My Out of Body Experience - Part One of Two
This story is about laying in my dad's arms on his deathbed and comforting him his last hours, as he did me. Talking to him telepathically as we embraced the last time. Physically I was not there...but I felt physically there and am most sure I really was and that my dad was having the same experience.
Kiss and Run
My dad was not a demonstrative parent and only at Christmas and rare occasions did I ever get a glimpse of his love. He never kissed or hugged his kids and of course that is something that should always be. It was something I missed so very much as a child.
When my two kids were small I lived near my parents and walked to their house often to help Mom out. One day for reasons that have escaped me since, I leaned over and kissed my dad on the cheek as I was leaving. He jerked back and was surprised, of course. It was a big step and my cheeks were burning in fear of I don't know what. When I glanced back at my dad as I was hurrying home I saw him smiling. I cried all the way home and to this day I cannot recall that time without having those same feelings.
After this I would kiss my dad at any opportunity that allowed it, usually saying goodbye. He always smiled and enjoyed it and sometimes pecked back. Once in the hospital when I was visiting him they had his bed ridiculously high so I took a chair and climbed down over the head of his bed to give him a kiss. He was all laughs and smiles and loved every minute of it. I am so pleased I made that decision. It is such a precious picture memory so close to my heart.
A Mother's Daughter
I had been helping my mother with my dad all that I could. He had had a stroke while I was out of state working and a couple of my brothers had helped her through the hardest part and even though he was not out of the woods, he was much better. He had quit trying though and would not go any further in rehabilitating.
Mom had no more help now and she called and begged me to come home. I had just started a job I really hated to walk away from, The money was going to be more than I had even dreamed, besides benefits. It was a desk job and I had already bought many pretty outfits really looking forward to it. I was still training but it would just be a few weeks until I started. Yet, I could never say no to my mother and now, my father.
Dad had someone coming in every day to bath him, take his stats and even oversee a few minutes exercise each day. This was very important because Dad was diabetic and it was so vital for him to never sit or lay idle too much which could result in a blood clot.
Getting it Back Together
We got our books shop back up again that we had run with some success before we moved. It had a small apartment in the back and my husband could run this while I moved in with Mom and Dad just a few miles away. We didn’t have hordes of books as we once had, just the bestsellers (with a few knickknacks) and we took books back in trade which made people want to buy from us instead of a say, Barnes and Nobles. If you wanted to buy that traded in book it was half price and you could get the same trade-in value even used. It was a good thing for people who loved to read. We picked up our regular customers in no time.
Long story short it paid the bills and kept my husband out of a situation he did not want in although he would always help if I really needed him. He had his own family with ill parents and a handicapped brother that needed so much of his time and attention when he was around.
I would take a day and go home every now and then to reorder and/or restock our shop.
You Can't Go Home Again
At first my dad didn’t know me and that was hard to get use to but after a while, with Mom refreshing his memory, I am sure he did know it was me. Although his voice was still very weak he would try to talk to me some and called me by name, finally.
Mom was worn out I am sure from the previous weeks being why she begged me to come help. I did everything and worked from daylight until dark. Taking care of a sick person and doing all the housework and cooking can be very exhausting even with help in to bath and give an hour or so break.
Mom and I would usually sit on the porch swing with a cup of coffee during this time and talk uninterrupted. Something we both really enjoyed. We had always been close but life and circumstances had kept us apart for many years. All she had to do now was putter in her flowers and take life easy for the first time in her life after raising seven children and a granddaughter. She seemed very happy with me there.
She loved my dad so very much and always did to please him and now she could watch over him without any of the work or worry.
The Good Times
Dad had a peddle exerciser I had to lift and put his feet in and got my fingers skinned countless times. He got his fingers skinned a time or two with my wheelchair driving out the front door. I really hated that so bad but he learned very quickly to pull those hands into his lap when I was driving.
I liked to take him to the porch swing and let him swing to exercise his legs. He never got good at that but getting from wheelchair to swing and back was a good workout for him. (Not bad for me either.) I had him up on his walker too which neither my brothers nor his therapist had been able to do. I kept reminding him what could be the consequences if he did not try to get his legs back. He had worked in a hospital for years so somewhere deep down he must have remembered. He would shake his head that he understood.
A younger brother took Mom to his house and to her sisters for a few days now and then. Under normal circumstances Dad would not have liked this at all, for he was never without Mom. Apparently, he forgot that with his stroke, although he would still ask for her now and then. All went smooth and he was improving every day.
I had learned to give him his shots years earlier so that was no big deal even though I hated it. I knew by now I wasn’t going to kill him with an air bubble, which had been my greatest fear in the beginning.
At night he had a couple of shows on he liked to watch and one was Wheel of Fortune and I really liked that too so I would watch it with him. We had the very best time. He could have a nighttime snack of a small pancake with light syrup or popcorn with low salt and he never went over his small helpings. I thought that showed he had much of his mind back.
I would have that fixed for him before the show and he loved to eat and watch me guess the words. I was pretty good but all the fun was in watching Dad's delight in my guessing. I think he watched me more than the show. He never really said anything much but his smiles and joy lasted the whole time of the show. I new the laughter was good for us both.
Two at the Wheel
The only scary experiences I had taking care of Dad was when taking him for doctor appointments or a couple of times to the emergency room. He rode upfront with me driving and he would put his hands on the middle gear shift. Once he shifted the gear down while I was driving. It was bad enough being afraid someone may have a heart attack and die on you but then to worry about a crash killing you both. It was not a good time!
He still spoke so softly and infrequently that it was hard to know what level he was on in returning from his stroke mentally. Somehow I did get it across to him how much it frightened me for him to mess with the car when I was driving. I tried to be goodhearted anytime I spoke to him and joke as often as I could. Finally he gave into my wishes laughing, so he must have finally understood.
I would let him use his walker to go to the bathroom and watch until he got turned around at the commode and then I left him (with the door open of course) until he called me. When I came back he was standing as he was when I left with walker in front of him. He would start walking toward me. He had gotten so strong that Mom could hardly believe it when she came home.
She was completely worn out and said she was not able to do all the vacationing and walking my brother and aunt had wanted her to do. They liked to go to Amish country and there was so much walking and she said she just could not do it. Her arthritis had been bad for years. They had something more planned and as always, she wanted me to help get her out of it.
I was pretty worn out having Dad all to myself without seeing my husband or business for many days. I told her to tell them I had to be home most nights and that I would. That way she had an excuse and all she had to do was be with Dad alone from after supper until breakfast time.
She would have no work to do other than get Dad a drink or walk behind him to the bathroom to make sure he did not lose his balance, which he never did anymore, anyway. In fact I had made him just hold my arm and walk a few times. I think his lack of confidence was a big play in him not walking with just a cane now.
Mom thought that was a great idea and she already hated I did not get to go home more so we thought the problem was solved. I think we neither could have guessed what our innocent little plan would lead to.
What is Going On?
It was Saturday morning and while my husband was busy running the bookshop I was in the apartment relaxing from the work I had done the night before and early that morning in the shop. Pricing and restocking could be a very tiring job. I really loved it though and of course the cleaning would have never gotten done if I didn’t do it.
We never had company besides my father-in-law who just showed up in the front shop part so hearing the doorbell was a surprise. It was my younger brother who sometimes took Mom to stay at his house with his son so he and his wife could vacation. Then too, he took her to Mom’s sister’s house where they all liked to go to Amish Country, which was near-by.
He mentioned to me that Mom said I wanted to come home at night and that I couldn’t do that. I laughed. Surely, he was kidding. No, he wasn’t kidding. Either I stayed there twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week or I didn’t need to come back. (By the way, this was not one of the brothers who cared for Dad after his stroke.)
I was sure I was not hearing right but after several minutes of going in circles I knew he was serious. I finally told him I would talk it over with Mom and we would see. He was very sure of himself when he said, “Yes, you will.” Then he left.
After I was sure he had gone home, which was out of state I went to talk to Mom. She said yes, that was how it had to be. I reminded her that she was the one who had begged me to come home and at no time did she say I was on life duty. I was getting kind of mad about how ridiculous this all was but I could see something was going on Mom was not telling me. My mom though was sort of like she was with Dad when it came to her sons. She would not cross them when they wanted something and I had seen this before but not like this. It was almost like I didn't know this person.
I did not know at this time but my mom was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. I had never heard of this disease and the closest idea I had that Mom had anything wrong was at the doctor’s office. When I took her she told the doctor she was forgetting things and thought something was maybe wrong with her. He asked me did I think anything was wrong and I said no. I had not noticed anything. He told me to buy her some ginkgo biloba and start her on that, which I did. I didn’t have a clue.
In an Instant
I gave Mom a couple of days and then went back by her house just to find out my brother had came back for her. My niece who my mother had adopted and raised was with my dad. I don’t think anyone who knew her (including my mom) would leave her to take care of a snake…but what could I do?
I reminded Dad he better be up every day walking and asked if he was OK and he said he was afraid of this granddaughter. He could not or would not tell me why. She swore she was taking very good care of him and so I just checked on him every few days so she would know I would be. Finally getting to talk to my mom by phone I told her what Dad had said about being afraid. She just laughed and said she knew, this granddaughter had been eavesdropping on us and heard it all.
It seemed it was only days but it probably was two weeks or so later I got a call that my dad had a clot and would need surgery! He was taken to a VA Hospital out of state. Before I had hardly had word on that I got a call that because he had bypass surgery years before with a time limit on his life they did not think he would live through the surgery to amputate his leg.
He would be given morphine and be allowed days to die. I cannot even begin to express all the feelings I was having knowing my dad should be up walking around...not dying!
Have you ever had this experience?
I only drove locally having problems from a car accident I had been in as a teenager. So if I got to see my dad it would have to be with my sister or one of my three brothers. As it turned out none could give me a ride for one reason or another. When I found out my dad was not even semi-conscious anymore it really didn’t matter but it hurt me so bad. I knew I should have fought everything and everyone no matter what they said and stayed with my dad. I wanted to see him and hug and kiss him and tell him I loved him so bad, but it was too late.
Of course, I did not want my dad dead but every day that he hung on was that much more suffering I knew he had to be going through. Who knew whether he knew it or not? It was driving me crazy. I could not get him out of my mind for one minute! Wouldn’t it be better to try the amputation and have him die on the table under anesthesia than just let him starve all these many days and have all his organs shut down? This just did not seem right or humane to me at all. Who made this decision? I could not ever believe my mother did.
© 2017 Jackie Lynnley