final gifts

I am grateful for the final gifts from my dad…who would have thought I’d ever say that. Before we found out about my dad’s illness, I had read a book called “Final Gifts” written by two hospice nurses about the lessons/gifts they had learned/gotten from patients they had cared for. Their stories were amazing and I was so touched by them. Not long after I finished this book, we learned of my dad’s diagnosis and while it was devastating to us all, I still mostly worried about my mom and how she would handle all this mentally, emotionally, physically. During the initial week when dad had xrays and ultrasounds, he began ‘taking care’ of things. He talked with his friend (and, incidentally, the person who owns the house my parents live in) about making sure my mom wouldn’t have to worry about leaving the house. Paul (the friend) said “Chick, you never have to worry about that, Sandee can stay here as long as she needs to stay here. I’d never throw her out.” My dad then chose my uncle Pete to be his executor (the guy in charge of finances) which was a brilliant choice since Pete has more money than god and would never be interested in my parents few thousands. He arranged for all the money from out of state to be transferred in state and signed all the car/vehicle titles over so nothing would go to probate. He paid for his cremation expenses and made various other arrangements. Everytime he went outside, he marked more things for whomever he wanted to have them and he made a gazillion lists for those of us left so we’d know exactly what he wanted. He signed over his power of attorney, filled out his living will, made sure we knew hospice was what he wanted and he wanted to die at home in peace. From the time Wednesday, the 6th came (and his official diagnosis), his coordination went to hell in a hand basket, his mind wandered more and more and his muscle tone began to desert him. He knew. And while my mom was in total and complete denial he made every single arrangement he needed to make so that she would be cared for and comfortable in her last weeks/months/years on this earth. My dad was an asshole for most of his life that I can remember and I didn’t expect to feel much when he was gone honestly. I am discovering that his behavior during his last two weeks of life has touched me so much and I am so grateful for his last gift to me…a beautiful memory of putting my mom before himself and guaranteeing she would be provided for in spite of what must have been anxiety in the face of his coming death. During his final days he seemed to have a foot in both worlds. He’d wake from ‘playing with Sam’ (the dog we used to have when I was kid) or he’d say to my mom “I want to put my arm around you” like he used to when they were younger. He had waited for 6 months for new digital hearing aids and he was so excited to be getting them. His appointment was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon and we called to cancel it and tell the provider that dad was dying and most probably wouldn’t need them now. The man called back later that afternoon and said “I live not too far from you and I’d like to bring them by on my way home from work.” We gave him directions and he showed up and fitted my dad’s hearing aids with the settings he had on his original ones. He showed us how to set them and turn them off and when he turned them on my dad’s face lit up because he could hear. It was his last smile and meaningful interaction with any of us and he was gone 10 hours later. This time has been so hard. Seeing my mom in the state she’s in and knowing that with her mind set, all this could affect her health in a poor way makes it even more difficult for me. Knowing that I will be doing this for her soon hits me sometimes with the force of a train. In view of all of this information I am so completely and totally thankfull for these lasts gifts from my father. Thank you Dad.One other thing…the day my dad died, every single time I got in the car the same song was playing. When I went into a store that played music, this song was playing as well. It’s called “If Heaven” by Andy Griggs and I’m posting the lyrics here as well.

IF HEAVENIf heaven was an hour, it would be twilight

When the fireflies start their dancin on the lawn

And suppers on the stove and mammas laughin

And everybodys workin day is done

If heaven was a town it would be my town

On a summer day in 1985

And everything i wanted was out there waiting

And everyone i loved was still alive


Dont cry a tear for me now baby

There comes a time we must all say goodbye

And if thats what heavens made of

You know i ain’t afraid to die

If heaven was a pie it would be cherry

Cool and sweet and heavy on your tongue

And just one bite would satisfy your hunger

And thered always be enough for everyone

If heaven was a train it sure would be a fast one

That could take this weary travler round the bend

And if heavne was a tear it’d be my last one

And youd be in my arms again


Dont cry a tear for me now baby

There comes a time we must all say goodbye

And if that’s what heaven’s made of

You know i ain’t afraid to die



One response to this post.

  1. Traci,

    You visited me from Rosie’s blog. There are absolutely no coincidences in life, are there? My blog touched you and yours touched me with great signficance today. I will be back.


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