head.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Where to begin ....

Dad passed away at 11:15 AM on March 8. All six of the children were there in the room. Several of the spouses and several of the grandchildren as well. We were all gathered round his bed. Some of us were singing, "Come home, come home, ye who art weary, come home." It was peaceful and calm. There was a wonderful spirit in the room. God came and took his dear friend home with Him.

We moved quickly after that. We scattered, made arrangements, wrote the obituary, picked out many pictures to copy and display, and got things in order. The visitation was Friday night at the funeral home. There were more than a thousand people there in the four hours of the visitation. There were ninety-one flower arrangements delivered. The director eventually had to put them all over the lobby as there was no more room in the room or foyer.

Saturday, there was visitation at the church for two hours before the services. There were about four hundred friends that attended the services. It was a celebration above all else and above all others I have ever seen. Dad touched so many lives in this lifetime. He loved people and was always willing to help anyone. Friends came from far and wide to join the celebration of a life well lived. Someone asked me how old Dad was. I told them that he was 76 years old and that he lived every minute of it. He filled his life with friends and surrounded himself with love.

Rev. Wineinger preached the services. He told of a time he was with Dad after a service. Several people from the church went out to eat and were scattered at tables round about. When the food arrived, Dad announced that we were going to pray before eating. He was talking the folks from the church, but everyone in the place stopped for the prayer. The waitress came to the table about that time and Dad asked her is she wanted to join him in prayer. She dropped to her knees and bowed her head. Dad covered her hand in his and prayed. When he was finished, she raised up with tears in her eyes, and told him thanks, she needed that. Such was this wonderful man.

Everyone that came to the two visitations or the funeral could tell stories like that. He was a remarkable man. I always figured that most people felt about their dads the way I felt about mine. However, today I discovered that most people that knew him, felt about my dad the way that I did as well.

Afterwards, we went to Mom and Dad's house (it will always be that way) and fellowshipped with family. The outpouring of love from friends was phenomenal.
On Monday, we will have a private interment service at a nearby military cemetery where Dad wished to be buried.

As I looked at him, I told a dear family friend, "This is what we recognized, but the man we knew is singing in the choir in heaven."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bad meeting, Long day

It was supposed to be a meeting where we discussed with the Dr's dads condition and ask about where we go from here in his treatment. I was to go to work (which I did, ) leave and come to the meeting (which I did,) take care of some school/Skills business in town (which Tammy did for me,) and return to school for the afternoon. The 'returning' part didn't happen.

The Dr's report was not good. Dad was slipping. they now are calling it a major brain injury. We, as a family, made difficult decisions and had the ventilator removed and issued a DNR order. That was 11 AM. For the next 12 hours, his room was filled with family and close friends. There was laughter and there were tears. There was a celebration of a well lived life and sadness that it might be ending. He held his own all day and night.

55 years ago, he met and fell in love with mom. People told them they were too young to know what they were doing. They may have been, but they knew what they wanted. Nearly 51 years ago he gave his heart and live to God. 49 years ago he began preaching. 47 years ago he started a small church as pastor. That church still goes strong today. He was pastor for 39 years. As long ago as 4 weeks, he was still preaching and teaching in churches around the state. What a life !
What a journey ! What an incredible journey !

I can't pretend to know if this is where his walk ends. I do not know what God may have in store for him. Yesterday, his legacy surrounded him as his room was filled at all times. Preachers and friends from all over the state visited. This was on a moments notice of his condition.

If my life has only a part of the impact his has had, I would count my life as a success, if life were counted as such.

Posts will probably be few in the next few days. We appreciate your prayers and thoughts.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

So little time lately

In the short break I have between wolfing down my lunch and the advent of the next class, let me do some quick catch-up.
Dad has gone up and down since we last posted. He is doing better, but is currently not able to be weaned from the ventilator.

Tammy's dad has refused the procedure that will save his life.

My grandmother (dad's mom) has had a stroke and is in the hospital about 80 miles from us. she is stable but still largely unresponsive.
My Bro-in-law is in the hospital up the street from the hospital T's Dad is in. He is dehydrated and having shortness of breath. They think it is related to the dehydration, but are going to swing to the side of caution and admitted him.
Here is what I wrote last night after hearing all of this (save the treatment refusal which didn't happen until this morning).

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

The lantern flickers in the wind
The flames lick at the fuel in the wick
Without knowing, the wind threatens
To extinguish this most vital light
The way is dark ahead
The path takes many dips and turns
Though the light is small
The security provided is ten feet tall

While the steps are slow,
They are sure
Each placed by the faith in the light
The winds do, as winds are to do
They buffet my soul
They whistle around my thoughts
They carry the cold and damp
They chill me to my core

And yet, here in this storm
There is this small light
That refuses to be smothered
It leans as the winds howl
It ducks as they gust
Then, slowly, it climbs again

Somewhere ahead
Our destination awaits us
What we seek is not here around us
It is further ahead

With this flickering light
And strength from reserves
Long since forgotten
We will go on

“Thy word
is a lamp
unto my feet,
and a light
unto my path”
Psalms 119:105

Ron Simpson, Jr.
March 5, 2007

Thursday, March 01, 2007

it was a good news Wednesday

Dad had surgery today. They removed the ventilator tube from his mouth and put it in his throat. There was much concern because of the switching time. He might be without oxygen.

The surgery went perfect. There was no cause for alarm. He is doing great. "Great" of course being a relative term. He still is not aware awake. He opens his eyes. He makes faces which portray he emotional state. He grimaces at pain. He frowns about things he doesn't like. All of which is better than a week ago.

Tammy's dad is not doing as well. He had a stroke on sunday. We were in the waiting room at the hospital where Dad is when she got the call. Years of smoking and alcohol abuse have limited the choices of treatment for him. It has him in a bad way.

Trying to work, and run back and forth to hospitals and jail, is taking a toll on all of us. We are collectively and individually a bit snappy at times.

But, we snap and snip, and then get back to doing the things that need to be done.

Sometimes the smile is pasted on over the frown, but most of the time it is genuine.

And we will take any good news any day we can get it.