My father-in-law was rushed to the emergency room on Jan. 31, and by the next day, Feb. 1, things had progressed to a place where he left the hospital, and moved to an end-of-life facility (very hospice-like). He was there for six days before dying. His funeral was Feb. 11, two days shy of the anniversary of his wife's death eight years ago on Feb. 13.
As I worked very hard to comfort my husband (an only child, who shouldered this entire burden) and my two daughters, who were very close to their grandfather, I really struggled with the word joy. A few weeks removed from these sad events has given me perspective, however. I'm not sure "joy" is the word that leaps to mind, but I do know that my heart is full of "gratitude" for many reasons:
- Dad's suffering wasn't prolonged. That is always reason for gratitude.
- The end-of-life facility, Kobacker House, was a true gift to us as a family. From the nurses who took such good care of him, to the doctors who made sure he was never in discomfort, to the aides who bathed and talked to Dad, to the custodial staff who cleaned his room, to the chaplain who would listen to my husband tell numerous stories about his dad and growing up, to the social worker who smoothed the way for us financially -- we will never be able to tell them all how very much we appreciated their kindness.
- We are blessed to have so many caring relatives, friends, and coworkers who were willing to make a 6 hour round-trip just to let us know they cared and to pay their final respects to Dad. We are so grateful to have you all in our lives.
- Our family and friends that actually live in Youngstown; you stood by our side during a very difficult time.
- My brother for being a hero - one of the girls had left something at the hotel she wanted to place in the casket before it was closed forever. He thought nothing of heeding my frantic request to drive 20 minutes back to the hotel to retrieve this very precious item minutes before the prayer ceremony at the funeral home.
- My college roommate for being there throughout this entire ordeal - what would I do without her?!! She was my go-to person for over a week during the time Dad was at Kobacker House - she brought us food to eat during our time there up until the day of the funeral, where her presence and hugs meant the world. She and her husband dropped everything to be there for us. She still continues to check in regularly. I do feel both joy and gratitude that she is my friend.
- My husband wrote the most beautiful eulogy for his dad - I cry every time I read it. He couldn't stand up and deliver it, but he made multiple copies of this tribute to his dad. What a gift of words he gave to his dad and to us as he celebrated his life.
- All the cards of caring and sympathy that people sent. I will never underestimate the importance of this small gesture. We were very appreciative for each of those cards.
- And there is joy knowing how peacefully Dad left this world and went to the next. I know he and Mom T are together now, and that brings me peace.
Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting us again for the Slice of Life Challenge. Head on over there to find out what other "slicers" have to say each and every day.