My father passed away last Sunday after a two week hospitalization. Dad was 96. Eight years ago, when it became apparent that my dad could not live alone and would be in a wheelchair for his remaining time, my brother and I researched facilities and made the decision that Dad would come to
the resident home near my home. It is actually less than a mile from the school where I worked and we felt it offered a chance for one of us to be super close to Dad. However, that meant my father left behind the community he had lived in most of his life. Certainly none of us expected that Dad would live another 8 years and that he would come to miss his old community so much.
Being confined to a wheelchair (unable to even transfer from chair to recliner or vice versa without
multiple aides and special apparatus) was so limiting, especially to one who had worked so hard all his life. But he met his challenges and everyone there came to know his joyful whistle. I've learned over his time at the home that people who choose to work with the seriously ill and the elderly are angels in disguise. Those CNAs, nurses, activity aides, cooks, and volunteers who brought sunshine into my dad's days have earned a special place in my heart. They learned to see Dad as part of their "work family" and as he declined they helped us with our emotional turmoils. During his time at the resident home, my dad got to see his 9 great grandchildren on a regular basis. Five of them were born after he was there. He was also able to keep track of his adult grandchildren's active lives.
The past week was a whirlwind of preparations - emptying his room, meeting with the funeral home and the officiating pastors, the funeral itself, and then a luncheon with relatives and friends. Sharing one's loss with loved ones really is a comfort, and our faith tells us that Dad is now in his true home, but as the busyness subsides the reality of our loss has hit me. For the past 8 years unless an illness or special commitment prevented it, we spent a portion of every Sunday with Dad. To be truthful, there were Sundays when I longed for a nap instead of a visit and another game of canasta. That was my selfish streak and I regret it showing its face once and awhile. Today there seems to be a hole in my day and I would give anything to be able to spend an hour or so with the greatest dad in the world. I would even let him beat me at canasta. Or maybe I wouldn't, because as my niece pointed out at the funeral, he never let anyone win. He treated everyone of us as worthy opponents and let did everything in his power to win, even the youngest.
You were the best dad I could have had, Dad. I will always love you. I thank God that he let you
be part of our lives for this time.