Tuesday, November 08, 2016

A Wake of Our Own

In happier days, at our Floria/Smathers family reunion in May.
My dad was initially diagnosed with colon cancer in 2007. He has been battling this disease for 9 years. Yet the day he died, we were all surprised at how "quickly" he went.

We received materials from the hospice nurse on the process of dying. We didn't even get a chance to review them when he passed. I flipped through them later on and realized that he had been in the process of dying for the past 6 months or more.

Kristi and I were the only two in the hospital when he died. Terry thought she would be by his side, but he decided that was not to be. We called Terry and asked her to come back to the hospital because he had passed. We cautioned her not to drive herself; she was too distraught, so she should get another family member to drive her.

Kristi and I made a few phone calls to family members on Dad's side; his sister, who had just celebrated her 90th birthday, my mom (his ex-wife), and others. And then we waited.

We sat in the room with dad's body for almost two hours. We could feel his skin cooling, saw his face draining of color, his fingernails turning from blue to white.

We marveled at his passing. It was just incredible that this had just happened. Stories were exchanged, tears shed, laughter shared.

And Dad had to have the last fart joke.

At one point his body passed some gas through his stoma. I looked at Kristi and said, "Was that you?" and she pointed to Dad.

Shortly after, she did indeed pass a little gas, and pointed to Dad again. "Sure," I said, "Blame the dead guy." We laughed through our tears. I'm sure Dad was laughing with us; he loved nothing better than a good fart joke.

We had become accustomed to his deathly presence. When the rest of the family arrived, some walked into the room cautiously, afraid of what they would see. Kristi and I welcomed them in. "Come, see Dad. He would want you to say good-bye."

We were two hours into the grieving process; others were just beginning. She and I had been holding a wake, just the two of us, while the rest of the family was just getting confirmation that he had passed.

It is amazing how quickly our human minds become accustomed when faced with the physical proof of death. My dad's spirit was no longer in his body. It is wherever we believe it to be, whatever gives us peace.

Now the process of grieving and of healing can begin.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:12 AM

    I'm so sorry for your loss. I recently came across his blogs on his cancer battle (and read every one) while searching for info on colon surgery & recovery. His attitude and his personality - well, he just sounded like a wonderful person. I'm so sorry he's gone.