On Thursday morning I worked from home and was able to take my dad to a lunchtime doctor’s appointment. That morning the doctor’s staff called several times asking about blood test results that they should’ve been able to get from another doctor. My dad was annoyed as hell and feeling well enough to bitch out the doctor.
On Saturday I went grocery shopping for my parents. I bought fresh veggies and made veggie stock. I also made a dozen meatballs. Mom was too busy being Dad’s nurse that I pre-made food so they could just heat up or cook healthy and tasty meals quickly.
On Monday I stopped by to pick up books that I ordered from Amazon along with some other stuff that got delivered to my parents house. I told Dad he had to eat more and do his exercises so he could get strong again. He told me that Luke Walton had gotten hired as the Lakers head coach because he knows I’ve been following the Warriors this season.
On Tuesday my sister took my dad to his doctor appointment. Doc said cancer in his back shrank so I was pleased to hear the radiation helped. In hindsight, my sister thought Dad’s cancer doc was too hopeful and not realistic with us.
On Wednesday, Dad was admitted for in-patient chemo. I requested an Uber to transport him and Mom to Queens. That evening I visited and he was no longer talking. He was in pain. He was really drugged up. He slept early and Mom and I left for home early.
On Thursday my mom got a call from his doctor saying Dad is confused so they’ve moved him closer to the nurse’s station. When I visit he doesn’t say anything. Dinner is untouched.
On Friday, chemo is stopped. There’s nothing that can be done. Did you know a side effect of cancer treatment is cancer? This one spread to his abdomen and lungs. When I visit, my dad is mostly sleeping and no longer very responsive. He reacts by grunts and moans at the sound of his sister’s voice – a call from the Philippines – but he is no longer talking.
On Saturday he’s not able to take meds orally or open his mouth. He’s mostly sleeping and unresponsive.
On Sunday, Mother’s Day, he’s nearly completely unresponsive. His hands lie limp. My family fills the hospital room in three separate shifts to say their goodbyes. Dad manages to open his eyes but he appears unfocused and is unresponsive. I know he heard us praying over him and sharing our love for him. As she gives Dad his morphine dose, a single tear falls from his right eye which I see the nurse quickly wipe away…probably to spare us even more sadness.
At 10pm that night Mom calls my sister and I back to the hospital – the nurse says his time is near. They can tell because a dying man breathes shallow breaths. I stay up all night. I can’t sleep and the rollaway bed and chair are both uncomfortable. Inbetween episodes of SVU on Hulu, I watch my dad inhale….and exhale…And at 405am I watch his last exhale and the last bit of stored energy leave his earthly body. He left this world in peace and I’m glad I witnessed it.
Dad, I was devastated and scared when you were diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and I remember mom saying the docs said it was aggressive and un-cure-able. But what made it easier to cope with was that for the majority of these past few years, you looked great! You were actively volunteering in church, driving around to run errands and to your various doctors appointments. Even though you didn’t appear sick, I know you struggled with horrible pain and discomfor and It was especially difficult to see you suffering toward the end. You were so resilient. You fought a courageous battle with an ugly, mean disease and I’m relieved that you can finally be in a place without pain. I love you dad; please continue watching over us and visit often.