Showing posts with label dad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dad. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Memories of My Dad




            As Jenna and I were walking toward the school this morning, there appeared to be a car backing out of a driveway.  She took my hand and gripped onto a little. 

“Death Grip?” I asked jokingly.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

I told her that her grip was really nothing but related the accounts of my dad’s “bone-crushing” death grip.  We called it the death grip anyway.

As a child, I had always thought that my dad’s hands felt clammy.  Yet he was always holding the hand of one child or another.  He did it out of love and responsibility.

By the time he was in his early 50’s, my dad had been the victim of several strokes – many which went undetected, as they were considered “mild”.  But with each stroke came the lack of communication between his brain and his muscles.

His speech slurred more with every passing stroke – and although he knew exactly what he wanted to say, his brain didn’t send the message to his lips and tongue as quickly as it needed to. 

Dad was very unsteady on his feet, as his legs weren’t getting the signals from his brain about how he should move.  But he never lost his grip.  In fact, I think it increased.  He would hold onto things (people included) with every ounce of fiber that he had – and then some.  It would not have surprised me at all if he had sent one of us to the doctor for phalange repair. 

If I was the one he was gripping (stopping the blood flow in my arm or hand or what have you) I would stop dead in my tracks and say,  “We are not moving any further until you ease up on your grip”

He would just laugh and start to drool (again the mouth wasn’t getting the message from the brain).  Who would have thought that those would provide pleasant memories for me later on down the road?

Jenna also asked about my dad’s whistle.  I am certain he lost that ability perhaps with the first stroke.  I actually don’t remember when was the last time I heard my dad whistle.

He had a whistle louder than any other I’ve heard from any human being.  He would put two fingers between his lips and let out a whistle that could be heard from anywhere in the neighborhood.  That whistle was a sign to all of his children that it was time to come home – or sometimes just to know where we were.
           
Dad’s whistle soon became a recognized sound to many friends, “You’re dad is calling.”

I don’t remember ever being embarrassed by it.  I think overall I was impressed to be related to such a quiet person who possessed this loud gift.  And I am impressed, too, when I think of all the strength my dad held in his hand up to the end.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

If He’s Just Going to Die Anyway . . .

My dad had had a series of strokes later in life.  Some of them were so “small” that they went undetected.  The first one I remember had temporarily paralyzed the left side of his jaw.  Not realizing the magnitude of what was happening, we made jokes about it.

Because he was such a quiet man, we commented that his jaw was sliding off his face as he never used it. It eventually returned to his normal appearance.  It wasn’t until later on that we learned his downward jaw had been the result of one of the strokes he had had.

Dad started keeping odd hours.  He’d be awake while the rest of us were asleep and vise-versa.  He was in need of care 24-7 and it became too overwhelming at times.  We were told that the insurance he had would not cover a live-in aide – but they did have a list of nursing homes.  We did our best to avoid it, but it finally got to the point that we needed assistance.  I don’t know how we ended up with the facility that we did.  It was depressing.

He actually had strength left in his hands as he would hang on for dear life to any person who would assist him in walking out to the car or whatever.  We called it “the death grip”.  I would always stop in our tracks and tell him, “If you would like to continue moving, you will have to ease up on your grip because you are hurting me!” 

He’d laugh and his juices would come out and he’d start to drool. It was painful watching him go downhill.

We took my dad to therapy.  He was a favorite patient as he was very cooperative to do everything he was told. Except for one time when my mom took him out of bed and tried walking with him and decided to put him back before someone came in and caught them doing something that they weren’t supposed to do.

Mom would push on one side and race around the bed to pull him.  He laughed while she frantically moved from one side to the other saying, “Someone is coming. I don’t even know if we were suppose to get you out of bed”

Mom had done therapy with him.  They were both quite worn out when an orderly came in and brightly asked, “Are you ready for physical therapy?”

Mom looked at dad and nodded “yes” while he shook his head “No”.

Because the muscles in his mouth weren’t working the way they should, it became difficult to swallow anything.  We started out with thick juices and nectars to a no liquid restriction. He was given wet sponges to suck on in order to quench his thirst.

Each stroke left him paralyzed just a little bit more. He walked with a cane.  His speech became difficult to understand.  So difficult that many didn’t realize he still had the ability to think and still had a sharp mind. 

One time my brother’s family brought to him a vase of flowers.  When he was alone in the room, he removed the flowers and drank the water from the vase.  My sister-in-law was upset.  She said she hadn’t even cleaned the vase all that well, and would have done a better job had she known.  It was dirty water.  He was desperately thirsty though.

He would get out of bed and fall and was restrained and would cry that he was being tied up.  And we would cry with him.  Sometimes we would loosen the bands and then report our deeds to the nurse. 

I really don’t remember how long he’d been there.  But the insurance company gave us a deadline for when they would no longer supply payment for keeping him there. Eleven days before the deadline he had another stroke.  An ambulance took him to the hospital that was near the house of my family.  Someone went to see him every day.

We were able to teach him some finger spelling – which of course came slow.  And if we asked a question that wasn’t a “yes” or “no” question – it became quite a game to figure out the answer.

One time my mom went up to one of the members of the Church to thank him for visiting my dad.  He was taken aback and asked sincerely, “How did you know that?”
“He told me.”
“He told you?”
“Yes.”
“But when I saw him . . . I didn’t know he could . . . How did he tell you?”

Dad loved chocolate milk shakes and hamburgers.  He had been hooked up to a feeding tube.  Daddy had already lost so much weight.  His legs were thin – like arms. He still had tastable desires.

Once my mom asked, “If he’s just going to die anyway, what difference does it make whether we give him a milk shake or not.”

The comment brought on some cold hearted stares, but seeing the sadness in mom’s eyes, they knew she was right.  It was highly probable that he would not be leaving the hospital alive.  And he did get at least two milk shakes out of the deal.

My dad never returned to the nursing home.  He spent his 54th birthday in the hospital – he was laid to rest a month later. He’d been released from his physical body.  He had endured to the end.  And he hadn’t complained.  How amazing is that?

It was a beautiful day.  The sun was shining.  My brother, Patrick, and I both gave talks. We played a recording of Corey reading his poem (as he was on his mission at the time) and my sister, Kayla sang Amy Grant’s “Father’s Eyes”  It was a really nice tribute.  I miss my dad.  I think of him quite a bit on really awesome days that take place in the fall.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Quiet Tree



          “My dad reminded me of a tree – always present, steady and strong, but silent and still.  A person has to notice the tree.  It’s not going to make a big fuss over a person.  It will just quietly make a shady spot and keep it there day after day until someone needs it.  I loved my dad.  He loved me.
 
- from Palace Beautiful by Sara DeFord Williams


          As I read these words I thought of my own dad who would silently support us from behind the stage – never wanting to be in the limelight himself.  He may not have been as mighty as an oak – for an oak tree stands out.  An oak tree gets noticed.

          My dad was noticed by some – many who admired his quiet strength.  And yet there were many who really hadn’t noticed that he was there – because he was so quiet.  Because he never made a production of himself.  Just went about his business and fulfilled his obligations, callings and assignments with very little voice.

          He was a pillar.  He is the one who would wait up until everyone was home.  He is the one who added structure to our lives.  I miss my father very much. 

          Corey wrote a poem about my dad – we played the recorded poem at my dad’s funeral.  Later, Cory created music to go along with the poem.  With Corey’s permission I would like to post that to my Blog:



Knights who fight dragons,
Soldiers who fight wars,
Explorers who tread jungles and such
Have nothing to boast of;
They've nothing on
The hero that I love so much.
Men who climb mountains
Or cross the stormy seas,
Men who lift tremendous weights
With the greatest of ease;
There is no comparison

Among any of these.
My hero matches them all.
The others fall.
My dear hero,
How I miss you.
You and I are worlds away.
Did you know that
You're my hero.
It's the "verité." (Truth)
You never did anything especially noteworthy.
Your name was never in the news.
Flocks of people never hounded you for your autograph.
You never sang the blues.
You never won a Nobel Peace Prize,
A Grammy, or a medal of gold.
You never appeared on Johnny Carson.
You never fought blizzards of cold.
You were never on the front lines of Vietnam.
You were never Prince Charming at the ball.
You were never ruler of the universe,
But your my greatest hero of all.

I love you,
Not for your massive feats,
But for the simple things you did.
You climbed the highest mountains.
You waged the strongest wars.
You won the greatest battles.
For you, Dad, my heart soars.
Your courage, your endurance,
Your patience through the pain
Have shown me the example.
Of you I can't complain.
For you're my admiration.
Now all is said and done.
I love you, my father.
Your son




I am so grateful for the opportunity of having known my dad, and for the example he set for everyone who knew him.