Sunday, April 02, 2017

Giving Thanks

I would like to say thank you to all of you, my dear blogging friends who have stopped by and left such kind messages and emails and cards with respect to the passing of my dear ol' Dad. I was very grateful to have received all the hugs and prayers and it has made my loss easier to bear. I'm still having trouble getting my head around the fact that Dad is actually, really gone. As I've mentioned to a few of you, through his dementia, it feels like he has slowly been slipping away over the past six years. Lots of tears have been shed after (and during) my visits to him, and now that it's been two weeks since his passing, I feel a lightening of the load on my shoulders. He was well taken care of in his home, but the weight of watching "my dad" disappear to a place I could no longer reach him has taken its toll. He has lived a wonderful life and a long life, but he will be missed by his family even so.

Dad was an electrical engineer and worked for a good many years at the Stelco office towers in Hamilton. He wasn't terribly happy at his job and when he was offered early retirement, he took it. My husband tells me "Your dad has been retired longer than I've known you!". It's true too! He was thrilled with retirement and he and Mom traveled a great deal then. They visited Australia to visit with some of his family in Perth; they toured Alaska; they went on a bus road trip all through the States; they visited New Zealand and the British Isles (Dad being born and raised in Sheffield); they even drove across Canada a few times to visit my brother on Vancouver Island. 

Both my parents have had the wanderlust since they were young. It's actually how they met. They were both members of the Hamilton Youth Hostel cycling group and cycled a good deal on weekends. They would cycle to Niagara Falls and New York city for a weekend with the group. There were many trips around Ontario as well. Before they were married, they cycled all the way across Canada! And then they took a ship to Europe and cycled around Europe. My mom told me when she got her bike it just spelled "Freedom!" for her. She was the only daughter of a poor market farmer, so this was her way to see the world. Dad felt the same way, and no distance was too far for these two. They made life-long friendships through the hosteling group too.


Dad is holding my mom's bike, the same bike in the previous photo.
Mom never did change her ride, but Dad eventually bought a Peugeot 10-speed bike in later years.
He almost cried when I hoisted the bike out of the basement and away after he suffered a heart attack in 2008
Mom and Dad married in 1957 after a very long engagement. 
They were happily married for 54 years before Mom passed away. 

Mom and Dad on their wedding day 1957
Dad with all us kids

Dad

Their first home in Dundas, Ontario

Their second home in Lowville (Burlington), Ontario
Early retirement days in their neck of the woods alongside the Niagara Escarpment

Back country camping in Algonquin Park
Another family shot while camping in Palmer Rapids area
As a family, we did a fair bit of camping through the summer and fall. Dad loved the Palmer Rapids area of northern Ontario, and he and Mom would camp out there long after all of us had left home.

Mom and Dad's tiny Trillium camper
Today my sister and I visited the home where he has lived for the past three years. It's a really nice place and everyone there is so welcoming and friendly. Dad lived on the third floor with all the other residents who suffered dementia. Some homes integrate the dementia residents, but I liked this set-up better. The staff is more understanding, and visitors who come in are all in the same boat as you and are more sympathetic of each other's situations. It has been a happy place, filled with compassion, lots of smiles, with pats on the shoulder and hugs when you need it. 

Dad's residence, he was on the third floor at the back
Dad's room looked out onto a beautiful forest below him. This is where I would take him for our walks along the wooded path. It stretched along for quite a ways, but I only took him along one section ... we had to be back in time for his next meal ;)

The view out his window, directly onto the woods
(his bedroom lamp is reflected in the window)

taken from his room

Along that path
Dad along that wooded path


 The rooms were really nice there, and the sunshine poured into his room in the afternoons. Many times when I left, he would be sitting in his chair either reading or asleep in the sunshine. He loved sitting in the sunshine even when he was younger.


again ... along the wooded path
Dad had been in hospital for about a month in February and March. He was having trouble breathing and wasn't eating well. He lost a lot of weight. But the hospital deemed he was fit enough to leave, and they began pushing us to get him out the door. Although we spent a couple of weekends touring long-term care residences, we decided to take him back to his residence and increase his care requirements. He went home on a Thursday. I had spent the afternoon with him the following Sunday, but he was now bed ridden and slept through my visit. I had finally got home, had dinner and settled down to relax in front of the TV when the phone rang around 8:00 p.m.  It was my sister saying Dad was not looking good and having trouble breathing again. The nurse obviously saw the warning signs and told us we might want to be with him. She was right. My husband drove me back to Mississauga and we sat with him for a few hours. Finally, we sent our husbands home and my sister and I settled in as best we could to wait and watch.  It was incredibly peaceful in that room that night. The lights were dimmed, and all around us were Dad's familiar furnishings. I really felt at home and at peace. Around 3:15 am the nurse came in to care for Dad, and my sister and I left the room to stretch our legs. A few minutes after the nurse finished, I went back into Dad's room while my sister got a drink in the kitchen I immediately sensed a change in Dad and while I watched I could see he was no longer breathing. He was gone. In the space of a few minutes when the nurse left him and I came back in. The care workers and others I have spoken to since, say they have seen this before. As if death is a private act that sometimes the person dying doesn't want you to see. Maybe that's when the angels come. So we were with him in the residence, but we missed the actual event. I'm okay with that. We told him it was okay to go when we first arrived. 

So today my sister and I wanted to deliver some heartfelt thank yous by way of flowers, chocolates and some coffee cozies I have been knitting non-stop this past week. I wanted to be able to give something to the care workers themselves that maybe last longer than a chocolate ;) This is my own pattern, just little cuffs really, and I knit them from cotton.


I added a little flower to each cozy and a thank you note tucked inside.



It isn't easy caring for dementia residents, and this hardly seems adequate. When we took them in, there were more hugs, more stories, more laughter ... more tears. It was really nice to see some of the people working there again. I told them they are going to be a huge chunk missing from my weekends now. They told us to come back in and visit any time we wanted to. I just might do that.

Anyway, thanks for listening to my little story here today. Things are not back to regular routine just yet, but I'm getting there. I've had the daycare kids all back in last week, although I felt sluggish with them. Stephanie's teacup exchange was a nice distraction through my dad's hospital stay. I may have gone a little overboard with that, but grief seems to make me generous (ha!). Tomorrow will be a visit to the lawyer's office to get the wheels in motion for finalizing Dad's affairs.

I thought this shot was nice and quite fitting for Dad today. I didn't touch it up at all ... it's along the wooded path that he enjoyed so well on my visits ... where we could just be father and daughter again out for a walk in the sunshine. 

Goodbye Dad ... I miss you and I love you :)

Thanks for visiting today.

Wendy

28 comments:

  1. What a sad, beautiful post. It sounds like your Dad had a happy life and it looks like your family made him as comfortable as they could in the last years. Dementia is so hard on everyone.

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  2. Such a beautiful and poignant post, Wendy. How lovely to read of both your dad and mom's life together and their enjoyment in travelling and seeing the world. No wonder you love to get out and about and enjoy your beautiful world, they have passed that down to you. He seems to have been the most wonderful man, husband and dad. I loved seeing the photos of you and your siblings together with your dad. In his last years, the home he lived in sounds like a lovely and caring place. I love the last photo of him sitting among nature; he looks peaceful. Lovely cuffs you have made for the care workers; such a sweet thought. How wonderful you have such beautiful memories of both your dad and mom; these are the things that speak to our hearts forever. They are akin to a wonderful and warm hug. Do take care, lovely lady. Thinking of you. Xx

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  3. Such a sweet post, Wendy. Your dad was a loving husband and father, and it was interesting to read this brief account of his life.
    You are so kind to make the cuffs for the people who cared for your dad, and I'm sure they appreciated the gift so much.
    May you continue to find comfort as you remember your dear Dad.

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  4. What precious, precious memories you have. Even though your Dad is no longer with you, those memories will last a lifetime.I too watched my Dad slowly leave us through dementia.It is not easy to see this, but then no parting is easy.It was harder to see my Husband go through cancer and then say good-bye to him. May your memories help to ease the loss.

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  5. Lovely post. Glad it was so peaceful.

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  6. Dear Wendy, what a beautiful tribute post for your father. I loved reading it, and he sure was a debonair guy, very stylish. It is almost a year since my Dad went, but I was certainly reminded of it all, and close to tears reading about your experience. The coffee cosies are a very thoughtful and generous gift, and I am sure they will be treasured by the caring staff. We became close to Dad's carers, and everything does change once you are no longer a regular visitor. Good luck with the lawyer, and may you find peace as you adjust to your new situation. x

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  7. What a wonderful tribute to your Dad! I am sure that he would love to know that you have so many wonderful memories of your life with him and that he made so many great times for you and for your Mum and with you all. The way your Dad slipped away was very similar to how it happened for us too. We stepped just across to the other side of my father in laws room for a moment and then he just slipped off. The nurses said to us too that it is very common and I have heard others say that too. I am so pleased that you have been well supported through this dear Wendy, that is good. Hugs to you my dear and much love. xx

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  8. That is such a lovely memorial to your father, and I hope that writing it will have helped you in your grieving. I used to visit my mum in her dementia care home every Sunday, and after she died it took months for me to be able to accept that I should do other things on Sundays. Keep remembering all of the good times xx

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  9. What a loving tribute to your Dad.

    The cozies will be enjoyed and appreciated by everyone.

    Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

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  10. Hello, beautiful tribute to your Dad. My family experienced the same with my Dad, it is so hard seeing them slipping away. Your cozies are so cute! HUGS!! Happy Monday, enjoy your day and the new week ahead!

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  11. I'm very sorry to read about the loss of your dear father, Wendy. I hope you find some comfort in the memories you have of him.

    Karen

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  12. Dear Wendy,

    So very sorry to read about the loss of your beloved father. Your words and photos, I'm sure, have captured some of the essence of his wonderful life as a loving husband and father.

    How sweet and thoughtful your crochet coffee cozies are for the lovely staff at the residence where he spent the last few years. It must have made all the difference knowing that your dad was surrounded by such caring professionals.

    Thinking of you, tonight, across the pond.

    Take care,

    Hugs,
    Poppy

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  13. Wendy, I have been away from blogging for a little bit, and am so sorry to hear this. You have written a very beautiful and loving tribute to your dad and his life. He sounds like a wonderful man, one who enjoyed travel and adventure. It sounds like he was able to enjoy both, and even enjoy some of the outdoors through his view from his room and the walks you took together. What thoughtful gifts for his caregivers. Blessings to you, and I pray that your happy memories will sustain you. xo Deborah

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  14. What a beautiful post to honour your dad. I enjoyed seeing your childhood photos; now I know where you inherited your love for camping and the outdoors! I'm sure that the care workers were touched to receive your handcrafted gifts (I use your tea cozy all the time). Gotta love gifts that are cute and functional!

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  15. A very beautiful post and lovely photos. I specially like the photo of them biking together and your dad with all the kids. The gifts are lovely and I am sure they are much appreciated.

    Take care,
    -Soma

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  16. Poignant and heart breaking, Wendy. It sounds like he led a rich, full life for so long.

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  17. This is such a nice post Wendy, sad but as said above, your dad lived a full life. The staff will love their coffee cozies - I specifically went to Tim's last month after I received mine to try it out and it's perfect.

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  18. Such a lovely tribute to your father and your parents' life together. Weren't they blessed!
    I hope as time passes you will remember more and more of the good times.

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  19. This is such a beautiful post, Wendy, it's brought tears to my eyes. You obviously love your father very much. How thoughtful you are, taking such lovely gifts to the staff who cared for him. Sending hugs. x

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  20. Wendy, this post melted my heart this morning. Oh sweet lady, I am so very sorry to hear that your dad passed away. I don't know how I missed that. I loved reading your story with such powerful and heart felt words. I pray that our Lord will give you the strength you need to face the coming days. My mom has dementia as well. I understand all too well. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

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  21. A beautiful tribute, Wendy, and a big big hug for you my dear friend. You are in my thoughts.
    Amalia
    xo

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  22. Aw, Wendy, what lovely and sweet memories and photos of your dear Father's life. This really tugged at my heartstrings. I'm so glad that you were able to be there with him and that he was at peace. What a touching gesture to knit the mug warmers for the dedicated staff, too. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers during this sad time. Sending hugs and blessings xo Karen

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  23. OH my....what a wonderful story...such a tribute to your dear Dad.
    The pics tell the story...what a great life he and your Mom had together πŸ’•
    I have walked those trails many times...it is a beautiful spot.
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  24. How very sweet of you to share the touching story of your father! Praying for you and your family as you all remember him.

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  25. Oh Wendy, thank you for sharing the sweet story and pictures of your dad, along with your mom, and all of you kids. I'm so sorry for the loss of your dear dad, but I so enjoyed learning about him through your touching post. My four children and I were here with my Late Beloved, and he passed away while all of us were out of the bedroom. The hospice people said that the loved one just wants to be alone sometimes, just like you were told. Love and blessings are sent to you.
    P. S. What a thoughtful gift you made for the staff members. I'm sure they were touched.

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  26. Oh Wendy! I'm literally bawling as I read this. I'm so sorry I missed it sooner. You know how much what you went through with your Dad hits home for me. There aren't words - but I will offer my sincere condolences to you and your family. And maybe the peace in the knowledge that your Dad is at peace (& probably camping with your Mom in heaven) ;)

    I LOVE all of the old photos an that you shared all of this about his life. What a beautiful family! And it's SO wonderful for you to acknowledge his caregivers and what incredibly heartfelt thoughtful gifts. Love that.

    My heart hurts for you - but so nice to see this celebration of his life...and it sure sounds like it was a beauty. xoxo

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  27. It is hard to say goodbye but there are some lovely memories too Wendy. We have just been to visit my in laws and my father in law has dementia. It is so sad to see the loss of the person you once knew. Sending love xx

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  28. Wendy, thank you for sharing your dad with us. My sister and I were with my dad when he died in the same way you described your dad died, very peacefully. I paused blogging over the last few months since the death of my brother-in-law and have just now tried to catch up a bit with your news. There are still times when it seems so strange to realize afresh that my parents, in laws and husband died...from 14 to 7 years ago. I find myself more and more grateful for the good memories of those special relationships. Sending you hugs and prayers for the Lord's wisdom and peace as you adjust to your new normal. xx

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