A year ago today I received a call at 6:30 AM from my father’s care facility. They wanted me to know that his oxygen level was low and that they were transporting him to St. Mary’s. It didn’t sound that dire, but I got dressed quickly and headed over.
As soon as I walked in the door the doctor was waiting and asked, “Are you Lisa?” He quickly escorted me to where my father was and explained that he had twice coded and been resuscitated. The doctor said it would probably happen again very soon, and asked what I would like them to do. It was obvious he thought I would say to let him go. But I could not do that. I knew my father’s wishes and I had to follow them. I was his medical power of attorney and I knew that he wanted all measures taken to try to save him.
I said, “If it happens again, please continue to follow life-saving measures. Those were his wishes.”
I sat by him, held his hand and kissed his forehead. He was unconscious but I told him over and over that I was there. I did not want him to feel alone. I did not want him to be scared. I tried calling many family members but it was so early that none of them were answering. Then his heart arrested again and a team of medical personnel came in to administer CPR; all that counting and pushing, it is actually quite hideous to watch. I turned around, made the sign of the cross and asked my mother to take him. He would not have had much of a life after this.
Then he was gone. I sat next to him, spoke to him quietly, and made more calls. My family started arriving. It is always amazing to me how actually non-scary it is being around a dead person if they are one of your people. He was just my Dad.
I was very at peace. My father had had Parkinson’s for years. He had gone on with his life as if that was no big deal, in fact we didn’t even know he had it for quite some time because he never told us. In the last few months his quality of life had really diminished.
That day was a different experience than when my Mom died and we were all present. With my father I was all alone in a sense. But I truly feel that it was meant to be. What are the odds that I would be awake at 6:30 AM? Almost zero. That I would even notice my phone vibrating under the pillow? Nil. And I was always the one he felt safe with, that he trusted would do as he wished. My mother used to say “You’re too much like your father!” Even though she did not mean that in a positive way, she was quite right. We were like-minded math brains, lovers of logic, and kindred spirits of what made sense and what did not.
I think my Dad went out in a great way. His 83rd birthday was 3 days before and all the people he loved were there. Then he died peacefully, effectively in his sleep. And I know my mother helped out that morning. I envision her in heaven yelling, “Hurry the hell up!!! What is taking you so long??”
And now they are together.