Where We Are Now

‘Hospice’ is one of those two-edged words that either fills your heart with dread or fills your heart with relief, depending on your circumstances.

My heart is filled with relief today.

Daddy has gotten steadily weaker, with a marked decline over the last few days. Our best guess is that he has probably had another mini-stroke. He is not suffering or hurting, and he is still well aware of everything and everybody around him, though he is speaking less and less– almost not at all now.  The most crucial development is that he is so weak he can no longer stand alone or get around at all, even with his walker (and Mom right behind him, with her patented hand-on-his-waistband technique!)

When my sister Carolyn and her husband David brought dinner to them a couple of nights ago, they immediately noticed Daddy’s weakened condition.  It was a long and stressful evening as they tried to figure out exactly what had happened. They went out and rented a wheelchair from the local drugstore right away, but transferring him in and out of the chair is very difficult as he can’t really help them much. Carolyn and David stayed overnight just to monitor the situation, and by morning they knew Daddy needed to see a doctor. They took him in that afternoon, along with my brother Jonny and sister Liz, and it was in the doctor’s office that the H-word was finally said out loud. Dr. Taggart has treated Mom and Dad for years now, and is always very sweet with them. He gently broached the fact that at 95, when your days are waning, you usually either get an illness like pneumonia that takes you quickly, or your body just starts shutting down– and it appeared as though that’s what was happening with Daddy. He explained that hospice offers lots of services that they could utilize for the next six months if they needed them. He finally just simply looked around at my family’s sober faces and said, “It’s time.”

A male nurse on a big red motorcycle came the very next day to sign them up for hospice and assess Daddy’s current condition. Here’s a couple of classic Mom moments, by the way– a perfect example of how much I love and admire her spirit AND how thoroughly exasperating she can be!

The first one: as the nurse outlined the different services available he mentioned that they offered spiritual support in the form of a Baptist minister that could stop by if they desired. Now, you guys know my mom’s reputation, right? That woman loves nothing more than a ‘robust discussion’ about the Bible– just don’t get her started on religious doctrine! Having grown up in a rather obscure, rigid type of denomination, she has a healthy (or unhealthy, depending on your perspective) skepticism about people staking claim to the particular passage of scripture and then building a religion around it. Mom knows her Bible backwards and forwards and has no qualms about telling you her opinions and challenging yours. (She has worn out many an unsuspecting pastor over the years, like the one at my niece Leah’s wedding rehearsal dinner a few years ago… He sat down next to her and casually started chatting about God and faith and other pastoral stuff– no doubt thinking that since Mom looked like such a sweet little old lady, she would sit in rapt attention as he held forth. About 45 minutes later, he staggered out looking like he didn’t know what hit him as Mom primly smoothed her skirt and murmured, “I think I gave him some new things to think about…” Yeah.

So anyway, when the male nurse mentioned that they could send over a live one, er, Baptist minister to talk with Mom if she wanted, all of my siblings in the room paused for a minute and then burst out laughing! They said things like, “Tell him to be sure and bring his Bible” and then cracked themselves up again– when Carolyn told me this on the phone, my first response was, “I hope they have some other preachers warming up in the bullpen, because she’ll make short work of that one!” But the best part was that as my brothers and sisters were making smart remarks and giggling, Mom just sat there with a naughty glint in her eye, rubbing her hands together and gleefully said, “Oh, GOODY!”

Ya gotta love her.

On the other hand… Even though the nurse (and the doctor and every one of her grown children) carefully explained to Mom that she needs to stop trying to get Daddy to stand up, she has simply refused to listen. She is sure that if she can just get him moving again, he’ll get stronger. The nurse said, “He’s entering a different phase now. It’s not about trying to make progress, it’s about making sure he’s as comfortable as possible.” He concluded by saying, “He won’t be growing stronger now, he’ll be getting weaker.” And my mom, that stubborn little pistol, didn’t pay any attention to his gentle explanation of the reality of Daddy’s condition and prognosis. She just defiantly raised her chin and said quietly and evenly, “You wanna bet?”

The thing is, she’s scared to death. Her companion of 73 years is fading, and soon he’s going to be leaving. He’s abandoning her. I swear, sometimes the fear and confusion in her eyes makes her look like she’s 5 years old. It is heartbreaking, and very frightening because her refusal to acknowledge that she can’t make him better and stronger through the sheer force of her will could result in her pushing him beyond his limits, and maybe putting both of them in danger. If you’re the praying sort, this is where we need it most– please pray that God’s own peace will envelop and comfort her through all of these scary changes, and that her strong, strong faith will guide her to a place of acceptance. Pray that she can let him go.

My brother Matt, who lives here in Nashville, drove home to Arkansas today to help out for a few days. I think the hospital bed is being delivered today, so there’s sure to be a lot of rearranging of rooms and furniture moving going on. I might tag-team him and head down when he comes back– we’re just figuring this out on a day to day basis. I’m sorry my posting has been so sparse, but this has all been unfolding kind of fast and furious this week. I have read each and every one of your sweet texts and emails and FB posts and tweets– thank you so much for your love and kindness towards my family, it means more than I can tell you. Gee, between Sarah’s brain tumor and my aging parents I’m kind of a big ol’ prayer hog lately, aren’t I?! Thank God for the power of prayer, but believe me– NOBODY is more ready to not have to ask for prayer than me!

I’ll update this tomorrow when I get more information. Love you guys.

73rd Wedding Anniversary

August, 2010

48 Responses

  1. Gramma Jac

    Dear “big ol’ prayer hog”,

    Ya, so maybe you are,….so what?!? :-/ We love you and want to do what we can,…and in WI, USA, about all I CAN do for you is pray!!!

    We have discovered that my husband’s parents aren’t remembering too well. Yesterday, my FIL came home from a week’s stay in a nursing home and my MIL was, um, shall we say, difficult! I know what you mean about that look of a 5 year old,…how scary all of this is for her, and for your Mom!

    My Grampa and Gramma had such a strong marriage. She hated the fact that he died a lingering death, but, God knew what He was doing,…it took that long for her to be ready to let go. And while it was hard, and sad,…there were also so many sweet times of the family being together, sharing so many memories. So my advice is to do exactly what your family is doing and will do,…cling to each other, hold them tight in the (figurative and literal) arms of the family, love them like crazy, share laughter and tears,…and lean on God for comfort!
    He’s got arms just the right size for “big ol’ prayer hogs”!

    Know that there’s a whole bloomr nation out here sending you really tight hugs!


  2. Gramma Jac

    P.S. I’m leaving in the morning for a conference in Chicago,…don’t know if I’ll be able to check in or not–hope so! I don’t know if I can go until late Sunday night without my Babybloomr fix!!! Y’all (tee hee from a Yankee none the less!) take good care of Tori!

  3. delightedabroad

    I’ll be praying of course and I recommend that you, Tori, don’t worry about posting right now. I will certainly be glad if you find the time and nerve to update – but never mind if not.

  4. bettyrwoodward

    Tori, of course we’ll be praying. Hard times ahead but God is good.

  5. jonny

    OK.., and OK !

  6. chillybean

    Nathan just explained some of this and I am completely heartbroken. We will definitely be praying (amidst many tears) around here.
    love, Colleen

  7. auburn60

    I’m sure your mother will move toward her own acceptance in her own way, but I love how she wants to fight for him as long as she can! That little woman is my hero.

    Being more a ‘Martha’ than a ‘Mary’ I want to take action: make beds, wash dishes, provide food…when people are hurting. It frustrates me to not be able to help in a concrete way when my friend hurts. But be assured constant prayers are going up–for everyone. I have a 2 hour drive today and God and I will be communicating the whole time.

  8. gracelynn

    Love you Tori! I know this has to be hard. Thankfully, my parents aren’t at that stage yet but they will be one day, and with me being the eldest child, I know where the responsibility will fall. So my heart goes out to you. I’ve been through it twice with my grandparents so I do have some understanding and am participating in it with my aunt who has the brain tumor. I’m praying as Jesus directed us – God’s will be done – in the entire matter. May you feel His loving arms around you today, my precious sister!

  9. justmalia

    Definitely sending prayers on your behalf. Love you, friend.

  10. Phyllis S

    Many Prayer coming your way, with a long stop in Arkansas.
    Love you, girlfriend.

  11. Barbara M. Lloyd

    This is so sad…my heart is hurting just reading wshat is happening. As my younger son said one time: I know where he’s going and that he will be so much better off….but it still hurts. I am praying for you, sweetheart, for your mom and all of the family…..and thanking God for all of the beautiful memories you have that will bless you forever.

  12. meb

    Having had experience with hospice on more than one occasion, I can say they are truly a blessing.
    Keeping the entire family in my prayers.

  13. jonny

    Yeah, all that I’ve personally experienced, and have heard about from others concerning hospice in the town where I grew up, was all good. I trust it will be for you and your’s as well = )

  14. Phyllis R

    Oh girl, my heart and prayers are going out to you. I don’t care what age they are or we are…Daddy is Daddy and that is just it! Working in Hospice I was glad to see that y’all are using that service. You are right…it is either a relief or dread. Give yaself a big ole hug!

  15. kay

    My thoughts and Prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.
    Watching a parent or anyone Go Home is not easy. May He give you the strength you and your loved one need during this time.
    in HIM.

  16. phwd737

    Such a difficult stage in life…that of watching one’s parent’s final stage in life… :'(
    My sisters & I have had to deal with this regarding our mom just recently. She was diagnosed with early dementia a year ago & was living with my younger sister until it seemed like all of a sudden, (within one week), she couldn’t get up or sit down by herself, couldn’t bathe herself, & had difficulty walking!
    Although she’s not at the ‘hospice’ stage yet, we’ve had to put her in a ‘home’, since none of us are able to give her 24 hour care…(something we thought we’d never have to do)…
    The nice thing is God led us to a home within a mile of my sister’s home where they care for 6 ladies & it feels much more like a real home instead of a large institution.
    My prayers are with you & your family, Tori. May you all sense HIS great love & comfort at this time, as only HE can give.
    ~Tricia Appler

  17. okdebby

    Tori, my eyes are filled with tears for you and your family as you deal with this transition. I’ve been watching my dad fail physically for the past three years and I’ve reacted much like your mother – – and you have helped me see that it might not be so much about him giving in as me not wanting to give him up. As Phyllis R said “Daddy is Daddy and that is just it.” Thank you for allowing us to share this with you. I pray for peace for each of you. ~Debby

  18. kidpyramid

    Dear Tori,

    I do know where you are at right now. I was there less than 2 years ago. My parents had been married 57 years – more than two-thirds of their lives spent together.

    As hard as this is for you and your siblings your mom is losing a piece of her heart and she will be forever changed. She is stubbornly fighting for what she thinks is best for your dad because that has been her instinct for 73+ years. Be patient with her and yourself.

    We will all pray for God’s peace to fill all of you.

  19. ginnh

    Tori – since there are no limits on prayers, you can’t be a prayer hog. Lifes expected and unexpected speed bumps keep us all hanging in there together. I just wish I had your gift of words so that I could help you the same way you have helped so many others. We are going through the same thing with my wonderful mother-in-law right now. They have been married 64 years and I can see the fear in my father-in-laws face and hear it in his voice. We see him ignore what’s going on because although is mind knows the truth, his heart isn’t ready to accept it and maybe never will be. Realizing that fact was a big moment for me and I was finally able to understand why he did some of the things that seemed almost selfish. I’ll keep saying my prayers and add those wonderful hospice workers in there too.

  20. LindaB

    “He’s got arms just the right size for “big ol’ prayer hogs”! (GrammaJac)

    AMEN, SISTER!! Ain’t that the truth! And I suppose all of us have been prayer hogs at one time or another and that’s a good thing—–it keeps us humble and real! And it gives God another opportunity to prove His faithfulness! I know at times when troubles seem to be coming in waves, I think I just CAN’T go to my praying friends AGAIN and ask for yet ONE MORE prayer……but I’m AFRAID not to. But when a group of praying friends share their prayer needs and God’s amazing answers, it seems to bond them in some kind of mysterious eternal way. And there’s no false “I’ve got it all together” goin’ on! I love you for providing us this cyber coffee shop to gather and pray for one another, Torik….(as well as laugh our heads off). And it is a privilege to pray for you and your family. And we will pray daily……even hourly…….and sometimes minute by minute.

    And we will give special attention to your Mom—that though she must give up her long-loved husband for a short while, her Heavenly Father is still with her…..still watching over her, your dad, and her children….still ordering her steps minute by minute. His care is never changing. Keep us posted if you can.

  21. LindaB

    Not “Torik”….I could say that’s my new little Arabic nickname for you….but it was a typo. Sorry.

    I have a confession now. I’ve heard so much about your Mom’s compative Biblical views, I WANT TO HEAR THEM TOO!! She intrigues me! Tori, when things settle down and you have the time, I have a suggestion for a blog entry—–could you just talk to your Mom and ask her to impart some of her Biblical wisdom and “preacher intimidating” opinions for us? Or let us ask questions? Or give us her own “apostles creed”? Or something along those lines…….IF YOU DARE! I would love it! And I think the rest of us would too. You don’t want to “hog” all that treasury of a lifetime of wisdom and giving folks (especially preachers) some things to think about, do ya?

  22. rachelbaker

    Just like LindaB says, praying for each other is a privilege not a burden, so hog as much as you need.

  23. babygirl

    It is indeed a privilege to be asked to pray for each other. We had a scare with my 86 year old mother last night. My sister called a bit after 9 saying mama had not been answering her phone. My husband and I drove over there and somehow her phone in the sitting room had been turned off and she couldn’t hear the ones in the living room or her bedroom. She hurt her hip somehow and is having trouble getting around. She’s been a widow for 38 years, and she’s having trouble adjusting to winding down. I need all the prayers I can get right now. I’m the youngest of 5 girls and the responsibility has been on my head since I was 11. Oh well, I’m not whining, I can just identify with what you’re going through. God Bless You with strength and courage.

  24. DonnaMariePatterson

    My heart is hurting for you and your family. Getting older is so hard! I’m so glad that we are all a family of faith and He hears our prayers! His power and love is enough to get us through. I will be praying for all of you and believing with everyone that God will give your mom wisdom and peace. My mom went home one year ago on April 4th. She passed at home in her bed and she was so ready to go. To this day, I still take the time to thank God for the hospice workers. They were the biggest blessing and help to us – I just can’t explain how great they are during a time like this.

    You are surrounded with prayers from your bloomr family. You always lift us up with your humor, we’ll lift you up with our love.

  25. LindaB

    We’ll pray too that things so smoothly at your home and with your immediate family that you can devote as much time as you want to help out with your mom and dad.

    Did you get things straightened out about where Madi is going to stay when she goes off to college? We’ll pray about that too.

  26. MostlySunny

    We’re with you!!!! Thanks for letting us be a part of this for you. And your kids…this is Grandpa (or whatever they call him). It was hard for me to watch my children grieve.

    Treasure even this…

  27. tori

    ‘Bloomr family,

    I’m sitting on my bed here in Arkansas. Daddy’s face when I walked in will stay with me for the rest of my life. I’ve spent most of the last couple of hours holding his hand– he pets mine with his crooked index finger, and then we hold each other’s gaze and just smile and smile like big ol’ possums.

    The family is here, kids and grandkids coming in and out of the room, loving him. He stayed alert for a long period of time tonight, and smiles at each of us with such delight. Says a word or two every once in a long while. He is peaceful and appears to be pretty comfortable. My brother Matt and my brother in law David will be going in and shifting him in his bed every two hours all through the night to avoid bed sores–his skin is paper thin, we just rubbed lotion on him before we tucked him in.

    He is absolutely surrounded by people who adore him.

    I have no idea how long this phase will last, he has deteriorated very rapidly since Monday.

    So glad I am here.

    Love you guys– thank you, thank you for the prayers. I feel them.

  28. jonny

    Love you, too. So very much so. Thanks for the share.

  29. jonny

    Oh, and I believe we are glad you are there, too = )

  30. jonny

    Oh, and I believe we are glad, grateful you are there, too = )

  31. jonny

    Oh, and I believe we are glad, grateful you are there too = )

  32. jonny

    Really sorry about that = / Thought the first one didn’t go through, then I wrote something different for the third one, but it repeated the second one !


  33. Gramma Jac

    jonny, you can never be too glad or too grateful!!! :-)

    Tori, we’re with you,….’nuf said!

  34. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Bathing you and your sweet family in our love and our prayers, dear Tori….and so thankful you can feel this.

    I can tell you from personal experience that Hospice is wonderful….yet not as wonderful as a family surrounding a loved one so that he may feel the warmth of their love during days like these.

  35. auburn60

    Roaming around Hendersonville all day…know you are on my mind and in my heart,never far from my thoughts. Give your mom my love.

  36. LindaB

    What a sweet picture——you and dad caught in an act of “lotion” love that is probably what he did for all of his kids when they were newborn babies….a simple gesture to bring basic comfort to one who is relatively helpless. Your dad is an incredibly lucky man…..being smack in the center of this extraordinary loving circle that, thanks to the God of Love, will NEVER end. NEVER END! It’s a sweet picture indeed…..at times bittersweet and heart-stopping for you all, but with eternity in view, it is sweet indeed. The gentle passing of a life well lived…..so fitting for such a gentle man. I can only imagine what wonderful pleasures the Gentle Shepherd has in ready for your kind and gentle father.

    That said, I do not completely dismiss your fiesty mother’s pronouncemnt, when told her husband would never be the same, of, “You wanna bet?”! She is a force to be reckoned with!

  37. bettyrwoodward

    You’re bringing back memories with ‘he pets mine with his crooked index finger,’. That is just what my Dad used to do and he was only 89 when he went to be with the Lord. Love you Tori and am still praying for you and all the family.

  38. MostlySunny

    Your Dad is truly a blessed man – to have a family that has loved him so…what a legacy.

  39. rockin robyn

    My deepest prayers to you and your family. Thank you so very much for sharing your family with us here on babybloomr. It’s like we all know your pa so very well without knowing him for real. You came from good stock Tori and you are a strong and powerful woman in my eyes and in my heart… But I’ve turned all my worrying and sadness about you over to God and asked Him to hold you up in these special times because even though you appear to be a tough cookie you “are” the babygirl to these wonderful parents.

    All my love Tori! (All in God’s time now… all in God’s time)

  40. jonny

    Man, I seriously could use a “Like” button for some of these Say it!s !

  41. belinda

    You know you and your family have been and will continue to be in our prayers. I was just praying for your sweet Mamma this morning thinking about how long her and your Dad have been married asking God to help her and wrap his loving arms around her knowing how hard it will be for her. Also praying for each and every one of you.

    Sending lots of love and prayers your way. We are here if you need anything no matter what time day or night. We love you guys!

  42. JanetB

    Oh, wow. Tori darling…does this bring back memories…not all of them pleasant, yet all are treasured. If that makes sense at all…

    Our experiences with hospice were all good. The best part is that they will see to the fine details of your dad’s care – leaving all of you to just soak up this time that you have left with him, however long that will be. It’s such a blessing.

    I just feel like sharing this:

    My cousin’s daughter-in-law’s (Devon) mother just passed away a few weeks ago – hospice was caring for her for quite some time at Nate & Devon’s home. After she died, Devon took their 3-year-old daughter, Kennedy, into the room to say goodbye to “Mamie.” Then, Kennedy scampered off to play…people came to take the body away…Kennedy came back into the room, saw the empty bed & asked where was Mamie? Her other grandmother told her that Jesus had taken Mamie to Heaven. Kennedy said, “He was HERE?!”

    Praying for all of you. Just hold on…

  43. Gramma Jac

    JanetB, thanks for letting me start my day with a smile! Out of the mouth of babes!! And the reality is, He WAS there!

    Still praying!

  44. LindaB

    Checkin’ back for any news. Still praying.

    JanetB, that IS so cute!! Love it!

  45. MostlySunny

    JanetB – SOOOO CUTE!!!

    Agree with Gramma Jac – He WAS here!! God with us!

  46. jonny

    This just up on Tori’s facebook profile…

    “Dad’s holding steady. Weakening, bedfast, sleeping most of the time, not really eating or drinking anything much- but smiling & loving us.”

  47. JanetB

    Thanks for the update, Jonny.
    Sounds like he’s winding down. My dad (who was 86) didn’t have anything to eat or drink for his last 3 days – his body just wouldn’t accept nourishment anymore.
    His last few hours, he was quite restless. My sister (a hospice nurse) was sitting with him…she grabbed a hymnal from the nursing home’s chapel & sang some of Daddy’s favorite old hymns to him. He quieted down…then, he looked at her & smiled…and went Home.
    Folks, it just doesn’t get any sweeter than that.

    And, Tori – you are smack-dab in the middle of God’s precious gift to you: Seeing your dad off on his journey Home. That’s just…priceless.

    Sending love & hugs & lots of prayers…

  48. jonny

    Beautiful. Wonderful. Indeed priceless.

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