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.
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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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.