Saturday, May 28th

I get up this morning and take Brighid to get her school uniforms.  I stop and grab lunch at Taco Bell and head home.  I am getting the family together to go spend some time at the hospital. 

Everyone is dressed and we decide to take two cars so that Jim can bring Eilis and the baby home after they get too crabby to stay at the hospital any longer.  I drive by myself over to the hospital and spend most of the trip crying – then I notice Eilis is waving at me from the back seat of her Dad’s car.  She is so excited to be in the way back – she thinks it’s a big girl privilege. 

When we get to the hospital, my dad has some company.  He is eating lunch, but he acts very happy to see us.  He greets Eilis first and asks for a kiss – which he has never done before.  She goes over and kisses him and he holds her hand a minute, then she is off to explore the room.  My dad’s company and Ann head over to the lounge so my dad has a minute to see the girls.  He marvels at the baby, then Jim goes to sit in the lounge with Ann.  I move closer to the bed – my dad is only hearing out of one ear and it helps to be on his right side.  He didn’t get the scrapple and eggs he wanted for breakfast, but he enjoyed his meal anyway.  He seems a little weaker today, and he is coughing a lot more.  They are giving him breathing treatments through the day to help with that.  He can’t seem to get comfortable in the bed, and I help lift him up a little bit.  I spend the next little while walking back and forth across the hall to the lounge to check on Eilis, who has found the toy box.  She is occupying Ann’s time, but my dad really needs her with him, and she probably would rather be with him than playing with Eilis. 

His friends leave, and I get all emotional again watching my dad say goodbye to those he is closest to.  His lunch is finished, and I ask him if I can take a few pictures of him with the baby.  He excitedly says yes, and Ann rushes to find a comb to fix his hair.  Soon, Grace is sitting in his lap, and he is oohing over her and holding her as best as he can.  Through teary eyes, knowing these are the only pictures Grace will have of her with my father, I take four pictures.  I cry openly as I put the camera away, and my dad asks Ann to take the baby, who was blessedly awake the whole time she was with my dad, her eyes watching him closely.  It was as if she was taking him into her memory, understanding that her time with him would be limited – possibly to just today.

Someone emailed me sympathy and told me that God sent Granuaile to me to help me get through this time with my dad.  That may be true.  When I finally got home after spending the day at the hospital, it felt so good to hold her close to me, her little head resting on my chest. 

My Uncle Bud and Aunt Lee visited a while, my stepbrother and his family arrived, and after a while, my Aunt Joan came.  I was outside when she arrived and we went in together.  She was sobbing rather heavily, and her tears brought my own back.  We sat downstairs with my sister in law Angela for a while so my aunt could compose herself before going up to visit her brother.  She said something that was very touching.  If we didn’t have the love in our hearts for my dad, we wouldn’t feel the way we do about losing him. 

Knowing that Ann would not be alone, Brighid and I left her with my dad, Danny’s family and my aunt.  I’ll head back tomorrow, maybe with Brighid.  In between company today, my dad planned his funeral and composed his obituary.  I think it feels good to him that he is running the show.  He’s been at the mercy of too many people for too long.

Friday, May 27th

The day didn’t start out well.  Well, actually, I can’t say that.  Jim was working from home today, and he offered to take the night shift with the baby.  I got a fairly good amount of sleep, and woke up feeling not too tired.  I ran to Babies R Us this morning and picked up an oh so cute outfit for Granuaile.  We are having photos done at noon of the baby in her Christening dress, and then photos with all three girls and nothing we have in the closet is small enough to look good on Grace.  I bump into Angel and her little guy, and we have a few minutes to chat. 

On my way home, Jim phones to say he is picking up breakfast for himself and the kids, and when I get home, there are pancakes and sausage waiting for me.  Jim decides to skip the photo appointment to get some work done, and at noon, I head over to the studio with the three girls.  It gets ugly from here.  Eilis is on about the worst behavior she can be.  She is running around the studio like a nut job, she is running into the store room where the props are and grabbing props, she is slamming doors and running around the camera equipment.  She is blocking the baby when it is her turn to get pictures done, and when it is Eilis’ turn, she doesn’t want to be in front of the camera.  After an hour and a half, I am tired, hungry, headachey, and so angry with Eilis I could spit. 

I get home, and we have already said we would ride together to go drop off software at the Dale’s house.  While we are over that way, we will go to Genuardi’s and get Jim’s money back from his over charge, and we will pick up sushi.  We will also return the girdle they sold me at Catherine’s in a size way too big for me.  We get all the way over to Genuardi’s, and we realize that I forgot the girdle and Jim forgot the software.  We end up coming all the way back home, and now Jim and Brighid are going to head back to Cherry Hill to drop off the soft ware.  Because we live on a well traveled route to the Jersey shore, the traffic is awful, and I am home with a slightly crabby baby and Eilis, who at one point today tells me I love the baby more than her because she is being punished for her poor behavior at the photographers by not being allowed to go see Madagascar this weekend.

I go upstairs to pump, since I haven’t since this morning and I am in significant discomfort.  I am sitting on my bed and the phone rings.  Caller ID says it is Our Lady of Lourdes hospital.  You know that can never be good news.  My dad has been in the hospital for a couple of days with pneumonia.  I answer it, and it is Ann with her voice breaking.  My father has decided not to undergo any further treatment and is being transferred to Cherry Hill for hospice care.  I get hysterical sobbing and have to call Jim to get the details of what is going on.  Since he is no longer going to be receiving dialysis treatments, toxins will accumulate in his body.  He will go into a coma from the affect of the toxins and then die, or he could die from congestive heart failure from the build up of fluids. 

Jim sends Brighid and I to the diner – he is always thinking of food at the worst possible times.  I am a blubbering mess, so I have to wait to go eat.  I take Brighid and Eilis and we have a nice dinner, talking a bit, not talking a bit.  I bring Eilis home and then Brighid and I head to the hospital.  We stay about two hours at hospice, which allows you to stay 24 hours a day if you like.

I sit by my father’s bed and the first thing I can think to say is “Are you sure this is what you want to do?”   Then I start crying again.  He tells me he really wants to be done with the suffering and the doctors tell him the dialysis will only keep him alive to be sick.  He tells me over and over how much he loves me and he loved Bean.  He tells me I was always a good daughter, and he is proud of me and his grandchildren.  He tells me he loves my whole family.  I tell him it’s too soon since I lost Bean to lose him too, and I tell him I want him to be around to spend time with Grace and give her and Eilis a chance to know him.  He says he doesn’t want to be in pain any more, it’s too much for him to stay any longer.  He asks me if he was a good father.  I tell him he was and he says that that’s all he needed to hear.  In talking to him, I feel the peace that he feels – not for myself, but I know that he knows in his heart he has made the right decision.  He is looking forward to the end like a child looks forward to Christmas.  They don’t know how many more days it is until the big day, but they know that there will be big rewards for the long wait they have had. 

We learn that we do not know how much time my father has.  Once you go off of dialysis, everything depends on how strong you are, how long it takes the toxins to affect your other organs, and whatever the Lord’s plan is for you.  We may have a few days with him, and we may have a couple of weeks.

I spend most of the two hours with him crying, and then the hospice nurse gives him morphine for the pain of his bedsores.  He begins to nod off, and I kiss him goodnight, tell him I love him, and get ready to go.  I ask Ann if I should bring the other kids back with me, and she asks if I could at least bring the baby back.  She tells me it is up to me if I think Eilis would be okay coming to see him at the hospital, and I tell her I’ll bring both of the little girls with me tomorrow.  I want to try to spend as much of the weekend as I can with him, because once Tuesday rolls around, Jim will be back at work and I’ll be home with three kids and not have much time to visit.

Brighid and I get outside in the car and spend a few minutes just sitting and crying.  These will not be easy days for any of us except my dad.  After ten years of slowly deteriorating health, these are the easiest days he’s had.