date: Nov 29, 2008 at 9:16 PM
subject: Aloha from Tennessee
The notes you’ve sent have been beautiful. Mahalo.
Here are excerpts from a few of the emails . . .
Sending much Love & Aloha from California….take care of yourself
and loved ones.Peace be with you and Tony,
I am sure there will be no better medicine for your dad then to have you there.
I am so sorry to hear this news of your Dad. It is a good idea for you to be home with your family now, and I am sure they will find that being together is a huge source of strength for everyone . . .
These are the toughest of times….Even when the principals involved are intelligent, knowledgeable, fully aware of what is happening and as positive, pragmatic and prepared as possible, it is still an unbelievably difficult path to walk down. I know your father is brave and courageous…it’s great that he knows he is well loved and honored…Please tell him of his “fan club” in Hawaii (your mother too) . . Know that you and yours are in our thoughts daily and forever in our hearts.
Take care of yourself, Susan and hold Tony close when he arrives in Tennessee . . . This is a most important chapter in your life.
Chocolate ice cream and smiles truly can make a world of difference… I am very happy to hear about your dad encouraging the lady and making others laugh, laughter is such good medicine! I especially enjoy the visual of the orange top and Tabasco pants!! It must be so incredibly hard to keep ones spirit up with what he is enduring, but having you there obviously brings joy and consolation. What a “ride” you guys have been on, with all the back and forth about where he was to go and all. Hats off to you and Hannah for insisting on the therapy that your dad should have been receiving, and look where it took him! . . . I can picture all the family gathered together in that updated kitchen to give thanks for everything your dad has brought into this world, a celebration of his life . . .
Okay, I really am there with you on the “sharing the moment with chocolate ice cream!” And no, it doesn’t get any better than that! We all love you, support you, and are there with you in spirit, holding your hand in the hard moments and celebrating every joyful sharing! Wishing you many more special happy times with your dad and your family,
Love you bunches,
there in spirit,
Wonderful story of courage and caring . . . Our team is like the Verizon ad. We got your back girlfriend.
This time with Dad is such a gift . . . that has NOT been lost on all of us.
Thanksgiving Day was an absolutely perfect day. Tony and I went up to the hospital early. The sky was clear, clear blue and the cold temperature of last week (20’s and 30’s) had disappeared and was replaced with a pleasant mid to high 50’s.
Dad was sleeping so peacefully when we arrived that we decided to let him snooze for a while. Did I mention that his window faces the “strip” (the college hang-out of bars and restaurants) with the Smokey Mts. in the distance? As both Tony and Dad dozed, I sat in Dad’s wheelchair and gazed out over the buildings to the mountains. The calm was very pervasive. The peace, all-consuming.
Then suddenly it became time to rise and shine. The skeleton crew at the hospital was comprised of some of the best of the best. The mood was cheerful and happy for Dad that he got the “green light” to head home for the day. Tony trotted off to get the car after we got Dad dressed (and most importantly, catheterized). The transfer to the car didn’t got quite as smoothly as when the PT was looking over our shoulder, but no harm was done (Have I mentioned how Tony has just shone at this position of “captain” of the transfers? His experience with his Dad years ago has come to the front of his memory and his experience has proved to be invaluable). It felt good to sit in the back and see the 2 most important men in my life in the front of the car.
“I’d really love a latte,” Dad said once we pulled out of the hospital porte-cochere. In two shakes we found an open Starbucks (surprise, surprise) and I bopped in to place an order. Lo and behold they even sold a New York Times. Now I could gift both of my 2 favorite men.
Standing in line I noticed a father and son in bicycle riding garb. That’s nice, I thought. I glanced up and thought, I know that face, don’t I? “Excuse me, I think we might have gone to high school together . . .” Before I could finish the statement, he shouted, “Susan!” It was Preston, an all-round nice guy, always had been. He and his son had ridden to the strip from west Knoxville. After some fun hugs and general joviality the coffee was ready and I joined my guys.
We gave Dad a small tour down memory lane, part of the campus, the main boulevard with all the high falutin houses, his son’s pest control office/house, the old house we lived in when I was born, the house his brother used to live in. We were just about to turn right up the steep hill to Mom and Dad’s house when he yelled, “Keep going! Turn left, here. Here!” Safely landed in the Bugg’s driveway, Dad was immediately surrounded by lots of Buggs, the good kind.
Dr. Bugg (retired head of the Physics Dept. at The U of Tenn.) turned to me and asked, “Head nurse Susan, he requested a glass of red. Is that okay?”
“I reckon,” I replied.
More hugs and hellos followed and the party expanded as more neighbors joined us. Soon my Mom even came down the road to join in the fun.
Fortunately before we could wear Dad out before he even made it into the house, the cool air decreed that it was time to move on. The glass was returned (still have full) and Tony drove the patriarch home as Mom and I dragged ourselves up the steep hill.
The rest of the day was right out of a movie; family gathered one by one. Hugs, kisses, quiet tears and LOTS and LOTS of photos (my sister Jan found her calling with Creative Memories). The family had arranged the dining table so that Dad could still sit at the head, the food turned out perfectly . . . it was just a wonderful day.
Fast forward to 6 p.m. It’d been 7.5 hours since he was catheterized and he’s supposed to be “drained” every 4 to 6 hours. It was time for either to take Dad back or to get down to business. Tony asked, Dad said he’d think about it. Jan asked and Dad said,” I guess I should go back.” But darn it if that Jan didn’t intuit what Dad really meant, “I’d like to stay but I don’t want to put ya’ll out.” So she proceeded to say what needed to be said with charm, style and a heap of real compassion. The next thing we knew, I was crouched in middle of Mom and Dad’s huge bed next to Dad. Hannah was standing next to the bed opening the catheterizing packet. I found myself repeating what the nurses had told us over several instructional sessions, “Don’t touch anything else with that hand now that you have the sterile glove on, and on and on . . . . “ Hannah took a big breath, asked Dad, “Are you alright with this?” He simply nodded as he kept his eyes tightly shut. Okay, Hannah began and
we all began to coach her (much easier to do than the REAL thing!). I looked up and to my right and felt like I was in a tiny amphitheater. There was Mom, Dayton and Jan. Dad’s wife and four children were all with him as we watched BIG sister play the role of head nurse. Amazing. We never could have predicted such a scene. Maybe that one of us would need to do this. But that ALL of us would be there???? And it was all so positive. Only words of encouragement were shouted out on this stage. But when’s it going to come? When’s the urine going to start to flow? We all watched and held our breath as she slowly, slowing kept inserting the Christmas red tube. “There it is!” we all shouted in unison. You would have thought that the Martians had just landed, that’s how loudly we yelled. Then we could relax and just want for Dad’s bladder to empty.
And the next scene is the clincher, the scene-stealer. Once Dad was cleaned up and made presentable, Mom crawled up beside Dad, each was lying on their side and facing the other–two long lost lovers so happy to finally be together. “Now this is what I’ve been wanting, “ said Dad. We unplugged the phone and crept out to give Mom and Dad an hour together before we had to make ready and return to the hospital.
Sigh. Yes, there was not a dry eye in the house.
Oh, and to add to the moment, my girlfriend Katie called right during this fabulous scene of family taking care of dear old Dad. Thanks Katie for calling right then. You somehow added a sense of reality and connection to the world at large, plus, we both know that you’re my third sister . . . .
Love to you all. Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings and please excuse me for not proofing or even re-reading this before I hit send.