Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Missing My Dad

Today marks the 4 year anniversary of a very sad day in my life - Friday, October 8, 2004. It is the day I lost my Dad. It was a very hard decision to release my Dad from his earthly, worn out body and free his spirit to heaven to acquire a forever healthy one. It is a day I will never forget and was in no way prepared for, but are we ever ready to let go of our parents? Praise God my Dad was independent until just a few days before he left this earth. He never had to be put in a nursing home and was still driving. My Dad encountered several health problems the last few years of his life. His kidneys would not work so he became a dialysis patient and endured a lot of pain, bruising and complications from having the shunt put in for his dialysis as well as numerous medical procedures. He had to go 3 days a week, but almost immediately became friends with all the nurses. He was a simple man, but full of charm. My Dad was admitted to the hospital just a few days after a fall in a parking lot. He had already been to the emergency room over the weekend, but they failed to find anything wrong so they sent him home. After a miserable weekend of severe pain, he was admitted to the hospital and that is when the crack in his hip was found. This was on Monday, October 4th. On Tuesday night, he was complaining of extreme heartburn which they gave him medication to relieve. Unfortunately, this was a sign of something more serious and my Dad had a major heart attack in the early morning hours which put him in intensive care on life support. At first I thought, why life support, since my Dad had a living will on file with the hospital. But then I realized it was all a part of God's plan as none of us would had been able to say our goodbyes to my Dad, my children's Papa, and those who knew him as Junior as well as Leland H. McCarty. Also, I realized if my Dad had been home, he would had died immediately because he lived alone. When I first went in that intensive care room, I had to walk out and thought I was going to be sick. It was too much to absorb at one time seeing my independent Dad so dependent on machines and not being able to communicate, or get up and give you a hug or tell one of his jokes. I could see the frustration and fear in his loving blue eyes. My kids have a very special bond with their PaPa which can never be broken. April stayed by his side in ICU almost the entire time. I am the only child and with my parents divorced, it was left up to me as to what to do for my Dad. I recieved support from family members which helped. But it was still hard. How do you decide when to sign a paper to take a precious family member off of life support knowing they will not make it through the night. After about 3 days on life support, the doctor warned me that his body was failing. He could not have dialysis while in his state so this was turing his body fluids into poison. I would stand by my Dad's bedside and hold his hand and talk to him trying to understand what he was wanting me to do from the expressions in his eyes. I knew his body was tired, but his mind was still so sharp. He was smarter than me in so many ways. But finally when I realized he would not ever recover and I knew he did not want to be like he was, I finally signed the paper. I remember what the cold hearted nurse said to me, "You know if they remove life support, he will die!" Yes, I knew this, but did she know that my Dad did not want to be left in this state and he was ready to go to his heavenly home. So we all surrounded his bed as life support was removed. I was on his right side by his head and as his blood pressure slowly dropped, I talked to him the entire time telling him it would be okay and not to be afraid. He looked at me the entire time which was not even a hour. As he was fading, he had the most peaceful look on his face and smiled and then he was gone forever. I thought someone had ripped my heart out. I didn't want him to stay like he was, but I did not want to give him up either. I wanted to go back to the following week when he was fine and I was talking to him on the phone. I remember driving to Chattanooga by myself when he was first placed in ICU and hearing him call for me. He was saying hurry. And all I could do was answer, "I am coming Daddy." The next few days were a blur of memories trying to get everything ready, picking out the music he loved for his service, meeting and greeting so many people who knew my Dad. And if you ever sat next to my Dad and did not know him, you would surely know everything about him and he would know everything about you before you parted to leave. He never met a stranger. I am so glad I am like my Dad in that way. I wish I could be more like him as he loved everyone, never talked about anyone, lived a simple life and enjoyed every day to the fullest. He was so much like Jesus in his later years. I love him so much and can only rest assure as my heart breaks that I will see him again one day. And what will be the first thing my Dad says to me, "This is me, is that you?!!" Love you Daddy!!!

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