Every Moment is Precious

Never remember a time when Dad was happier

Hi All, as you may have seen yesterday, I’m preempting my normal blog entries on the subject of my fine art career because I’m having some life events cropping up that I need to reflect on. I apologize if this content isn’t what you were expecting, or if I seem a bit self indulgent here, but I just really need to process what’s been going on in some way. Being effectively quarantined here, and the main caregiver to my aging parents, I don’t have a great social network of support. Feel free to skip over these blog posts if they’re bringing you down. That’s the last thing any of us needs right now.

So my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer about three years ago, when he was 90 years old. Tomorrow is his 93rd birthday, and we’re celebrating it by having Hospice come in to do his initial examination. He has been largely healthy during these years, the tumors have remained the same size, though he’s been steadily losing weight. When we visited the Oncologist last month, it turns out that the tumors have started to grow again, and possibly to spread. He’s gotten weaker, and weaker, and a couple of days ago, he stopped eating all together. The doctor recommended Hospice, and today we had the first visit to do the required paperwork. I think both he and Mom really just started to realize how close he is to the end.

I won’t bore you with tales of what a great man he is, by most accounts his life was probably quite ordinary. But he’s a good man, a good husband and provider, he managed his money well, and is a man of deep thought and strong character. We’ve had our differences while I was growing up, but there’s never been a lack of love or mutual respect. I’ve been honored to have known him, and blessed to have been able to get to know him better over the past five or so years.

The changes he’s going through now are predictable and expected, but I can’t say that makes things a whole lot easier. My grandparents suffered from Alzheimer’s and didn’t really know what was happening to them as they approached the end of their lives. The great advances in medicine have allowed both my parents to live much longer than their kin, but they appear to be fully aware of precisely what is going on with their bodies. Neither seems to be overly frightened by their stage of life, though they don’t appear to be depressed, or longing for rest. Perhaps that’s still to come.

I don’t know how long someone in Dad’s frail condition can survive with little to no nutrition, but I’m putting out the call to relatives to suggest that as he turns 93 tomorrow, it would be a really great time to call or stop by for a visit. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to have met the folks from Hospice this afternoon. I don’t think I allowed myself to realize just how much this was affecting me, and how afraid I was feeling about my role in what is about to happen. Having someone there to help with suggestions, contacts, and reassurances is precisely what I need at this time, so that I can cut through my experience to concentrate more clearly on Dad and Mom’s needs through this transition. As scary and sad as this all is, it still feels somehow right. This is what happens, and to make it happen well, seems like the greatest accomplishment of all.

Thanks for letting me process. Go hug someone you love, and cheer up.

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