Sunday, November 12, 2006

Gone Home

He made it to Veteran's Day. I know he hung on for that. Veteran's Day was very important to Papa.

Wednesday evening we took the kids up to see Papa again. Tater's kids hadn't gotten to see him at all, but he had looked so bad and felt so bad that we weren't sure it was a good idea. But wow, Wednesday he was doing really good and Mom said if we were going to bring them up it was a good time to. He couldn't talk very well that night, but he was fully aware and enjoyed listening to them talk and tell about school and various other things important to the elementary school set. He did get enough breath to tell them he was proud of all of them. Before they left the room, hugs were given all around and he looked so happy to have seen them.

Tater and I stayed until probably 10 or so that night - the earliest night we went home all week. Papa was just doing so good, plus we had the kids and we were afraid DHS was going to be called because of the threats we were doling out. We had given the daddies the night off for good behavior - they were exhausted from going above and beyond their usual childcare duties.

After we left, he started his slow wind-down. He had seen all six great-grandkids.

Wednesday morning Mom had gotten a phone call from Papa's wife's sister. Papa's wife, Georgia, had called her sister and was talking kind of strange and said she had fallen and then the phone went dead. The sister had called Mom to ask her to check on her. When Mom walked across the yard she prayed she wouldn't find blood - Georgia had a history of being a little "confused" from time to time and Mom was afraid she'd done something to herself. Papa was the one to keep Georgia straight on her medications, but since Papa was in the hospital she had gotten a little off. During the night she had taken a lot of meds - sleeping pills, pain pills, Valium, God knows what else. She had tried to bake muffins under the recliner, made little piles of food in every nook and cranny of the house and while she was talking to Mom she poured herself a bowl of orange juice and drank it like that was the most normal thing to do. Mom and Aunt Janet took her to the hospital. Her heart was in arrythmia from all of the meds, so they admitted her to ICU until it kind of straightned out.

Now, please understand that we are not cruel people. But honestly, there was no emotional attachment to Georgia. There never has been. We accepted her and well, tolerated her out of respect for Papa. It was decided that morning that Georgia was going home to her family down South. We knew Papa was going to die and we couldn't take care of her. But instead things worked out on their own and Thursday morning Georgia had a massive heart attack and died.

Talk about raining and pouring and all that jazz.

Things kind of turned into chaos from there on out. Instead of letting Uncle Larry or Mom tell Papa, the doctor (who is a real butthead in my opinion, for more reasons than just this) took it upon himself to him. And Papa went downhill fast from there. Mom said I needed to get up there by afternoon.

I had two babies here that day, so I called them and asked them to pick the boys up by noon. Irish Divinity said she could probably make it by four, which I said would be okay. I'd just leave Paul here with Li'l Divinity and Kady and I'd go on up by myself. But I called Mom to ask an unrelated question and she answered the phone crying and said I needed to get up there right then. I loaded up the baby, Kady and Paul and we flew to town. Paul met Divinity in the parking lot while I got upstairs. Mom and Tater were in the hall crying and I thought I was too late, but heck everyone was crying. It was the worst he'd been that far. Paul went back home to get the kids off the bus, help them get their homework done and that night a friend that works with Mom - the kids call her "Grammy's Connie" - took the kids to her house for the evening. All five of them. (We hope she's still our friend.) The daddies picked them up and took care of getting them to bed. Tater and I stayed until 2am or so. We had planned on staying the night because he was doing so bad, but Mom told us to go. She and Uncle Larry were taking turns staying awake with Papa and she said we needed to go home to our babies and husbands.

Friday morning I got Paul off to work and the kids off the school and took Kady to Lab School. I think Friday was the longest day of my life. I kept Kady at the hospital with me all day. She was so aggrivated with us for not letting her go see her Papa Leo. We just told her he was resting. At one point she put her hands on her hips and said, "Mom. Just how much sweep does Papa Weo need?" When Paul got there after work he was going to take her home and pick up the other two from Bub. Kady was crying that she wanted to see Papa. Finally Mom agreed to take her to the doorway and let her blow him a kiss. She blew him about 47 hugs and kisses and whispered, "Bye-bye Papa Weo. I wuv you." Talk about ripping your guts right out.

Lack of sleep, emotional roller coasters and spending most of your time in a hospital are pretty much the perfect recipe for getting sick. I followed the recipe to a T and have come down with a humdinger of a cold. I was doped up on Motrin and Mucinex all day Friday and spent from about 9pm on wrapped up in a blanket when I wasn't sitting beside Papa taking my turn holding his hand.

They had moved Papa to a larger room, but there were so many of us we had to take over the small waiting area at the end of the hall and we dared anyone to try and sit in it. We had staked our claim with Sonic cups, Charlies Chicken boxes and pretty much just made ourselves at home. It was ours. It had become home to us in the hours after work last week. Around 8pm, though, we abandoned the waiting area and all of us moved into Papa's room. By midnight the conversations started to wane and we were going between dozing and watching his breathing get slower and slower. When Tater nearly fell out of her chair as she dozed she decided to go back to the waiting room for awhile - the chairs had arms on them out there. She had only been out there 10 minutes or so when Mom said to get her and bring her back in.

We were all there standing around his bed when his body finally just gave out. There wasn't a moment that you could actually say he drew his last breath - it was really just like he faded out. We had known it was coming, but when the nurse turned to us and said, "I'm sorry" it was such an emotional moment. He was really gone. Heaven got a big "HOWDEEE!" at that moment. And he was finally home with Jesus and Memaw.

Tater, Mom, Aunt Janet, Courtney and I had taken turns holding his hands all night. They were so cold and he didn't hold back, but just having that connection was a comfort to us. I wouldn't ever have just taken Papa's hand and held it while he was living. That just wasn't something I'd have done, but holding his hand that night was so precious. I will never forget that.

Being in such close quarters with my family this week has taught me so much about them. Watching my Mom comb Papa's hair was such a touching act in my eyes. Papa always carried a comb because he just didn't like for his hair to be messed up and Mom just worried about his hair being messed up when he couldn't worry about it himself. Papa had wanted cool washcloths on his neck and head for some reason. He wasn't running a fever, but I guess it just felt good. Watching Uncle Larry take those cloths, wet them and fix them back the way Papa wanted them showed me a side of my uncle that I hadn't seen before.

I asked Mom at one point, "What is he waiting for? Why can't he just go?" Mom said, "Kristin, Dad always believed in doing something to the fullest. If there was a job to do he did it with everything in him and he did it until it was done."

He drew us closer to each other this week. If that was his job, he succeeded.


D said...

I am sorry to hear about your papa. I am glad you have the comfort in know ing where he is now. I hope that you feel better (physically) soon.


LLB said...

kris- you brought tears to my eyes. we had a cancer scare with my papa (prostate) a few years back. he's 78 this coming february, nana is 75. i know they could go at any time, they're both in pretty good health even at their age, but still. these are my dad's parents, and they've been almost like a second set of parents to me. they picked up the slack cause mom's parents never really wanted much to do with me. they were mad cause mom married below her social class! don't know why they took it out on me. grandmother died in 98 and grandfather in june of 01. i didn't want to cry when she went, and i cried because of feeling that way... when he died, there was still no feeling there, but i didn't cry. when nana and papa go, i'll be a total wreck... i don't want to think about it.
thanks, kris...

Shannon said...

Hey again.
Sorry to hear about Papa! I tried to comment yesterday but blogger kept saying I was putting something in wrong. I was just over at Keith and Alyssa's house. Anyway, I will see ya tomorrow evening! Let me know if you need anything!

Carrie said...

I'm so sorry to hear the news of Papa. I'm thinking about all of you and all you're going through! Please know my prayers and hugs are with you, Tater and your Mom! Let me know if you all need anything!

Cap'n Neurotic said...


I'm so sorry for your loss. Even when we know they've gone to a better place, and their suffering here on earth is done, it's hard to reconcile that with the hole that's suddenly in our lives. But, it sounds like your family is overflowing with the love and support needed to grieve and heal. Know that you're in my prayers.

Carmel said...

Diva/Tater: I'm so sorrry. Just lean on one another and your family for strength. You are all in my prayers this week.


Anonymous said...

Pat called me on Saturday, and told me the news about your grandpa. I immediately thought of your mom and of course you girls.

I am so glad all of you were able to spend time with him like you described. Those memories will mean so very much to you, especially as time goes by.

PLEASE tell your mother that I would love to visit with her very soon. I love her so very much and my heart is crying for her right now. More than thirty years have passed since I lost my own parents, but my tears still flow as if it were yesterday. I know how very much your mom loved her father.

I love all of you and care so deeply. I only wish I could be there to help you through this time. PLEASE plan a visit next summer and allow us to be your vacation plans!

I will always hold all of you in my prayers and thoughts.

Tracy Stone Johnston
Fort Worth, Texas

GERBEN said...


Kellyology said...

Condolences. I'll be keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I just recently stumbled on your blog....and I'm happy and sad at the same time. I am so sorry to hear about your loss, and just wanted you to know that I'm crying a few tears for you myself. It's never an easy thing, losing a loved one. Please know that my thoughts, love and prayers are with you and your family.

Live Journal Blogger,
*hugs* to everyone

MamaKBear said...

Oh, Kristin..."I'm sorry" seems so empty at a time like this, yet it's all I can seem to think of to say. I'm so very sorry for the loss of your Papa!! I'm also glad you were able to spend those last precious moments with him.

Sending you my love and big hugs!

Cazzie!!! said...

Bloody hell Diva.. now I am bawling my eyes out!! Your story is the story I could write for alot of families that I see come to the hospital and set up a roster for watch duty and bring them ever so close. I think that is the message people should take, family are important. Camping out, making coffees, bringing in takeaway. Mostly, the tender touch and the compassion that comes out is what makes me feel great to be a part of. No matter the age of the patient.
You know, there are just a few, but one is too many, people who have no one. That is when I feel so wonderful to be a nurse, that I can be there for them at the end. No matter if they are responding by speach or a squeeze of the hand, I still talk to them, comb their hair and wipe their forehead..they deserve it.
Huggs to you and yours at this time. You all should be commended for beign so wonderful, your Pa would be proud :)

Anonymous said...

You're in my thoughts here little blog sis. . .

Anonymous said...

I am thinking of you and your family and we all have you in our prayers at this difficult time. So sorry this all happened so close to the holidays.

Kelli said...

Im so sorry Diva. Your family will be in my prayers.

RJ said...

Dealing with the death of a family member is always tough. You are lucky to have such good family and friends to share your grief. Time helps, but never heals. Sounds like your dad had an awesome send off and was truly loved by many.

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