Thursday, July 21, 2016
We’ve all spent countless hours waiting for things to happen in numerous places. Some of these times would fall into the good memories and some would fall into the other category. Growing up the son of an Air Force pilot and moving 14 times before college, my sisters and I had an incredible opportunity to see some amazing sights around this globe. And since college and after marrying Lana, I have been fortunate to see more amazing sights.
When I was 21, our family spent Christmas in Hawaii. Due to the time change, I found myself wandering the streets of Honolulu from 4am on the first night and waiting on a bench for the sun to rise on Waikiki Beach. It was spectacular. I came back to the room to find my family scared, wondering where I was.
I have sat on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and waited for the sun to rise before my best friend from college and I hiked to the bottom and back out in the same day. To see The Lord’s greatest creation, in my opinion, appear before your eyes, the vast array of colors, change as the sun rises, and know you are about to descend to the bottom, was unbelievable.
I have sat with my son-in-law a couple of times, waiting for two grandchildren to be born. Actually there wasn’t a lot of sitting going on. We walked some, drank Pepsi, paced, pretended to read, then repeated the whole thing over again. My daughter, Alison cooperated well by allowing us to not suffer long.
And, as I have written about at least twice before, since 1975, starting with my cousin Dennis, then adding later my son Daryn, and son-in-law Steve, we have been going annually to Bennett Springs State Park in Missouri for trout fishing. The season for trout starts on March 1 each year. The park we go to is spring fed, and as you can imagine, is very cold. We don waders and fishing vests, with fly rods, right out of the movie, “A River Runs Through It”. The whistle, which starts the day and the season, blows at 6:30 am. Because of the number of people on opening day, to get our spot we want, we sometimes have to be in the water as early as 45 minutes before the horns blows. Another words, it is dark and cold. We have been out there in 10-degree weather with snow blowing and when it was around 60. Since 1975, with maybe two exceptions, we have seen the sun come up over the valley of the Bennet Spring Park.
The one thing I’ve not done, until now, is wait for someone to die. If you are a follower of this blog, you have read that my mother suffered from the disease of Alzheimer’s. This has been going on for over four years, and as I have read, there are over 5 million sufferers out there. That fact alone means our family is going through what you readers have suffered or are suffering through what we did. I would not wish this for on anyone I even disliked.
As I have written before, mom slowly faded from us over time, where she forgot my sisters and my faces and names over two years ago. It got to the point where my father could no longer take care of her himself and had to be placed in a nursing home a few months ago, forgetting even his face and name. I don’t have to tell many of you that this disease, as well as cancer, is much tougher on the family than it is on the patient.
Lana and I have been making the five-hour trek to Cuba, Missouri every three weeks for several months, watching her deteriorate rapidly. The last three weekends, we came each weekend as things looked dire. My two sisters flew up from Florida ten days ago, over that weekend and we all said our good-byes as mom was placed on hospice. We then went back home and waited.
We waited for the call. We waited for her organs to shut down. She had quit taking any fluids or food long before. We waited for the call from the nursing home to say the urine flow stopped, signaling she had 24 to 48 hours. Lana and I prepared. My sisters prepared. Many of you know of what I speak.
The call never came. My gut said go. Lana and I left Tuesday afternoon and arrived in Cuba a little after 7pm. Mom was still hanging in there. She left this world and joined Jesus a little less than 6 hours later. The wait ended.
I am thankful for each and every day we had with her, for every memory. Due to the incredible, compassionate people of hospice, she suffered no pain. To all you out there who read this and suffered similar situations, I offer you my prayers. Hang in there and band together as a family. Use faith to guide you. If I didn’t have faith in my life, this journey would have been a nightmare. God bless you all.