Friday, October 28, 2005

almost ironic

For the past month and a half, my dad has been in Florida tending to my great aunt who is ill. It arose out of a call from my great uncle in the wee hours of the morning asking him to come because my grandmother's sister was in the hospital in terrible shape. That afternoon, my father dropped everything to fly to Florida to be at my aunt's side.

Once he arrived, he discovered an ailing aunt, who barely recognized him, and an uncle suffering from dementia, prone to intense rages at the drop of a hat. Needless to say, it has been a difficult month for him. He would call me sometimes in need of an ear and a laugh, telling me about a rage that morning where my uncle forced him out of bed at 5am because he thought he was a terrorist. Or another afternoon where my uncle threw all the food in the house out, including groceries my father had just purchased that afternoon, because of all the bugs. Bugs that didn't exist, but my father didn't have the heart to argue. This also includes day after day in the hospital, dealing with my aunt's illness, her subsequent strokes, a viral infection she acquired that could have been life-threatening for any visitors including my father, and the ups and downs all elderly and intensely sick patients have.

My dad lost his job during this month and a half because he was unable to go to work and the Family and Medical Leave Act only covers immediate family: parents, siblings or children. Although my mom wrote his employer letters and made numerous calls, the dismissal letter arrived all the same.

Still, he stayed. And when I'd speak to him on an almost daily basis, he would tell me that he had stopped at the local church to light a candle for my aunt. Ever wishing that she would get better, when all I could wish was for her suffering to be over. But it isn't my father's personality to ever wish for the end of life. He wanted her well again, but it was not to be.

My aunt was moved into a nursing home earlier this week because she seemed to be in a vegetative state. My uncle's rages had been increasing in size and frequency, despite my dad's visits to his doctor and requests for help. Finally, on Wednesday, my dad decided that it was time to leave. He had promised to wait until my aunt finally passed away, but given the state she was in, there was no telling when that might be. And living with my uncle was getting to be impossible. He booked a flight to leave today to return to California, said goodbye, and boarded the plane at 6am.

On a layover in Denver, my dad received a call. My aunt passed away this morning.

My heart breaks for him. For the guilt he said he feels, for his fear that this is somehow God punishing him. For the terrible awful timing.

19 comments:

Phantom Scribbler said...

I'm so sorry. Your poor dad -- my heart is breaking for him.

Suzanne said...

I'm so sorry. What a terrible, heartbreaking thing to go through, for all concerned.

Ninotchka said...

I'm so sorry! What an awful thing for your Dad to have to go through. And losing his job too! Wow. Please know he will be in my thoughts. :(

Chatty Cricket said...

My heart is breaking, HL. Please give him our love, and your Mom too.

nancy said...

Thoughts & Prayers.

Piece of Work said...

Your Dad sounds like a wonderful man. I'm thinking of you all this weekend.

Songbird said...

So many times, even patients who don't appear to be aware will not let go until the family has gone. It sounds like your aunt *needed* him to leave. Bless your father for being such a loving and loyal person. God isn't there to prevent trouble for us but to be with us as a source of strength when trouble inevitably comes.

KLee said...

Oh, HL -- I'm so sorry. So sorry that he feels the guilt, and that he lost a loved one.

How evil is his work that they fired him?

Frankie said...

That is so sad, but it really speaks volumes about your father's character, though. What a wonderful man. You are lucky to have a dad like that!

Pink Cupcake said...

Oh, HL, I'm so very sorry for your Dad. I hope in time he realizes just how much he did and does not feel any guilt whatsoever. He's an amazing person for all that he's done, and I'm just glad that he has family like you to remind him of that. I also hope he finds another job soon - it's completely rotten that he's unemployed because of this. Hugs to you and your parents.

Girl said...

Oh HL...I'm with songbird. I think your aunt needed to wait for your dad to be gone in order to be ready. My roommate and friend passed away a few years ago of Cancer. At the time of his death, he was also HIV positive. His death was slow but when he was ready, he passed on. I always wondered, how it was possible, to decide you were ready, and then to just pass on. I don't have an answer to that, but I am pretty confident we have some sort of control. The point of that, is to further confirm that it was a blessing for your father to be there for your aunt (and uncle - no matter how much he couldn't see it) and he should feel comforted to know that she was aware of his presence.

KathyR said...

What a sweet man your dad is!

And I go along with what Songbird said, too. When my dad was dying, the nurses in ICU said approximately the same thing: "As soon as the family goes home or goes out to get some dinner, that's when we have to call them to come back."

Geggie said...

I just happened across your blog, and it's great. So sad about your father though, what an ordeal. And what a sweet man he must be. I hope you have a happy halloween!

ccw said...

Your dad is a remarkable man. So sorry for your family and their loss.

Running2Ks said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Your dad is so loving...

I'm sorry.

liz said...

There are no words....


Except, can you tell us what company your dad used to work for so that we can boycott it?

And all my best to your dad, you and all your family.

Chris said...

I can't believe that any employer would fire your Dad. Unbelievable.

I am so sorry for your loss and hope for peace your father.

(((HUGS)))

zeebah said...

I'm sorry HL.

purple_kangaroo said...

So sorry.