On Living and Dying in Tennessee

To borrow from Mark Twain, “reports of my father’s early demise are greatly exaggerated”.

Several of our church friends have asked about my father’s failing health these past few days. I sense that they incorrectly believe his health is worse than it is, and so I hope to set the record straight.

Dad’s health is declining slowly, but steadily. He is now in constant pain, but the pain is generally manageable. Since his normal pain meds are not bringing the relief he desires, he has turned to morphine for his pain management.

The quality of his vision is dependant on the amount of swelling in the back of his head, a location where the evil cancer has taken hold. Most days my stepmom reads his bible lesson and scripture to him. It also affects his ability to sleep; so he now takes advantage of a high dosage sleeping pill. His coughing and severe congestion will eventually necessitate the use of a suction device that helps clear his airways. He will begin breathing treatments soon to help alleviate the congestion caused by the cancer in his lung.

Hospice care has begun their regular visits. Dad complains that they only come at dinnertime; they have eaten several pounds of his last batch of “Bob-e-que”, to his consternation. He also believes their care is “premashure”, but appreciates the medication they afford.

Dad still drives the 4-wheeler at the farm, mops the tile floor, grills pork shoulders for family and friends, bowls two days a week (111, 117, 186 last week…). He tires easily, watches lots of John Wayne westerns and Tom and Jerry cartoons. But he is still going…

While these are difficult days, I must confess that my dad and I are blessed! We are 500 miles apart; he has (the docs say) only a few weeks- months at best- to live, and yet Dad is living every day to its fullest, with as much energy and humor as he can throw at it. We have become very close these last dozen months, and have said what fathers and sons should say to each other before their time together ends. And I have the privilege of watching my dad face eternity with courage and dignity. I am so proud of him!

Tomorrow morning, dad is sharing what he has been going through with a group of men in his church. He- my DAD!!!- wants to help them prepare for their eternity- to find completion, to find peace. Peace with their families, with their Lord.

Bob the Evangelist!? Who knew?

I am privileged to walk this journey with my dad. He is living before us, with grace and humor, the final days of a follower of Christ, doing it so all around him can see how it is supposed to be done. I’m watching Dad- and someday I hope to be as good a model for my children as you are to me. Well done, Dad!

Take a pill…. get some rest.

  1. #1 by Martha on February 24, 2008 - 7:29 PM

    Saw Daddy today. Took printout of your blogspot with me to his house, but he says he cannot read at all. Mrs. Jean read it and cried.I wasn’t sure if he needed to hear this now, so I brought it back home. I love reading your stuff. Keep writing!

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