Friday, April 03, 2009

Historical Stuff - rock collecting

Papa was obsessed with rock collecting. Whenever he came home from a walk, his pockets were sure to have some rocks in them. Some days his pockets were so full of rocks that suspenders would have helped keep his trousers up.

One day while we were walking from the car to the mall, we passed a half ton truck with rocks in the back. He immediately went to take some and I cautioned him that this would not be a good idea. It was difficult for him to understand why he couldn't take some of these rocks.

We kept a bucket or wooden flower pot near the front door and usually he would empty his pockets there. Sometimes the rocks came in the house and we often found little piles of them in various places. Occasionally he would show one of them to us as being rather special in either color, shape, or peculiar markings.

Usually the rocks were small in size but occasionally some rather large ones found their way to our house. It didn't take long before we needed to do something with all these rocks. Sometimes we would return them to an alleyway near our home from whence they first came, after he had gone to bed. We always left a few in the container knowing that he likely would not remember it had been full the day before.

During the summer of 2007, Stan transformed our back yard to accommodate his model train. As part of the 'new' look, he created a dry creek bed that utilized many of the rocks Papa had collected over the years and mentioned it many times to him, "these are the rocks you have collected!" We are unsure how much of it made any sense to him. He did like Stan's trains and often thrilled to tell others that he had given Stan his first train set when he was a child and "he is still playing with trains."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Historical Stuff- Walking

Papa loved to go walking. The first two years he lived with us we occasionally accompanied him, but often he made it quite clear that he wanted to go alone. Though we were sometimes reluctant, we also did not wish to overdo the supervision. He expressed a desire for independence and we gave it to him. Sometimes his walking ventures successfully ended back home, but many times they didn't.

He was always very proud of himself when he safely found his way home. And when he realized he was hopelessly lost, he did not hesitate to ask for assistance. During the summertime, people were often out in their yards so he would stop and tell them he was lost. Sometimes they were able to query him sufficiently to get a last name and then check the telephone directory. When the phone call came, we would hustle off to retrieve him. At other times Papa was unable to accurately communicate his name and eventually we would hear from the police, either to pick him up at the station or to give an address for them to deliver him.

I'll never forget the day I discovered him gone for much longer than expected and knew I'd receive a phone call sooner or later. When it came, the police indicated where they were with him and it was a short distance up the hill from our house so I suggested I would come get him. The scene as I approached the address nearly had me double over in laughter. Three policemen stood encircling Papa on the driveway of a home while two police cruisers sat precariously on the street. Apparently he had gone to the door of this home and the woman inside was afraid so called the police. He could not be more mild mannered and to see him being treated like a criminal was rather humorous.

As getting lost became more the norm we knew his independent walking trips were history. At first I would allow him to leave independently and then follow half a block behind so he still thought he was walking alone and I had the security of knowing where he was. When he became obviously lost I would approach him and offer to direct him home. Sometimes he expressed awe that I had found him.

This strategy worked for a while but when he took a turn down the alley to collect rocks and disappeared before I caught up, I knew we had to insist on accompanying him. Once again I was reminded that my time was not my own because Papa often wanted to go for walks, several times a day. He was frequently bored and walking helped to occupy time. I slowly learned not to begrudge these interruptions to my day because the walks were good for my health too.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Closed but not Forgotten

The funeral was a time of celebrating Papa's life. Yes there were a few tears, but mostly we enjoyed remembering all the wonderful bits of heritage we enjoy because of his life.

He often commented that although several of his brothers were pastors, he had Jesus' first occupation, that of a carpenter. We chose to display some of the toolboxes he had made and also the tools he used to build houses. One of the toolboxes became the container for a floral arrangement which crowned the casket.

Some of the heritage we enjoy:
- his quiet, one liner humorous comments...a trait that is carried forward by his son and his grandsons. His favorite color was 'skyblue pink'.
- his life of integrity
- his dedication to his Lord, his family, and his church

The day following the funeral, Stan and his sister, Lois, flew to Abbotsford along with Papa for the interment. He, well at least his body, is now 'at home' next to his dear wife. We believe his spirit is also 'at home' with his Lord and Saviour, Jesus. He commented on several occasions with considerable emotion that he longed to go to heaven and the first thing he wanted to do was to see Jesus, who gave His life so that we could enjoy heaven with Him.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Papa is 'home' and knows it.

Stan called the Hospice at 8 a.m. He was told Papa had been peaceful all night. Nothing had changed since yesterday.

As we prepared to pick up Stan's sister from the airport, the phone rang. I expected a call from my father, who calls every Saturday morning around 8:30, but it was the Hospice telling us Papa had just died.

We do not grieve as those who have no hope, for we know that we shall see him again.

He was very ready to go to heaven and often spoke of seeing his parents and his brother Emil.

We rejoice that he is now 'home' and knows it.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Papa Lingers

Many times over the past few weeks Papa has reached his arms heavenward and looked up. We have wondered if he had a portal to heaven. Does he see 'the other side' and is reaching towards his loved ones there? Are they encouraging him to 'come'?
We have encouraged him to go to them, yet he lingers.

We wonder why he lingers. Are there relationships that he needs closure on? His daughter arrives tomorrow and some of his caregivers of the past few years will stop in to see him today.

Fortunately he has been relatively comfortable the past few days with minimal medication. Sometimes he has had very positive expressions on his face and other times his forhead furrows in agony. How we long for him to be released from his prison.

Recommended Books

The following are recommended books that have encouraged us during our Life with Papa:

Precious Lord, Take My Hand by Shelly Beach

Treasures of Darkness by Helen Lescheid

The first book was given to me, twice, by two different people familiar with our journey.

The second was written by a friend of mine who has endured far more than I have and has found 'treasures' through it all.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Adrenaline Fix

Since Papa was placed into the Hospice, I have begun to unwind. I'm exhausted and actually sleeping better than I have in a long long while. My ears are no longer on guard for sounds of movement. Apparently I'm beginning to relax enough to actually sleep.

It seems that perhaps I've been running on adrenaline for the past 2 or so years. Papa's doctor was in to see him last night and I casually made comment that I thought perhaps I'd been functioning on an adrenaline high for a while. He wisely cautioned it could easily take me 6 - 8 weeks to come down to 'normal' again.

However, it's not over yet. We continue to await Papa's final departure. He has settled now, is on some pain medication and some sedation, drifts in and out of semi coma state, and occasionally seems to recognize what is being said.

Today he told me rather sharply, "Go!" when I was apparently irritating him with my attempts to give comfort during a spell of pain and discomfort. His granddaughter, Karyn, was in the room so I came home.

I'm finding it difficult to focus on any 'work' that needs doing around the house, and there is lots of it. It's too early to go to bed. Perhaps I'll try a few rounds of computer golf.