Monday, November 22, 2010

My Vision....

Yesterday was Sunday. I was anxious to go to church but apprehensive at the same time. Why?....I don't know. The only pressure I have ever felt there is the pressure I put on myself. Maybe it was because I had my own expectations of how I thought the day should be. Maybe it was because it had been so long since I had been.

It was good to see everyone and even to meet so many new people. 9 months of being gone is a long time. There were many well intentioned people and for some reason I didn't think to plan emotionally for that. I received everything from heart felt condolences to the ones who didn't know what happened and asked if I had fun on my vacation.

By the time worship started I was already wiped out and wanted so badly to simply focus on me and God. What happened next you may or may not believe but I will describe it the best I possibly can.
I couldn't tell you the song we were singing now even if I tried. I just know it was something about dancing with angels. I wasn't hoping for anything. I wasn't asking for anything. But for a split second the ceiling and sky opened up and I saw Daddy in heaven. It happened so fast and so brief I barely had time to gasp.

I couldn't tell you what he was wearing or even how old he was. He was the same but he was different. I can't find words that describe how he was. I simply knew it was him. He was running and laughing and he looked at me and winked with that characteristic sparkle he always had. In that split second I felt his joy and peace....that joy and peace of being with Papa God in complete perfection.
Oh what an amazing feeling.
What an amazing gift.
I could have gone the rest of my life with the satisfaction of knowing he is in heaven without being given that image. I have been learning to adjust to the last images I have in my mind of him being so weak and feeble, hearing his caged and garbled breathing echo in my head for days even after he was gone; those sounds so strong to me that I caught myself wondering how everyone could be so relaxed in the next room while I could hear him struggling so.

But God gave me this gift. I don't know why but He did.
Some would say it was my imagination. It was my way to cope.
But I know what I saw and I know what I felt.
I am telling you, there is so much more for us than what we know in our every day world.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Moving On....

It's been a week since I have written so I wanted to sit down and update things.

Ok I have now erased and started this post over 5 times. God please help me sort this out.

I am glad to be home but feel overwhelmed at the same time. My home is comforting but at the same time it feels claustrophobic for me. My family did so good while I was gone and I feel antsy with trying to find my niche again. For weeks I ate fast food and about a million bowls of cereal while taking care of Daddy. So now my pantry looks like a daunting task as I figure what to feed everyone.

I was so wound up for so long with taking care of Daddy that I am now taking muscle relaxants to make myself let loose. My sleep schedule is finally starting to succumb to not waking every hour as I get used to not needing to administer medication or quell a disillusioned sense of time.

God held my hands and heart while I dealt with being Daddy's care giver, doing everything from bathing him in the middle of the night after an accident to re-teaching him over and over again the simplest of tasks. Now I am trying to find the balance between sorting through it and letting go.

I dream about him. In my dreams I keep trying to convince others that he isn't here anymore but they won't listen to me.

A couple of times I have found myself questioning my actions before I even realize it. If I had pushed his nutrition more would he still be here? Then I throw the thought out with the dirty trash it belongs to, that despicable evil that revels in having us place blame on ourselves and not see God's truth. Daddy's body rejected nutrition and fluids of any sort. Even in his last few days, giving him 10cc of water with his medicine was too much for his lungs to handle.

No, I know I did the best I could. It is just strange to move on after having 9 months of my life on hold, after being with my Daddy and being given time that I never thought I would have in my wildest dreams. It wasn't that long ago that I once thought there would be a day when I would be at Daddy's funeral and no one would know who I was. But reality put me in a place of honor. I went from being the imagined nobody to the daughter receiving his honored memorial flag.

I don't know if that makes any sense to you but it does to me. I think it is amazing how God rescued our relationship so greatly to have us go from barely knowing one another to now. God brought us full circle and redeemed our love to a place of rich honor.

I know not to expect big things of myself right now. I am not going to jump right back into activities and responsibilities. I can't even fathom that next week is Thanksgiving and then the wonderful season of Christmas. I know I need time to just be me and spend lots of time with my loving and compassionate God.

Thank you so much for your encouragements left here in comments and for your prayers offered up to the heavens that never cease to listen.
I pray for you to have an amazing God filled day and that you know beyond doubt you are loved and important.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Funeral....

Yesterday was Daddy's funeral service. How appropriate that we were able to make arrangements for it to be on Veteran's Day to honor him. The service was beautiful. I have been to a fair amount of funerals in my life for family and friends but none have ever been as difficult as this was. I was completely unprepared and it took me quite a while before I could walk into the room where Daddy's open casket was. Later, I felt the earth spin under my feet when the honor guard presented me with his flag and as the gun volley rang through the air I could feel it echo in my heart.

I am so very tired and find myself stopping in the midst of the simplest task. We are taking a few days to try and help get some things organized with the house and will fly back home on Monday.

Below are the things my brother and I shared during the service. I am so proud of my brother. Before he shared the poem he had written a few years ago, he gave everyone time to think about their relationships with God and the assurance that they too could have access to the strength and comfort that God generously gave to Daddy in this last year.
Here is the poem he wrote....

My Pop

My Pop you should know that I love you so.
You are my friend, my guardian and mentor.
There are so many gifts you've given to me
that I would like to thank you for...

You showed to me what it is to be
Light hearted but not fully a clown.
You taught me how to ride a bike
And to pick myself up when I've fallen down.

I've inherited your laugh and your love of words,
Your vocabulary and your diction,
And even your knack for pausing mid-sentence
To make sure they are still paying attention.

I've been given your walk, your swagger and strut.
Man I got some teasing on that one.
but I just flash 'em your smile and a raise of the eyebrow
And together we all can laugh some.

All this and more you've passed to your son
To mold me into a good man
And I'm proud to be what you've helped me to be
In your image, the man I am.

Here is what I shared.......

I have been trying for days to figure out what I could possibly say that could sum up the life of my daddy. What could I share with you about his character that you don’t already know? How could I put to words the joy and honor of being his little girl for almost 40 years? Even ample use of a thesaurus doesn’t fully give meaning to his determined and unending devotion. And the wealth that I have owned in my relationship with him I have seen magnified over and over again in each of you.

While it pains my heart so greatly to know that I won’t feel those snuggly cuddly papa bear hugs anymore or hear his voice saying, “Good night angel. I love you.” I know that he is in the most amazing place now and I am so happy for him. He is not hurting and he is surrounding by so much joy and love from the amazing star breather and universe creating God that made all of our lives and relationships possible.

Instead I want to share with you a dream that a friend of mine from back home had just before Daddy passed away. This friend never met my daddy but has faithfully prayed for him as well as all of us since the beginning of his sickness. Here is the dream she saw….

Jody's Home-Going

I saw 2 very large angels with gold wing's that nearly touched the ground.
There were 2 large gates with 1 angel in back of each gate. The air was tense, like the feeling at a race before the gun goes off, or your team runs on the field. I could tell the gate angels could hardly wait.

A large
group of restless people were a short distance from the angels. I did not hear a sound, but I knew when the Lord said "now", in a normal tone - like saying hello if He first met you.

Each gate angel
grabbed their gate and threw it wide open. The crowd roared and ran forward. Every person wanted to be the first to hug, shake hands, or pat Jody on the back.

The crowd was so large those toward the back could not see who had arrived. Then people in front started calling back. It's Jody! It's Jody!! It's Jody!! Jody's Home!! Jody's
home!! This is as much as I saw, however I have a very strong feeling the party is still going on.

Monday, November 8, 2010


When I posted my previous update a couple of days ago I received many encouragements and comforts via email. One in particular I want to share here is from a friend back home that said:
This morning just as I woke I "saw" the following "picture." Two angel's with very large wings. Each holding on to very large gates. They were looking down the road, waiting to throw the gates wide open for your father. A crowd in back of them is waiting to welcome him home. (I saw this before I saw your email.)

My daddy, always watching over others and wanting to never bring extra attention to his own needs, even had his way in his last moments. For hours into the night myself along with my sister and cousin all stayed by his side holding his hands and soothing him as his body worked to keep doing what it was made to do.
At 12:15am in the single 5 minutes that we stepped out of the room and the nurse went to go get something.....that was the time that he decided ok everyone is occupied. Now I can do what I need to do with no fan fare without anyone fussing over me.

My daddy is now at peace and more healthy and happy than he has been in his entire life. There is no more pain, no more sinus problems, no more stomach irritability, no sore nerves, no arthritis, no nothing.
That has all been replaced with God's unceasing never ending joy in a new body that will never age or break. He is immersed in a beautiful forever atmosphere of perfection the likes of which our imaginations can only grasp the concept of in a minuscule reality. He is with his parents and siblings and wife and most importantly he is with the Creator and Artist who fashioned his life out of love and intense devotion for a purpose far beyond this temporary earthly time.

Those who didn't receive a phone call from me please understand and don't be hurt.
Knowing that our time was short I pushed myself in the things I felt mattered most. Now my body is completely depleted from lack of sleep and my feet and ankles are so swollen I can barely walk. My cousin has devotedly stayed by my side to tend to my needs in all the things I have not the strength or thought process for and I am so grateful. My husband and girls will be flying in tonight and other family is on their way as we begin working out details for the next few days.

Thank you for all your prayers over these last many months.
Thank you....

Saturday, November 6, 2010


So much has changed.
The strength of our minds and what we will ourselves to push through has never been more apparent to me than it is now. It amazes me to look back now and realize just how much Daddy has been pushing himself through with his continual response of "I'm just wonderful".

Wednesday morning at 5am Daddy got up from his chair and in 3 steps he lost the last of his physical strength. With God's help I was able to keep both of us from falling and fen angled him back into his recliner where I balanced him on the edge of his seat for almost 2 hours until my morning help arrived.

Daddy is now comfortable in the bed and I must keep him medicated around the clock for his safety and peace. Once he became weak, Daddy's physical health declined rapidly. In a matter of hours we went from being able to walk outside and carry on short conversations to my own fearing realization that I couldn't not safely provide care for him by myself.

Our amazing angel, our hospice care manager, began the process the yesterday morning of getting around the clock nursing staff in here to help me. I am so grateful. Such a weight has been lifted off of me in knowing it is not my sole responsibility to continuously assess Daddy's vitals and think of every angle of his care. It is such a relief to not have to plan out how to turn him and change him by myself. The nurse here has helped me to adjust his medication and get him into a place where he is more comfortable than he has been in a week.

Despite his lethargy, his body's refusal for nutrition and hydration as well as his lungs becoming more wet by the hour.....he still tries to lift his hand and mumble when I whisper "I love you" in his ear.

My brother is here now and he has been such an amazing support. His presence here has given me the opportunity to relax my mind and not think ten steps ahead. As he laid his luggage on the floor he was asking me to show him how to use the various pieces of medical equipment here so that he could do everything that I had been doing.

I don't like to leave Daddy for very long and I sleep on a chase that I put next to his bed. But having the nurse here last night gave me the opportunity to feel safety in submitting to sleep. Until the nurses arrived with their blessed help I had been administering calming medication every hour with no breaks for 3 days straight and sleeping in 3o minute increments.

Family will be driving in today and Red Cross has made the necessary arrangements to get our youngest brother back here from Iraq.

I don't know what will happen now but I am so grateful for God's hand in keeping us safe and for providing caring and gracious people all around.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Stirring Spoon...

Last night Daddy fell again. It was a very innocent thing and as we are learning....stuff just happens.
He was outside with a family member and went to lean against a support post but missed it all together. That sent him spinning and he broke his fall on the corner of the house with the middle of his forehead before landing on the ground. He has scuffs on both elbows and both knees as well as a skinned up "beauty spot" on his head about the size of the palm of my hand.
Poor guy.

Hospice came right out and did an assessment for concussion and bandaged him up nicely. I sure am grateful for their 24 hour services. It is such a blessing to have someone just a phone call away while Daddy can stay calm and relax in his recliner. And as an extra benefit, I have been told over and over again that our nurse is the best case manager in the whole division....which I agree. I am so grateful for her professional knowledge as well as her support and encouragement as a friend.

Daddy accepted the bed with ease. Thank you! My cousin came over the morning it was being delivered and explained it to him in a way that appealed to him most...his logic. There are some things that I can get away with getting him to do because I am his daughter. But other things like the bed...he wouldn't have accepted it from me and would have put his foot down in authority. Those things then default to my cousin and she handles it all very well. It was simply a matter of : using his insurance to its fullest advantage. This way we have a bed here that we didn't have to go buy and its available if anyone happens to need a nap.

Plus with it being electric we will use it to do his dressing changes and it will really save on our backs because it can raise in height. Being the loving man that he is, he wanted to do what he could to make us more comfortable. Yesterday after his bath aide left (which was a male aide and they got along wonderfully praise God) I set him up in the bed for clean dressings and he fell asleep for 30 minutes! Yahoo! I will take every milestone we can get and celebrate gladly.

His dreams come and go. Sometimes we are sitting in the bleachers waiting for the ball game to start while others are a dream that rather resembles an old tv show. He even said to me, "I know this sounds like some crazy tv show but I swear to God its the truth. Please believe what I am going to tell you."

Whatever his story is, I have learned to go along with it as best as I can and he will usually refocus or get tired. It stresses him more if we try to argue and explain reality.

This morning was a bit different and he was quite determined with his thought process for over an hour and a half before sleep over took him again. He'd had a fitful night of sleep after his fall and was wound up pretty tight. He was determined that he needed to go find something in the front yard and commented casually that he might just take a quick climb over the fence to go after it. After going through the front door we got all the way next door before I was able to coax him back into the house by using the logic that it was 55 degrees outside and we were in shorts and pjs.
Since he has fallen back asleep I have stood guard over him willing the phone not to ring in disturbance. I am praying he wakes with a calmness and feeling refreshed.

I look at him, this man that is my Daddy and even now I am so grateful to be here. I don't understand all that has happened to him in such a short amount of time but I see he is still in there. Our minds are a powerful thing and he has an amazing memory. It is just that something of a stirring spoon took a twist inside his thoughts and swirled them all together.

He is still my loving and caring Daddy.
I don't know what memory he was entertaining last night but as we were getting ready for sleep he grabbed my hand and said, "I want you to know I saw what you did for that little boy today. You stood ground when no one else would and I admire you for that. You are a very special woman. Tomorrow is going to be another shock wave to tend to but know that I will be there standing beside you. It will be my honor to do so." That sort of stuff makes me want to hug him and never let go.

My brother will be here in 2 days for a weekend visit. I am so grateful he can come. Daddy is really looking forward to it too. When I first told him a couple days ago about the impending visit he welled up with tears. Every day since, he brings it up several times that his son is on his way here and how much he has been looking forward to more time with him.

For now I must get going.
Take care and enjoy your day to its fullest. In all that you do know that you were created with purpose and destiny and fashioned with an everlasting love.

Thank You God for your love and support that never fails and never ends. Your whispers of encouragement in the gentle embraces of a hug and even in the breeze tickling through the trees speak of your amazing presence.