Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sunday Scribbling - The Last Bed

On November 18, 1999 my father was just beginning to acknowledge that his battle with cancer was over. For purely selfish reasons, I did not want my father to decide to forego further treatment starting that particular day since it also happened to be my birthday. As it turned out, my father's 79th birthday was on Dec. 1st and he had already taken his last chemo treatment. We had a little party and some friends of his came by to visit. December 6th hospice had moved my father's last bed into mom and dad's dining room. Once my father laid down in this bed, he never got up again. Six weeks later, he left us.

Father
You have not been in a hospital for three weeks,
You have not been connected, wired up, linked to, or ported.
You are embraced in the love of family and friends.
A blessing this is.

Father
The bed arrived this week.
You gathered us around you while you still had strength
and had David read yours and mom's Living Trust to us all.
David, such a big, strong man, choked.

Father
It is Christmas Eve.
Everyone is with you.
I have stayed at home preparing the Christmas feast.
A phone call -
A demand to come -
Urgent. No argument allowed.
I scream in the car all the way to the family home,
"GOD!!! YOU WILL NOT TAKE MY FATHER WAY FROM ME ON CHRISTMAS EVE!!!
I scream for 18 minutes.

Father
You surprised me tonight.
You are wearing your reading glass
perusing updated insurance documents that have arrived this day.
Where did this burst of energy and focus come from?

Father
Your home has become Party Central.
The stream of family and friends is endless.
Could anyone ask for a better leave taking?
I am very wrapped up in the approach of death,
that same wrapping surrounded by the arms of God.

Father
There were -
Tender moments
Games
Music
Prayer
Gentle touches - so many
and more Music
Music was an essential part of your heart.

Daddy
We never thought when
you lay in that bed
you would never leave it.

We didn't know the morphine would
take you away from us before death did.

We didn't know that the bed would
become a soft cloud that would slowly
carry you away from us.







20 comments:

trailbee said...

Oh, Anne, the gift was that you were there. How very fortunate you are. I realize that this was earthshaking, painful beyond anything. But you had the chance to be there. Some of us carry around so much guilt and an unrequited sadness which we cannot lay to rest, because we were not there. Time has not dimmed the pain. Thanks for writing this.

jeanne said...

What a beautiful tribute to your father. We arrive and leave, usually on a bed...

John Tran said...

Anne,

I agree with Trailbee - it's a gift you got to be with your father when he passed away. Both my wife's parents passed away during the SARS epidemic in Toronto - not from SARS, but our visits to the hospital were constrained because of SARS, and unfortunately could not be there when they passed away.

I do remember standing by my grandfather's bedside when he was near death - very difficult.

John.

John Tran said...

A very meaningful post... many memories are made on the bed, both good and bad, happy and sad.

All the best,
John.

John Tran said...

A very meaningful post... many memories are made on the bed, both good and bad, happy and sad.

All the best,
John.

Laini said...

So beautiful and heartfelt, annie. I'm sorry this prompt brought up such tough thoughs & feelings for you -- those hospice beds do evoke a very particular feeling, I know. And bless them, and bless the volunteers, what wonderful people, and what a wonderful alternative to passing one's last days in the hospital. It sounds like your father's passing was a very close and loving time. Thanks for sharing.

ian russell said...

a powerful moving piece of writing, annie. I was especially touched by the change from father to daddy. a very sad memory, difficult for me to choose the right words to comment but i found it a wonderful poem.

paris parfait said...

Annie, this is such a beautiful, poignant tribute to a very special man. Thank you for sharing these deeply personal and intense moments as you said goodbye - and as you remember and honour him now.

hundred and one said...

Wonderful, just wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

Beth said...

That is so intense Annie! You have such a talent with words! I can relate to every word you wrote. I did actually lose my father on Christmas day in 1987. He had leukemia, but he wasn't so lucky and had to stay in the hospital. I was pregnant with Kalyn, and Kyle was staying with my Mom. He went into a coma on Christmas morning, right after he called to see what Kyle and I had got for Christmas. By the time I got to the hospital he was emerging into the coma. My brother and I stayed with him until his last breathe. We knew he would do the same for us. I still miss him!

vicci said...

This made me cry Annie...

boliyou said...

What a heartelt and touching tribute. Beautiful and heartbreaking.

JavaCurls said...

Thank you for sharing such a personal piece of your life!

Kara said...

Annie - I'm sure this wasn't easy to write - but it is a touching expression of your love for your father. Thank you for writing it and sharing it with us.

Ally Bean said...

Yea, I know all about that bed. And the morphine taking the person away before death. It's a a lousy thing, that last bed.

And you said it all very well.

Autrice DelDrago said...

Annie,

I am so sorry for your loss. Your father was a lucky man to have such a wonderful family. Your love for him shines through.

Blessings to you.

Kristine said...

This is beautiful. Thanks for being so vulnerable. My mother-in-law is a hospice nurse so this scene has some familarity... At the same time, each person's loss is so different and filled with so many complexities that I'd be foolish to say I know how you feel. This is simply a touching tribute and I'm touched by it.

Kristine said...

This is beautiful. Thanks for being so vulnerable. My mother-in-law is a hospice nurse so this scene has some familarity... At the same time, each person's loss is so different and filled with so many complexities that I'd be foolish to say I know how you feel. This is simply a touching tribute and I'm touched by it.

Cookie said...

Thank you for your beautiful tribute to your Father. I have a similar story and one day will tell it on my blog. Its a privilege to be with someone when they die....especially our loved ones. Take Care Hugssss

Cate said...

Oh, Annie, this tribute is outstanding and poignant and moving! I am so sorry for your loss of this remarkable man.