Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I don't cry pretty

You know those actresses in all the movies ... the ones who can cry whilst nary a speck of makeup leaves its original location? Well, I am not one of those kind of cryers. Of course, I'm not a big makeup wearer either, so at least I don't have any dripping down my face when I cry. However, I do make unseemly noises and do not look the least bit pretty.

And I've done a lot of crying lately.

On April 24, my brother-in-law called to let me know that my dad's doctors had given him only two to three weeks to live. Apparently, his liver decided it had had quite enough and was shutting down. Thus started the tears.

Thankfully, the human resources gal at my office suggested--nay, insisted--that I immediately fly to Colorado to spend time with Dad while it was still available. She booked a flight for April 26 and I was supposed to return home tomorrow.

I arrived a few hours before Dad was transferred from the hospital to a hospice. One of the first things he said to me was "You realize I won't be going home." Cue waterworks again.

And not for the last time. Losing someone to pancreatic cancer sucks in ways I cannot even come close to describing. I can only quote my sister who, during a prayer, said it was "ridiculously painful." Suffice it to say that by the time it was all over, we were all relieved. Which is hard to believe.

Hospice workers are truly amazing. I cannot imagine what it would be like to work day after day in a place filled with people who are dying and the families of those people who cry every time they leave the room. Well, not everyone cried every time they left the room. In fact, I may have been one of the few who needed quite that many tissues. Some of my family members insisted that I drink lots of water since I was clearly the designated family cryer.

Some highlights of the hospice:

When Dad for some reason thought a CNA was a lesbian and went on at some length about how that would have bothered him 60 years ago, but that now he was okay with it. But he wasn't sure about raising kids in that environment. He was still lucid enough to be somewhat embarassed when I cleared up his misconception.

When the night nurses had to come up to our rather large gathering in a common area and say: "We hate to have to ask this, but could you keep it down a little - the patients are complaining." Yes, while we may not have been making enough noise to wake the dead, we were certainly making enough to annoy the dying.

Moving our gathering to Dad's room, where we had popcorn and sodas and told stories that had everyone laughing out loud. The hospice doctor reassured us that since Dad really loved family gatherings and since hearing is one of the last things to go, it was the best thing for him to hear us talking and laughing around him.

Dad died yesterday morning. We figured he wanted to spend Cinco de Mayo in a better place. He went peacefully, which was a blessing.

I'm going to miss him terribly.


Average Jane said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. It's good that you could cry all you needed to and still laugh with your family.

Kendra said...

It has been two months since Dad left, and your words still bring on the tears.
He was a good man, a great dad, and a super grandfather.

Youngest sister, Kendra